– Ask Cheryl – Wedding Invitation Not Specific, Can I Bring a Guest?

Today’s question is from a wedding guest who is confused about whether she can bring a “plus-one” to the wedding.

Dear Cheryl,
I am a single woman who received an invitation to a friend’s wedding. The wedding invitation came addressed only to me. There was no inside envelope which usually states Karen and Guest.

In addition to the invitation there was a response card asking the # of people attending with dinner choices. Am I allowed to bring a guest? I texted the bride to ask if I was invited with a guest, but never heard back.

Also, what would an appropriate gift be for either just myself or for myself and a guest?
Thank you for your time,

Hi Karen,

Don’t assume you can bring a guest unless the wedding invitation explicitly states it. Most couples don’t have room in their budget to allow their single friends to invite a “plus one” to their wedding. Response cards are often generic and confusing, which may be why they asked for the # of people.

The inner envelope of a wedding invitation is usually where the host includes the names of additional household members, such as children, who are invited to the wedding. However, some couples choose not to use an inner envelope to save money or when the wedding is more casual. In this case, all invited guests are listed on the outer envelope when an inner envelope is omitted.

Etiquette obliges the wedding couple to invite the significant other of guests that are married, engaged, living together, or in a long-term serious relationship. In those cases, the partner should be added to the invitation or sent a separate invitation if living separately. If you are not currently in a serious relationship, it is common not to include an additional guest as your date.

Since your friend did not respond to your text, I think you can reasonably assume she cannot accommodate a plus-one. The couple will let you know if they want you to bring a date, usually by adding a name or “and Guest” to the invitation. To hear from our team of real brides on this subject, see our recent article, Ask a Real Bride: the Etiquette of Plus Ones.

Most couples want to celebrate their wedding with their close friends and family. The “and guest” expectation is a relatively new trend and often not a realistic expectation. If you think about it, expecting a couple to offer a “plus one” is expecting them to add people to their guest list that they may not even know.

Your budget and closeness to the couple determine the amount spent on a wedding gift. Only you can choose how much you feel comfortable spending. If bringing a guest, you will spend more because two people contribute to the present. For more details, check out my article, How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Gift?

If you have questions or comments about gift giving, bridal showers, baby showers, or wedding etiquette, please comment below or email [email protected].

Emails in this column are received from readers. Emails may be edited for spelling, length, and grammar or to remove sensitive information. However, we are careful not to alter the intent or content of the question.

Cheryl Seidel is the founder and President of RegistryFinder.com, an intuitive search engine that helps gift givers quickly and easily find online registries for weddings, baby showers, graduations, and more.

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