Dear Donna: I Need Advice for Single Guests: to "plus one" or not to "plus one"?


Dear Donna:

Help! After seeing all the backlash with Brody Jenner not going to the Kimye wedding because his girlfriend was not invited, I started to panic about who to invite to OUR wedding. We are on a budget and want to limit the "plus one" dates to people who are engaged or seriously dating but is that acceptable? What about our wedding party or close family? I know it's supposed to be "my day" but what's right to do? 

Thank you for your advice!

Curious Bride from Quincy

Dear C.B.i.Q.,

"Dear Donna" is so pleased to get this question as this is a topic that often comes up in the throes of wedding planning.

The question is: " Do we 'Plus One' or  do we not 'Plus One' for our single guests?

Figuring out who to invite (or who NOT to invite) can be one of the most stressful pieces of the wedding. You have to, afterall, figure out who to invite to share your special day and you are merging two (at least!) families into one big day. 

Picking a venue that has a limited (or small) capacity certainly will help you with the maximum number of people that you can invite but after you find the place, WHO do you invite? Of course the obvious - family, bridal party, etc. are not hard to figure out. 

The hard part is do you invite their significant (or not so significant other?) I often hear brides asking me for advice on what they are supposed to do when their bridesmaid/single friend is newly dating someone or is single and trying to "find" someone for the wedding. 

This is a tough place to be in because the bridesmaid's responsibility for the wedding day is to attend to the BRIDE, not her date. But her date will not know many people at the wedding so what are you supposed to do, leave the date to fend for himself/herself?

All the etiquette books will tell you that family and bridal party get a "plus one"  - no questions asked. But lately we are seeing this rule being bent, or actually shattered. Brides are now speaking up and not letting their bridesmaid (or family member) bring a date. 

Let's see the side of the bride/groom and her/his reasons:

  1. She/He is spending a LOT of money per person for the wedding. 
  2. She/He does not want to meet your new date at her wedding. 
  3. She/He does not want you to be distracted at her wedding. 
  4. She/He wants you to be able to enjoy the day without worrying about your date. 

Now, let's see the side of the guest (whether it's family or bridal party) and her reasons:

  1. I am spending a LOT of money on your wedding to be in the wedding party and the least you can do is let me invite a "plus one!"
  2. My new relationship is exciting to me and who knows, maybe I will be walking down the aisle with my date?
  3. I don't want to be singled out as "The Single (and lonely) girl at your wedding. 
  4. I am spending a LOT of money on your wedding to be in the wedding party. (Oh right  - we already said that but it bears saying again because I believe this is the driving factor as to why the "plus one" situation becomes so volatile.

Truly at the end of the day, the choice is the bride and groom's. I've seen families torn apart because a family member wasn't allowed to invite their date (who is now their spouse) and now those family members don't talk. 

In the end, is this riff worth it? Are you willing to risk a friendship or relationship?

Only the bride/groom knows the right answer to this question. It is indeed the Couple's Day but how you act on this day (and the days of planning leading up to it) are an indicator for how you will move forward in your married life. 

We hope that this blog post will help you reflect on your choice and decision to do what is right for you.