When making your wedding guest list, you’ll have to decide if you’ll allow all of your single guests to bring a date – commonly known as a ‘+1.’ Wedding etiquette rules used to state that all single guests over the age of eighteen are to be given permission to bring a date, but today’s brides and grooms prefer to surround themselves with guests they know.
To eliminate wedding stress, make it a rule that you will give a +1 only to single guests whose boyfriends or girlfriends you know and have socialized with in the past. This creates a boundary that single guests cannot argue with when you explain it politely to them.
Of course, engaged couples and longtime couples must receive a +1, and it’s good form to give a single or widowed senior citizen a +1, so that he or she may bring a friend or a health aide.
You’ll find, as many of our recent wedding couples do, that your single friends accept your decision and look forward to attending the wedding solo, joining all of the other solo guests in unencumbered mingling, dancing, flirting, fine dining and perhaps meeting a future romantic interest. Not every single guest is going to be offended at the lack of an ‘And Guest’ on the invitation. Some are even relieved that they do not have to find a date, nor do they have to give a more generous wedding gift check from two guests.
If a guest calls to ask for a +1, simply explain that your wedding plans do not allow for additional invitations, and you wouldn’t want to offend any other guests who also requested to bring a date. If parents call to ask if their teenager can bring a friend, that too is best met with, “I’m sorry, but we can’t make any exceptions to our guest rule, since we don’t want to offend other guests who have asked to bring others.” It’s best to avoid the temptation to blame your budget or wedding venue space issues; simply place the reasoning on your boundaries and consideration of other guests.
Be firm and confident in your boundaries, since one exception made by you will quickly hit the grapevine, and other guests will start calling to request their own +1s.
Michael Mahle, Director of Communications, Pleasantdale Chateau