Ask Team Practical: Bridal Party Dates

My maid of honor (MOH) and I have known each other for a number of years, as you’d probably assume.  And over the past few years, she has been dating Steve. Steve and I usually could get along fine, and we didn’t have much trouble until a couple of years ago. My MOH and Steve moved in together with the MOH’s son (her son has a different father and they share custody) around that time. Everything seemed fine at first until I started getting constant phone calls from my MOH. She’d be crying and telling me Steve was calling her and her son names, yelling and all around being nasty. As her friend, I’d try and give her advice and tell her to get out of the relationship and that she deserves better. She said she understood but didn’t do anything about it. She was convinced she was obsessed with him, a few months later had a child with him and continued on the path she had been going since the beginning.  This was until she called me one day and asked me to help her get out of the relationship. After a long time spent convincing her, we decided to move her out of Steve’s house. Police were involved as well as about five friends who shoved her things in boxes as quickly as possible to get her out. She moved into her mom’s house and she still continued to talk to Steve. She tried to hide the fact she was dating Steve from me for a while and the cat eventually got out of the bag.
Now my question…  I know she’ll want to bring Steve to my upcoming wedding. Steve has blamed the failure of the relationship partially on me and I’m sure he has a few nasty things he’d like to tell me. However, I don’t believe this is going to deter him from coming to my wedding. The last time I saw him we were civil. But, his behavior at our wedding can either turn out alright or can turn out really badly. I have no idea. So, do I risk angering my friend (who will take offense to my request after she’s spent a ton of time and money helping me with my wedding) and ask her to choose a different date? Or, do I risk it, make her happy upfront and see how it goes? I don’t want him there. But, I also want my MOH at my wedding, and I’m afraid it would put a big dent in our friendship.


J., before I dive into your question, let me talk about bridal parties and dates. I’ll meet you at the end of the post, okay?

If a member of your bridal party wants to bring date you don’t like… well, there’s not a lot you can do about it. Wanna know the best way to shatter a friendship and break up your bridal party? Tell one bridesmaid they can’t bring a date and let another bring one. OR, you can let the bridesmaid bring a date, but just not the one she wants. If any of the bridal party gets a plus one, they all get a plus one. Yes, even your single bridesmaids. Trust your friends to not bring someone inappropriate or who hates you. You can let them in on how busy they’ll be the day of the wedding and how you think their date will be bored, but in the end, short of flat-out banning their date and causing a ruckus, you’ll just have to accept the situation and move on. Look, as much as I dislike the idea of a bridesmaid bringing a date who is not friends with the couple to a wedding, the “no ring, no bring” rule for the bridal party I’ve seen batted around wedding boards is worse. For those unfamiliar (I hope you all are blessedly unfamiliar), it’s the idea that unless they are married or engaged, bridesmaids and groomsmen aren’t allowed to bring a date. Unless the date is a terrible human being, you are not going to notice they are there.  (If they are a terrible human being, keep reading to J’s advice.) If the idea of this date eating your canapés just tears you up inside, have a talk with your friend and explain to them why you’d rather them not be there. Just be prepared for the conversation to turn uncomfortable; you not wanting their date there is actually a judgement on their relationship, and that will be upsetting. Besides, isn’t dictating their clothes, shoes, jewelry and hairstyle enough? (Kidding! Mostly.)

Now.  Back to J.:

J.,  your situation is different because your maid of honor is in a dangerously bad relationship. Asking her to choose a different date is certainly not a good option, but neither is expecting you to grin and bear him being at your wedding, considering the past.  This is a bigger issue than your wedding and one that might be worth risking your friendship for. Talk to a crisis counselor and see how you should handle speaking to her about this and her situation. The last thing you want to do is turn this into a “pick me or him,” or put her in a potentially dangerous situation, having to tell her abusive partner that he’s not welcome at your wedding. Having a counselor guide you through the best ways to approach this will go a long way in keeping your friendship intact and helping keep her safe. And that’s the most important thing: helping keep her safe, and helping her find her way. Because the real issue here is her (and her children’s) health and well-being.


Your turn, Team Practical! What are your thoughts on bridal party members bringing dates that aren’t friends with the couple? Mental health professionals, do you recommend an organization that J. can speak to in order to help her maid of honor?

Photo Emily Takes Photos.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh). You don’t HAVE to use a sign-off; but if you do, we will secretly think of you as one of the cool kids.

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  • If you’re going to allow anyone to bring a plus one, then it’s not your place to decide who is that plus one. We’re grown ups, right? Grown up are allowed to choose who their plus one is.

  • Pippa

    I think even if she is in a toxic relationship, the serious conversations should be saved until after the wedding. If you do manage to talk her around to putting her and her children’s safety first, I doubt right before the wedding is the best time to do it. Yes, it’s unfortunate that she wants to bring a partner you have serious reservations about (and with good reason) but my personal opinion is that there’s not a whole lot you can do. Everyone else can bring a date, so can your maid of honour.
    Best of luck!

    • Alyssa

      I don’t know, I think the more serious it is the sooner it needs to be done. Waiting until after the wedding can be easier on the bride, but keeps her friend in a unsafe situation for longer.

      • Sheryl

        I’m with Alyssa on this. Your friend may not want to hear what you have to say, but this is a matter of putting her wellbeing ahead of your friendship (which can be really, really hard to do!)

        What about looking at this as your wedding opening a door to talk to your friend about a potentially serious issue? It doesn’t make it any easier, but at least that way you have the mindset of it giving your an opportunity to address something that concerns you, rather than an issue or an obstacle that is.

        I’d definitely talk to a counsellor and get his/her input.

    • I also agree that the sooner the better. A situation like this can easily turn life threatening. I’ve been in an emotional abusive relationship (….also with a Steve oddly enough, I hope there are a few Steve’s who aren’t royal d*cks). For the longest time I was jaded to the abuse and didn’t realize it was going on. The day he laid a hand on me in anger is the day it all pretty much hit me what was going on all along.

      I know it’s difficult to cut ties, but once the physical danger appeared I was lucky enough to snap out of it right away. J’s MOH might be in physical danger as well only no one knows it. She won’t discuss it because she’s too “in love” really controlled by Steve because he makes her want to stay somehow. There have been too many times emotional abuse can turn deadly in an instant. I’ll ask my friend to check this out. She deals with this for her job and I am sure could give some good advice for J in approaching her MOH.

      Good Luck getting your MOH out of there. Any abuse can be difficult to deal with. ::hugs to J::

      • trisha

        I to was in an emotionally abusive relationship. He never laid a hand on me, although there were warning signs. Never until the day I told him I was leaving that is. On that day, he threatened my life. Which is to say that any emotionally abusive relationship can turn physically dangerous if the abuser feels threatened. I’m forever grateful to the two friends who spoke up about their concerns, and helped me get out of there.

  • jessie

    J: is it possible that your friend doesn’t have choice – that is, Steve is insisting that he come to the wedding, and she cannot say no to him or else she puts herself at risk? I agree with the advice that treading lightly is important, because her safety may be in jeopardy. I would personally take the route of making it clear how busy things will be, and that partners of everyone involved are likely to be bored. Do you have other bridesmaids who are also not bringing their partners, who can lead the way?

    Otherwise, my instinct is to (after consulting with a professional), tell her that you have some concerns that he is angry with you and blames you, and that you worry about having that at your wedding when emotions are already running high. This makes it about you and not so much about her and their relationship. I agree that otherwise, you may need to deal with his presence there, UNLESS you genuinely believe that he will cause a scene or attempt to harrass you at the wedding. No one should put up with harrassment at any time, even if that person is the partner of their MOH, and if you think he will say something hurtful to you, he should not be there.

  • sounds like we broke this rule! we didn’t say no-ring-no-bring, just, if you’re not actually dating someone by the time the wedding comes around, you can’t bring a totally random person Just so you have a date. I put my foot down about it with one of the groomsmen in particular, because I thought it was crappy for him to only want to bring a random chick so he could have someone to hook up with at the end of the night (he admitted that’s why he wanted to bring her, and the “her” was totally theoretical when he was asking me a couple weeks before the wedding; he didn’t even have someone he’d been on one date with that he wanted to bring). he and my husband had so many mutual friends at the wedding, he was going to have plenty of people to hang out with.. However! Another groomsman was in a relationship with someone, and while there was no ring, of course she was invited. And if my single sister or my husband’s single brother wanted to bring a random person, I would have ok’d it because they knew very few people there other than family.

    I guess the difference here is, we didn’t give anyone a general “+1” – we found out who people were dating ahead of time and put their names right on the invites. does that make me less of a bad person? haha.

    For J., I think Alyssa’s advice is right on. This is a lot more complicated because this guy is not just obnoxious, but abusive. Seems like talking to a counselor about it would be a good option.

    • Tiffay

      I guess we broke it too. We wanted a very small, intimate wedding with only our closest friends there. If one of our closest friends was dating someone seriously, engaged, or married then they could bring their significant other. If they wanted to bring a “random” date, this person was not invited. While this may seem rude in some circles, it was very important to us that everyone at our wedding be a close friend. We ended up with only 40 people at our wedding while adhering to this rule.

      Alyssa- your advice is on point. I think that addressing concerns with a counselor who can provide advice regarding helping the MOH through a very difficult time is the best way to go.

    • Sophia

      We basically did this also. We invited people whose partners we’d met at least once before whether they were engaged, married or just dating. The only exceptions was a friend on the west coast (we’re in the northeast) who we don’t see often enough to have met his girlfriend at the time. We invited her. No one got a generic +1.

      I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the “no ring no bring” rule because we dated for 8 years before getting married and I’d be pretty hurt if one of us were invited to a wedding without the other just because we weren’t ready to get married yet even though we were clearly in a serious relationship. Also, gay couples in most states can’t get married so the ring rule would be particularly hurtful there….

    • Alyssa

      He’s ridiculous anyway because EVERYBODY knows that you go to a wedding single and then hook up with a hot cousin at the after-party.

      • Jennifer

        Especially if you’re in the bridal party, because somehow that bridesmaid dress or groomsman’s suit seems to confer special flirting powers. (Though maybe this is just in my case, as I am normally shy and a terrible flirter.) I *loved* the times I was a single bridesmaid. I can’t even remember whether I was always invited with a +1 or not, because it never occurred to me to bring a date when I wasn’t in a relationship.

    • Jennifer

      I think the way you did it (also what we did, for the most part) is the Miss Manners-approved way of approaching it. (No ring, no bring has always struck me as harsh. Even the “no ring-or-shared-domicile, no bring” alternative, which is at least a little more realistic.) When we were contacting people to confirm mailing addresses and such, if we weren’t aware of a relationship, we also asked if there was anyone else who should be included on the invitation (or other appropriate phrasing aimed at the same goal).

      We had a few singles who didn’t know anyone else invited besides my husband, so that was an exception and they did get a general “and guest” — and the only one who took advantage of it was the one who was traveling from across the country, and she decided her guest was her mother (who also knows my husband well), rather than some random date-of-the-moment. The others apparently decided they’d rather socialize with new people than be responsible for entertaining a guest all day. (Always my take when I was single as well. But I know people have varying levels of comfort with that.)

    • We did the same thing here. People in relationships, even if they weren’t serious were invited as a pair. If someone wasn’t seeing anyone at all they didn’t get a plus one. This included the wedding party. And both my single brideswomen actually told me themselves that they knew we were keeping things to close friends and family and they were totally cool with not getting a date (especially since they knew so many other people who were going to be there).

      The only exceptions to this rule was my best guy friend from high school who didn’t know anyone besides me, husband, and my parents and my former boss who is currently single and who would only know me.

    • carrie

      Exactly, we did the same thing.

      I was invited to my stepbrother’s wedding (stepbrother of a couple of years, not a long time) by myself and had been with David for about 4 months at that point but we very much knew this was it for us. I asked my stepmom if they could make an exception and they said no, based on the fact they didn’t even invite my stepsister’s (groom’s sister) boyfriend of a couple of years b/c they didn’t like him. After I heard that, I shut up, but it still rubs me the wrong way a little bit two years later for both my stepsister and myself. Which granted is caught up in some other family issues, but still. It’s a sticky subject and totally agree with Alyssa AND you ladies here who made the rule and the exceptions reasonable.

    • AnotherCourtney

      That’s what we did, too! There were a couple people who asked to bring dates because they had been dating someone we didn’t know (particularly, long distance friends we hadn’t seen in a little while), and in that case we ok’d them. People who just wanted to bring a date for the sake of it got a firm No, though, and as far as I know, everyone was ok with it. It helped that my old roommate for college organized a single girls hotel group – even the girls who didn’t know many people were in on the email chain and found roommates (and new friends!) for the somewhat-far-away wedding.

      I think the +1 rule is silly – you absolutely have a right to say who is and who is not invited to your WEDDING. Obviously people can ask, and even be upset when you tell them No, but unless you’re being completely unreasonable about it (unlike J., who I think is definitely reasonable!), it’s their problem.

      That being said, I agree that not inviting a relationship partner is indeed a judgement of their relationship, unless it’s out of plain ignorance. My now-husband was invited to a wedding of a family friend the week after we got engaged (we hadn’t spread the word to the whole world yet), and I was not on the invitation. It really irked me that as long-term and serious as we are/were, I wasn’t included in the invitation – and I imagine I would have been had they known we were engaged. I don’t think the presence of a should determine if you invite someone or not.

      …unless your father-in-law is married to a crazy lady nobody can stand. Then you might have to admit a ring is important if he insists she’s invited. Maybe.

    • Marina

      Yeah, we took it individually by relationship too. Basically, if they were in a serious enough relationship for me or my husband to know their partner’s name, they were invited. ;) Also we sent out invites 9 months before the wedding–if a couple’s still together 9 months later, I’m pretty comfortable considering that serious.

      The semi-exception was one friend who ended up asking me if she could bring her partner who I’d never met, but who she’d been with on and off for quite a while. I ended up being honest with her and told her I was worried that her partner just plain wouldn’t have a good time, being basically the only stranger in a pretty tight-knit group of friends, and that my friend would end up feeling like she had to take care of her partner rather than spend time with the rest of us. My friend gently reminded me that some people actually enjoy meeting new people–I know, I forget not everyone is an introvert. ;) The partner came to the wedding and it was fine, and then they broke up a month or so later. So in the aftermath, I get to feel gracious /and/ right. ;)

    • Anne

      We’re planning on doing this, too, so I’m glad it seems to have worked out for so many people! I think there are enough people we won’t invite but might have liked to (because we want to limit the size of the wedding) that I don’t want to invite extra people I’ve never met. But, I have MANY friends in long-term relationships who aren’t engaged, and their other halves are definitely being invited.

  • N

    We actually didn’t invite any plus-ones, regardless of whether the guest was in the bridal party or not, and I guess we followed the “no ring, no bring” rule, with “living together” as an addition. We really didn’t have any trouble with it, if anyone had seemed upset/offended we probably would have worked something out (we did allow one guest to bring a plus-one since the date was driving our guest from another state and therefore the only reason she could attend the wedding, regardless of whether or not he was invited), but everyone in the wedding party understood our reasons and it was fine.

    • I can really appreciate the financial aspects of why “no ring/not living together, no bring” works, but my partner and I had been together for seven years before we moved in together, and the number of wedding invitations I received without being able to bring him was heartbreaking, especially because we’d been together for longer than the bride & groom in many cases. Even now that we are living together, I still get invitations without him, but I’ve been declining them. On one hand, it makes me feel a little like a spoiled teenager (“If I can’t bring my boyfriend, I’m not coming!” Stomp!), but on the other, more important hand, I really believe I’m standing up for the family I’ve created and the belief system I follow.

      (This is more for general wedding invites, though. Any time I’ve been in a wedding party, they’ve been more than happy to have him along, so that’s never been a problem.)

      • N

        Yah. I think it helped that we didn’t actually have anybody in that type of situation. We probably would have had a different rule/a much more flexible rule if there was, and we talked to the people who were in relationships about the fact that we weren’t inviting dates, and explained our reasons and made sure that they knew we weren’t trying to say/imply anything about their relationships. I think that communication about that type of thing is really important, because I know that feelings can get hurt.

      • Emily

        That would be kind of insulting, yeah. Have you asked if you can bring him to any of these weddings in terms of “hey, can I bring my partner of 7 years?” Maybe people are being thoughtlessly, rather than intentionally, uninclusive, or fully expect you to bring him anyway? (you probably already have, so forgive this comment in that case, I just find it a little mind blowing)

        • I have, and people have been nice and fairly accommodating about it, so I really appreciate that. And I do think, especially with family, who only sees us once or twice a year, it’s easy to forget, so I try to be flexible about it and not read too much into those things. The people who have actually said, “You’re not engaged, so it doesn’t count,” though, can deal without me at their weddings, I think!

          It has also made me really, really appreciate the people in my life who take the time to remember us, though. If we do decide to get married one day, I hope we’ll be as conscientious as those people.

          • Alyssa

            Yikes. They said that?
            I think you will, even if you didn’t have this issue. Because all it takes is just a little research when making your guest list to find out if the person you’re inviting is seeing someone. Sure, people slip through the cracks, but it’s not hard to call up a aunt and ask if her daughter, that you haven’t seen in a while, is still with her girlfriend.

          • I agree with Alyssa! I called up my cousins and basically said “do you want me to invite your girlfriend?” I quickly sussed out who cared and who didn’t. Some said “well, she can’t afford to come anyway,” so that took care of that.

          • Emily

            Wow, I think your policy of not going to those people’s weddings is a good one. Mind blown, indeed.

      • When my cousin recently got married, my sister’s fiance wasn’t included in the invitation. She was really upset. We’re not that close with our cousin though, and he’s a guy, so I thought she should go and ask him if her fiance wasn’t invited. My guess was he’d not realized she was engaged, and I know he’d never met her fiance because they’d not seen each other in a while. He’s a nice guy though, and I think he’d have been like “of course! I’m so sorry, it was an oversight.”

        She was too scared of the confrontation though, and didn’t ask, especially since she couldn’t go regardless. So I know she’s still smarting from that, and I don’t feel like it’s my place to step up and clue my cousin in, but I’m 95% positive if she’d just bring it up, it’d be clear her fiance could have come. I feel really bad for her though.

      • meg

        I think the ACTUAL etiquette rule (because etiquette is actually concerned with not hurting people) is that you’re only mandated to invite dates of people in serious relationships. Seven years is TOTALLY a serious relationship.

      • I was in the same place. Thankfully, everyone gave my now-hubs a +1. I ended up meeting some of these folks after being invited but prior to their wedding.

        Honestly, we gave every single person on our list a +1. I am pretty darn sure most of them won’t use it, but I wanted people to have that option. We have a cap on the number of folks we can have, and we’re still under the cap with the +1s. I have one or two single friends coming from out of state who don’t really know anyone else at the wedding (old HS friends), and I don’t want them to feel alone. Then, I thought that if I gave them a +1, I might as well give a +1 to the husband’s good friends too. Again, I’m pretty sure they’ll all use their better judgement, but I want the option to be there. I am also pretty sure that a few of those +1s will go to more casual friends in the “outer circle” that tend to be involved in group hangouts — we didn’t want to have to pick between those friends, so this seemed to be a good solution for us all around.

    • Though I can see why some guest list restrictions have to be put in place, for us I contacted all the single folks who weren’t living with anyone around STD time and said, hey, I’m not putting anyone else’s name on your invite, but I want you to know that it’s up to you if you want to invite your significant other or not. Basically I said it wasn’t MY call if it made sense to invite the significant other or a date, it was theirs. One cousin who I extended that to brought a date, one friend I extended it to brought a friend to keep her company. Granted, I had a mostly family wedding and most of the friends had dates they live with who we invited automatically. I found that way less awkward than putting the names on the invites – in at least one case the relationship broke down between STD time and the wedding, in another I think the significant other wasn’t comfortable with coming to a “family event” like a wedding, so it was just a lot easier to everyone to make it informal like that. Of course, we had a wedding and have a family where that works, and had that kind of flexibility in our guest list, but if I had to do it over, that’s one thing I would do exactly the same way.

  • J, I’m so sorry that you and your MOH have been through such a hard time regarding your MOH’s relationship. Not only is it putting stress on your friendship (which would happen if you just didn’t like Steve but he was at least a fine person), but it’s actively putting you both in danger. I think talking to a crisis counselor is key, and phrasing it to your MOH more about your relationship with Steve (that you’re afraid he’s upset with you) as opposed to blaming your MOH for being in this bad relationship. Unfortunately, the wedding might be an event you just have to get through with Steve, but I hope this can be a stepping stone to getting you and your MOH away from such a toxic and dangerous person.

  • Abby C.

    Sorry, guys, but I actually have a pretty strong opinion on this one. I disagree with Alyssa – you should be able to control who comes to your wedding. Your wedding represents a massive amount of effort and expense on your part, in an attempt to host an event to celebrate your relationship in the context of your community. They’re also about creating a sacred place where you make some of the most important promises you will ever make in your life in front of a crowd of witnesses. I think you have the right to make sure that your community is filled with people who are truly close to you, who really do support you, and who wish the best for you without any hidden agenda.

    We’re having a mid-sized wedding, about 50-80 people. Our guest list was 115. Now, the friends and family that we invited we are fortunate enough to know well. When they had a partner, we invited that partner, straight up, by putting their names on the invites as well. We eliminated the “number attending” line on the RSVP cards as well. Very few of the people (maybe like 2) we invited to the wedding had partners that we had not previously met, and those were people they had only been dating for a few weeks. Any partner we had met, we invited. But our rule was, we have to have shaken hands with the person at least once.

    Frankly, I’ve seen weddings where guests did not put their best foot forward and brought drama to the event. Not everyone can be trusted to put their drama aside for the sake of group harmony. I’ve even been to weddings (yes, plural) where things were stolen. In one, someone ducked in and stole all the gift cards in the basket to be given to the wedded couple. In another, all the bridal party’s purses were stored in the dressing room during the ceremony, and the women all came back to find their purses ransacked.

    The key to this, though, is to use a gentle touch and to know your friends. Be nice about it. If you trust your people not to bring dates with drama to your event, then let them bring dates. Otherwise, though, stick to your guns.

    • Eesh, wedding thievery? That’s heinous.

      And I can definitely understand the “handshake” rule. I think there’s a huge distinction between inviting your friend’s significant others and letting your friends bring a random person. Frankly, if I were single and had to find a “plus one” for a wedding, I’d find that a lot more stressful than just going to a wedding and hanging out with my friends there.

    • Alyssa

      Just to clarify, we were talking about bridal party dates, not guests in general.

      And while our advice is that barring any extenuating circumstances, you should allow all of the bridal party to bring someone if any of them are allowed to bring someone, you can most certainly tell a member of your bridal party that they can’t bring their date. But no matter how nice you are, you’re still telling someone who is standing up for you at your wedding that their partner isn’t good enough to come to your sacred place. You can do that, just be prepared for what it may do to your friendship. And for me, my friendships are more important than my wedding.

      • If someone in the bridal party has a partner, I agree that you should definitely invite them regardless of how serious things are. But if they aren’t seeing anyone at all? And they know a lot of other people that will be there? Are you still advocating for inviting your friend plus a random person they aren’t even dating?

        • Alyssa

          I’m advocating that you treat your bridal party equally and talk to your friend about who they’d like to bring or if they even WANT to bring someone.

          • thesasha

            Yeah, I also disagree here. our “bridal” party is 4 people, 2 on each side, to hold the chuppah. One is married. Her husband is obviously invited. (He’s also someone I’ve known 10 years through her, and lived with us, and is friends with my fiance, so he is ver invited.) The other 3 are single guys, 2 totally single, one with a girl that is not really a girlfriend. Everyone knows people there. Therefore, one gets her “date” and the others don’t, and there are no plus ones. We are also limited by venue (assuming with stick with our current one) to exactly 40, so there’s no room for people we don’t know and love.

        • Amy

          My bridesmaids all got plus ones, even though 2-3 of them weren’t seeing anyone at the time. Two wound up bringing someone (both male, non-romantic friends of theirs) simply because it made them feel more comfortable to have a “date”. Considering the time/energy/love they put into supporting me did I really care if I’d never met their date before? Not really. Though it did bug me when I had to hunt down the names of said dates to do the escort cards…

    • meg

      I’m with what Alyssa said above.
      But, what you said here is *totally* correct about guests. The people with names on the envelope are the people invited.

      That said, what I’ve learned through… doing it… is you get really FOCUSED pre-wedding about what it will mean to your intimacy and community if there is an extra person there (Like your parents good friends! Who you don’t know! Or a date! I worried!) The real truth is what it will mean is, the people who show up and love you are the right people. Somehow. It just works that way… particularly if you have an emotionally intense service. They become part of your community, and they are there by virtue of loving someone you love, which is the very definition of community.

      And yes, there is always going to be a little bit of drama. But you know what? On your wedding day, you’re *very* able to ignore it, if you go into it knowing that’s your plan. (Trust me, I ignored some guests who showed up after the service and some guests who never showed and all KINDS of drama.)

      • Marina

        “you get really FOCUSED pre-wedding about what it will mean to your intimacy and community if there is an extra person there (Like your parents good friends! Who you don’t know! Or a date! I worried!)”

        This. I worried a lot too. In the end, the people who weren’t there mattered more to me than the people who were. Granted I didn’t have any, say, violent or abusive guests, but barring that… in the end, every single person there was smiling at me and my new husband as we walked down the aisle, and that was what mattered.

  • Jo

    Alyssa, SPOT ON.

    I love that you suggested involving a counselor and also said that putting J’s MOH in the middle could potentially be very dangerous for her. It’s so frustrating, but people return to abusive relationships on an average of 7-10 times. Usually, the most dangerous time is when trying to leave the relationship or when friends/family reject the perpetrator.

    J, I know it sucks to be in that position. I’m so sorry it’s going on.

    • Yeah. I’m also sorry you’re going through this. I had a friend in a similar situation a few years ago (thankfully without children). She called me up one day because he’d grabbed her and thrown her against a wall and she wanted to move out while he was at work and could I help? She’d come and get me.

      Of course I said yes, but by the time she got to me, and I was all business like and like, let’s go pick up some boxes from the liquor store and hurry, she said, “I’m really stressed, can we just stop for a smoothie?”

      By the time she finished the smoothie she was adamant that she wasn’t leaving, that he didn’t mean it, that she’d give him another try and she didn’t really want to live with her parents again anyway.

      She did leave him a few months later when she discovered he was doing cocaine and fully processed the potential danger, thank God. But I remember how incredibly frustrating and painful it was to see someone I loved so much put herself in danger and refusing to break free. I hope your MOH gets safe.

  • Emily

    oh man, J is in a really different and difficult situation. My heart aches for the maid of honor, and I hope the wedding doesn’t make things any worse.

    I disagree on the general etiquette for plus ones for practical reasons, though. We’re not doing a general “+guest” at all, even though I know that’s not good etiquette…we figure if we can’t find out the NAME of your desired date by the time invitations go out so that we can invite them specifically with you, perhaps you are not going to be in a serious enough relationship in 2.5 months that it will matter, and you could just hang out with your family or friends who will be there? We are having our reception at one of the biggest venues we could find indoors in our area, and we still had to make really hard choices about who we could and couldn’t fit into the maximum capacity.

    Of course there are now 2 people who started dating people in the 2 months between save the dates and invitations. I told one that if we get enough negative RSVPs that there will be physical space for her date, we’ll let her know ASAP, and she’s been very gracious and understanding; the other is the only single person on the groom’s side, and we haven’t talked about it but I’m REALLY hoping space frees up for her date.

    It’s not ideal…but the alternative would be what, not inviting people to whom we sent a save the date to make room for these new dates? Or just over-inviting even more by giving everyone a plus one (we’re already sending out about 10 more invitations than maximum capacity)? Not to mention that there are other mutual friends we didn’t have room for, and are still hoping to invite – do you rank dates for people definitely invited over other friends in more or less the same circle?

    I’m a little nervous that our arbitrary line will get messy with other various guests bringing dates they pick up over the next two months (or random friends, aah!) despite no indication that they should do so, and us being unable to make room for everyone. My nightmares are that a) venue security will KICK PEOPLE OUT after 150 because of fire capacity, or b) the bridal party will have to stand through dinner because even if over 150 people get in, there won’t be seats for them. Fortunately the wedding’s in winter, we will probably get more than 10 negative RSVPs, I highly doubt it will come to that. And hey, 20 negative RSVPs? More friends! 30? Dates for everyone!

    • meg

      Whoa! Note! As Alyssa said above, we’re *not talking about guests here.* Of course you don’t have to give plus ones. Of course you don’t have to invite people who’s names you don’t know (unless they are long term partners of your guests and then you do in fact totally have to invite them). Alyssa is just saying you should be consistent with your bridal party: dates or no dates. Or long term relationship dates only. Or whatever. Picking who you like gets messy.

      • Emily

        Ah, sorry, right. Our invitations are literally getting mailed out today, and I am just TERRIFIED of insulting or offending someone somehow, since there seem to be a lot of weird little rules I find out about too late. Apologies for being a little too quick on the draw. It’s a good discussion to read though!

  • I had a weirdly strong opinion about this for our wedding, to which only family and very close (less than 15) friends were invited. All adults got a plus one. I did not have any say in who they brought. Most of the single ones did not bring dates at all, the coupled ones brought their significant others and two brought friends we had never met as dates. Those two happened to have dated EACH OTHER in the past, and wanted a “date buffer” which I understand and respect. Our wedding was still extremely intimate and awesome. I personally feel that allowing people to bring dates if they want makes them feel more comfortable and encourages them to stay longer, but maybe that’s because I’ve gone to several weddings alone where I didn’t know many people and felt socially awkward and bored, so I left early. It’s hard to dance at a wedding without a date, things like that. I understand that money plays a part in it and if you have a large wedding it’s a bigger deal, but letting our friends bring dates of their choosing was really important to me.

    • Emily

      Yes, it’s definitely bad for people to feel awkward and not know anyone. I think the issue here is just that you have to do what makes you feel like the most considerate host and least bad friend. If your single guests all know a good size number of other guests, awkward loneliness is less of an issue; if you’d have to not invite half the single ones to make physical space for the other half to have dates, that’s another problem; if you have space to be flexible, that’s awesome because you can just please everyone.

      • I wasnt clear enough in my post. Our 15 friends were our de facto bridal party, so I approached it at such. I agree that guests in general might be different, though I ultimately think all adults should get guests. Being told that you know enough people there already as a single person when others get to bring dates sucks, from my experience. You aren’t a bad host for making that choice, I just saw it the opposite way.

    • Melissa K

      Rachelle, I’m with you. I gave everyone a plus one (bridal party and guests), and it reduced my stress a lot to do this. Most single people decided to come alone. Those who did bring dates danced the night away with them and really added to the fun. This means I had a two people at my wedding who I had never met before. Did I care? No, I didn’t think about it at all except to think, “That girl can really dance, and oh, good, so-and-so has someone to talk to and isn’t feeling awkward.” I also let the bridal party sit with their dates, which meant we had no head table, which worked great. I felt like it was in a way a tribute to my formerly single self, who was single a long time and had gobs of anxiety at other people’s weddings. This being said, I understand other people make different and valid choices for reasons related to money and wanting a very small event. This is just what worked for me.

    • YES. I always feel like my, “If you’re inviting them to your wedding, then let them bring a date PERIOD” stance is so effing radical to people in the wedding world. Every single non-married person’s invitation was either made out to a couple or to a friend “and guest.” And almost all of them brought guests. And some people showed up with guests beyond what we even allotted. And I was so glad! Because The Foliage and I are loners, kind of. And most of our friends don’t know each other. So we both know how it feels to go to weddings where we don’t have people to talk to, and hated the idea of doing that to any of our guests.

      And I respect people’s decisions to spend their wedding-budget money however they wish. I just cannot IMAGINE not allowing plus ones. For anyone. Ever. I’m pretty sure I’m a communist. My stance is more along the lines of: if I can’t afford to invite people with guests, then the overall guest list needs to be trimmed until every invited guest is allowed a buddy.

      Rambly. My b. I just get crazy-eyed-looks and flustered-defensive-arguments any time I say any of the above. I repeat: your money is your call. I just wouldn’t.

      AND yeah that doesn’t address the abusive deal at all. I would talk to the friend about your feelings (which she HAS to be aware of by this point) and let her ultimately make the call. I doubt he’d do anything in front of a crowd of people and out himself.

      • z

        “then the overall guest list needs to be trimmed until every invited guest is allowed a buddy.”

        Do you still feel that way if you’re the one who gets trimmed? I would certainly rather be invited without a date than not invited at all.

        • I doubt I’d even know… I’ve not been invited to plenty of weddings and it hasn’t been an issue. Because, you know, people can have whatever size wedding they want. Their budget is their budget. But I’ve never spoken to someone and had them indicate that I ALMOST got invited. And I wouldn’t ever have said that to someone. So I guess my answer is ‘yes.’

      • kyley

        I love, love, love the idea of inviting everyone with a +1. But financially it will not be feasible. I have a HUGE family. And my partner has a HUGE family. As in, we have a 100+ guest list that is *just* family–family that we are close to and see regularly. (That doesn’t even include cousin +1s.) And of course, that doesn’t include any friends, and we have many dear, close friends.

        • meg

          As noted lots of times in the comments, we’re NOT talking about guest lists here. Of course you don’t have to give everyone a plus one. Of course you don’t need to invite people whose names you don’t know. We’re saying you need to be consist ant FOR YOUR BRIDAL PARTY. You give them dates, or you don’t. You only invite their long term partners, or you don’t. Picking and choosing is messy.

  • We’ve not actually sent any invitations or anything, because we don’t have a date yet. It’s all very flexible right now, because we’re dead broke and we’re not sure how we’re going to do any of it, and it’s a two country situations with visa stuff…


    But just because I’m not there yet doesn’t mean I’ve not given it any thought. I’d read (actually on a wedding board!) a rule about how if they’ve not been in a relationship for at least a year, it’s okay not to invite the SO, but if it’s been a year or longer (or if they’re married/engaged, of course) then they should be invited. I agree with the logic of that. I actually read this rule years ago when I was engaged to a different man. As the years have gone by and more and more of my friends couple up, it occurs to me that it’s possible if I go by that rule that I might just have one or two truly single friends at my wedding. That could be potentially lonely for them, so I figure if when I sit down with my guest list there is less than five single people, I might just give them a general plus one. If they choose to bring someone just to not be lonely, I trust their judgment. If they don’t, they’re comfortable being alone.

    (In college we’d have one big formal each year. I went to all women’s college, and freshman year pretty much all my friends were dateless and we danced together and had a superb time. Sophomore year everyone decided they needed random dates and brought so and so’s brother’s friend and everyone was stiff and awkward because they didn’t really know their blind date for the night, and admitted afterwards being solo with friends the year before was more fun. If you’re not in a relationship, sometimes having a date stifles fun, it doesn’t create it.)

    Also, I want to make the note Alyssa did point out this is for the bridal party. My notes are actually for the whole guest list, but I also think I’d just ask single people in my bridal party “Hey, do you think you want to bring a date?” while I’m making the guest list, since unlike most of my guest list I’ll be talking to them about the whole wedding process prior to sending out invitations.

    • Oh! I wanted to bring up the fact though, that as I’ve been a single person for long periods in the past and also been in long distance relationships several times that I think if you’re willing to let someone bring a guest, you should let them bring a guest. That is, if my boyfriend can’t come and I really won’t know anyone, I’d love to bring a girl friend.

      I do understand not wanting people to bring someone with bad feelings towards the bride and groom. But if you’ve given a single friend a general plus one, then I think it’s not good to be upset if they bring a friend and not a ‘date’. I think that can rub salt into a wound: Oh? You’re not dating anyone? How dare you not be alone!

      And even with people whose name is on the invite, I’d be flexible. If I’ve decided that friend Suzy is “Suzy plus boyfriend Mike” and she and Mike break up or he’s working and she really wants to bring friend Anne? I’m totally fine with that. It doesn’t cost me any more money than I was willing to spend on feeding Mike….

      Of course if she was bringing another guy (not a friend) while still with Mike, who I know… that’d be a different situation. lol.

      But I know sometimes people give away those spaces to other guests (e.g. I can only afford 80 guests. I invited Suzy and Mike because they’ve been together a long time, but couldn’t invite Cheryl’s new boyfriend. If Mike can’t come, I’ll let Cheryl bring hers). So if you use a specific name, it’s more understandable to be upset at the random friend.

      But being upset someone uses a general plus on on just a friend baffles me.

  • KateM

    I think Alyssa’s advice was spot on, and having the conversation sooner than later is always better in a dangerous situation. As far as him not being invited, her friend asked for her help to move out once and hid the fact that she was dating him again, this is not going to come as a shock to her that he is not welcome.
    Bridal party gets a date. period. We ask them for their help, to spend (sometimes) a fortune in bridal attire, travel, days off, showers and bachlorette/bachlor parites and their emotional support, the least we can do is give them the option of a date. Weddings are such a romantic time for everyone, why not give people the chance to share in that. I am the professional wedding guest, been to 50+ weddings and a bridesmaid 7 times. Weddings can be lonely if you are the only single one, and being able to bring a date is really thoughtful, and as hosts, isn’t it important to make your guests comfortable? My now fiance and I had been together for a month when I received an invitation to to my cousin’s wedding. I decided to take him since it was an opportunity for him to meet the rest of my family and friends and it was awesome! My cousins got to hang out with him, and loved him. We are now getting married and they have a face to put with the name on the invitation, and they wouldn’t have otherwise. Besides, if your friends awesome and fun, most likely their dates will be too, and who couldn’t use a few more awesome people in their lives!

  • Umpteenth Sarah

    I just want to chime in here (I actually don’t have strong opinions on the topic of guests at all, I think it’s up to the couple), and say that in Js case this is very, very different — as Alyssa said. It’s easy to look the other way with regards to domestic violence and abusive relationships, and to say things like “It’s up to the MOH who to bring,” but that helps nothing and can result in tragedy. I would encourage J to hightail it to a domestic violence/crisis counselor immediately (and to tell her MOH she’s doing so! So it doesn’t feel like betrayal) and discuss it with this person. As another poster pointed out, MOH might not have a choice about Steve so forcibly keeping him off the list could be endangering her and her child.

    J, you have VALID AND REAL concerns. You will NOT be betraying your friend if you talk about this situation with a professional (call a domestic violence hotline if you can’t afford a counselor) This is NOT a simple discussion of “my MOH’s evil boyfriend suuuuucks.” Don’t try to solve these problems yourself — you have power in this situation, and can use it how you please, but I urge you to confront the problem.

  • Kathryn

    I think a counselor is a must in J’s situation. I’ve been in an abusive relationship before, and pushing too hard on separating people creates this crazy “us against the world” mentality. I’d leave it to the professionals.

    I’m giving everyone a plus one at my wedding, but I’m very close with all the friends who will be there. I guess it’s more important to me that my best friends get to bring a date so they feel accommodated, than being able to invite people I’m not as close with. And I trust my friends not to bring someone if it’s going to be someone random (but if they do, no big deal). I think it’s a gracious gesture, and hopefully will save me from “But… but… can’t I bring a date?” conversations. We’ll see!

  • Melissa

    We decided to give everyone 18+ yrs of age a guest. Once we decided that all wedding party members definitely got plus 1, we also decided that since most of our guests were traveling great distances to share the wkend with us that they should also get a Plus 1. Alot of guests elected not to bring a plus 1 due to travel costs so it all worked out.

    My best friend brought a platonic date who sent me an awesome note after the wedding letting me know he had a fabulous time and thanking me for including him. That made me feel like we had definitely made the right decision.

    I luckily didn’t have a situation like J, but I think I would have just invited her with a guest and let the cards fall where they may. Make sure some trusted male family members know of the potential scene he may cause, and if he causes a scene at the wedding they can intervene. I agree she should speak to a counselor about how to best help her friend, but now may not be the best time to get involved in her relationship.

  • I’m a big fan of everyone in the bridal party getting the option of a plus one. Not everyone will take you up on it but it’s nice to be asked.

    Here’s a solution to the random guy you’ve never met quandary: See if your bridesmaid or groomsman wants to bring a close friend. Chances are you’ve met the person at least once even if you aren’t particularly close. My best friend and I have been each others’ “plus one” for countless weddings, galas, family bbqs, office parties, etc over the years. If one of us was single we would be the other’s “date” for the night rather than drag some stranger. Both of us are pretty social and know each other’s friends reasonably well. There’s no danger of us making a fool of ourselves and we don’t mind being left alone a little bit. I have found that once the “plus one” doesn’t equal “person you might make out with” people stress a lot less.

  • Alyssa you hit the domestic violence part right on. This isn’t about the wedding, it’s about helping your friend. You should do some research about domestic violence – it is a cycle and it is not uncommon for victims to leave and go back to the relationship a couple of times before getting out for good. What your friend really needs is for you to be there when she tries to leave again. Part of abuser’s MO is to isolate their victims so they don’t have help to leave. There is a fine line between enabling and supporting, but her life (and her kids’) might depend on you finding it.

  • Comet

    I am recently engaged and have been enjoying the conversations on APW. I’m commenting for the first time because I am a domestic violence counselor. Others have noted that women in abusive relationships often leave and return multiple times before breaking free for good. This is absolutely true. The best thing J can do for her MOH is be available to listen and not pass judgement. That means letting the MOH decide if she wants to bring Steve to the wedding. He will likely be on his best behavior if he attends. Most (but not all) abusers are quite charming in public and only act like jerks with their partners. The MOH probably understands what makes her safe and what puts her in danger better than anyone outside the relationship. Another thing that J can do is include her MOH in conversations about marriage and values i.e. “Husband to be and I were talking about how we are going to manage money, together we decided xyz. . . It sometimes difficult for me when husband to be walks away from an argument, but I know he needs to cool off and we’ll resolve the issue later. I’m excited about our vows, I think we’ll live them day to day because . . . etc.” Talking about healthy relationships and modeling the behaviors that are part of healthy relationships may help MOH see that there is a better way. Always remember to listen. This can be extremely frustrating, but is the most important thing a friend of a domestic violence victim can do.

    • Alyssa

      Thank you very very much for this comment. And thank you for being an amazing person.

    • ElfPuddle

      Thank you. I’ve a sent a number of students to domestic violence counselors, because they needed it.
      Thank you for all you do for those who come in.

    • YES. I agree with this 100% I also think it’s important for the friends of a domestic violence victim to take care of themselves throughout this process. Like you said, it can be very frustrating to watch them go back. And also frustrating to feel like your friend has been hijacked by this awful relationship and isn’t able to contribute to the friendship much.

      • Comet

        Very true. Good point.

  • With respect to J, yes, I think this issue is bigger than just the wedding. There are probably more layers than a wedding cake. And the thing is, there is no hard and fast rule to this kind of thing. I’m with Alyssa on obtaining advice from a counselor because this is about a wedding, yes, but really it is about the nature of a longstanding friendship and a girl who is in an unfortunate relationship.

    The wedding is the catalyst for what I think is a question about friendship. Can you or do you 100% accept this friend and her decisions? Is accepting ALL of her (including the poor choice in relationship) doing a number on YOU? If so, I think the answer is to reconsider how this friendship fits in with your life, and subsequently your wedding. The reason I think this is because I don’t think you can make her change her mind about her relationship. You’ve done a lot to try and protect her, but the part of her that would consider leaving FOR GOOD is just not accessible at this time. Knowing that, I think the questions you could process with the counselor are more along the lines of how you take care of you–what does taking care of you and your friendship and wedding needs looks like in this situation. Maybe it looks like being the ever-present listener or maybe it is something different than that.

    I think it’s possible to preserve the friendship while also preserving your needs. Big hug.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I agree with the consensus, but here’s my rule, for our unusual situation: Bridal party members’ whole immediate families are invited, but not dates or friends.

    My future husband is 10 years older than I am. His groomsmen are even older, and married with children. As I said, their wives and children are invited (of course).

    My bridesmaids are my sisters. One is 6 years younger; one is 12 years younger. That makes them half the age of the groomsmen. Neither sister has ever been on a date. Our entire extended family will be invited, and my sisters will know most of the non-related guests. I don’t think they need a date or friend to keep them entertained in the midst of all their relatives and the family’s oldest friends.

    • Alyssa

      There is also the fact that weddings can make single people feel even MORE single. While they may be entertained by relatives, they may also want a buffer for the “When is it YOUR turn?!?” questions and someone to join in a slow dance with, even if it’s platonic.
      It’s a nice gesture, but it’s each couple’s choice on whether to extend it.

      • Alyssa

        I also want to reiterate that I’m referring to bridesmaids in general and not yours specifically because, yikes, I just realized that your sisters sound exceedingly young. And saying they might want dates makes me sound creepy. And feel creepy for it too. *shudder*

        • ElisabethJoanne

          Well, one’s in college and one’s in high school, so they’re technically dating age, but not at an age when they’d be expected to be seriously dating anyone in the “When is it your turn?” sense. Knowing the other guests involved, their having an actual date would just be more awkward than being single, suggesting both a seriousness in the (non-existent) relationship and a stage of life that they’re not at. You know, there’s thoughtless “You’re next” comments, and there’s thoughtless, “Whatever happened to X? He was such a charmer” comments.

          I see various reasonings behind the various guests-of-guests and guests-of-bridal party rules. Fairness is a good reason. Keeping “social units” together is a good reason. Avoiding loneliness or awkwardness for favorite people is a good reason. I just don’t see those reasons in play with my sisters.

          And isn’t that the real rule? Rather than arbitrary rules out of book, do what will make for the most joy for those concerned?

          • z

            I don’t think high school kids should expect a +1, even if they’re in the bridal party, especially if they’re attending with their family. It’s not like they won’t know anybody, and we have to draw a line somewhere.

            My fiance’s cousin asked for a +1, and her reasons were as follows: 1) She and her boyfriend are really, really, really in love! 2) He is going to give her a promise ring!! 3) She is taking AP classes and therefore should be considered a senior in high school, not a mere junior!!! When she presented her reasons to me, I was so shocked, all I could do was hand my fiance the phone and laugh. Eventually her mom laid down the law.

            The only way to have a small wedding is to not invite very many people. But it’s like a logical reasoning puzzle to figure out the set of people that can be invited without breaking any etiquette rules or alienating anyone. I never understood why people have biggish weddings until I tried to thread that needle myself. Ultimately I wasn’t able to come up with an arrangement that didn’t break some rule or exclude some important person, so some thing just had to give. So I cut +1s if they had been dating less than a year. Totally arbitrary, but I didn’t feel I could announce a judgment that some people’s relationships were “serious” and others’ were not. That seems like a minefield of hurt and alienation.

            One person who I know would be peeved about not getting a +1, I just didn’t invite her. I think she was surprised by that, but hey, I gave her spot to someone else’s +1. Anyway, that’s why I’m not offended when I don’t get a +1 (or don’t get invited)– because sometimes there just isn’t a good guest list solution no matter how hard you try.

  • Amy March

    Just a plea from a single lady- if I paid for a dress you picked, I’d like to be invited to bring a date. Maybe I won’t bring one, maybe I’ll bring a friend, but somehow it hurts when everyone is paired off, and I’m not. And my cousin’s Friend’s brother is a great dancer and will totally cry at your wedding.

    • Alyssa

      Ack! You’re psychic. See directly above you.

      Also, I don’t know if your name is a Little Women shout-out or a for real name, but I heart you a little bit for it regardless.

      • Amy March

        It is a Little Women shout out! And while I am primarily a book fan, can we sigh at the loveliness of Meg’s wedding in the movie? Small, family, and singing “for the beauty of the earth” in a circle- may we all be so blessed.

  • m

    we did what a lot of people did above: if someone was in a pretty serious relationship, we specifically invited their partner on the envelope. mostly I did this because I wanted that person to feel loved and involved, not just the “and guest” but I guess I also assumed if they broke up that would mean they wouldn’t bring a random person. the exception was we did put “and guest” for our single family members and definitely for single bridal party members.

    we were lucky and everyone who came as a plus one behaved/contributed to the fun of the day.

  • Amy

    As someone who paid my MOH not to bring her live in boyfriend (gave her the “price” of his additional cost of the catering) I really feel for J. I still feel bad — like this was my worst bridezilla moment — but it didn’t hurt our friendship, and it DID make the day far more enjoyable. But, I guess I had it easier than J. It helped that I could talk to her and reason with her, she could see the reasons why I didn’t want him there, and the reasons of why having that cash in hand was far better for her than having him in hand. It also came down to the fact that I wanted HER there. Not the her-that-she-is-with-him, or her distracted by any guy at all. Of course, I’m of the camp that the bridal party is there for the bride — I feel like they should have even less need for a random date because they have stuff to do all day — to the point that I feel weird bringing my husband to weddings where I’m in the bridal party, and leaving him to fend for himself among strangers and “oh, hey, I met you once… maybe” folks.

  • Christy

    I am an Advocate at an emergency domestic violence shelter, and wanted to give my two cents. First of all, watching a close friend be hurt is very difficult, and I encourage you to reach out to a domestic violence agency for general advice and support. You can call the National DV Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) and they will put you in contact with an agency in your area.

    As for the wedding, I want to reiterate what a lot of posters have mentioned: Giving your MOH an ultimatum could be dangerous for her, her child, you, and your friendship. At the very least, it will likely push the two of you apart, which could isolate her. I think the best thing to do would be to sit down with her and discuss your concerns in a supportive and nonjudgemental way. It’s appropriate to tell her that you are concerned about his behavior b/c of what has happened in the past, but let her know that the choice is ultimately hers.

    This idea holds true for other interactions with her. She knows her situation better than anyone else, and ultimately only she can decide what is safest for her and her child. There are numerous reasons that survivors stay in abusive relationships, and it is important to not make the survivor feel guilty for doing so. Keep being supportive and loving, and encourage her to maintain relationships and activities outside of Steve. Absolutely express any concerns for her safety and continue to let her know that you think she deserves better. Also let her know that most domestic violence agencies have non-residential programs that are happy to work with survivors who are still in their abusive relationship. These programs can do safety planning, provide support, help her get set up with resources, and educate her on domestic violence. Most have 24-hour helplines as well if she’s not sure if she wants to actually meet with someone.

    Most important: ASK what you can do to support her and make her safe, but remember that you cannot “save” someone, nor would it be helpful to try. Only do what makes you feel safe and comfortable, and please remember to take care of yourself and reach out to your own support systems in the process!

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