– Ask a Real Bride – The Etiquette of Plus Ones

Last month, the “Ask a Real Bride” got its very own Instagram account! If you love quick tips on wedding planning and etiquette, and short, sometimes funny, videos in your social media feed, come join the party! I’d love to get your feedback and interact with you there!

By far, the most popular topic on our Instagram this month was plus ones. Thousands of Instagram users watched this reel and weighed in on the issue of who gets to bring a guest to the wedding, and what to do if someone asks if they can. If you’re wondering about either of those scenarios, read on for advice from real brides on how to handle this hot topic!

Who Gets a Plus One?

The guest list is one of the most difficult aspects of wedding planning, as budgets and venue capacities limit the number of guests a couple can include. And since you want every guest, whether they are married or not, to enjoy your wedding, you probably wish you could extend an extra invite to every single guest!

As one real bride put it:

“I’d give everyone a plus one if it wasn’t so expensive!”

But since it is so expensive, whose invitation should include those two magic words, “and guest?”

Here’s what our real brides think:

Who gets a +1

The results are clear: definitely extend a plus one to anyone in a serious relationship.

Address the envelope with both guests’ names. If the couple is living together, place their names on the same line; if they are not, write the secondary guest’s name on the line below.

Extending a plus one to every adult: not necessary, but nice!

If your budget and venue capacity allow you to extend a plus one to every single adult guest, doing so is gracious and will be much appreciated. Simply address the envelope to “Miss Jane Smith and guest.” Remember: you cannot dictate who that guest will be! Miss Smith could choose to bring a romantic partner, a close friend, her mom…literally anyone she chooses!

What about guests who request a plus one?

It should be so simple: unless the invitation says, “and guest,” you shouldn’t ask if you can bring one. Asking puts your hosts in an uncomfortable position:

“[This is] happening in the lead up to my daughter’s wedding. Numbers have already been shaved and it’s painful to be asked and have to say no. Especially when you don’t know the plus one, the plus one knows no one, and even some relatives and friends have been left off the list. It’s not a bottomless number…and no, you can’t use this wedding to ‘launch’ your date.”

Most people understand how to read the envelope! Check out these poll results:

Is it ok to ask if you can bring a +1

Unfortunately, not every guest gets it.

58% of the brides I surveyed reported that one or more of their guests asked for a plus one!

So what’s a bride to do?

plus one response

One-third of our brides (myself included) chose the path of least resistance, and granted the plus one to those who asked. If the person asking is a close friend or member of the bridal party, or someone who is traveling to the wedding, it might make sense to give in and add their guest!

You could think of these plus one requests as its own B-list: say yes if you have the room!

“We had received quite a few “no,” RSVP’s by the time my friend asked if she could bring her boyfriend, so I just said yes.”

“After receiving RSVPs, we did offer certain folks plus ones as courtesy since there was space.”

“Since the wedding was out of town for the guest, they asked if they could bring someone and I said yes.”

If you must say no, I recommend making the issue as impersonal as possible!

Blame your budget or the venue capacity. Say something like, “Oh, I wish I could, but we are tight as it is! I’ll make sure to seat you at a fun table though!”

Or, do what 22% of our brides did: get someone else, like your fiance if it’s one of his friends or family members, or your mom if it’s a family member, to handle the issue!

The envelope should communicate exactly who is invited: “Miss Jane Smith and guest,” for Jane and whomever she chooses to bring as her guest; “Miss Jane Smith and Mr. Micheal Jones” if Jane and Michael are in a serious relationship; “The Smith Family,” if the entire household, including children, are invited.

What if the “plus one” is a child?

Kids and weddings are their own complicated issue. A few brides shared that despite addressing the invitation to the adults in the household, some guests requested to bring their children.

 I recommend making an across the board decision on whether they will be included or not. That way, you can clearly say, “We’ve decided to make our wedding a fun night out for the adults. May I help you find a babysitter?”

Declining children or a plus one is never enjoyable.

You may lose a guest or two over the issue. But your vision, budget, and venue capacity take priority: don’t pressure yourself to accommodate every guest!

Looking for more wedding etiquette advice?

Unfortunately, plus ones aren’t the only sticky situation you might find yourself in when it comes to wedding guests. For tips on handling other less-than-ideal wedding guests behaviors, hop over to this blog post. And for more on the plus one debate, check out this post!

Have a Question for our Real Brides?

Let me know what topic you’d like us to tackle next! And if you’re interested in learning more about etiquette, gift giving, and celebrating in style, be sure to subscribe to the RegistryFinder GiveIt blog for weekly posts on wedding etiquette, bridal showers, wedding trends, and of course, wedding registry guidelines and tips! And as always, be sure to refer your guests to RegistryFinder.com, where they can conveniently locate all of your registries in one place!

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