Eliminate Guest List Stress with Plus-One Etiquette Rules

The details that go into a wedding are endless, and some newly engaged people could be a little overwhelmed. One big stressor that I’ve received complaints about is planning a guest list. Some couples have huge families who all expect to be invited, others have tight budgets and need to be cautious about how many guests they have in attendance. The best way to manipulate your guest list by following plus-one etiquette. 

Plus-One Etiquette Rules for Weddings | Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog

photo by Secret Garden

Eliminate Guest List Stress with Plus-One Etiquette Rules

To Plus-One or to Not Plus-One? That Is the Question

While it is ultimately a personal decision when creating a rule, you can use the traditional guest etiquette to create your plus-one rule. Here are the guests who should, according to plus-one etiquette, receive an invitation for an additional guest.

Someone Who Is Married

It is polite to invite the spouse even if you don’t have a close relationship with them, or even if you’ve never met them. Just think ahead to after your wedding. Wouldn’t you wish to dance the night away with your spouse? Including a plus-one is respectful of their relationship.

Those Who Are Engaged or Living with Their Partner

Again, it is a thoughtful gesture to include a plus-one when someone is in a serious relationship. Everyone’s relationship is a little different, so they could be just as committed as a married couple minus a ring.

The Wedding Party

If you choose to have a wedding party, it is important to give them the opportunity to bring a guest. Wedding parties often put forward a lot of time and money to be included in your wedding. Pay a part of that forward by giving them the choice to bring a guest.

Someone Who Doesn’t Know Other Guests

Have someone who isn’t familiar with your other guests? Provide them with a plus-one. This will keep them from feeling awkward or leaving earlier than the rest of your guests.

Plus-One Etiquette Rules for Weddings | Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog

photo by Emma Bauso

Plus-One Etiquette for Responding to Those Who Don’t Get an Extra Invite

The Plus-One Rule

It is inevitable that someone will reach out to you if they did not get the opportunity to bring a guest and wish to have one. By making a clear plus-one rule, you can respond politely with a reason why you did not allow an additional guest. “Only family and the wedding party is receiving a plus-one,” or “I’m sorry, we only gave a plus-one to people who are married or in a serious relationship.”

Don’t Go Overboard

Be realistic about your guest list when deciding who gets a plus-one. Remember, each plate has a price tag, so your budget needs to accommodate for everyone that attends. Trimming the fat from the guests of invitees will be the easiest way to get your guest list down if you’ve gone over. Change your rule and remove whomever you can if you have gone too far over your intended number of people to invite.

Be Very Clear on Invitations

Make sure you include either the name of a plus-one on the invitation or write “Guest” with the person you are inviting. Including the name of a plus-one will help reduce the amount of invitation-swapping and reduce the cost of your wedding if that specific guest cannot attend. If names are printed on response cards, it will serve as a helpful reminder that only those people are invited. Many wedding guests are not aware of the etiquette they need to follow when receiving an invitation or attending a wedding, so the more clear you can be, the better.

Don’t Include a Problem

This may be a big forward, but avoid drama when choosing who gets a plus-one. If you have a friend who has a rowdy boyfriend, only give your friend the invitation. You may need to have a slightly delicate conversation with why they did not get a plus-one, but it will save you a big headache by being prudent.

Alli Dillenbeck is a wedding coordinator and marketing manager in Upstate NY. When she is not planning events, she is often tending to her large collection of plants.


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