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I Want To Disinvite My Bridal Party’s Plus One

I didn't invite them

Q:DEAR AMY,

Hoping you can help me with an awkward guest situation. We sent out save the dates last fall and invitations in December. Both the save the dates and invitations linked to our website, which has a form to RSVP. At the top of the form, we put some instructions along with a note that says, “Unfortunately, due to limited space at the venue we aren’t able to give everyone a plus one, but if we mistakenly left your partner or spouse off of the invitation, please let us know.” We thought this was a reasonably good way to limit plus ones: we gave people a way to gently remind us if we forgot to invite a serious relationship person without having to double the size of our venue. I know the standard advice is “Just get more space!” But we live in a very expensive city so there were approximately four venues in our budget that even had space for the people we wanted to come, much less random guests we’ve never met.

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The wedding is in about six weeks. Most people have RSVP’d by now, but there were about 20 still outstanding, so we sent out a reminder email. Many of them had already told us they were coming, so we weren’t too worried about it—just wanted to make sure we had dietary restrictions and the like taken care of. Lo and behold, two of the 20 people added uninvited plus ones to their RSVPs—even though the only way to RSVP is on the page where it says to ask us before doing so.

We’ve mostly been accommodating of people who asked us about bringing someone we didn’t invite. But it’s six weeks before the wedding, and these two people just decided to drop brand-new people on us. If they were regular guests, I would just have an awkward conversation and be done with it, but they’re both members of the wedding party (and both on my side of the aisle, so my partner is not super sympathetic to the difficulty).

I know that etiquette usually calls for members of the wedding party to get a plus one, and if they’d asked back when save the dates or invitations got sent out, I’d have been less against it. Even after the first one, I was willing to just let it go—that relationship has gotten reasonably serious in the time since we sent out save the dates, and while I’m annoyed the guy didn’t ask me, I can roll with it. But the other is some person we’ve never even heard of, much less met. And since both men are in the wedding party, they are also coming to the rehearsal dinner, pre-wedding pictures, etc.

My partner wants to just disinvite the plus one we’ve never met. I’m worried that the groomsman won’t see the difference between his guest and the other/more serious relationship, and it’ll cause problems. I also worry that I’m being rude by not counting on plus ones from the get-go for the wedding party, even though this guy is chronically single. But I also don’t want some random person I’ve never heard of to be in our wedding photos or at our rehearsal dinner, especially since he didn’t even bother asking.

Am I being unreasonable to not want this plus one there? Would it be terrible to disinvite her, or to say that she can come to the wedding but not any of the wedding party activities?

—Guest stress

A:DEAR stressed,

“[E]tiquette usually calls for members of the wedding party to get a plus one.”

Correct.  This is the general rule, and it applies specifically to you.

I like the way you’ve handled guests generally: you aren’t required to give every single guest a plus one, but you do want to make sure that partnered up people get to bring their person. And the way you’ve worded that language to me conveys, ‘If you have someone serious in your life, let us know, and if you just fancy inviting your friend’s attractive older brother in hopes this wedding will be the start of something special, so sorry but we can’t accommodate that.’

But members of the wedding party are a standard exception to that rule, and I think for good reason. The standard line is that the only responsibility for a member of the wedding party is showing up on time, reasonably sober, wearing their assigned outfit. But realistically, you know you’re asking more than that! I mean, from the letter alone, you’re talking about a rehearsal dinner and pre-wedding photos, and those are completely fine expectations, but it’s kind of a lot being in a wedding party! It’s a nice and expected courtesy to people who are particularly important to you, and who are particularly involved in the day, to allow them the privilege of bringing a guest (if they want to, and certainly they may not).

You refer to your friend as “chronically single”, and can I just say I hate that phrase? It makes being single sound like a disease. Maybe he’s perfectly happy being single, enjoying his life, and wants someone to go home with at the end of a full day of celebrating people getting un-singled. Maybe he’s miserable being single and really would like to have someone to slow dance with, someone to Uber home with, someone to scout out all the good hors d’oeuvres for him and save him the fancy bite-sized crab cakes while he takes still more pictures with you. Who knows—but what you do know is that he’s going to have more fun at your wedding with a date.

As for the photos and rehearsal dinner concerns, frankly, I think you need to get a grip.  If the rehearsal dinner is really too tiny to fit one more in, fine, but I bet it isn’t. But the photos? This is not a problem. No date of a groomsman is expecting to be in your formal wedding photos. If he’s randomly found the one person in the world who does expect that, then “Actually Giselle, these photos are just for the bridal party, thank you” should solve that handily.  Like, “worst” case scenario, she sits in a corner playing on her phone in the vicinity of photos, which is really not a crisis.

You’re gonna do what you’re gonna do, and plenty of people in the comments will disagree with me on this, but he’s supposedly someone who is really important to you, who is a groomsman, and he wants to bring someone to help him enjoy your day. Just let him.

—Amy March

HAVE A WEDDING QUESTION?
EMAIL ME: AMYMARCH [AT] APRACTICALWEDDING [DOT] COM.

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