Can I Really Bring a Plus One?

Is there such a thing as a courtesy plus one?

Woman playing limbo at wedding reception

Q: I’ve been single forever and I’m pretty used to not getting plus ones (which I don’t love but I understand is not rude, and is a reasonable thing for people to do). But for this wedding, there is a twist—the couple gave me one! And, I have someone to bring! He’s just a friend, for now, but I like to think maybe an evening gown, open bar, and the inherent romance of the situation might change that? Hope springs eternal, fueled by champagne bubbles.

The problem? My friend group. I mentioned how excited I was to bring this guy to one of my friends, and she was a real downer about it. She reminded me that this shindig is $150 a head, asked if I really thought it was appropriate to expect them to pay for him. She said I’d know tons of people there and that I wouldn’t want to have to be babysitting some random dude instead of hanging out with the group.

I think I know she is wrong, but she was so negative she has me doubting myself. Is she right? Was giving me a plus one just a courtesy gesture they expect me to decline?


Alone in a Crowd


Dear Alone in a Crowd,

Happy to confirm that you are a hundred percent right about this. If a couple invites you to their wedding with a plus one, you get to bring a date if you want! That date can be your boyfriend, your friend who is a boy, your romantic girlfriend, your platonic girlfriend, or your cousin. Heck, bring your mom if you want. (APW’s founder said three people brought their sisters to her wedding, so go figure.) Now, keep it in check. I’d hope this is obvious, but sometimes it seems like nothing in weddings is obvious: don’t invite someone just to cause drama, and check and make sure it’s kid friendly before bringing a child. A couple who gives you a plus one, but expects you to decline that courtesy and will be annoyed if you take them at their word that your guest is welcome? That couple is living in a nasty passive-aggressive fantasyland, and frankly they probably don’t need to be in your life period.

As is your “friend.” If a couple doesn’t want to pay $150 for you to bring a date they can A) have a cheaper wedding, or B) not give you a plus one. (Just so we are all clear, I am talking about single guests here. Do not read this as an endorsement of not inviting people’s significant others.) Yes, you know other people there, and you know who gets to decide whether having a date will enhance or detract from your enjoyment of this wedding? Yup. Just you. Any “friend” who is not supportive of you doing what’s best for you in this situation is frankly not being a good friend.

This is why I am not a fan of the “friendgroup.” A group of friends? Lovely! Fun, inclusive, natural, a real gift in life. The “friendgroup”? I find them problematic. Quibbling about vocab? Absolutely. Because transforming a group of friends into a friendgroup turns something that exists as a grouping of individuals with independent needs and relationships into an entity above and apart from that. Can I date this guy, or will that harm the friendgroup? Met a new girl at yoga, can I bring her to the BBQ or is it friendgroup time only? Would love to have Janie and Tim over to dinner because I’m really liking them at the moment, but I can’t because the rest of the friendgroup would feel left out. In a marriage, you might value the marriage as a separate entity from either person in it. But did you really decide to sacrifice your personal happiness for groupthink friendship? I think not.

Your friend is worried that you bringing a date might take your focus away from the all-important friendgroup. And my question is, who cares? Do you? Maybe the answer is yes—you rarely see these friends, this is a great chance to have a reunion, introducing someone else is just a hassle. But it sounds like your answer is nah, and that’s totally fine. It’s okay to not devote yourself to what is best for the friendgroup and instead think about what you really want, and any good group of friends should be supportive of that aim.

Also, good luck with the date! I expect to be invited to your wedding, with a plus one obvi.


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