Real Dilemma: The "plus one" debate

13 / 02 / 18

So, this is an awkward one!

Couples planning their wedding often have a budget to stick to, a venue with maximum numbers to adhere to and sometimes a group of friends with ever evolving relationships (you know the one who has a new partner every few months?!). The idea of sending a single friend an invite with their name “and guest” fills some couples with horror and inevitable grumblings…”Who will they bring?” “I don’t want a stranger at my wedding!” “We didn’t invite Aunt Mavis to keep the guests list down but we end up with someone’s newest fling!?”. Sound familiar?

Potential guests are in a buzz of excitement of an eagerly awaiting the sound of the invite dropping through the letterbox. What will they wear, who else if staying over, I wonder if we’ll make a weekend of it and stay away…

Then it happens…The invite comes through in just your name…uh oh. The singleton of the group feels even more of a singleton. The idea of watching your friend marry will highlight just how far you are from enjoying that moment. Sitting at a table amongst couples fills you with horror at the amount of questions you’ll be asked about your relationship status, and then the slow dance tracks that will unexpectedly come on and force you off the dancefloor so fast you’ll consider a career change into the 100m sprint.

We get it. We know there are two sides to every story and here is our advice….

Let your guests know they can’t bring A Plus One

Put a note on your wedding website. You can add a FAQ section about accommodation, transport etc and add “guest list” and say something like “We’re so excited to celebrate this day with our nearest and dearest, and are hoping to keep the guest list limited. Anyone invited will be clearly named on the invites so if your children/plus one isn’t on there its simply because we’re trying our hardest to invite those closest to us, thanks for your understanding”

Word the invite right

This starts on the envelope. Very traditional wedding invitations have an outer and inner envelope. The outer layer addresses the recipient (the guest or couple you know personally) and the inner paper then lists all the names of those who are invited, like children or plus-ones. If you don’t add a plus one anywhere, then it’s clear you’re not inviting one.

If the couple is in a relationship, list both guests by their full names. If you’re allowing a guest to bring a casual date, write your friend’s name and then “and guest.”

Make it clear on the R.S.V.P.

The problem is that even if you put only one person’s name on the invitation and don’t add “and guest” to the RSVP card, some people will still assume that they can bring someone with them. Try adding their names to the RSVP’s so there isn’t space to add anyone on the reply. It should get the point across.

Consider Opening Up The Reception. You may want to consider having a limited guest list for the ceremony, and then a free-for-all at the reception (whee!). If this is the case, try this wording “While we would prefer to keep the guest list for the ceremony intimate, we welcome your plus ones at the reception! Please let us know if you plan to bring a guest.”

Rules don’t apply for the wedding party

The rules about cohabitation, dating, and marriage go out the window for your wedding party. Not only does a happy wedding party make a happy couple, but allowing a bridesmaid to bring her new boyfriend, for example, is a small token of appreciation you can offer in exchange for her efforts and support.

Make it easy for singles

Draft a seating plan that fosters a comfortable dynamic for solo guests. For singles, there are fewer things more awkward than being sandwiched between an old married couple or a PDA-heavy pair. But creating a “singles-only” table could give off the impression you’re corralling your single pals. Instead, place them between outgoing and friendly couples who they’ll likely get along with. That’s sure to create a more communal feel to the event, and it’ll help them meet people organically.

Rules for the guest: choose the right plus one

Even if a plus-one has been named or offered on your invitation, be sure you actually want them to attend before you RSVP. Just because you’re given a plus-one doesn’t mean you have to use it. If your relationship is on the rocks or you would actually rather go on your own or with your other single friends just inform the couple when you reply. And if the invitation says “and guest,” be sure to list your guest’s name (if you are bringing one) in your reply.

Do not ask to bring a plus-one

If you receive an invitation and your name is the only one in sight, it is not okay to ask the couple if you can add a plus-one. The couple has most likely already had a major discussion about whether they are able to offer you a guest. Only in very unique situations - you are recently engaged and your fiancé isn’t on the guest list, for example—should you reach out and ask them to reconsider.

As a rule of thumb take a good look at your guest list and say ‘If we only have one or two single friends who don’t get a plus-one, will they enjoy themselves? Will they feel uncomfortable? How can we make them have a great time? Even if they’re not necessarily in a long-term relationship, maybe they can bring someone.”

The best weddings are the ones where everyone has fun, and for some people, having a plus one can make the difference between being having fun and feeling uncomfortable.

Happy planning

Love team Whitewed