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Ask Team Practical: Guests, RSVPs and Dates


by Liz Moorhead, Ask Team Practical

Ask Team Practical: Guests, RSVPs and Dates | A Practical Wedding

I always thought it was standard etiquette that if the invite says “Joe & Guest” that means Joe gets a guest, but if it only says “Joe” then Joe does not get a guest. Anyways, in planning, I have learned that many people automatically think they get a plus one/guest. Unfortunately, my fiancée and I don’t have the space or funds to include guests for everyone. How do we make it clear to those people that they do not get a plus one? I know of brides who have received response cards back saying “Joe, plus one” even when Joe did not get a guest. I hope to avoid that awkward situation, but I am not sure how. Finally, is it rude not to include a plus one/guest for everyone? I really don’t want to offend people, nor do I want to come off as rude. Any sage advice?

Thanks!

—Stressed

Dear Stressed,

First of all, lady, it’s not rude to not invite people you’ve never heard of. I mean, what? Is “Guest” going to be mad at you? Right. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. As for Joe, well, time for Joe to shape up and stop inviting people to parties he’s not throwing. So here is the deal: Invitations and plus-ones are pretty cut and dry. The invitation should say the names of each guest (unless you’re inviting someone’s children, in which case “Mr. Ben and Ms. Eileen Dover and Family” does the trick). If an invitation just says, “Ms. Fanny Pack,” then only dear Fanny is invited. Period.

You should only feel obliged to invite a guest’s date if they are married, engaged, living together, or in a very long term relationship. In that case, yes, you have to invite them even if you don’t know them very well or like them very much. Recent boyfriends and girlfriends and random bar hook-ups aren’t required, particularly if you don’t know their names. Basically, pro-tip, if you don’t know their names, you have every right not to invite them. I mean, unless you don’t know the names of your friends partners, in which case, that’s why Facebook was invented. (I think. I’m not actually sure on that point.)

But! Here is where it gets tricky. There are people that will argue that you should let single friends bring dates so they feel included, and if you’re fine with that and can afford it, then “and Guest” away! But at APW, we stand firm (with Miss Manners) in saying that it’s not required. So if you can’t afford it (and you can’t) or aren’t comfortable with it, take care of your single friends by seating them thoughtfully with other singles, or people they’d get along with (or, um, more than get along with, if you want that kind of wedding. Cough). And if your single friends can’t manage to come celebrate your union without dates, then so it goes. Let your whiny friends know that sometimes fabulous meet-ups can happen at a good wedding. (Did I mention my bridesmaid and my husband’s groomsman have been friendly? Yeah. I did that.)

Simple! Cut and dry! Solved! Invitations are easy, right?

Ha!

Except one thing. Response cards are one of those notoriously painful tasks in wedding planning. I think someone made a horror movie about them once. Not only will you need to chase a few people down when they respond late (and they will), decipher chicken scratch and missing names (psst, number each response card in pencil and keep a personal list of which numbered response is for which guest), but as you’ve inferred, you also may have guests assume they can bring a date, despite your clearly addressed invitation to the contrary. While you may be able to cooly sail through the moment where your single girlfriend inexplicably RSVPs for three people, prepare for your partner to yell things like, “Damn it, this isn’t a house party!” (Or, um, you might also yell that.) Another pro-tip: whoever does the yelling is maybe not the person who should take the next step of making the dreaded phone call.

Before you pick up the phone, realize that weddings don’t happen everyday, so while you and I may know the ins and outs of invitation etiquette, your guests probably don’t. Or, at least, feel free to pretend that they don’t to calm yourself down. Assume that they don’t realize that venues have a maximum capacity and don’t understand just how expensive that extra plate for dinner will cost. So, time to take a gulp of wine, grit your teeth, and pick up that phone. Emphasize the fact that it was clearly a misunderstanding and apologize, but make it clear that you won’t be able to accommodate extra guests, and stand firm. Don’t feel obligated to give a reason (for example, it’s a good idea not to mention you’re just flat broke, even if that’s the truth), but do feel obligated to be as nice as you can. Annoyed grumbles should only happen before and after the dreaded phone call.

Here is wishing you all guests that are seamlessly polite. And a bourbon when that doesn’t happen quite as we’d hoped for you. At the very least, know you’re not alone. Couples all over the world grumble into their bourbon with you.

*****

Alright, Team Practical, let’s hear your response (guffaw)! How did you let friends down gently when they expected to bring a date? Did you have any guests tack on a date when one wasn’t invited? Anyone want to take us to the mat and tell us single friends have to be able to bring dates or else?

Photo by APW sponsor Emily Takes Photos

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com.  If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted.  Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her son.

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  • http://penn.typepad.com Leah

    I encourage folks to honestly evaluate your list. The numbers will vary depending on life demographics. When all was said and done, we realized we didn’t have that many singles (maybe 7 or 8?), so we gave every one of them a plus one. Only two of them took us up on it. One was my cousin, and I was delighted to meet her new boyfriend, who effusively gushed (and gave us an awesome present) about how kind it was of us to have invited him. That alone was worth extending the plus one.

    However, if you have a lot of singles (and that number also varies, depending on the size of the wedding), it is not necessary. I went to weddings alone as a single. It really was fine. I would think most folks would be understanding and okay with this, especially if you were really nice in explaining to the ones who didn’t understand with the invite.

    • http://suburbaliciousliving.blogspot.com Lauren

      Agreed. Of course, nothing is REQUIRED, but I feel strongly that if almost everyone else is coupled up, it’s unfair not to offer your single friends the option.

      • PS

        I totally disagree. I really only want people I love and the people they love at the wedding and don’t think that is unreasonable. If you’re at the stage of life with only a few single friends (and we are) they are pretty used to hanging out with mostly couples anyway.

        • KEA1

          I can’t tell you how many weddings I’ve been to single–but I can tell you that a) the number I’ve attended single FAR outnumbers the ones I’ve attended as part of a couple, b) I couldn’t tell you what the proportion of couples to singles were at *any* wedding I have *ever* attended. Oh, and c) I was seated with other singles at a lot of weddings, but it wouldn’t have mattered. If someone is going to invite me to their wedding and I can go, I will be gracious whether or not I have a date, and I will do my level best to get to know people and be a good addition to the party.

          So if I end up getting married, prospective whiners better watch out, because I am gonna hold them to my standard. ;)

        • Moz

          As a kind of perpetually single person: I have no trouble at all not being invited to a bring a guest. None whatsoever.

          I find it difficult to meet new people (although I probably make it look easy) and it’s hard. But mostly you know other people at the wedding, even if you’re not seated with them, and even if it is hard you make the effort, because you love the people getting married, right?

          And, as always on APW, we’re adults. We’re responsible for our own behaviour. If it’s really too much for me to handle on my own, then I don’t go.

          • Abby J.

            On this note, for anyone inviting singles and not inviting +1s, if you are having assigned seating, please seat your single friends with people they know. It will help them enjoy themselves more.

          • Sarah

            Hi. Single friend here. The only time I brought someone with me to a wedding was when I traveled half-way across the country to see one of my childhood best friends get married. The only people I knew at the wedding were the bride (who I wasn’t going to spend much time with), her parents (ditto), and her sister (ditto). I continue to be grateful that the bride suggested I bring the college friend I was staying with to the wedding. I still met other people, but it was good to have someone to process the wedding with after the fact. And good to have someone that I could hang out with at the wedding without perpetually being in “Hi-I-Just-Met-You” mode.

            I don’t think I would have done this if the bride hadn’t suggested it. But if you have single friends from a different era of your life, do consider letting them bring someone else they know.

      • meg

        No surprise, I totally disagree. I wasn’t comfortable getting married (perhaps the most personal and raw moment of my whole life) in front of people I didn’t know, and I knew I wasn’t breaking rules not giving plus ones. So we didn’t, and we took good care of our single friends (who made friends with each other). So, nope. I don’t think it’s unfair. They had the option not to come if they didn’t want to, but I got to stick to the thing I needed most at my wedding. (And people had a BLAST. How are people gonna ever hook up, if you don’t come date-less, eh?)

        • Brittany

          Um, I think I’m definitely hoping a couple of my single friends who are coming and are seated next to each other (How did that happen?) hook up! Two in particular who I may not ever have another chance to introduce, but I think will really hit it off. But I do that at dinner parties, birthday parties, really any excuse I have to get friends from different social circles to mingle, so maybe my single friends have just come to expect it?

        • Jashshea

          We’re doing a small ceremony/bigger party specifically because I don’t want to share that with strangers (that includes family on both sides that we rarely see). Many of the 280 people invited to the reception will not be invited to the ceremony.

          Certainly peels back another layer on the etiquette side of things and the people just showing up to things front, but we’ll see how that plays out.

        • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

          Honestly, I think maybe one of the key things is that you ARE NOT breaking a rule if you don’t give +1’s. I’ve heard so many stories about couples *agonizing* over the “rules” of +1s. There really isn’t a rule other than that you aren’t obligated to, and as far as I know, the +1 thing is quite recent.

          • Liz

            Yes! That’s exactly it, Megan! Plus one’s aren’t required, but if you wanna do em, go for it. The point is, you won’t be breaking any rules or being rude if you DON’T.

        • Lynn

          I realize this is over a year later, but I just wanted to say one thousand times THIS. I have been struggling with how to explain this to people and have been told off by my parents, but I don’t want to share a moment that I think will be so raw for me with people who are strangers. And if you can’t tell me when I call you who you might want to bring doesn’t that say something about how close you are to this nebulous yet-to-be-met plus one? Thanks for giving me the words, Meg.

    • http://somewhatbookish.wordpress.com Carrie

      We had a really small wedding (35 guests total), and there were only a few single folks who attended. We made sure all of those people (there were only 3) were seated at our table, so they wouldn’t have to sit with folks they didn’t know at all. It seemed to work out well.

      • Sarah

        I Like this idea!

    • http://midwestlantern.blogspot.com/ Midwest Melissa

      We gave all singles an “and guest” option, kind of as a tribute to our formerly single awkward selves. Out of 7, only two brought dates. One of those dates was a hit on the dance floor. It’s OK if people choose not to do this, but this worked for us.

    • http://www.breakingdownthebank.blogspot.com EmilyEF

      I’ve been on all sides of this, and honestly, any way you cut it works out well. As a bride, I really agree with Meg that I don’t want to share the very personal and vulnerable experience of my ceremony with anyone I don’t know well and trust. I’ve been to plenty of weddings on my own and I’m always well taken-care of, so I felt comfortable doing that for my guests.

      However, when I have received a “plus one” I’ll often ask the couple if we share a mutual friend that they were unable to invite for whatever reason. This way, I get a buddy to hang out with and they get an extra person they know and love at the wedding.

      • Jess

        I kind of did this to a (first) cousin’s wedding. My brother and I were both invited with +1s. Neither of us were single but neither of our SOs were able to attend (my brother was flying across the country and understandably, his gf could not afford to come and mine is a LDR and my bf couldn’t come in from England). I knew that my grandparents were upset that some of my second cousins (their great-niece and nephew, who we were all close to as children) weren’t invited to the wedding and that they might like to come. So I schemed with my brother to invite them (another brother and sister) as our “dates.” It worked out really well and everyone was really happy that they came (including my cousin, the groom).

        But generally, being in an LDR, I’m stuck going to weddings alone, even though I usually do get a +1. It kind of sucks, even to family weddings or other weddings where I know a lot of people. Personally, I’m on the side of give everyone who has graduated from high school a +1. A lot of them won’t use it but I think it’s the respectful thing to do for grown-ups. And it prevents you as an outsider from judging the “seriousness” of someone else’s relationship, which is just silly. I think that a lot of people are sensitive to how much their guest costs, etc and generally won’t bring someone unless they’re actually dating someone or really won’t feel comfortable single.

        • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

          In theory, I like this idea, but in practice I’d want to be careful of it (particularly with inviting family as the plus one) just because there might be a reason they weren’t invited in the first place.

          • http://www.breakingdownthebank.blogspot.com EmilyEF

            Agree – I think it only really works if you talk to the couple about it. Especially since it gives them the option to tell you if they are really tight on numbers and would prefer you not bring a guest at all. I do always think it’s nice to give the offer of the plus one. Instead of sending an ambiguous envelope at our wedding, we tried to chat with our single friends first to see if they were seeing anyone we didn’t know about and if they were comfortable attending alone. Then they knew what we were thinking and could honestly tell us what they preferred. One guest changed her mind and decided to invite her boyfriend later in the game, but it didn’t matter. I’m just glad she’s comfortable. It also helped the “plus one” feel like less of a stranger, since we forced a conversation about them first.

          • Jess

            The reason they weren’t invited was a if you invite two you have to invite 20 problem. They genuinely wanted the two that were our guests there but didn’t necessarily want to then feel obligated to invite that entire “tier” of family (all of my second cousins and their parents) as well for money/space issues (I assume). Also, the whole not inviting that tier had really, REALLY upset my grandparents (I know, brides & grooms can’t make everyone happy and that’s ok) so it made them very happy that we did that little thing.

        • Nina

          I would like to seriously “LIKE” the idea of finding ways to avoiding judging the “seriousness” of someone else’s relationship. That whole idea makes me uncomfortable. Two stories:

          Last year, my partner (of seven years, we’ve been living together for six) was invited to a high school friend’s wedding. I wasn’t planning to go, since it was across the country, but when his invitation showed up in the mail with out my name on it, and without “and guest,” I was a little hurt. Yes, I’ve never met the couple, yes, my partner hasn’t seen them in over a decade, so I understand why they didn’t invite me. But if they managed to find out his address, it wouldn’t have taken much to find out that he lives with a partner of seven years. Which means they *chose not* to invite me. And I felt judged. Like our relationship wasn’t “good enough” because we had chosen not to “put a ring on it.”

          Second story: We finally decided to get married. We contacted everyone, were getting ready to mail the invites, when I notice on facebook that one of my cousins has been posting a lot of photos of himself and some girl he’s clearly smitten with. Now, my cousin lives across the country, so I have no idea who this woman is, how long they’ve been together, whatever. No matter: I email him and say, basically, “great photos! So… should there be another name on your wedding invitation? If so, what’s her name? :)” He was exceptionally grateful. …… and…… two weeks after the invitations went out, he proposed to the girl in question. So now, the very first time that the family at large will get to meet this young woman will be at my wedding! It made me feel really good to be able to extend a warm welcome to my cousin and his future wife.

          All this to say, my policy is to invite people’s significant others. And find out their names before the invitations go out. And I personally find it borderline offensive to place oneself in a position of “judging” if someone else’s relationship is “serious” enough.

          • Liz

            I don’t think it’s a question of “judging seriousness.” Seriousness or whether things will last or if a relationship is “worthy” of attending are NOT being evaluated. I’m sorry you were hurt by your husband’s friends, but chances are they just didn’t know. (I honestly can’t imagine inviting a friend I haven’t seen in 10 years, excluding questions of “plus ones”)

            The point is that not everyone can afford to have a free for all, inviting everyone who wants to come. Some need to set parameters, and while it’s awesome when you can offer an extra seat and plate to a plus-one, if you can’t, you need to AT LEAST be sure to consider the marrieds/live-ins/engaged/longterms. That’s all that’s being said. That that’s the minimum requirement. Not that by doing so you are valuing marriages above unmarrieds.

          • Nina

            P.S. It occurs to me reading through this that there are two different issues here:

            +1s for people who are in a romantic relationship (but for whatever reason the bridal couple is hesitant: maybe they’ve never met the +1, maybe the relationship isn’t of long duration, whatever),

            and +1s for singles.

            My personal philosophy is to always extend +1 to the former, but for the latter it depends on the situation and the person.

          • Nina

            “Not that by doing so you are valuing marriages above unmarrieds.”

            Liz, but isn’t that exactly what you’re doing, albeit perhaps unintentionally? Or, rather, isn’t that the message that is being sent? “Sorry, we had to draw the line somewhere, so since y’all aren’t engaged….” Yeah. Actually that’s exactly what valuing marriages over unmarrieds sounds like.

          • Liz

            Nope, nope. Not at all. A key piece of what was mentioned above is “LONGTERM.”

            Perhaps you’re only two months into dating the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. Serious! Important! Committed! The fact that folks don’t yet consider you a pair doesn’t mean that your relationship isn’t as important or isn’t as valuable. It means that people haven’t yet come to think of you as Liz+Josh the way they think of PB+J or Peaches+Cream. It’s not a means of invalidating your relationship. On the contrary, inviting a married/live-in/engaged/longterm couple is basically saying, “FINE. We know that if we invite YOU we’re stuck with YOU, too, because you guys are inseparable, so here ya go.”

          • Kat

            Nina, (I seem to not be able to reply to you directly), I think Liz is saying you DO need to consider the married/longterm/live in/engaged relationships (as in you should invite partners if any of these apply), so you are not excluding long term relationships as not being ‘serious’ enough. But you probably do have to limit your guest list somewhere, so you are not required to invite new partners, or +1’s for your single friends (but of course you can if you want to/are able to).

          • Liz

            Yes! What Kat said!

            In theory, it may seem offensive to say, “These folks have been together for 7 years, so they’re a pair, but these guys have been together only a month, so they’re not…” but I think it gels well in practice. Usually the guys who’ve been together for awhile you hang out with as a pair anyway. And think of them that way. My friends who’ve been dating for a year or more, I automatically think of in terms of Dan+Patti or Susie+Kevin, without even trying.

            The point of this rule of etiquette is not to offend new relationships, but to be SURE to avoid offending the longer ones.

          • Nina

            I’m sorry Liz, I seem to not be expressing myself clearly.

            I think your rule is GREAT. Marrieds/Engageds/Living Togethers/Serious Relationship. I would be very flexible with how I define serious relationship, but that’s just me. I think your rule is GREAT, and I wish all brides would follow it.

            My beef is with the more conventional wedding advice (including Miss Manners!), where it’s acceptable to draw the line at “is there a ring?” I find this to be a hurtful rule. And there have been many other ladies in this conversation who feel similarly: this conversation has surfaced stories of individuals with partners of five, six, even eight years where the other partner regularly gets left off invites, or engaged inviduals where the fiance doesn’t get invited. This is my where my problem is. This, I find, is not only rude, but really ugly in terms of the message that it communicates about how we value others’ relationships.

            I’m pretty sure (based on the rule that you put forward), that you’ll agree that the above behavior is not okay. Yes, we have to make cuts to the guest list, but invited one half of an engaged couple is not okay. Or one half of a long-term, live-in couple.

            I get really nervous when brides (even here at APW, in this conversation!) get indignant that someone wants to add his girlfriend as his +1. Sure, if they’ve been dating for less than a year, fine, inviting the gf is not necessary. But when they’ve been dating for 2-3 years? Or when they’re living together? Yes, that girlfriend should be invited too. Or, if you really can’t make it work, the bride/groom should contact the couple and explain why. Because otherwise it’s really disrespectful and hurtful.

            Because us long-term, live-in partners get left off of invitations WAY TOO OFTEN. And it SUCKS to feel like second class citizens.

            That’s all I’m trying to say. Sorry for not being clear before: I really do think we’re on the same side on this one.

          • Kat

            Yes! Good policy! Having been on the receiving end of relationship judging as a bridesmaid, it can hurt, and cause a lot more harm than good. The “RULE” I had been given was I needed to be dating someone a minimum of 6 months before I would receive a plus one. By the time the wedding had rolled around I had been dating someone for 3 months and actually quite seriously. It’s awkward now with this couple.

            Yes, I was totally fine with him not being invited, and not being given a plate because weddings are expensive, what I was not fine with was that all other bridesmaids had at least one guest there, a parent, two parents, a significant other or some combo of that, yet I was excluded. I was also not fine with him being barred from the reception hall when he came at the end of the night to drive me home. (The couple had met him, and supposedly they love him so not sure what the issue was).

            Anyways, my sister’s wedding this year, everyone has a plus one, including cousins we haven’t seen in decades.

  • http://blog.halfacregoods.com Erin

    The two people we had RSVP with extra uninvited guests we didn’t say anything to because at that point enough people had declined that it became a non issue. The thing that drove me the most crazy though was that one of the uninvited guests never even showed. The situation happily evened out with a random guest that showed up and ate their meal (random guest was escorting a friend who due to events the night before wouldn’t have made it if she’d come on her own). So I guess it all works out in the end. If you’re lucky all of this will happy and you’ll be blissfully unaware of the details until a few months later. :)

  • http://www.stitch-witch.net Christina McPants

    We didn’t do this for ours, but friends of friends filled out 1 in the attending line in the response cards before sending out the invitations. It was well-ish received, just because the friend knew that only the friend was invited and wasn’t planning on bringing a date.

    The only extra RSVP we had was for some friends who RSVP’ed that they’d be bringing their 18 month old (who wasn’t invited). We decided to let it slide and she was awesome to have there.

    • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

      It’s a good idea if you think some of your guests might purposely try and sneak the plus one in there!

    • Remy

      I wondered why a line with the name for each invited guest and an accompanying checkbox for each line wasn’t an option I saw more frequently… but then I realized that lots of people are sending out a hundred or two hundred invites. That is a lot of extra writing!

    • suzanna

      This is seriously the best idea. FILL OUT THE NAMES FOR THEM ON THE RSVP CARD so that they do not have the chance to add people in. It makes it extremely clear who is invited, and then you don’t have to call them to say no later, after they’ve already invited that other person. Avoids all these shenanigans.

      Also “Mr. Ben Dover”. Ha!

      • Sarah

        Suzanna,

        I think this is great advice and that’s what I did (even though I had more than 100 invites to send out). But the method still isn’t perfect and I’ve had four guests already write people in or bypass the RSVP card by email RSVPing. I’ve basically given up limiting guests (I’m lucky though because our venue doesn’t have a strict capacity and I’m getting help from parents paying for the reception).

  • ali

    We invited a lot of people to our wedding that we dont expect to come mainly because we are an international couple who have both movef a lot in our 20s – mainly me but we re having the wedding in my home town.

    Anyway we r doing two things a little differently and i wanted to know peopless experiences. First i did not include response cards – i said on the invitation.that they should respond on the website or to my email. Also its abt a week a way from the rsvp date and i have a lot of non responses. I dont think im gonna trsck down each one- im just going to assume no response is no. Is that playimg w fire?

    • Carly

      Even though it’s a pain, you really should track them down. Otherwise, that sounds like a headache waiting to happen. (Not enough tables, chairs, meals, booze, etc). Yikes.

    • carrie

      Track ‘em down. Send the word out to your family to talk to family, friends to talk to friends. More will come in by the deadline, but you’ll need to email/call/whatever to find out about the others. You’ll feel better if you do!

    • Lynn

      Another vote to track them down. A ton of our guests had not RSVP’ed when the wedding was about 2 weeks out…even though they had both response cards and a website address. At that point, I created a standard message and then both the husband and I went to work on facebook sending individual messages. The message emphasized to not respond to our message but to GO TO OUR WEBSITE because that’s where we were compiling the information. It was a lot of tedious work (it wouldn’t have been so bad if we’d done a mass message but I hate receiving those), but within 2 days we had almost all of our responses back…which meant that I could then go and buy appropriate amounts of alcohol, food, and stuff.

    • youlovelucy

      Track them down for sure. We only had about 50% of our guest list respond before our RSVP cutoff date and I sent out another mass message with the link to our website RSVP, but still ended up calling about 10-15 people, most of whom responded that yes, they were coming. It’s a pain, but it saves me the anxiety of wondering if I’m going to have those 15 additional people show up unannounced.

    • http://midwestlantern.blogspot.com/ Midwest Melissa

      Yes, you’re playing with fire. Sorry.

    • JESSICA

      Track, track, track them down! We had an international wedding in a country where neither us nor any of the guests lived, and people were coming from a bunch of different countries. So few people RSVP’d by the date (maybe half) and then when we followed up, it turned out that a bunch of people we were sure were coming couldn’t make it, and a bunch of people who we were sure would not come RSVPed yes. So please track down your guests otherwise you could be way over or way under your anticipated amount. Do it for both your sanity and your bottom line — I promise it will be worth it!

    • Emily Rae

      To go slightly against others advice, I say try to track them down, but at the end of the day don’t go crazy if your extra steps don’t work. We used online invites, and over 60 (!)people never responded to the invite. A few did to follow- up email, fb, phone calls etc, but by the time we came to two weeks before the wedding I had moved on. We also had a buffet we did ourselves, so we weren’t worried about food. Do try, but people who ignore multiple mrthods of communication can get to be a lot. Unfortunately in cases like mine you may have to learn to let go ( and it’s for sure okay to recruit family to help with the follow up) but I hope you have better luck! In the end I just counted on, numerically, half those missing people to show up anyways and that’s exactly how our numbers worked out.

    • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

      Hey Ali,

      We’re having a destination wedding and invited a BUNCH of people we don’t expect to show up. Like you, we didn’t include response cards with our invitations and asked people to call us or visit our website.

      They’ve got awhile before I actually positively have-to know they’re coming or not (you’d think if they were traveling they’d know way in advance but apparently I’m a crazy planner and love to travel….) but our plan is to check in with everyone. Not in a “gah! you haven’t replied” sort of way but a “Hey, how’s life going? Using this opportunity to check in with YOU and your life.” I’m not great at keeping in touch with people and am trying use the “tracking down” to benefit everyone.

      • H

        “our plan is to check in with everyone. Not in a “gah! you haven’t replied” sort of way but a “Hey, how’s life going? Using this opportunity to check in with YOU and your life.” I’m not great at keeping in touch with people and am trying use the “tracking down” to benefit everyone.”

        This is an excellent way to look at this potentially irritating situation- I love it!

      • Ali

        I guess it might not be that hard really to check in with everyone especially if we divide it up. All of my and my fiance´s “invites” will be pretty easy to send a facebook message at the very least to check in. And my mom and his mom who went crazy adding lots of people to the list can be responsible for their invites! I guess I actually feel a little awkward asking people who I dont think will be able to go because maybe they feel bad telling me no even though I totally understand and dont want them to feel bad… Haha anyway I know I totally overthink it.

        Anyone have advice for wording of these “checkins.”

        • Marina

          “Hey, how’s it going? How’s your cat? Are you still skateboarding? We should totally get together sometime. Do you think you’ll make it to the wedding? If not, let’s grab coffee sometime soon.”

          • Ali

            Haha Thanks!

  • http://www.madeinmorningside.blogspot.com MadeInMorningside

    Oh God we are already coming up against the dreaded guestlist. We have found our dream venue and though it was reasonably priced until we talked to the caterers, who are charging the same amount R and I would spend on a dinner together with wine, per person without…GRR!!

    Anyways the choice has now become find a new venue or cut the guest list. And we were toying with the idea of if we didn’t know a friends partner only inviting them for the evening but the friend for the whole day. But it seems a bit off when they will have to travel to attend. Interesting to see here that that’s not really the thing to do.

    I kind of think if we don’t know the friend well enough to know their partner’s name then do they need an invite, but the way the friendship groups work out that means excluding some friends just because they live further away.

    Sorry not much help to “Stressed”….

    • Amy March

      I think it’s extremely off to invite for only part of the day, but I’m in America. I hear English customs on this may vary

      • http://www.madeinmorningside.blogspot.com MadeInMorningside

        Yeah it is very common here, but mostly for people that don’t have to travel. Work colleagues and such like. xox

  • http://lovelydesigngirl.blogspot.com/ Marie-Louise

    Two weeks before my wedding, one of my bridesmaids decided to inform me that she had invited her ex boyfriend along. They had split up years previously and she definitely did not have a date or plus one on her invite. Her reasoning was her ex was having family illness problems and needed her support. What at my wedding?!!

    After much to-ing and fro-ing of fraught emails, I decided to let her bring him. I wish I hadn’t. He didn’t socialise at all with any of the other guests, didn’t wear a tie and was the only one wearing sunglasses (outside thankfully). And as a thank you for their dinner and drinks (and her getting a whole bridesmaid outfit) I got nothing, not even a card.

    It’s nice to see it turned out better for others but it’s really not a fun way to test your friendship.

    • Ambi

      Okay, so I am the first to admit that I have never been a bride, so I could be completely off base, but . . . as someone who has been a bridesmaid so many times, I kind of disagree with your approach. I have only been in one wedding where the bride didn’t allow single bridesmaids/groomsmen to bring a date, and it caused a lot of resentment (I wasn’t one of the singles at the time). In this case, the wedding party came from all aspects of the couple’s lives and really didn’t know each other at all. We all traveled half way across the country to be there, and we were there for several days, through quite a few events (rehearsal dinner, wedding day, sunday brunch, etc.). Some of these people had boyfriends and girlfriends that they weren’t allowed to bring, so they were basically alone for the entire weekend. Obviously, they were adults and they handled it, but it was a bit frustrating. One of the groomsmen, who was in a long distance relationship with a girl who happened to live relatively close to the wedding town, had her meet him and stay with him there all weekend – but she wasn’t invited to any of the events, because he didn’t get a plus one. So, while he was at the wedding downstairs, she hung out in their hotel room upstairs and just waited. At the end of the night, after the food and cake were served, the bride actually told the groomsmen, “hey, it’s okay if you want to invite your girlfriend to come down and join us now.”

      I’ve traveled alone to be in weddings where it just didn’t make sense for my boyfriend to come along, and it was fine. Really fun, in fact. But I think the idea that the wedding party is just there for the bride and groom, and that they don’t need their own dates, ignores the fact that they are guests too, and you want them to have a good time.

      I guess, as a bridesmaid currently, I am a teensy bit frustrated by the whole dynamic between brides and bridesmaids. Personally, I don’t view the bridesmaid outfit as a big perk of the experience. People choose to handle the purchasing of bridesmaids dresses differently – I’ve been in weddings where the bridesmaids paid for them and weddings where the bride paid for them, and both were absolutely fine. But if I am a bridesmaid and the bride purchases our dresses, I don’t want to feel like I owe her anything in return.

      As for gifts, I tend to bring a gift, but not always – for example, in the wedding I am about to be in, I’ve hosted a shower, attended three showers (at all of which I brought gifts), purchased all the necessary bridesmaids attire, spent money to attend a bachelorette party, and am helping to host an event during the wedding weekend. I’m gifted out, and I don’t feel bad about the fact that I probably will not bring another gift to the wedding. I think we have talked on this site about the fact that no one owes the couple a wedding gift. If attending (or being in the wedding party) is all they can handle at the moment, that is more than enough.

      Of course, I always have to come back to the fact that I haven’t ever been there. Maybe I have these ideas because I haven’t been faced with the reality of throwing a wedding yet. But I think it is interesting to talk about our cultural attitudes to bridesmaids and groomsmen – are bridesmaids there to help the bride (do they have obligations and duties?), or are they simply guests that are getting a special honorary mention?

      • Anon

        Yes. Yes. Yes.

        All I ask is, at least write a card. To the couple. The gift thing I am with you 100%. But I was surely hurt when all three of my bridesmaids didn’t gift OR card anything. No acknowledgement. Wow. Made me feel like maybe they weren’t so happy to be there after all.

        So. That’s my thought.

        • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

          I think that the support and love the wedding party gives the couple is a gift in and of itself, and I would never expect gifts from people who were doing so much to make my wedding experience what I want.

          At the same time, a handwritten card from ANYONE (particularly those close enough to be part of a wedding party) would mean the world to me.

          • Ambi

            I get it about the card, but at the same time I tend to feel like, if I am living this moment with you, and telling you how much I love you and am happy for you, and trying to calm your nerves the morning of, and standing beside you and passing you tissues through the ceremony, and giving you a HUGE hug afterward and danced like crazy with you all night . . . a card just seems . . . unnecessary. I guess I wouldn’t ever expect my mom to give me a gift or a card on my wedding day, I would expect her to BE THERE in the moment with me. And that is kind of how I have always viewed bridesmaids. Does that make any sense?! Of course, now I’ll get a damn card! :)

          • Lizzie

            I 100% agree with you, Ambi. I am all about writing a heartfelt note when I can’t be at an event that I really want to be at, but if I’m actually there, I never seem to be able to find anything to say but “This is awesome! So happy to be here!”, which, duh…why don’t I just get back to being present on the scene?

          • Amanda

            Agreed – a card allows the guest (or bridesmaid, or cousin, or Mom!) to put into writing all the words she might say over the course of your wedding planning, that you can actually go back to after the fact.

            I was hurt by the many, many people who did not gift us anything on our big day (normally unheard of in Western Canada), but was totally *crushed* by the lack of cards. I would have given anything to have a card full of well wishes from our guests, so that we could look back in the years to come and relive the joy. In fact, my husband and I contacted a few key people in our lives after the wedding and made a gentle request that they send us a card with some words about our wedding day. I needed those for my scrapbook, more than I needed a gift!

            TL;DR If no gift, WRITE A CARD.

        • MC

          Hm. When I’ve been a bridesmaid, it never occurred to me at all to send a card. I think I would have thought of that as a “by the way, in case you were worried, I wasn’t faking all that joy and love on your wedding day”.

          This is probably totally inconsistent, though, since I’m sometimes quietly worried when I make someone’s wedding cake and don’t hear from them about it – did they secretly hate it? Were they totally disappointed and didn’t want to tell me? Aaack! Which is also kind of non-sensical, because people send thank-you notes for things they hate *all the time* anyway.

          Next time I’m a bridesmaid, though, I will send a card or something. :-)

          • Ambi

            MC, you and I think alike!

            By the way, it just dawned on me that that whole “five love languages” thing kind of applies here. Some people show love through gifts. Some through words of affirmation (a card). Some through being there and spenidng quality time together. Some through acts of service. (and some through physical touch and sexuality, but I doubt that applies here).

            Anyway, we have to keep this in mind for our friends (and bridesmaids) as much as for our partners. I am definitely showing my cousin love through acts of service (throwing her rehearsal dinner) and not so much through gifts. I think she gets it, but I am probably going to be more aware of how SHE recieves love best (and I think for her, it might be words of affirmation – so a card!).

        • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

          Yes, I am one of those people who save cards and then enjoy re-reading them after the fact. :)

      • Liz

        Oh, but my problem is the bridesmaid brought him up TWO WEEKS before the wedding! My seating charts would’ve already been done and those things are a BEAST.

        • Ambi

          So true! For me, this falls into the “I’ve never been a bride and don’t think about that kind of shit” category. She probably didn’t even realize that bringing her guy would cause so much stress.

        • Lizzie

          Totally agree on how annoying the seating game is, but having gone through it, I kinda figured afterwards that there was no way to escape some last minute table shuffling. That said, I am SO MUCH BETTER at sending on time RSVPs to invitations now that I have been a bride myself…

          Also: The practical way that we dealt with last-minute table-arranging versus having all our printed goods ready to go ahead of time is that we printed table numbers on little round stickers that we stuck onto place cards the morning of the wedding (place cards were a nice bright cheery yellow, stickers were white for a nice contrast). For extra fun, we tied the place cards to little suction cup glass marker people that were stuck on glasses, so the whole thing had kinda silly, whimsical, casual aesthetic but it was also quite functional (being able to identify your glass = fewer glasses required).

      • Marina

        I think it really depends on the group of people you’re inviting. At my wedding, most of the guests knew a large number of the other guests. So when a friend wanted to bring her boyfriend I’d never met, my main worry was that my friend would spend the day talking to all her other friends and the boyfriend would feel left out. (Which didn’t really happen–turns out most people are more extroverted than I am and don’t actually mind that kind of situation, go figure!) But the idea that one of my guests wouldn’t have fun without a date seemed pretty darn unlikely to me.

        On the other hand, if your bridesmaid (or any other guest) doesn’t know anyone else there, then I think it is a different situation and worth considering allowing the guest to bring someone.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      My fiance has demonstrated to me that attitudes towards cards can really vary. Cards are very important to his family, and there are rules about them. Thank you cards, for example, must say “Thank you” on the front in English, no matter how many times you hand write “Thank you” inside. [My fiance admits some of this stuff is crazy, but it’s better to just go with the flow on such small issues.] On the flip side, his family doesn’t give many gifts.

      In my family, cards are a complete afterthought. They just serve the purpose of gift tag or check wrapping. If my bridesmaid-sister is going to spend $3 to show me how excited she is about the wedding, she’ll do it with a potholder, not a card.

  • Elizabeth V.

    To avoid confusion on a mass scale, my response cards have each guest’s name listed with a check box for accept/regrets and the meal choice to circle. While I am under no illusion that I won’t have to call some guests because they forgot to send it back, it will be much easier to decipher who is coming and what they are eating for those that do! Since I designed my own invitation set, this was easily doable!

    • Lauren

      Elizabeth – that is such a great idea! Was it very labor intensive? I would love to do that (I am designing my own invitations as well) but I worry that it’s too large of a project for my 250ish guest list…

      • ES.TR

        We did names on invitations. The extra typesetting and proof reading was a bit of a pain. Along with the fact that you might have to go back and reprint specific invitation cards if something gets stuffed up. I guess it depends on how you’re printing them too. I did mine at work and it made the reprinting annoying because I couldn’t just print an extra 15 blank invitations in the one go, I had to keep going back to prin one invitation for Joe Blow (+1 … Or not)

      • Lynn

        Not Elizabeth, but it was not time-intensive for us and our 250ish guest list. I hand-wrote them, along with the number of guests we were expecting from that party, on the RSVP cards while I was addressing the invitations. It added maybe 30 seconds to each invitation and it wasn’t a pain because I was already writing.

        But then again…I like writing ;)

    • Heather

      Elizabeth, that’s exactly what we did, minus the dinner choice and plus a “___ of ___ will be attending”, with the number on the second blank line filled in so there was no question of exactly how many people were invited. We still had to track people down, but I don’t think a single person tried to add someone who wasn’t invited.

      • http://www.wed4lessnw.com Lindsie

        Instead of having an M______________ line on my RSVP cards, I had just a blank line, where I hand-wrote each guest’s name. I also had a line for __ seats have been reserved in your honor. Writing their names + giving a number of chairs = no confusion, right? Wrong. There were still people confused. But only like three out of 200, so I think I did well. :)

    • Remy

      Heh, commented earlier before I read all the way down here. This is how I’d want to do it!

    • Emily Rae

      That’s how our online invites and rsvp’s were automatically handled. Thanks, glo!

    • Ruth

      Something that is also helpful, particularly if you have a lot of in town guests and have your wedding at a busy time of year, is to have separate check boxes and numbers for the ceremony and reception. We had quite a few people who came to the ceremony, but couldn’t make it to the reception, so it was nice to know that they would need chairs at the ceremony, but we didn’t need to buy dinner for them.

  • rys

    I think Liz’s advice is spot-on. It might be helpful to distinguish what “single” means — there’s a huge range between not dating anyone and in a long term relationship but not married. I don’t think the latter = single. And as someone who has been very single in the former sense, I don’t want the pressure of needing to scrounge up a date for a wedding. I’d rather just go and hang out with my friends or, if I don’t know the other people there, meet them.

    That said, I think it is important to think about table arrangements — place single people with their friends or with people — coupled or not — you think they’ll like. Speaking from annoying experience, a singles table of the teenage cousins plus the lawyer colleague plus the poet friend from college plus the parents’ divorced friend plus the elderly widowed neighbor is not a good plan.

    • Meredith

      YES! – especially to ‘deciding who is single’ part. I’m not married, but have been with my partner for ~7 years, living together for 3. It has happened 3 or 4 times (in the last 2 years) that one of us was not invited to a friend/ family member’s wedding (usually me as he has a big family and lots of weddings). It’s…very off putting… (achem, and I’ll leave it at that, lest I descend into a wild tangent)

      • http://www.notintentonarriving.blogspot.com Kristin

        Not to start you on the wild tangent (and hopefully not to get myself in trouble with Ms. Manners or Liz!), but I’ve been that annoying guest who writes “2” when the envelope just has my name. I’ve been with my partner for eight years, usually longer than the couple getting married, and I do actually get offended when only one of us is invited. It’s a subtle way of saying that our relationship isn’t as valid as theirs, just because we aren’t planning on getting married right now.

        That said, the comments here made me realize that it really is incredibly rude to just write in both of our names, and force someone else to call and tell me it’s not okay. Instead, when it happens again, I’ll call them myself and explain that unless my partner is also invited, I’ll have to decline.

        • Laurel

          Ugh. I would LOSE IT in that situation, especially since it would feel specifically invalidating of my queer relationship.

        • Liz

          No trouble here. ;) I think you’re right! But I’m glad you’re opting for phone calls instead of angry scrawling, haha.

          Maybe I set a low bar, but I consider anything lasting a year to be worth the “committed relationship” status.

          (Even though I’ve been in year+ relationships that didn’t work out.)

          • LikelyLaura

            See, instead of making the judgement call yourself, I think this is a great time to catch up with your friend and sneak in a “So, Sally, is this thing with John serious?” And if Sally says yes, then add “I’d love to meet him! When can we meet for dinner?”

            It’s a win-win – you get to hang out with your friend, get to know the new guy/girl (not a stranger anymore!), AND find out if you should extend that plus one.

          • http://arduousblog.com ruchi

            Yeah, so this is really where it gets tricky for me.

            I have no problem in theory with being invited without a plus one as a totally single person. I was invited without a plus one to lots of weddings and was never upset about it. We did invite people with a guest, but that was a choice we made because we had very few truly single people and we could afford it.

            BUT, deciding whether or not a relationship merits “serious” or not is where you can get into trouble territory.

            My husband and I moved in together within three months of dating, started talking marriage within five months, were pre-engaged by nine months, and officially engaged by eleven months. (I never thought I’d move that fast, but when you are in your thirties I guess it’s not that uncommon.)

            A lot of people do their guest lists before save the dates go out and make determinations on the status of how serious a relationship is then. But save the dates often go out six months to a year in advance. By the time the wedding rolls around, that is enough time for someone to meet someone and be really darn serious.

            So I’d suggest being really thoughtful about how serious a relationship is and consider your demographic. If your friends are mostly in their twenties and a ton of people are coming single, it might be okay to not invite the boyfriend of six months. When I was invited to weddings without my boyfriend in my twenties, I didn’t mind because all my girlfriends were mostly going alone.

            But when you are in your thirties and practically everyone you’re inviting is paired up, I think I’d err on the side of inviting the boyfriend of six months.

            Also, I personally object to the “are they living together” criteria for inviting sig os because plenty of people are very serious and don’t live together for a variety of reasons. But that’s just me.

          • Liz

            I think guest lists flux between save-the-dates and invitations if only for the reason you mentioned.

            I was early twenties when I got engaged, and early twenties? Relationships are changing all over the place. Good thing I didn’t send save-the-dates because, whew.

            The parameters for determining what is or isn’t a “serious” relationship may seem arbitrary, but when it gets down to actual PRACTICE, I think people use common sense, don’t they? You were only with your partner for a few months, but you were living together = serious. Kristin was together for a heck of a lot of years but not (at least not that she mentioned in this thread) living together = serious. Case by case, yo! You’re not writing out these invitations in a vacuum!

          • Marina

            My bar was even simpler than that–if I or my husband had met them, they were invited. Because really, if a friend is in a serious relationship with someone you’ve never met, maybe you should look at spending a little more time with your friend.

        • http://www.wed4lessnw.com Lindsie

          Oh my gosh. I can’t imagine not inviting a partner of 7 years! We made the simple rule of 6 months in the relationship, the partner’s invited. Less, and they’re not. We made a couple of exceptions, though (for example, my bridesmaid who didn’t feel comfortable driving 6 hours 100% alone).

        • Lauren

          I’m all over this too. I’ve been to three weddings in the past two years without my boyfriend, and he’s been to one without me. Just because we don’t live together doesn’t mean we’re not serious! Argh!

        • suzanna

          Kristin, I think you make a really good point about all the potential emotional pitfalls of wedding planning–on the bride/groom side and on the friend side. It’s hard to believe that your friends would leave out your 8-year partner on purpose, and THAT deserves a phone call, for sure! Know what I mean? Like, if it was an innocent mistake, it’s just time to catch up with them. However, if it was some sort of statement, then…maybe they’re not such good friends?

          I don’t mean to make assumptions about your particular situation (of which I know nothing), I just think you made a great point about not assuming what’s going on for the bride/groom, and trying not to read anything into it. As this web site re-confirms every day, wedding planning is HARD, and probably nobody is trying to hurt anyone’s feelings. Talking to friends = best idea, in pretty much any situation.

        • Nina

          THANK YOU. For all of us other ladies out here in long term unmarried relationships. Like Liz and I were talking about above, I think not inviting a partner because there’s no ring is effectively sending the message that an unmarried relationship is not as valued as a married one. Which I find offensive. Since, like you, my unmarried partner and I have been together long enough to see some of our friends married AND divorced.

    • http://www.designflourishes.com Sarah

      Yes! As someone who has attend about 20 weddings as a *very* single girl, please seat me with people I know regardless of their marital state. This is doubly true for out of town weddings including friends or family I don’t get to see often. I hate being sat at the singles table of strangers when I could be talking to my cousins (who I never get to see) and their husbands. I am (well, you know, probably) not looking to hook up with the hot groomsman, so don’t let the “rule” that says you have to seat singles with other singles keep you from making good decisions. It’s like any other “rule” or “tradition” – if it doesn’t work, toss it.

      If I don’t have anything in common with the others at my table, I will probably eat and then go pull up a chair at another table before toasts and cake. I have totally laughed about this situation with a couple of brides after the fact. Generally, the couple is so busy and blissed out they could care less where I sit.

      • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

        Why would anyone seat their single friends with a table of people they don’t know? To my mind, I would worry about my single friends if they had no one they knew, but if I could seat them with friends or family they’ve met before I would be able to relax a lot more, knowing they were taken care of.

    • Jashshea

      Yes! There is an odd number of college friends in my group and ALWAYS being seated with the non-marrieds felt so Bridget Jones to me. The singletons and I would joke that they were talking about lawn care and caesareans while we were talking about keg stands and sucking face with the hot groomsmen. My plan is to seat those people by where they currently live now: D and J live in the same city, so I’ll seat them at opposite tables, so they can catch up with other people. But, really, they’d better be on the dance floor the whole damn time anyway.

      • http://www.designflourishes.com Sarah

        Right, sometimes the singles-table works great, but sometimes it feels like a leftovers-table. If it feels like a leftovers-table to you as you are planning, for sure it will feel like a leftovers-table for the people sitting there.

    • Abby

      Part of why I am pro “and guest” is that I think that judging the seriousness of another person’s relationship gets into pretty ridiculous territory.

      My husband and I were engaged <1 year after meeting. But, if there had been a wedding before then, and people followed the "one year rule," we wouldn't both have been invited.

  • Caitlyn

    I recently received what I consider to be the oddest rsvp postcard. The wedding invitation was addressed just to me although I’m engaged and have been with my guy for almost 5years, which I thought was a little strange. BUT THEN! The rsvp postcard allows you to “joyfully accept” with “_#_ family members” or “with a guest.” The post card also asks for an adult only reception, but otherwise I feel like this couple is just letting their guests determine how many people will come to their wedding/reception. This just seems so strange to me because I wonder, am I just invited? Or is it assumed that my fiance is also invited?

    My fiance are still up in the air about plus ones. Our friends that are in long term relationships will obviously get to bring their person, but we might invite some people just on their own since our reception space is limited. Also our “rsvp cards” are not ones that get sent back to us, they just say please respond and give our address and my phone number. That way I can talk to everyone about their food issues, and hopefully it will limit the “who’s invited?” confusion. Since we are only inviting people we are really close to, I don’t have any issue with tracking down people who don’t rsvp because they are confused by lack of tiny envelope and pre-filled out card. I have to say that Miss Manners really got to me about rsvp cards before I ordered my invitations.

    • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

      Miss Manner’s really got to you! hahah, ME TOO!! Plus, its a great way for a couple, one of which is a broke grad student, to save money on invites. Add a phone number or email and voila, couldn’t be easier.

      My fiance and I see the ‘and guest’ issue very differently. Luckily, most people invited have what I would define as a serious relationship, or they are a member of the family (so they know almost everyone anyways). If we had a lot of single guests I am sure there would be lots more arguments over the guest list.

    • Moz

      To avoid problems, I’d just call them. Can’t hurt.

    • Erin

      They may really be letting their guests decide. In my area, it’s common practice to invite entire churches – we literally printed an invitation in our church bulletin and people from church RSVP’d via a sign-up sheet. Only family members and close friends who attended the church got actual invites (and of course we mailed invites to those who do not attend the church).

      This is, of course, playing with fire, but at the end of the day we had estimated very closely how many would come (and who they were) and it fit within what we could afford. Because we’re very active in this church and because I had attended since I was 6, it was important to us to be able to do this.

      So anyway, that is a long story to say that some couples do sort of leave that open-ended, and your fiancé may well be invited. If you’re unsure, I’d just call and check!

      • Kristen

        this is common where I live, too – North Dakota. :) You just kinda guess and everything turns out okay.

      • Another Meg

        Definitely call and check. If you know them well enough to go to their wedding, I’m guessing you can call them. I had this question with my cousin’s wedding and ended up having a really nice conversation with her. Never hurts to ask.

    • Anna

      I’ve received an invite like this and it was just what it appeared to be, a free-for-all. There were +500 people at that wedding!

    • blissing

      I have to wonder if this is because all the standard reply cards have this blank place for the guest to say how many are coming. I can see people just ordering them and not realize what they’re doing.

  • tamara

    obviously you need to throw the soiree you can afford, so you’re already being guided down the right path. Like others have said, this isn’t a right vs. wrong issue, so don’t fret about it in that sense — it’s more about Hostessing & maximzing the fun for your guests. my $0.02 is that i would seriously encourage you to try and give Plus Ones if at aaaaaallll possible. weddings are THE MOST couple-y event in the history of world; going solo sort of emphasizes that whole SOLO part. which is not to say singles can’t come and have a good time. of course they can. but as the hostess of this party ask yourself: will my single friends have MORE FUN with a date? and don’t you want your guest to have THE MOST FUN (EVER) at your party? the reality is, most people will say yes — that i will have more fun with a date; be in romantic or platonic. people just like having “a person”; it’s emotionally comforting. a person to dance with, to talk to, to feel soldiarity with; even to designate as the twosome’s DD, woot party time! So, do what you can afford, first and foremost. but on that note — ask yourself is there something else you can give up — don’t buy napkins; take the cheap ones the cateror gives you with the disposal silverware; maybe 80 bottles of wine is enough; you don’t need 100? etc etc —- and let your single friends bring a date. (also on the “i don’t want strangers at my wedding” sentiment — (1) you will most likely NOT notice the odd folks there in your blissed out state or even if you do, it won’t damper your joy considering you know & love basically everyone else, so i say, EEEhhhh to that. (2) unless you’ve met and intimately know Every Single Person on your partner’s side of the family…uhhh, already going to be “strangers” (to you) there anyways! and (3) sometimes those Plus Ones can be the LIFE OF THE F-ING PARTY, so you know — keep an open mind. ;) GOOD LUCK TO YOU.

    • Erin

      I think it also depends on what type of wedding you’re having. Ours was a very family-and-friends affair – that is, lots of people knew lots of other people. There were very few guests who wouldn’t have known at least 2-3 other people (in fact, I’m not sure there were any).

      I don’t think not giving singles a +1 is a big deal IF there are other people they will know and whose company they enjoy. If, on the other hand, it’s a college roommate who won’t know all your local friends, I think it’s only polite to give them someone to talk to. After all, you won’t be able to pay much attention to them!

    • youlovelucy

      I can honestly say that there are 2 or 3 weddings where I’m glad I went by myself, in one case because my fiance wasn’t invited and in two where he just didn’t go because well, he didn’t know anyone else. I was able to socialize more with friends because I wasn’t worrying about whether or not he was having a good time.

      Part of this depends on your friends. I’m the type of person who isn’t very good at striking up one on one conversation with strangers, but if I’m in a group with a few other people I know then I have no problem trying to get new people into the group if they’re looking a little lost. So if you have a single friend who you know is painfully shy, then maybe they should be able to bring someone if they don’t have any good ties with other guests.

      On the other hand, we have a few single guests that outright asked, “if they would have to find a date to bring,” and were relieved that they could fly solo. I know they’ll get along fine without dates, and I’m not worried about them at all. You don’t need a partner, you can always make your own fun.

      • Sarah

        I have never interpreted a +1 to mean that I should find a date to bring along. Good to know that there can be that confusion.

        • youlovelucy

          Yea, it was a weird question. I think they were more worried that I would exile them to some table full of single people they didn’t know instead of sitting them with couple friends they did know. Which is not happening, because that also seems weird. But maybe it’s happened to them before? Who knows.

          • Sarah

            I have definitely felt like I was expected to bring a guest when I got an invite with +1, and I would honestly much rather have attended on my own.

        • rys

          I don’t think I’ve ever read a +1 as a must do, which clearly it’s not, but I have been invited to weddings where it’s felt like an obligation rather than an invitation. This had more to do with being asked “Have you found someone to bring yet” (often asked by, ahem, parents of the couple, etc). When perpetually single, I think the “and Guest” can be fraught, especially since not everyone thinks that +1 can mean friend, same gender or not. But hopefully people know their friends well enough to decide whether a +1 will be perceived as a benefit or a burden.

    • http://somewhatbookish.wordpress.com Carrie

      “don’t you want your guest to have THE MOST FUN (EVER) at your party?”

      This thought has been really sticking with me as I read all the comments. I think it’s an interesting way to approach the “plus one” dilemma, but I can honestly say that I never even considered the idea that my wedding should be the “most fun ever” when planning (or when attending). I wanted our guests to have an enjoyable evening, yes, and I was definitely concerned with feeding them well, but I thought of our wedding more as a really meaningful life event that I wanted to share with the folks important to us than as a party. I don’t think it’s wrong AT ALL to think of it as a party, I’m just not much of a party person, so that wasn’t how I approached it. In fact, I probably would have died of stress if I thought I had to make my wedding that fun. So much pressure! :)

      • ElisabethJoanne

        Totally agree. My future husband and I are not “fun” people, not in the usual sense of “fun.” Fun for us is an engaging conversation about why people would kill each other over whether religious images were good or evil. Not the kind of thing that transfers to a party for 100 people of different religions and ethnic backgrounds. In addition, how do you plan something that’s THE MOST FUN EVER for 100 people ages newborn to 92?

        We think of our wedding reception as a particularly meaningful party. So meaningful, it excludes some kinds of “fun.” Jello shots immediately following our High Solemn Mass just wouldn’t make sense, for example. I don’t think even those usually inclined towards jello shots would really have fun if we tried to stage that.

    • cbaker

      I agree with this, and luckily our venue/food plan/alcohol allowance is flexible enough to do +1 for our guests. We are having super small bridal/groom parties to save on money (one attendant each), and cutting down in some other areas so that we can host an event our loved ones will have a great time at. We are leaving the “bring your kids” open to anyone that wants to, but making it clear that there will be drinks and no childcare provided.

      One friend in particular is super anxious (socially) and it would be a HUGE comfort to her to have her “own” person there. Also, she has great taste in people, so whatever stranger she brings will be an awesome addition to the festivities.

  • Alison

    Future-husband and I set out some rules much like the ones that Liz talked about (only people who are married, engaged, living together, or long-term dating get to bring said significant others). We also only have one friend who doesn’t know ANYONE else at the wedding besides us (a friend of mine from grad school), so she is getting “Friend and Guest” because it would be sad if she was lonely all night. There was also the unspoken rule of “if one of us doesn’t personally know the date, they aren’t coming”. THEN future-husband’s groomsman invited this girl he had been “seeing”… without asking us. And he hadn’t been seeing her long… AND she lives 3000 miles from where we all are located, so he doesn’t even see her that OFTEN. AND at the time that I found this out, the groomsman and the girl weren’t even SPEAKING. I was legitimately angry… and then I realized that she probably wouldn’t come anyway (even if the groomsman did invite her) because chances are, they still wouldn’t be talking in 5 months and even if they were, who is going to fly 3000 miles to go to a wedding of some people you’ve never met with a guy you barely know?

    What I’m saying is… sometimes you have to pick your battles and let logic (rather than emotion) dictate how you handle individual situations. Make your rules, whatever they are, stick to them the best you can, and when sh*t goes sideways, figure it out as you go along. There are a lot of stressful (good and bad stress!) things that go with planning a wedding (duh) and adding more is just… well, it’s just silly.

    I hope, Stressed, that your guest list and RSVP-ing goes well, and happy wedding!

    • http://www.breakingdownthebank.blogspot.com EmilyEF

      Ugh, this same thing is happening to us. One of our groomsmen was just broken up with by his live-in girlfriend (who we loved). He just assumed that he would be able to swap one guest (who we knew and loved) for another (who we had never met). I completely saw red and did some yelling, and then my lovely, calm fiance called him and suggested that his groomsmen duties might take so much of his time that he wouldn’t be able to properly attend to his guest, who wouldn’t know anyone. BAM problem solved.
      I agree that the moral of the story is that sometimes it’s better to take a breath and see if the problems solve themselves. Wait for a few more RSVPs, and it may turn out that you have room for the extra person. It’s annoying, rude, and stressful, but it’s also just part of the deal with weddings.

  • Kara

    The kindest way anyone dealt with the +1 for me (in my long single days) was a good friend who sent the invite to just me–then sent a follow-up email that if there was “someone special” I wanted to bring, would I please let him know so that they could welcome him as well. There wasn’t, but it was really welcoming. I did similar for our wedding.

    (And best of luck to you!)

    • Lauren K.

      This is lovely, and I’m going to use it for a couple of people I’m inviting.

      My other thought is that if someone is traveling long distances to get there, they should have company for the weekend, if they want it. My wedding is only one evening, and their travel time may be greater. I’ve gone solo to numerous weddings. The best ones have been either where I knew other people or where other friends of the bride made a point of including me. But there have also been ones that would have been less painful if I weren’t alone.

      • Sarah

        The best ones have been either where I knew other people or where other friends of the bride made a point of including me. But there have also been ones that would have been less painful if I weren’t alone.

        Yes! And this is such a case-by-case basis for me as a guest. Can only imagine it’s case-by-case on the other side.

    • Marina

      Wow, that’s a really classy way to do it. Kudos to your friend.

    • Rebecca

      This was how I handled it with a good school friend at our wedding, and she did have a someone. He turned out to be a total douche, both at our wedding and ultimately to her, but I still think it was the best thing to do (given his douchebaggery was unknown at the time, she was travelleing a long way, and she really liked him).

  • http://doux-style.blogspot.com Hannah

    I didn’t mind about the money so much when we were getting married as I did about having randos hanging around. We had a wedding of ninety people and it was very personal and sweet and I didn’t want people I didn’t know or love. Of course if anyone was in a serious relationship I included their partner but I wanted to be surrounded by our people. Not the random friends of our friends.

  • Elizabeth

    The thing I do not like about the “married, engaged, living together, long-term dating” rule is that it forces you to put a value on someone else’s relationship. Like, “oh you have only been dating two months so that doesn’t really count.” Two of the couples we invited to our late summer wedding last year had only been seeing each other for a couple of months. Both are now engaged and getting married before the end of this year. Two of the other couples we invited were living together. Now they are broken up. I’m glad we gave everyone a chance to bring a date, and really only a handful of single people took us up on it, so it didn’t affect our budget too much.

    • Victwa

      I fully, fully agree with this. To me, the message of “you are a grown adult and able to make this decision on your own” is important enough for me to include a +1 for any single person on our guest list. And while people might feel like they can mingle successfully with other singles or friends, I also have a friend who is a total introvert and does NOT like the “meet people! have fun!” kind of situation. For her, it would greatly lower her social anxiety to be able to bring another human being. And I’ve had enough people date and marry people I thought were total duds (but still had to invite places!) that I chalk the “I don’t know them– what if they’re lame?” up to the same thing.

    • http://www.wed4lessnw.com Lindsie

      There’s a flip side to this, though. When I had only been dating my fiance for a few months, I definitely did not expect to be invited to weddings on his side of the family/friends. It was cool when I was included, but I wasn’t like, “Oh, you don’t see value in our relationship” when I wasn’t invited.

      The reality is this: You may be perfect for each other, but if you haven’t made that next step of long-term commitment, there is a difference between your relationship and the relationship of those who are living together/married/engaged/long-term.

      Being seen by friends and family as being in a committed relationship is something that is earned over time. If a couple has only been in a relationship for a couple of months, they’ll get there. For now, though, that couple has to wait it out and continue to show that they’re working toward commitment. And go through not getting invited to all of the weddings, just like the rest of us did.

      • suzanna

        I’m with Lindsie on this one. “Being seen by friends and family as being in a committed relationship is something that is earned over time.” It’s not a judgment on you or who you’re dating.

        As someone whose many siblings have dated many people over the years, I don’t just welcome anyone into important family events. It MEANS something to be there.

      • Nina

        “Being seen by friends and family as being in a committed relationship is something that is earned over time. It’s not a judgment on you or who you’re dating.”

        I’m NOT with Lindsey on this one. And how much time is long enough? Is seven years long enough? Because at that point, it sure as hell feels like a judgment.

        (Yes, still pissed that I get left off invitations after seven years.)

      • Michelle

        I agree with Lindsie so much. Setting an “amount of time dating” requirement (in the case of my wedding, 6 months) is an objective way of making the +1 decision. It’s not placing a “value judgement” on anyone’s relationship, it’s a necessary cutoff since we just can’t afford to invite everyone in the world.

  • Lisa

    I think the whole idea of “plus ones” is kind of weird. Why would you want someone you’ve never met attending your wedding? In most cases, anyone you invite to your wedding will know other people there, so why do they need to bring someone else along too? Even if you have a guest who won’t really know anyone else at the wedding, you can seat them at your table, or seat them with people you think they’ll like and make a point of introducing them.

    As you can probably guess, we’re not doing plus ones for our wedding. Obviously we’ll invite partners, fiances, spouses, etc. of our friends, but as mentioned above, that’s a different case entirely.

    • Maggie

      “I think the whole idea of ‘plus ones’ is kind of weird. Why would you want someone you’ve never met attending your wedding?”

      I can definitely understand why people wouldn’t want to invite plus ones… but for us, it ended up being a “the more the merrier” occasion. There were already people attending whom I’d never met, as I hadn’t gotten the chance to meet some of my partner’s family and friends, since they don’t live nearby, and vice versa (and this after being together for 5 years). And the “plus ones” who came to our wedding were among the most gracious and fun-to-hang-out with guests. We had a buffet dinner, and had already bought tons of extra food, so “per plate” cost wasn’t really an issue, and it was outside and we had plenty of seating (to a point, of course–but plus one isn’t the same as “and all your neighbors and coworkers, too”).

      I may never see them again, but I enjoyed sharing my joy with them on that day. Different strokes, right? :)

    • Carly

      I think it’s about being a good host. The reception is, in a way, a big party that you are hosting. If my guests were spending time and money to come celebrate with me, I wanted them to fully enjoy themselves. I didn’t want people at my wedding to be uncomfortable or lonely, especially if they didn’t really know anyone else there. I understand people have different opinions (and budgets) on this though.

      • http://www.wed4lessnw.com Lindsie

        I think there are other ways of being a good host. Not every occasion calls for the same type of guest list.

        • Carly

          I totally agree there are other ways to be a good host. In my opinion, this is one way of many ways, but it is a big way. That’s why I said I know not everyone feels this way.

          • tamara

            I 100% AGREE WITH YOU, CARLY. :) in my mind, letting someone bring a guest if they want (and they may not want to! but giving them the choice) is the mark of a conscienceous hostess, which is how i am choosing to approach this situation. which is not to say you’re *not* a generous hostess if you don’t do +1s; this is just 100% the right – and only — approach FOR ME personally. So +1s for ALL guests was non-negotiable. we planned our wedding around everyone getting to bring a partner. :)

          • Liz

            But it just depends on the party, am I right? A conscientious host of a big old barbecue might say, “Bring all your friends!” But when hosting a small quiet night of just wine and chit chat for your closest friends, allowing people to bring other guests isn’t conscientious. Same goes for weddings! There are all types.

    • Maddie

      When we got married, we invited one or two of Michael’s college friends who would have known NO ONE except the bride and groom, so we gave them a “plus one.” One of Michael’s friends from college ended up bringing a close girlfriend of hers that neither of us knew, and the only way that it affected us was that Michael’s friend was able to have a better time with her there. Her friend was lovely, and it made it easier for Michael’s friend to avoid his awkward engineer friends who were trying to hit on her.

      Sometimes I think it might be worth putting ourselves aside for a moment for the comfort of another. Do I want a stranger at my wedding? Probably not. But I want a lonely friend there LESS.

      That said, our wedding was BIG. So an extra body wasn’t a huge deal, and our friend would have probably gotten lost in the crowd without her.

    • Maddie

      While I shared my experiences, I also want to echo what Meg said a few comments above. You don’t *have* to invite people you don’t know to your wedding. For me, it wasn’t a big deal, but for others, I know it is. That said, I like Meg’s idea of taking good care of the folks who wouldn’t know anyone else, which it sounds like you are.

  • blimunda

    From an European perspective, I think it’s not weird or rude to invite a single guest without a date. It would actually sound weird to me if anyone asked me to go with them to a wedding of a couple I don’t know. When I was single I was invited to a wedding where I only knew one guest, but the bride and groom made sure a few people knew I existed and took care of me. I don’t remember at all if there where couples or singles at my table or on the dancefloor- they were nice, welcoming people and it was a lovely night.

    • Marina

      This is exactly my perspective–why would a guest want to go to a wedding of someone they don’t know and a party of people they’ve never met? I’ve been assured by my more extroverted friends that this counts as a good time for some people, though. I guess it takes all types.

      • http://theaftercath.blogspot.com Cathi

        Indeed. I have a friend who is the go-to guy as a “rando +1″. He’s super friendly, a great dancer, and probably the most enthusiastic person I know who will squeal with glee when he sees a bride and tell her how beautiful she is and how happy the couple is going to be. He’s a wonderful wedding guest and loves going.

        Me? I’d rather stab my eyes out with a dull spoon than attend a wedding of someone I don’t know.

  • Pingback: Ask Team Practical: Guests, RSVPs and Dates – A Practical Wedding | Wedding Ideas Tips()

  • http://twitter.com/cupcake_orgasm Red

    Liz – “Mr. Ben and Ms. Eileen Dover and Family” does the trick). If an invitation just says, “Ms. Fanny Pack,” had me cracking up at my desk at work (oops).

    And I just wanted to chime in and say that I went to a friend’s wedding solo (she had told me I could bring someone if I wanted since she knew I was single – she also gave me the rundown on the cute single guys that would be at her wedding… talk about a kick ass bride!). And 3 years later I am still dancing with the the guy who pulled me out of the cake line at her wedding. Since said guy is also her brother, I made sure that we sent them a very nice 1-year anniversary present as a thank you.

    So YES! Single folks can find love at weddings, I’m a big supporter of going solo and just having fun rather than dragging a date along when you aren’t in a relationship just to have someone on your arm. You never know what can happen!

    I wish people would just ask. I did for another friend’s wedding that was out of town. I was single and I knew I’d only know the bride and one other person at the wedding, so I asked if I could bring one of my female friends along. The bride told me the more the merrier and everyone had a great time. But if she had said no, I still would have gone and would have completely understood the decision.

  • Abby J.

    This was totally me. I was one of the original LWs, actually.

    About 2 weeks before my wedding (planned on a very short time frame) we tested our supposedly 100 person capacity venue and discovered the only possible way to arrange the tables to the maximum would allow 92 people. And this was approaching my RSVP deadline where we had sent 120 invitations. Cue major freakout.

    I was careful to address my invitations to only the people invited, no “And Guest” was ever mentioned on the invitation or the RSVP card. Still, though, I had several friends who were polite enough to ask me before RSVPing if they could bring a date, and I had to be honest with them and tell them about my space issues. But I did have one guest who added her +1 without asking, and I had to call and explain the situation to her. This particular +1 was someone who had never even bothered to introduce himself to my fiance at several different group social events, so I really didn’t want him at our wedding. My friend ended up declining the invitation. Or rather, she didn’t tell me she was declining, but she didn’t show up to the wedding. Sheesh, thank goodness for buffet food pricing rather than plated food pricing.

    I just want to say, Liz’s advice is excellent. I recommend plenty of bourbon, enough time to calm down, and a gentle but firm phone call. Six months down the road the friends I really care about, the ones who asked first, are still with the partners I wished I could have included in the wedding, and are still close with my new husband and I. The friend who pulled a no-show has gradually filtered out of our life, but in a natural way, as she and I were never close to begin with.

  • youlovelucy

    I wrestled with the best way to address this. We built our website and RSVP form ourselves, but really couldn’t devise a good way (at least, not without more time and more programming knowledge) for people to not add in names of extra guests. So I resolved that I would have to do a fair amount of policing, tried to address our invitations very clearly, and added our answer to ‘Can I bring a guest’ as part of a FAQ page on our website.

    There were two friends that I had to outright tell not to bring guests (both guests weren’t significant others, just random friends who we didn’t know at all), but the others were less cut and dry.

    My aunt rsvp’d that her son and his (uninvited) girlfriend would be attending, but I let that slide because I hadn’t realized how long they’d been together. While I don’t know her, I had a feeling (and now it’s been hinted at) that she’ll probably end up being part of the family, so we let it slide. I’m excited to meet her.

    A friend of the family rsvp’d and included his wife of a few weeks. He was single as of about 2 months ago, but mostly it was just a weird thing to find out via a website rsvp. Still, they rsvp’d very late and we’re about 10 people under the number of people we budgeted for, so we let that slide too. If we’d been over budget…I might have let it slide anyway, just to stay away from any unnecessary drama.

    Liz’s advice is spot on though! Bear the awkward (and potentially aggravating) conversations as best you can, and always have liquor readily available as a back up. ;)

  • Amy March

    I’m single, and I love going to weddings alone.

    But- in my head one of the duties of the groomsmen is to ask single ladies to dance. So remind your dudes! Of course I’ll just join the party for a fast song, but it’s nice not to have to sit out all the slow numbers.

    I’m surprised by how many people have had issues with wedding party members being invited without guests- that’s a time when I really think you should offer them a guest if they’d like- they’re doing a lot for you.

    • youlovelucy

      All of Bryan’s groomsmen are single, and that is a fabulous idea.

    • http://butnothanks.blogspot.com NB

      Can I just give a giant “AMEN!” as an aside?

      Because yes, your wedding crew—whether single or partnered off, or soon to be hooking up with your college roommate—are so often the social glue that gets everyone together and grooving. I don’t think I totally “got” that until our wedding, and now I look back, sigh, and think: thank goodness for our little band of jubilant, miscreant, lovers of weddings and celebration. They were so gosh darn excited and full of love about Wedding! Yay! that they just sort of…swept everyone else up in the tide, singletons and couples alike.

      If you can, it’s awfully nice sometimes to outsource those “Is Everyone Having Fun Yet?” duties to the team of oh-so-excited buddies who haven’t spent the last three weeks worrying about whether Aunt Bertha is going to complain about the artichokes. Frankly, they were much better at brining the fun than Husband or I, and it gave us more time to make out. Win-win!

    • http://twitter.com/cupcake_orgasm Red

      Funny you should say that! The wedding I referred to in my earlier comment, the guy I met, is the brother of the bride and he was a groomsman. His sister kept “yelling” at him through the night that he couldn’t just keep dancing with me, that she had other single friends he needed to take around the dance floor too.

      He ignored her, the other single girls had fun, and now she gets claim to us being together only because she decided to get married, throw a party, and invite me to be a part of it all.

  • Caroline

    The RSVPs are rolling in right now. We haven’t had much trouble with uninvited guests (yet), although our elderly cousins who don’t drive at night and have arranged for someone to drive them to and from the wedding did request that we “add their driver for dinner”. Um, yeah. Anyway, we are having people RSVP through our wedding website. This is good for several reasons: 1. You can’t add someone’s name to the online form, so there is no writing in of guests, only people whose names are on the list are able to respond. 2. We have a running list of who is coming to what ie. rehersal dinner, wedding, etc. without needing to read anyone’s handwriting or enter this into the computer ourselves. 3. It saved a lot on postage for response cards and larger invites. 4. We can use the same website to plan out our table later on.

  • Katie

    I’m in the process of sending out my invites. We are only inviting a few people to bring a plus one. My friends who are engaged or living together were easy to address, I put both there names on the invite, but how do I address the envelopes to guests who are not living together? I don’t have an inner envelope or a reply card. Should I put “and guest” on the mailing envelope? Or enclose a note on the inside “Paul, if you’d like to bring Amy please let us know”? Thoughts?

    • http://www.madeinmorningside.blogspot.com MadeInMorningside

      I would address it to the person you know best and send it to their house but on the invite write Paul &Amy or whatever. Or address it to both of them at one persons house? xox

    • Elsie

      What we did in this situation was to address the front of the outside envelope to the friend or family member that we knew best (and whose address we knew), and then on the inner envelope we put both names. So, if we knew Jack, we’d send the invite to him, but then wrote “Jack and Judy” on the inner envelope to make it clear that both Jack and his significant other were invited.

      For couples that we knew equally well, we sent them each their own invitations, which I think is the technically proper way to do things for all guests.

    • Carly

      We also didn’t have an inner envelope, so we just addressed it to both people, at the address of whoever we knew better. That way they were both on the envelope and there was no confusion as to who was invited.

      • Anna

        You can put both their names on the envelope, even though only 1 of them lives at that address.

    • H

      I’m having a similar sort of difficulty- one of my mom’s sisters has four kids. Two are married- easy. Two are not, but are in long term relationships, and both live with my aunt. One is 30, and his girlfriend has come to several family events over the last six years or so that they’ve been together. One is 21, and has been with her boyfriend for two years or so, and I’ve never met him.

      How do I address invitations? I wasn’t planning on inviting the 21 year old’s boyfriend, but I realize that just because I think of her as 16 does not mean that’s true! Do I need to send THREE sets of invitations to the same house? How could I possibly address the envelope if I did just one?

      Aunt, Uncle, Cousin & Guest, Cousin & Guest

      ? Far more complicated than I’d imagined.

      • Liz

        Even though they’re still under the same roof, I’ve sent separate invitations to adults. (So, basically, yeah. Three invitations to one household.) I figure as adults they get to tell me for themselves if they want to come or not- I’m assuming they all don’t have the same schedules and social lives by the time they’re 21 and 30.

        • ElisabethJoanne

          Also, you never know how well mail gets passed around in a household, or doesn’t. The headaches I’ve had as a young adult because my parents can’t keep track of mail! I’ve actually missed wedding invitations because they didn’t have my name on them, just the family’s, and my parents then lost the invitation.

          • Dana

            Another vote here for separate invites to the same household in your situation “H.” Yes, you can look at it as a waste of paper and a waste of money, but for the people on the receiving end, it is the polite thing to do. I have two adult cousins who are sisters, not married, sharing a home. One is in a long-distance relationship. For an upcoming wedding, they received one invite for the both of them, with no guests. They were quite insulted and feel like they were only invited out of family obligation. (Which may be the case, but you certainly don’t want your guests to actually feel that way, right?) Anyway, not getting a +1 option is a different issue here.

            Adults under one roof, (who just happen to be related) should receive their own invitations. This goes for younger single adults living at home with their parents, but any relatives that share home. In my cousins’ case, they are single women in their 50’s. A shared invite makes them seem like spinsters.

            And I also agree on the flip side – I have lived on my own for more than 10 years and I still receive invites to family events at my parents’ home. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s a little inconvenient and shows some laziness on the part of the host, not to check on my current address.

      • Jess

        Yea, you need to send the adults living at home separate invitations. I’d define adult as “graduated from high school.”

        Also, on the flip side, if the young adults are NOT living at home (and not in like, a freshman college dorm), send them an invitation to THEIR OWN house! I’ve gotten various invitations sent to my parents house while not living there (annoying but not the end of the world, I lived close) but so has my brother (who lives across the country). So basically you’re telling my parents to spend the money to forward the invitation to him instead of calling someone to find out his actual address.

        • ElisabethJoanne

          What Jess says, Exactly! 100x

          Again, my parents have lost invitations for me sent to their home. They’ve wrongly responded for me. They’ve delayed in getting me the info. My parents’ disorganization is not a virtue, but nor is brides’ laziness when they know I’m at school 3,000 miles from my parents.

          And with Facebook and e-mail, it just takes a few seconds to send a message, “I’m about to send out wedding invitations. What’s your address at school?”

        • H

          Excellent points- thanks, all!

          Three invitations to one house, it is….

          (and Jess- YEP! That has DEFINITELY happened to me!)

        • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

          I got an invitation at my parents’ home once, only they never told me and I missed the wedding. And I could have gone and would have wanted to go, had I known…. But my frustration was with my parents, not the bride.

    • Liz

      What everyone else is saying! Both names to one address.

  • Elsie

    Thank you, Liz, for standing with Miss Manners against the assumption of an “and guest.” At our wedding, most of our friends also had other friends there so that we knew they wouldn’t be awkwardly alone, with one exception– and that friend I made a point of introducing to other friends at a shower, and now THEY are good friends, which is awesome. We did have a couple people ask to bring guests that weren’t on the invitations, and we decided to give in… and then both were no-shows at the wedding!

    • Liz F

      Introducing people at pre-wedding events-GENIUS!

  • ES.TR

    We only had one uninvited RSVP. We did RSVPs by email so replied to it. They RSVP’d pretty early so we said : yay we’re glad you’re coming and excited you have a new partner. We might be able to accommodate them but can we get back to you after all the RSVPs are in. Also let’s have a beer and meet the guy!
    I felt fairly strongly about meeting him before the wedding and in turn I think it made him more comfortable coming to the wedding.
    I think it depends on the friends and you’d know yours best. In our case she hadn’t had many “boyfriends” so we felt it was significant for her and made an exception. If it was someone with a new partner ever week we may have acted differently.
    Of course as the story goes neither if the couples we ended up making an exception for are still together 6 months later. Oh well.

  • lara

    SOLUTION: The best way I’ve ever seen to deal with this is as follows. Cut the problem in the stem with the RSVP card itself. (Yes, calling afterwards is always an option, but quite frankly, it can be really awkward. It’s a good suggestion to pick up the phone after the fact, but it’s easiest to avoid is altogether). If you set the RSVP card up right, you can avoid many a problem.

    Ours worked something like this… Have your standard “M____________” for them to fill in their name, “accepts with pleasure”, “declines with regrets” etc. But in another line, include ” __ seat(s) have been reserved for you”. If you’re sending it to a single friend, put a “1” in the blank and there’s no confusion. They know “ok, it’s just me, because there’s a certain number of seats at the wedding and I fill one, not two, just because I want to bring a date”. We also included a “total number attending ___” space so we knew that if we invited a family of 5, it was once again clear that 5 would be attending.

    Most importantly, stop feeling guilty about your wedding. A lot of the comment section from this post has turned into a plus one or no plus one debate and I say… forget it. You know what you can afford, what the venue can accommodate, or what you want for your own wedding. Own it and make it clear ahead of time with your RSVP cards. This way, you avoid confusion and the uncomfortable sensations that come with telling a guest they can’t bring a date.

  • KatieBeth

    The planning process has just begun for us, but this is basically my nightmare, that friends will bring some random guy/girl who we don’t know and/or throw a fit that they can’t bring a guest. I personally have always loved weddings, whether single or with a guest, so it really grates on my nerves when friends complain about weddings being a personal affront to their singlehood or that they MUST have a date or they couldn’t POSSIBLY have fun. Obviously it’s a different situation when the guest knows no one else but the couple – but I’ve found that my friends tend to believe the old-fashioned idea that weddings are a “couples-only” phenomenon.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      In Meg’s next book, she can address how modern weddings create this particular kind of guest list angst. While my old etiquette books have lots of rules for adults-only parties that would now likely be family events a lot of the time (basically, all parties in private homes), they generally assume children will be invited to weddings. The norms have totally flipped on children attending dinner parties v. weddings.

      I think once there’s children, it’s easier to attend without a date, because it’s already not a big group of coupled adults. By moving from “light refreshments” at home to fancy catered affairs, we’ve also added this “plus one” angst.

    • Kess

      But not everyone has the same personality as you. Think about the people who are not social butterflies and want to support you during your wedding, but are not terribly comfortable being alone at a party – even if they might know 2 or 3 people. Those 2 or 3 people may not realize that they’re the safety net for the somewhat shy guest and they may get left out unintentionally, or feel guilty for making another guest be with them.

  • Megan

    We just got married (two weeks ago!) and we were very loose with our guest list plus ones. We even had a little place on the RSVP where people could write the number attending, although we tried to control this a bit by addressing the envelopes following strict Miss Manners guidelines. It worked for us. We lucked out in that our caterer was relatively inexpensive, we were providing the alcohol ourselves, and our venue did not have many size restrictions we couldn’t meet so marginal costs per guest were not beyond our means. I also hated the idea of being the relationship police and trying to vote on which of our “single” friends deserved a plus one or not. It was easier just to say everyone can name their guests.

    I think the guest list is really one of the main areas where the “Wedding couple as participants in major life event” butts up against “Wedding couple as hosts”. As people participating in a major life event, it makes sense to only want those closest to you around to witness it. But as hosts, you want your guests to be as comfortable as possible, which may mean allowing them to bring someone you’ve never heard of. I felt a little uncomfortable with the “bride” identity and more comfortable with the “host” identity and it was more important that my guests were taken care of and were happy than that I felt deeply connected to every single individual there to celebrate my life event.

    One of my favorite and most clear memories of my wedding day is sitting at the table with my new husband at our reception, looking around the room filled with our family and friends, listening to the ever increasing din of people talking and laughing and thinking “We did this. We created this fun experience for everyone we love” and feeling my heart swell up. It made all the last minute rearranging of seats and RSVP chase downs worth it :)

    • Liz

      Congratulations, newlywed!

  • Jashshea

    I must be uber immature, but I laughed for tens of seconds at Mr. and Mrs. Eileen Dover. FYI.

    • ANDREA

      And Mr. Ben

      • Jashshea

        Totally missed that on the first read-through. Double HA.

        • Maddie

          And then sometimes it takes the comments for one of the staff members to recognize when her brilliant colleagues write hilarious jokes.

          • Jessica

            I missed that one, but laughed out loud at Ms. Fanny Pack.

  • katieprue

    Maybe consider something a little more casual if you know you’re not up for dealing with the stress of micro-managing your guest list down to the very last seat. We ended up with some wiggle room at the end of our invitation-to-RSVP window, and I was really glad I had the extra space and money to say, “Oh sure, he/she can come along!” I am fully aware that this can’t always be an option, but we were happy that it ended up that way.

    Also, maybe it’s a midwestern thing, but do NOT get upset that people don’t know what a lack of “and guest” means. People really just have no idea. They’re not being rude. Go easy on them, and pick up the phone if it’s going to be a problem! If it’s not someone you can just call and hash it out with, maybe rethink that invite?

    • http://www.sarahhoppes.com Sarah

      I grew up in rural Ohio, and think the bafflement at “and guest” is very much a midwestern thing!

  • Ms Whatsit

    Just to give a shoutout to an APW sponsor, we’re using Glosite, and it is really helpful with this situation. When you invite someone, you can set who they can RSVP for individually. Therefore, if Ms Fanny Pack is single and you aren’t giving her an additional guest, there’s only a spot for her to RSVP. It has her name and a yes/no option. If the invite is for a couple or family, it will list both/all of their names (or a generic “guest”) with a yes/no option for each of them, and any member of the household can make or change the responses. Also, if you’re inviting people to only part of the wedding day/weekend the guests will only see and be able to RSVP for the events that they are invited to. It’s awesome!

  • Erin Spencer

    I ran into the same problem and here’s what I did. It takes some extra time but it leaves no one with the thought that they can bring someone extra. We had three different sets of response cards sent with the invitation.

    For people who were not getting a plus one, we wrote, One seat has been reserved in your honor.
    For couples, Two seats have been reserved in your honor.
    And for families, The favor your reply has been requested.

    We kept the bottom of each the same, a place to fill out names, and boxes to check accept or decline.

    It really helped and I think got the message across in a classy way!

    • Michelle

      We did a very similar thing with ours and it worked super well!

  • Aly

    We took a “the more the merrier” approach at our wedding, so we invited all single folks with guests. It was already a big wedding, with plenty of family/family friends that we didn’t know, so it wasn’t a big deal to us (not saying everyone should do it this way – I totally get why others may not want guests at their wedding). We actually only had one person show up with a guest that we had no knowledge of before the the rsvp’s came in – most of our singles wanted to hang out with the other people they knew, not find a random date.

    One funny story though – we have one family friend who is a single mom, but we knew had recently started seeing someone new. We invited her as “Lucy and guest and family,” as kids were welcome as well and we did not know the new person’s name. She responded that 2 people would be attending, without writing names. For some reason, I assumed that meant she would be bringing her daughter not her girlfriend, and wrote out the table assignment cards under that assumption. I felt really bad when I saw her there with her girlfriend (who I was excited to meet!) – I really should have checked who exactly she was bringing!

  • Katie

    I don’t think it necessarily makes sense to just seat singles together, unless they don’t know anyone else at the wedding. At my wedding, there were WAY more couples than singles (we are among a group that has gotten married/engaged relatively young), but we just sat the singles with the other people they knew and normally hung out with, even if that meant a table of mostly couples and a few singles. They all seemed to have a great time, regardless of the fact we didn’t invite them with dates.

  • kara

    Our venue holds 200…our guest list was 225. We chose to only allow plus ones for bridal party & friends. If guests are related to one of us, not in the bridal party, and not engaged/married/have a child with, etc, no plus one. We figured since we were only doing this to family, it’s safe since they know people.

    We also cut kids under 10. I’ve prepared myself for the RSVP from my cousin including her, her monster child, and whatever guy she is dating at the moment. I’m hoping to avoid as I’ve already told my aunt our rules re: plus ones & children. This particular cousin though probably won’t listen.

  • HolidayJen

    Having been a single to many, many weddings before meeting my fiance, my 2 cents is to make a decision and *stick* to it!

    Back when I was a bridesmaid in my dear friend’s wedding and not dating anyone at the time, she did not invite me with a guest. Totally fine! No stress to dig up someone who would undoubtedly be standing around not knowing anyone while I fulfilled my maidly duties….no twinges of insecurity, filling out the reply card as just me. Great!

    Until 3 days before the wedding when she sent me an email “we have extra room if you want to bring someone!” Umm…thanks? Three days warning? I’m sure she was trying to be nice, but it came across as insulting and a little upsetting when I still just came alone.

    Also: I went to high school with a guy named Ben Downs and his sister Eileen. TRUE STORY. :)

    • Catherine B

      My father had a student named Rush Forward, with a sister Eileen. Maybe they were related. :)

  • http://twitter.com/barnswallowkate barnswallowkate

    Hahaha Liz “Ben and Eileen Dover” is killing me.

  • Dawn

    We’re in the process of planning our wedding now, and I came up with a solution that my mother swears is not tacky (she would tell me since I had to convince her that a buffet will not scream “we’re cheap!” although we kinda are). Since we’re having my fiance’s bff print our invites (woohoo!) I added the following line to our response cards “We’ve reserved ___ seats for you” where we can write in the appropriate number in the blank. This way there is no confusion.

    • Caroline

      We formatted our RSVP cards like this:

      M_________________
      __ of N will attend

      where N would be replaced by 2 for a couple (or a single with a plus-one), 4 for a family of 4, 5 for a family of 5, etc. (We had the cards printed saying “__ of __ will attend” and then I just filled in the second blank with the appropriate number of people for each invitation.)

      I mean, if people are bound and determined to bring an extra guest, this won’t stop them — they’ll just cross out the number you wrote in and write their own. (This did not happen to me, but I heard of it happening to other people on another wedding-planning community I was part of.) But this invitation wording does clear up honest mistakes or confusion about whether you’re invited to bring a guest.

      • Kess

        Ok, so maybe I’m just totally uneducated, but what the frick is the:

        M______________________

        ???

        What is that for?

        • KEA1

          Mr/Ms/Mrs/Miss so-and-so, where you fill in the remainder of the title as well as the name. It unfortunately doesn’t work if a person’s title is Dr., Rev., Hon., etc–but if your guest list included a lot of people with such titles, you’d presumably want to format your reply cards differently!

  • CBaker

    One of the BEST weddings I ever went to I was initially super anxious to attend. My boyfriend (now fiance) was a groomsmen for one of his best childhood-ish friends, and we were set to stay all weekend in a cabin (in the Colorado mountains) with the groom’s family.

    EVERYONE I knew except the groom’s family was in the wedding party and so somewhat unavailable to spend time with. The bride and groom (shout-out to Libby!) did an amazing job of including their other guests in all festivities, but there were still times when I was “on my own” (photography and what-not).

    So that’s what my concerns were, but what actually happened was that I met some wonderful and entertaining people and got to know the groom’s family (very important people to my fiance) better than I ever could have hoped. It was a FANTASTIC experience that never would have occurred if my “person” had been available/by my side all weekend.

  • CBaker

    After reading the above “playing with fire” question…

    I’m planning on sending invitations with a line that requests “Please R.S.V.P. on a postcard of your choosing” (or something like that). I love getting postcards! And a handwritten note, rather than a X in a box! And I have some super fun family/friends that will run out and buy some funky/awesome/vintage postcards (fingers crossed).

    Is this madness? Will I be calling/emailing/texting each of my guests? It’s kind of o.k. if I need to, because I like talking to them, but will it become overwhelming?

    This may also leave me wide open to receiving a post card that says: Aunt Milly plus twelve.

    • Liz F

      This is a super fun idea! But, I, as a guest, may be slightly annoyed by this. Usually when I receive an invitation I try to reply as promptly as possible and remembering to buy a postcard, track down your address, stamp it, and mail it may be an undue burden.

      I guess I would just be prepared to make phone calls.

      (And now I feel like the biggest wet blanket on the planet.)

      • Liz

        Liz, I was trying to think about this too. Traditionally etiquette-wise, this postcard method is right on! Emily Post would give you a hug.

        But the fact that you can send a person a stamped envelope with a pre-filled card that just requires a check mark and a signature and STILL need to chase them for it? I have a feeling your proposed method may be frustrating on both ends.

        • Liz F

          Totally agree, I’m amazed by the amount of hand holding that has to go on sometimes. I’ve poured a LOT of red wine for frustrated brides-to-be.

          I’m going to bask in my Emily Post hugs now…..

    • Jashshea

      It sounds like an awesomely fun idea. Do you have space if Aunt Milly says +12? And how many people are you inviting?

    • Lizzie

      Agree that I would find this both awesome and annoying. But maybe you could achieve something similar without the annoying part? I got a response card once that had a picture of the couple getting married with a blank outline of another couple next to them and a tag that said something like “Hope you can join us!” I of course printed out a pretty silly picture of me and my husband and cut it out and pasted it on the reply card and sent it back like that. Of course not everyone did this (there were no explicit instructions to do so), but enough people did that there was a cute display of responses like that at the wedding.

      • Liz F

        I would geek out to the MAX if given this opportunity.

    • Sarah

      I had a friend do this a year ago. Not sure how it worked out for her, but I did send a handwritten postcard. More fun than checking a box, but more work too.

    • rainy_day

      I would think this is a super cute idea.

      BUT I never have stamps (in the age of email, I think a lot of people rarely have stamps) and I take forever to do easy tasks, like buy a postcard and a stamp.

      So I would think this was cute, and then I would probably forget or take too long to take care of this, and you would be annoyed/stressed by my lack of RSVP.

  • WiscoSweetheart

    Our wedding is two weeks away (wheee!), and RSVP collection and negotiation was definitely one of the less fun aspects of planning. No real problems with adult plus-ones, but we DID have several issues with non-invited children. Our budget is very limited, so we thought it was reasonable to only invite our relatives’ children, and not the children of our friends (most of whom we don’t know very well, anyway).

    Several of our friends, however, thought otherwise! We had a few friends simply assume that their elementary school-age children were invited, and one more who asked us if they could bring their 16-year-old daughter. One friend, in particular, told me that she thought it was perfectly reasonable for parents to assume that they could bring their children to a wedding to which they were not explicitly invited. She chastised me for assuming that parents could/would want to hire a babysitter. My feeling was that especially for our friends who live nearby (which is most of them), it shouldn’t be too hard to find something for their school-age kid to do for one Saturday night! Or, they could decline the invitation.

    I’m curious if other people have experience this issue…?

    P.S. We ended up letting it go without much of a fight. Two extra kids are coming (including the 16-year-old), and the other parents decided to hire a babysitter anyway.

    • Liz

      Yes, I think this happens a lot, unfortunately (as made clear by people beginning to feel it necessary to explicitly add “ADULTS ONLY” to invitations).

      I wonder why that is?

      • http://pinchofthis.wordpress.com Jen

        This happened to us too!
        We got lots of questions about it. One person even sent me an email saying, “so, I know that the kids aren’t invited to the wedding, but you know they love a good reception, right? They would have fun!”

        Umm…this is awkward.

        I’m sorry – I didn’t realize that they would have FUN! Silly me. Of course then. Wha??

        (me. Kind of sarcastic)

        • http://www.jandrfoods.com Rachel

          Oh lord we had this problem too. We made it very clear that it was an adults only event and we still had one couple whining about having to hire a babysitter when out of all the couples with kids they were the ones who needed “a night off” the most. My response to them (with a smile, complete understanding, blah blah blah) was we understand if you can’t make it due to the kids but we would love to have you there if you can make it. They did end up coming and had a wonderful time AND the kids were fine at home with the babysitter.

        • Ambi

          Aghhh, that is SO frustrating! I am currently planning and hosting my cousin’s rehearsal dinner. At her recent shower, a distant aunt mentioned that her seven (7!!!!) grandchildren are really looking forward to the rehearsal dinner! This aunt is invited to the wedding, but she isn’t even invited to the dinner (we are keeping it small, she lives in town, and she isn’t in the wedding) – but I guess she doesn’t know that?!. My mom is now tasked with the job of breaking the news to her. But thank the lord that she said something at the shower and didn’t just show up with seven grandkids in tow!

      • WiscoSweetheart

        Liz, I wonder that too. I do understand my friend’s justification that she doesn’t believe that she should have to go anywhere without her kid. Some of my friends bring their kids everywhere (restaurants, shows, protests, friends’ barbecues, etc.), and I think that’s wonderful. I’m glad it works for their family, and don’t believe that kids should be restricted from most places. But invitation-only events seem like a different ball game to me.

      • Jashshea

        I was thinking of putting it on the website. Unfortunately, it’ll have to be front & center, but I’d hate for people to book a flight for their kids only to find out that we don’t have room for them.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      *blushing*
      My parents are those people that brought their children everywhere, including weddings that were supposed to be child-free. It’s hard to explain my parents’ thinking, but it’s something like:
      1. They’re not into etiquette details, and most of their friends and family aren’t, either. All the clues about how the invitation is addressed were lost on them.
      2. They never have parties that exclude guests’ children. What a bother for all concerned to exclude children! So of course no one else is having a party that excludes their children.
      3. Their children are well-behaved and actually good company at parties. Why wouldn’t the children be invited for their own sakes? [Seriously, by age 12, Mom was bringing me as a date to fancy grown-up parties, not Dad. I was more fun at fancy grown-up parties.]

      Also, sloppy etiquette doesn’t help anyone. Lots of people address invitations ambiguously or plain improperly. I’m sure my parents have received invitations addressed just to “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” which were actually meant to include me and my sisters. [We know because we’re in close communication with the hosts.] When they next received an invitation addressed that way, it was reasonable, if wrong, to think that next one included the kids, too.

      • Aly

        I totally agree on that last part….I was once invited to a wedding of an old friend from high school that only had my name on the envelope. I therefore assumed my (then)boyfriend was not invited. We had been together for 2 years, but weren’t living together/engaged/married at the time, so it made sense. I went alone. At the reception, she asked where the boyfriend was – I said there was no “and guest” on the invitation so I didn’t think he was invited and she said of course he was! Argh!

      • WiscoSweetheart

        ElisabethJoanne, thank you for providing that insight. I suppose I assume that etiquette standards are more universal than they actually are. It seems perfectly reasonable, given the social circle your parents were a part of, for them to bring you everywhere! But I also see, as you point out, the places where misunderstandings can happen.

        I just wished my guests would have communicated with me more about it. It certainly did not feel great to be chastised for not inviting someone’s kid, or to receive (surprise!) word that we would have a few extra mouths to feed than we budgeted for. That’s the thing that’s made me feel most put out: not the “etiquette” thing, per se (I really do love little kids at weddings–so cute and fun!), but that parents don’t seem to realize that they are foisting additional costs upon me (over $30 per head!) that I simply can’t afford. If we had invited all of our friends’ children, it would have been an additional $500-600! Yikes. I do hope that parents understand–it’s not that we don’t love kids, just that this is a small affair with a very limited budget.

        • Liz

          That’s where my confusion lies. I’m guessing it goes back to what I said above- some people just don’t realize the extra cost (and for kids, preparation! possibly high chairs, entertainment, etc) of adding in extra people.

          You’re very gracious to say you understand why your friend would want to feel her kids are welcomed everywhere, but as a mom, let me tell you that I DON’T. I bring my little stinkbutt absolutely everywhere, but if we’re talking about any invitation-type event (wedding, dinner party, just coffee with a friend) I never assume he’s invited along, and I’m perfectly fine with having Grandmom stop by for a few hours to keep an eye on him while I mingle with grown-ups and sip some champagne.

          I’m sorry your friend essentially yelled at you, but I don’t think you were in the wrong to invite adults and then expect only adults to respond.

          • Liz

            But, Elisabeth Joanne, that’s not meant as a remark on your parents’ actions! Still just getting over whoever yelled at WiscoSweetheart

        • ElisabethJoanne

          I feel bad for certain times my parents brought me where I wasn’t invited. I’m totally fine with people saying my parents made some mistakes. They did, and I’m glad that now that I’m an adult, I can stop them from perpetuating it. I just wanted to explain, as accurately but kindly as I can, the attitude of people who make these faux pas.

          While I don’t judge people who have adults-only parties, I benefited greatly from my parents’ attitude, even if it did involve faux pas. After all, no one blamed me for my parents’ mistakes. I was comfortable talking to adults and in a lot of grown-up situations at a very young age. Personally, I can’t imagine having a party, my wedding included, that was adults-only. For us, that means limiting the guest list means limiting which families we invite, not limiting which individual family members we invite.

          I guess that’s an expansion of #2 from my explanation above. If your budget is $X or your venue holds Y, that doesn’t have to mean adults-only. Almost everyone has a limited budget and/or space constraints, but lots of people still invite kids (or plus ones). They just make different cuts.

          • WiscoSweetheart

            Liz, thanks for the validation! I don’t have kids, so I’m very wary of making assumptions about what parents do or don’t want, or treating “parents” like a monolithic group. But good to know that not all parents would be offended that their kids weren’t invited! (And of course, plenty of our friends didn’t say peep when we didn’t invite their kids–either they were ok with it, or they were ok with pretending they were ok!)

            And ElisabethJoanne, we did invite some kids–just drew the cutoff at kids we were related to. Our families are huge, but my partner and I both felt strongly that all family members of all ages should come to our wedding. We then, however, had to make a lot of difficult choices about who else to invite. Do we have to invite work colleagues? No. Do we want to invite people from our music-making community? Yes. We decided that it was more important to invite all of the adults in our community of musicians, rather than invite some of those adults with their kids, and not invite others. I agree that adults only does not have to be the only way to go. But no matter what, it’s a complicated calculus.

      • suzanna

        omg, ElisabethJoanne, are your parents hippies? Cuz this sounds really familiar to me (see my comment below about having no idea about etiquette until LATE in life). I sometimes love that laidback attitude, but…well, don’t get me started on hippie parenting. That’s a whole nother web site!

        • ElisabethJoanne

          I wouldn’t call my parents hippies, no. They’re pretty upper-middle-class conventional.

          My mother particularly just has lots of trouble with rules she considers arbitrary. We clashed sometimes when she’d buy me clothes that violated my schools’ dress codes. “But it’s modest!” “But it’s against the rules.”

          It’s not that she wants to break the rules. She just can’t imagine they’re really rules.

          So, when, even today, she receives an invitation addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith,” she’ll ask if I want to attend. I ask how the invitation is worded. When she explains, I say, “I’m not invited.” Her response is still, “Of course you are! They know you! You’ve attended their other parties.”

          Again, my mother’s attitude has its advantages. We’re crafting our own guest list rubrics and rubrics for how we address the invitations, so as not to give offense, instead of just blindly following my beloved antique etiquette books. Meg gets this right in her book. It’s really about being gracious, not rules.

          But sometimes the rules are how we express graciousness.

          • suzanna

            Yes, I’m with you. “sometimes the rules are how we express graciousness”–etiquette exists so that people don’t get their feelings hurt. My hippie family tends to have a similar attitude of (sorry–I don’t mean to bag on your mom, I’m talking about my family here) entitlement, as if the rules would never apply to them because rules are for people who, I don’t know, need them? And they’re somehow special? It’s an interesting thing to think about.

    • Melinda

      We had this exact same problem, because we realized inviting all the kids we knew would make half the guest list under the age of 10. Our guideline was how closely related they were to us. We purposely didn’t invite kids that weren’t brothers and sisters (three of mine are under 16) or nieces and nephews (I have a lot).

      Invitations were addressed without the “and family” and we were pretty firm if couples asked about their kids. However, several couples just arrived at the wedding with kids in tow. We didn’t even know they were coming. (Just a warning, it may happen!)

      At first I was irritated, but it turns out that it wasn’t that much of a problem. Enough people didn’t come so we could accommodate the kids without much of a fuss, and one little girl (a cousin’s daughter I think) spent about 20 minutes trying to make me laugh during pictures. Adorable!

      Do I feel a little bad about the families that didn’t bring their kids because we told them not to? Yes. But there wasn’t anything I could do about it, and they didn’t seem to mind anyway. (At least, not that they told me, lol.)

    • OJ

      Hubs and I didn’t have much of an issue with this (my niece & nephew were invited, and we told nursing moms that they should feel free to bring along the baby if that made life easier), but my sister & her husband were a bit older when they got married, so more of their friends had kids.

      Solution? Hired two local high school kids to babysit, ordered some pizza, and had them all in a lounge at the venue. The parents understood that kids weren’t exactly invited to reception, but they also didn’t have to worry about finding a baby-sitter in a new town. And if anyone was nervous about leaving their little one, they could duck to the lounge to check on them, and then come back and party without worrying about their toddler getting into trouble. (Two baby-sitters + some pizza was far cheaper than reception meals, and it let the party keep it’s more adult feel.)

      I know this won’t work in every situation, but I think it’s a solid middle ground if lots of your friends are new parents. My sister also had no problem making it clear that if someone was old enough to not need the baby-sitter, they were old enough to stay home (or in the hotel) alone.

  • http://pinchofthis.wordpress.com Jen

    APW. Timely as always.

    We used glosite.com for our invites and RSVP’s (p.s. amazing) so we haven’t had too many problems with this…because there isn’t room to RSVP for people who aren’t invited. For us, it helped to force the discussion for some people rather than just RSVPing and assuming that the bride and groom would let them know if it wasn’t ok.

    Anyway – for a couple of our guests who don’t have access to email we sent out paper invites. One of them came back yesterday and RSVP’d for 6 (2 were invited). I don’t even know the other 4 people….I’m so confused…who ARE these people?
    At any rate. I’m not looking forward to the phone call that we have to make this weekend (I even tried to pawn it off on my Mom – they’re friends of hers – but she wasn’t having it). Thanks for the advice about how to go about it.

    • WiscoSweetheart

      Good idea re: website RSVP-ing! What are those other people thinking, adding 4 extra people to their RSVP?! Good gracious. Unless you live in a community or a culture where weddings are open-invitation affairs (which it doesn’t sound like you do), I don’t think that’s ever acceptable. Good luck talking to them about it! :)

      • http://pinchofthis.wordpress.com Jen

        Thanks – I’ll check back and let you know how it goes…

        p.s. I’m in Wisco too!

        • WiscoSweetheart

          Yay, a fellow Wisconsinite! Happy planning!

          • http://pinchofthis.wordpress.com Jen

            two weeks.

            two.weeks.

    • H

      I think your Mom should have been all over it!

      Perhaps because I intend to put our moms all over the awkward family/parents’-friends calls that I know are likely to happen… we’re getting married a year from tomorrow (whoa!) but have been engaged for eight months, so they’re well aware that this is my plan.

      mwaha.

      I wish you luck! Let us know what happens! And who those people were/are!

      • http://pinchofthis.wordpress.com Jen

        oh, I still think my Mom should be all over it, but that’s probably a convo for another post. ;)

      • Ashley B

        I’m worried that if I did give it to my FMIL, I’d end up with 10 extra people!

  • Anneka

    My boyfriend went to a wedding recently where the money was so tight that the bride and groom had decided that (in addition to their families) they were ‘allowed’ to invite 6 friends each. The way this panned out was that the bride invited her 3 only girlfriends (no joke!) who were then of course allowed to bring their partners. The groom on the other hand had to explicitly tell his closest friends that their girlfriends and wives were NOT invited and also he couldn’t invite some of his other close friends. It was all handled exceptionally badly and feelings got hurt.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that weddings are political, even if you are the most chilled out person in the world. It’s ok to not have plus ones if the money is tight or you don’t want strangers at your wedding (fair enough). People are quite understanding BUT I think it’s important to communicate to them IN ADVANCE, i.e. before the invites go out, why you’re not having plus ones. It also saves you from having to tell someone who ‘just assumed it’s me+guest’ and has RSVPd accordingly (though there’s no +1 on the invite) that they can’t bring their short-term girl/boyfriend.

  • http://www.sarahhoppes.com Sarah

    I was the perpetrator of a horrible, horrible guest faux pass at one point, when I was old enough to know better but honestly just didn’t get it.

    A guy I was dating at the time and I had a mutual friend. She got engaged and was planning her wedding, and she’d told him we were invited. I was really excited for it! During the time between her engagement and wedding, the guy and I split up. Because he didn’t have a firm understanding of the etiquette surrounding weddings, he insisted I was still invited, and that I should go with him, despite the fact that we were not dating and I had since moved to a different state. I bought my plane ticket to go to the wedding, and even bought a dress for it. Since there were several months in between our breakup/my move and this wedding, the ex got a new girlfriend, and I was single. Somehow, in my crazy, post-breakup brain, I thought that meant I was still invited since the bride and I were mutual friends. I also assumed that meant I got to bring a guests, because I thought that’s just what people did at weddings. I had no understanding that the couple and their family are paying for every guest who rsvps, and sometimes paying a pretty penny! I thought this, although I never got any invitation whatsoever. It wasn’t even an issue of “Sarah” instead of “Sarah and Guest.” After booking the plane and getting a date (another mutual friend of myself and the ex), I then contacted the bride to ask for information about the logistics: venue address, ceremony time, etc!!!!!

    I not only invited myself to a wedding, but invited a date to that wedding. I was clearly, clearly a total and complete asshat!

    The bride was incredibly nice about the whole thing. I’m not sure how. Because I’m sure she was actually tearing out her hair and cursing my stupid, rude name for such a dick move. I ended up going to the wedding with a date! It was beautiful, joyful, and pretty small and intimate. She worked us both into the seating chart, far away from the ex and his new girlfriend, at a table of lovely people who we’d never met. It wasn’t until after the fact that I realized how completely rude the whole thing was.

    Some people are clueless. Completely clueless. And they probably won’t respond to subtlety at all (I sure didn’t!). If you aren’t able to have them, or their guest, at the wedding, being polite but very, very direct is the best approach.

    In this case, I think she just decided that, while ridiculous and totally uncool, this wasn’t a battle she wanted to fight in the midst of her planning, and she had more important things on which to focus. After I realized how badly I screwed up, I sent her a heartfelt apology and told her she and her husband were welcome to stay at my apartment if they ever visited nyc, complete with plenty of home cooked meals for the duration of their trip. She was (again) gracious, and she said she barely remembered the whole issue.

    I was (and remain) humiliated at my total lack of tact and manners!

    • Lizzie

      This story made me smile a little. I can completely picture your moment of realization and your ensuing embarrassment, but if I were you, I would take your friend at her word that it wasn’t such a big deal. It may well have been that she had debated inviting you herself and for whatever reason had decided not to, but then was happy to go along with having you there. Last night my husband and I went out for dessert, and after a brief discussion we were planning to split a cocktail, but then we either ordered a bit ambiguously or miscommunicated in some other way and we ended up with two. It wasn’t exactly what we intended, and in a certain mood or situation it might have annoyed me, but as it was we were happy to just have them both.

      • http://www.sarahhoppes.com Sarah

        haha! Thanks for the reassurance!

        I hope I wasn’t an annoying cocktail! ;-) I guess there aren’t too many situations of ill-received booze after dessert, right?

        It’s water under the bridge these days. She’s very driven and happy, and I don’t think she spends her time seething over the events of years past. I only brought it up because I feel like APW is a safe place, and people wouldn’t jump to tell me what an awful person I was. And because I feel like it was an awkward lesson in manors that really reinforced the “be direct” approach. I’ll share something unflattering if I think someone else can benefit!

        • Liz

          I cringed for you, but I think we’ve all maybe done similar (if maybe not in regard to weddings). I’m glad you went back and apologized after you realized your mistake! But it does go to show that usually folks aren’t trying to be rude. Benefit of the doubt!

    • clampers

      I totally agree with the “be very direct” approach. I once wrongly assumed I would be attending a friend’s wedding. A mutual friend and I were talking about it on the phone and she asked me, “Are you going to Erin’s wedding?” And I said, “Yes! I can’t wait. I love weddings.” And then she said, “Oh…did you get an invitation?” And I said, “No, not yet.” And then she said, “Oh…I got mine last month.”

      She knew I wasn’t invited. I’m sure Erin had told her that she couldn’t invite me. But I was seriously just clueless about the whole thing.

      I wish she had just said to me, “You know, Erin and I talked and money is tight right now so she told me she couldn’t invite you. I hope you’re not mad.” Because, yes, sometimes people just don’t get it! Like me!

      • Liz

        More than that, I wish Erin had called you if she knew you’d expect to be invited!

        • H

          This is such a funny thread for me- both of these things have happened to me!!

          I, too committed a terrible wedding faux-pas. I was my sister’s MOH when I was 19 and didn’t have squat to do with the planning- my mom and sister did it all. That was my only wedding experience until I was 23, in school, got my own invitation addressed to me at my dorm with no inner envelope, so I thought I needed to email my cousin (the bride) and find out if my boyfriend (now fiance) was invited–because I thought that the inner envelope was the only way to know who was invited, and without one, what was I to do? She was gracious and said he could come, even with me not knowing if he was available. A week before the wedding, I had forgotten to tell her he wasn’t available after all, and she had to email me to find out. in the interim years, I’ve apologized, but I still feel lousy about it. Oh, and when I mentioned it to my mom, she FREAKED about how rude it was (and it was SO rude, I get that now). But honestly, I just didn’t have the know-how!!! [though why I didn’t ask my mom, I’ll don’t know]

          And I wasn’t invited to a wedding that I assumed I was invited to, but thankfully the MOH knew that I was assuming (after being involved in all kinds of discussions with the bride and the rest of the wedding party) to be invited, and gently told me that since the bride’s parents were paying, all of their enormous family was coming and the only friends there was room at the venue for were people in the bridal party and their partners/spouses. Thank goodness she told me ahead of time and alone, because I was able to handle it somewhat graciously, instead of inadvertently letting the bride know that my feelings were hurt. I sent a heartfelt card, and wished them well.

          So yes, it happens. All of it! Hopefully the second event is karma canceling out my rudeness of the first!!

        • suzanna

          Sure, but–you know how many people “expect” to be invited? Who would never actually be invited? No way we can call all those people. Just saying…

          Sarah, that’s an awesome story. Thanks for sharing! My own completely rude and clueless snafus are below.

          • Liz

            I don’t know! I don’t know too many people who were actively making plans to attend my wedding without an invitation. And if I caught wind that they were, I’d definitely shoot them a phone call.

          • Sarah

            There are definitely times when I’ve been around a good friend planning a wedding who wasn’t inviting me to said wedding. Being clear that there was limited space when you’re having those conversations makes things a whole lot easier for everyone.

        • Nina

          Really? Pre-emptively calling someone to let them know they’re not invited? Why go out and create an uncomfortable situation like that? I mean, I understand when you have to make a phone call when you’ve received an RSVP that doesn’t work, but why go out of your way ahead of time and call up a friend to say, basically “yeah, so we’re not as good friends as you seem to think we are.” Because no matter how graciously you word it (not enough space, small intimate affair, etc), you’re still saying that they didn’t make the cut when they thought they did.

          Do you really think that’s the best course of action? (Serious question). Maybe it is: feelings are going to get hurt anyway when they realize they’re not invited. Maybe I’m just to squeamish to want to have to deliver that message over the phone.

          • Liz

            Interestingly, I wrote that comment as a guest, not a bride.

            I had a good friend from college announce her engagement and a few weeks later, call to let me know she loves me, but that she has a large family and I didn’t make the cut. Absolutely not awkward or uncomfortable, and I merrily sent my gift on its way.

            Of COURSE you can’t and wouldn’t call every person you’ve ever met and do this. How uncomfortable. “I’m not sure if you expected an invitation? But, you’re not getting one”? But if you’re aware someone is actively planning to attend, nip that ish in the bud.

            In the above situation, it sounds like a bridesmaid was sent to do some digging and informing which is uncomfortable in its own right. If there’s discomfort and possible hurt feelings to be had, as the host, I’d rather be the one to do it and make sure everything is handled with delicacy!

  • SweetAdeline

    The truth is, unless you have the funds or a small enough family/friend circle to invite everyone ever along with a guest, whatever you decide to do SOMEONE is going to be upset about it. Pick your battles. Take an honest look at your budget and make the fairest decision you can that doesn’t make YOU crazy. People will understand. And if they don’t, well getting upset about it isn’t going to do a whole lot of anything, is it?

    In our very specific case, we decided plus ones for the wedding party only, and guests in the cases of marriage/engagement/long standing relationship. Otherwise people came solo. Were some people pissed? Yes. We did get an RSVP with a written in +1 and had to have an awkward conversation. No, you cannot bring your girlfriend who’s-her-face. No, not even if you pay for her. No, it’s not my problem you think my wedding is the perfect time to introduce her to the whole family because she is THE (27th) ONE. He was mad. But he got over it. And her.

    This is one situation where you have to find a way to be as even handed as possible but do right by you.

    • H

      “No, you cannot bring your girlfriend who’s-her-face. No, not even if you pay for her. ”

      This is an awkward one. Our extended family has already offered to do this for people we weren’t going to invite, and it’s AWKWARD.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    We’ll be meeting with the printers in 8 days, and I’ve asked this on other forums, but let me see what APW does with it.

    What’s the best way to get guests to indicate how many family members, of several invited, are attending? For example, my cousin is married and will have 3 children by our wedding. They’ve already told us his wife can’t make it, and I can’t imagine him traveling alone with the kids, but of course we’ll invite all 5 people. Does this work? We don’t need to know about children’s meals nor have individual names for a seating chart.

    [Line for names]
    Please indicate numbers accepting and declining.
    __Accept with pleasure
    __Regretfully decline
    R.s.v.p. by October XX.

    But now I’m considering, “__ of X accept with pleasure.”

    • rainy_day

      Either seem just fine and equally acceptable/clear to me!

  • Sarbear

    I never took a date to a wedding before I started dating my fiance, and even then the first time was after we’d been dating for over a year. I never minded going to weddings alone. Yes, sometimes it’s weird if you don’t know anyone else at the wedding (been there) but I’m a friendly gal and always found folks to hang with. And in any case, I never felt like I was owed a date, or felt annoyed with the bride and groom for not inviting one with me. It never occurred to me that they should.

    That said, I’ve been invited to two weddings since becoming engaged where my fiance WASN’T invited, and I was pretty annoyed, not gonna lie. One of them had already received our save-the-date before she sent out her invitations, so there wasn’t a way she wouldn’t have known I was engaged. It didn’t change whether I’m attending or not, but it felt disrespectful.

    • Nina

      Exactly 5,000 times.

      • Sarbear

        Apparently hubris gets us all in the end, because THE DAY AFTER I POSTED THIS…one of my friends e-mailed me and TOLD me (not asked, mind you) that she was gonna bring someone “if it was okay” so she didn’t feel so “abandoned” during the reception.

        I was incensed.

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  • suzanna

    My experiences thus far (simply sharing because I think they’re hilarious memories):

    1) I’ve been the a-hole who just brought along a date (I don’t even think I RSVP’d) because I was raised by wolves, I guess. Sorry, I really had no idea at the time!

    2) I’ve been the “plus one” who was just invited because dude I’d been dating for 6 weeks didn’t want to be lonely. Turns out that dude was the BEST MAN at that wedding. Awful. Horrible. Experience. So dumb of him to ask me, so dumb of me to go. We broke up two weeks later.

    3) I’ve been the Single Lady seated at the table full of other Single Ladies and we had an AWESOME time. We totally hit it off. We were all friends of the groom (not exes), from all over the country, and at some point we all realized that we each thought we were the only Very Special Penpal of his. It was so funny, like he had been cheating on us, but with letters. We went out together afterwards, it was great.

    I can say now that I’ve been doing my own wedding planning, I finally have an idea of how important this stuff is. I guess my point is that your guests have their own lives and there is no way they’re thinking about this as much as you are. Best case scenario: they’re way more polite and smarter than me.

  • http://sarahayars.com sarahayars

    What worked for us was that I contacted the guests who had relationships where I didn’t know the partner/didn’t know if they had a partner after the STDs went out and I clearly told them that I hadn’t explicitly included a plus one but I wanted them to feel comfortable inviting a significant other if they wanted to. It was a small enough number that this was doable and less than half of them brought a date. A few more asked their partners at the time of the STD but one couple broke up and the other significant other either couldn’t come or didn’t want to. I’ll never know. I think this way let me clearly express my desire to have Significant Others there and not Random Dates but that I also wanted them all to be comfortable. Everyone knew at least some people and it was a really good night for everyone as far as I know!

  • http://www.carrieonwards.wordpress.com Carrie

    I only have a few single friends and would definitely prefer not to have strangers at my wedding. But I’m worried that since almost everyone will be coming from out of town that people won’t come if they have to travel by themselves. Does anyone have experience with this situation? Were singles willing to travel alone or did you give them a plus 1?

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Are singles willing to travel alone? Absolutely. I’ve attended weddings without my fiance because the date didn’t work with his work schedule. My good friend has attended weddings without her husband for the same reason. And I think most of my friends have traveled for weddings alone. I have before I was “in a relationship.” Plus ones are not the norm in my circle of friends.

      Personally, depending on what stage the romance is at and where and when the wedding is, I’d feel obliged to pay my date’s expenses if he’s coming to a wedding of someone only I know, or only I know well. So bringing a date about doubles my costs, and I can’t always afford that.

      Also, ummm, my friends are gossipy. I wouldn’t want to introduce them to a romantic partner unless it was very serious.

    • Ambi

      Yes and no. I’ve had a blast at weddings that I travelled to (and attended) alone, but usually it is when I know a bunch of people there. If these single guests will know several other people (especially people close in age), then travelling alone is no problem. But if i was going to wedding where I only knew the bride and groom and maybe one or two other people, I would be more uncomfortable travelling and attending alone. But in the end, as Meg says, they are adults. If travelling alone bothers them too much, they’ll either (1) not come, or (2) bring a friend/family member on the trip with them, just not to the wedding. This isn’t as awkward as it may seem – if I were traveling to a fun city for a wedding alone, I’d definitely bring my mom or best friend and make a mini vacation out of it. I doubt that my travelling buddy would care anything about going to the wedding, so the fact that they aren’t invited isn’t a big deal.

    • http://theaftercath.blogspot.com Cathi

      I think if the singletons are close enough to you, or know enough other people who will be in attendance, they will absolutely travel alone! One of my very good friends from college lives 2000 miles away right now and is over the moon to be coming out for my wedding. I even told her she could bring a friend if she wanted, even though as a general rule we’re not doing +1’s, (like the friend in town she’ll be staying with!) and her response was “Nah! Thanks though!”

  • Anne

    When my husband and I were getting back our RSVP cards, I loved opening the mail box everyday. It was like a little surprise!

    I loved it when people wrote a little note on the RSVP card as well :) It felt so much more personal.

  • Jamie

    I think a better way to look at this is not the “married, engaged, LTR” (or whatever) gets a guest, everyone else doesn’t” – but rather from the standpoint of making your guests feel welcome and comfortable. I had several single friends at my wedding that were invited without dates, but I knew they would have a great time because they are part of a larger group of friends who were also there. They weren’t walking into a crowded room full of strangers. I knew that they would know at least half of all the guests there, so it wouldn’t be a big deal. For my friend who lives across the country and would be attending my wedding not knowing anyone there but me, though, I invited her to bring a guest so she wouldn’t be walking into a room full of strangers. Some people are cool with that, some aren’t. Just know your guests. And you’re already being “unfair” by deeming that someone who lives with her boyfriend is an invited guest, while someone who doesn’t cohabitate isn’t, so that’s not really a problem.

  • Ambi

    I’ve been the uninvited plus one that someone rudely brought along (without my knowledge beforehand, though a tactless family member mentioned it at the wedding). So, just a reminder – don’t blame the date. They likely have no idea that they weren’t invited. When someone invites to go to their cousin’s wedding as their date, you generally don’t say “are you sure you get a plus one?” You say yes and have a great time – until someone mentions that there is no place setting for you because your date wasn’t supposed to bring anybody . . .

    So, consider this a PSA – don’t hate on the date! It isn’t their fault, and if they find out they are crashing your wedding, they are going to be mortified.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Exactly! Though I might actually ask to see the invitation, not to check about the plus one issue, but because I like pretty papers.

    • KEA1

      I have been to two different weddings, with two different now-exes, in which my date was invited without a guest but assumed I was invited too. In both cases, I saw the invites and said, “honey, I don’t think I’m actually invited–please check before I make arrangements to go with you.” In both cases, my date didn’t believe me, but grudgingly checked–and, sure enough, in both cases, there followed an awkward conversation of the guy trying to get me invited. I cringed, and to this day I feel TERRIBLE for the families who were shoehorned into adding me to their guest lists. Even my current beau made a dangerous (and incorrect) assumption that I would be riding in the limo with the wedding party at his sister’s wedding, and I had to give him a pretty detailed explanation of why he should please find out for sure and not assume. I am sure I have committed plenty of guest faux pas of my own, too, but for the gaffes detailed above, I hope that the brides don’t hate me! ;)

      • Liz

        And each of these guys probably really meant well and was just clueless!

  • Ambi

    Oh, just another random tidbit – sometimes things happen for a reason: I was recently in a wedding where another bridesmaid brought an uninvited plus one (he was with her for the entire wedding weekend, and initially the bride was PISSED). Well, it turns out that was a huge blessing. The couple had planned to DJ their own reception using an ipod playlist. When the sound system or ipod or whatever just would not work, this bridesmaid said “oh, my date is a DJ.” Turns out, he not only fixed the sound system, he DJed for them all night long, and it was AWESOME. Probably not going to happen at your wedding when your rude cousin shows up with her skeevy boyfriend, but then again, you never know . . .

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      This is a fun story!

  • Jenni

    We gave all of our single friends +1s to our wedding. There just aren’t that many of them, and to be honest, that’s what I would want done for me.

    A suggestion on how to make it clear without being awkward — we wrote “We reserved ___ seats for you” on the RSVP cards and filled in the blank with the number of people we were inviting. We hope that cleared up any questions regarding +1s and children… so far, so good, knock on wood!

  • Bethany

    Our RSVPS are coming in now, and I’m very happy with how we decided to word it: It says, “We have reserved __ seat(s) for you” and then they can choose how many people are attending. So far, so good – no one’s tried to add any extra people. I like the idea of reserving seats, sort of like going to the theatre – you can’t just bring someone extra and expect to be let in!

  • Whitney

    Our response cards included a line for us to fill in that said “we have reserved (blank) spaces in hopes you attend”

    Fill in one for singles, two for dates etc. passive aggressive? Maybe. Effective? YES.

  • http://www.twitter.com/irisira irisira

    I’ve been to more weddings coupled than solo (just how it has worked out), but the solo wedding? A blast. I was in the wedding, knew pretty much the whole friend group (through the bride) and it was so much fun dancing and eating and drinking. I didn’t hook up with anyone (I was kind-of-sort-of-not-really dating a rebound catch that was totally never ever going to work out, and I knew that, hence why I didn’t even CONSIDER asking him to be a plus one, which the bride did offer), I just had fun.

    However – if I was in a situation where my serious SO was not invited along with me? I would probably not say anything, but I would decline the invite. If it was a close friend or family member, I might say something. Not because I cannot travel/do stuff without him, but out of principal. We’re married now, so it is probably moot, but to exclude partners unless you have a REALLY REALLY good reason (and, even then, tread carefully) is not ok.

    For our wedding, I asked in our unofficial email save-the-dates, to let me know the full name and spelling of partners. This gave an opportunity for someone to indicate if they had someone special they wanted to bring. I also mentioned it in a follow up email. However, we were in a position where we could be flexible with this. Our wedding was also a semi-destination (that is, no one needed plane tickets, or if they did, they would have needed to fly regardless as they are long distance loved ones), so we knew we would have more declines than usual.

  • http://www.cheerleaderforlove.com genevieve dreizen

    for my sister’s wedding, we wanted to be clear about how many people were invited on each invite- if it was a person who was not invited with a guest we wrote ___ of 1. If it was a family of 3 we’d write ___ of 3. It worked well, and that way if someone couldn’t show up from an invited family we knew the numbers.

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  • Saffron

    In the middle of planning currently and great to hear this discussion. I’ve been to weddings both solo and as couple and had a blast every time, even when I barely knew people outside of the couple. I defiantly think this is a case by case basis-I remember seeing the invite to my FH’s mum and step dads wedding and it said his name “and lovely lady” which I thought was super sweet (this was before we were together and he wasn’t seeing anyone at the time) although I dont think they did plus ones generally.
    And I must say that one of the nicest things happened on my first meeting some of his friends when we had only just started seeing each other-a friend joked I would cost him an extra plate at his wedding-planned for a year away. It was the loveliest vote of confidence!

  • Nicole L

    Our RSVP cards pushed the point home. Guests could check whether or not they were coming (with clever phrases, obviously) and then they signed their name on the bottom on a line that said “Names of Invited Guests Attending.” We still have one more week for people to RSVP but no one has been “confused” yet :)

  • Sarah

    I had names of invited guests (or guest if I was offering a plus one) clearly written on my RSVP and I still had “confused” guests. One couple wrote in that their teenage son might come. I made my mom deal with that (they were her friends) and she told them that he could come for the dance but not for the wedding/dinner. I also had another friend I didn’t extend a plus one to tell me he was coming with his girlfriend (they’ve been together several months now and so while I didn’t invite him with her as a guest she is more than welcome). And a third guest who is single and wasn’t given a plus one since she will know several mutual friends at the wedding asked if she could bring two random friends. I’m a pushover so I let her.

    Another surprise was a friend from high school (that was ten years ago) who told me one or both of her parents will be coming as her plus one. I guess one parent is legitimate and I’ll probably tell her she can bring both (I know, or rather knew ten years ago, the parents). But it leaves me with another problem: a second high school friend is coming solo and her parents (who weren’t invited but almost were) are much closer to me. Since both friends will likely be sleeping at said parents homes (they’re travelling from long distances) I don’t want closer, second friend to think it’s odd that her parents weren’t invited. Suggestions?

    Anyways, moral of the story is that invites are never clear. Thank goodness for bourbon.

    • rainy_day

      Personally, I’d probably invite the other parents if you have the $$ and space. But all of this is a very personal decision.

  • Kate

    Word up from the singles. A few other commenters have mentioned this but if you choose not to allow singles to bring guests SEAT US WITH OUR COUPLE FRIENDS or FAMILY MEMBERS.
    There is nothing worse than getting stuck at the ‘singles’ table full of people you don’t know and the guy or gal that your not-so-subtle soon to be wedded buddies have been talking up. Even those of us who don’t mind making conversation with strangers and are happy to go with the flow would MUCH RATHER be sitting with our friends/family who we most likely don’t see that often due to living in different cities/having babies/whatever. We are at your wedding to celebrate your love with you (the people we love) and our mutual friends. Not get set-up or meet new people (although that might be a fringe benefit).
    Sit me with my pals and I can mingle with that cute guy or gal on the dance floor after dinner.

    • Jennifer L.

      YES!!! When I was single, I hated being put at a table where I didn’t know anyone. It happened many times.

  • Katherine

    The way that I am making it EXTREMELY clear that it is just that person/persons being invited is on the RSVP card, at the top we are saying “We have reserved ____ seats for you” And have two lines saying “Names of those attending:_________”. The other side has menu information. We are going to write in 1, 2 or whatever on each card as we stuff the envelopes for each guest or group of guests. I remember being confused by this when invited to a friend’s wedding last year, before I was familiar with “The rules”. I think having the number of seats explicitly stated on the RSVP card will help!

  • Jennifer L.

    I “caught” my husband’s grandmother (who lived with us at the time) talking to her ex-husband (his grandfather) and saying something like “well, maybe you can pressure [my husband] into inviting Jean & so+so.” I probably didn’t handle it with as much grace as I should have, but I nipped that right in the bud, and she heard about it too. How rude!

  • MDBethann

    I know I’m a bit late to the game, but thought I’d chime in anyway.

    I was lucky and had only 1 person add a guest. And then not even tell me the name of said guest. But it was my DH’s cousin who lives on the other side of the country, I’d never met her, and I had no idea if her date was from CA where she currently lives or home in PA where the wedding was held. The reply came at the end, and we’d had people RSVP no anyway, so I decided to let it go. I thought it was a little rude, but it was one person and at that point it was not worth fretting about.

    I wholeheartedly concur on numbering the reply cards. I remembered that tip from APW and put numbers under the stamps because we had reply postcards. Fortunately everyone wrote their names legibly, but given Murphy’s Law, I would likely have had issues if I hadn’t used that trick. And a spreadsheet guest list was the best thing EVER! Made managing the RSVPs and now the thank yous so much easier!

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  • Guest

    I had a friend invite me, but not my boyfriend of 7 years who I lived with to her wedding. My boyfriend was furious since she knew him well. He practically paid for her 21 birthday when her friends skimped on the bill. I was insulted she didn’t invite another good friend of ours, too. I resorted to asking if my bf and I could just attend the ceremony. She said yes, apologized for not inviting my bf, and explained that she only invited significant others who were married. Then, at the wedding, I saw I unmarried couples there. Ultimately, I wish she hadn’t invited me. It made me feel guilty she chose me and not them and now I feel obligated to invite her to my wedding.

  • miffed

    Is it rude to put “Guest” when you know the person’s girlfriend’s name? My boyfriend (of 6 years) received an invitation for his cousin’s wedding and she put his name and guest and the envelope. I find it a bit rude considering we’ve been together for so long and live together. As if it’s some mystery who he would bring if he went.

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