Wedding Bells: My Guest List Rule

Wedding Bells: My Guest List Rule

As you might remember from the wedding planning timeline, drafting your guest list is one of the first steps after you get engaged. The number of guests affects everything from your budget to your venue choice, so it’s important to have an approximate headcount before you get too far into the planning process.

Deciding who makes the cut can be very difficult, which is why I came up with a few guidelines for drafting my own guest list. In an ideal world I would invite everyone who has ever been a positive part of my life. But of course that’s just not possible and the guests add up faster than you can imagine. So here’s what I came up with…

My Guest List Rule

I have one hard and fast rule: If we haven’t sat down and had a meal together in the past two years, you’re probably not going to be invited. Since all of my close friends and I dine together regularly, this helps separate the people I’m still close with from the friends I’ve lost touch with over the years. I think it’s a pretty fair rule.

The Plus-One

I also had to come up with some guidelines for determining who gets a plus-one. A plus-one is a must for anyone who is married, engaged, or in a long-term relationship. No exceptions there! A plus-one is also thoughtful for anyone who is single, but won’t have any other friends attending. But if someone is single and will be amongst friends or family, giving them a plus-one is not necessary. Who knows, they might meet someone special…

Deciding who will and won’t be there to witness your marriage can be very stressful, but everyone is different and will have their own way of deciding. Also, it’s important to remember that once you’ve finalized your list then the fun begins. Cake tasting anyone?

If you’re married or engaged, what’s your rule for narrowing down your guest list?

Also, what other Wedding Bells posts would you like me to write?

Please share your thoughts below!

XO Lauren

Photo: Style Me Pretty
Categories: Celebrate, Etiquette, Grow, Lauren Conrad, Relationships, Wedding
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  • HayMac

    What if you were invited to their wedding a few years back…but haven’t seen them much (only once) since. Do you still have to invite them?

    • Jen

      That is such a hard question that I find myself thinking about all of the time! even more so, if you were in their wedding a few years back, should they be in yours? Hopefully Lauren will give us some advice :)


      • Esmee

        Im about to get married in april this year.. That was one of the things I struggled with. Especially since I have the reversed situation. This girl and I had the same friends, and we could hang out together whenever we were in this group.. She married three years ago, but didnt invite me.. now im the one who’s getting married, and Im about to invite all those friends, excluding her.. Is that fair? or should I invite, just because Im also inviting the rest? oh, a minor detail.. My fiancee is her ex btw… so could be awkward, dont you guys think? Laura, help me out!! xoxo Siham

        • Alyssa

          We have a rule, no exes unless both bride and groom are friends with the ex – no matter if they are in the group of friends or not. It would be too awkward if my fiance’s ex was there and I didn’t know her. Plus the superstitious side of me believes it is bad luck for the marriage.

        • Jocelyn

          I am in the EXACT same situation with one of the girls on my list. She’s very sweet and we get along great and we have the same friends but she didn’t invite me. She’s not COMPLETELY off my list but I put her in the B section, not the A. If I have enough in my budget to invite her I probably will but I’m not stressing out over it since she didn’t invite me.

          • Jocelyn

            Sorry, meant to say ‘she didn’t invite me to her wedding.’

          • Amonite

            Sometime’s there are severe budget restrictions on a couple – was their wedding small or large? Or there may be other concerns mentioned above (personal feelings of spouse, etc). There have been a couple weddings of close friends that I was not invited to, I still will probably invite them if space allows.

            It’s one thing if you are having a small wedding, but try not to get a revenge mentality – if you have the same friends and enjoy her company, then go ahead and invite her rather than risk the emotional fallout (in both you and her) of not.

        • tc14

          Gee, I wonder why she didn’t invite you …

          Anyway, invite who you want. Why extend her a courtesy she didn’t extend to you?

    • Tammy

      I’ve just come across the same thing planning my wedding. I went to a friends wedding a few years ago but literally haven’t seen them since their wedding. We’ve decided not to invite them for the whole day and just ask them to come along to the evening do.

    • Amonite

      No, you don’t have an obligation to invite them, even if you went to their wedding. However, if you have the space/budget, it’s a nice gesture.

  • Sarah Michelle Foster

    Thank you for this article! I’m helping 2 of my friends plan their weddings and they are just starting their guest lists! I’m sending them this article TODAY! Keep doing what you do and congratulations on your engagement!

    Love ya, Lauren!!!

  • nicki greene

    This was so stressful for me that I just ended up eloping. Lol I’m terrible at wedding planning.

  • Jen

    I would love to hear your opinion on the EXCEPTIONS to the rules of who pays for what. I know that it is tradition for the grooms side to pay for bar/rehearsal dinner, but what if the grooms side guest list is much larger than yours? My dad does well at what he does, and it’s no problem for him to pay for everything else… but my mother/father in law are always giving their 2 cents about what they want for the wedding… well, if they have so many requests, I think they should be pitching in for more than what they are. I know I probably sound bitter and should be grateful for what I have, but it’s so frustrating. I can’t be the only one out there…

    • Maryland

      All types of people, including your future in-laws, will come out of the woodwork making suggestions/requests–even up to the day before the actual wedding! My advise is to let it go in one ear and out the other. Do what you want. It’s you and your future husband’s day, and you’re going to look at the pictures afterwards more than anyone else will. Do exactly what you want. People feel the need to find control when they are excited about loved ones’ milestones in life–weird traits start popping out of them that you didn’t know were there before–it’s part of what goes with planning a larger wedding. Just smile, thank them for their suggestion, and do what you want. My mother paid for our wedding and my in-laws paid for the rehearsal and honeymoon. You are not the only one out there, and you can’t please everyone! Just hold on tight to your reigns and don’t forget the most important thing: getting married to the love of your life. :) It will all be fabulous. Good luck!

  • Arielle

    If they didn’t come to the engagement party they don’t get an expensive dinner on me/seat at the wedding.

  • Michelle

    We’ve been married 9 years, when we were working on our guest list, we had a rule, if one of us had never met someone either on my side or my husbands side, they weren’t invited. I didn’t want to meet people at my wedding. We had been together four years when we got married for four years.

  • Theresa

    As a single 31-year-old woman, I believe you should give a “plus one” to any person over the age of 25. Yes, I understand that people are sometimes on a budget, but that’s a poor excuse. Does your budget-consciousness mean that you are considering not inviting me bc I’m single? Because what if I did have a significant other? You would be inviting both of us. I strongly feel it is a huge insult to not give your 25 and over friends the option of bringing a guest. We might surprise you and NOT bring someone. I’ve not brought a guest before when invited with a guest. Believe me, your single friends will be very happy and feel like you actually give a sh*t about them if you give them this option. The anxiety of waiting for that wedding invitation and hoping that it says “and guest” is bad enough. Trust me. And don’t worry, we are smart enough to give a gift that covers two people if we bring a guest.

    • Shala

      this way you can hook up with other singles at the wedding!

    • Amanda

      I really think it’s so sad that people can turn situations like this into something that it’s not. You are being invited to the wedding to share in that couples special day. This is not about you, unfortunately. If you are not able to see that that day is about the couple being married and their love, and their life and they are asking you to share in that, then you probably shouldn’t even go because it sounds like you’re more focused on having a guest with you and insecure you wont get one.

      • Amanda

        AND! WHO really wants a stranger at their wedding? A random guest whom they have never met?? People expect so much from people who are throwing weddings. I agree 100% with this post on +1’s. People should be gracious and thankful you have asked them to share in your day. What is wrong with people….

        • Mishell

          Well said Amanda!!!

        • Guest

          I completely agree with you. When referring to the budget comment, I think that is excuse is just fine. I can only invite so many people, it is all that I can afford. If I let people on my guest list bring a random person that I have never met that means we have to cut friends and family from our guest list that we would rather have there. I would much rather have someone I know share the day with us than a bunch of people I have never met.

        • Natalie

          If you’re in a long term relationship, you should get a plus one. No exceptions. That is a known rule for how weddings work and if you don’t follow, well I’m sorry but you’re just not classy. If you can’t afford it, save wedding money somewhere else. Your guests want to enjoy the wedding too and you will not have a good wedding full of grumpy guests. Why are you buying tasty food for the guests if it is JUST about them?

          • ALLY


          • Emily Grace

            It’s pretty obvious that everyone angry about not getting a +1 on this thread has never planned a wedding or never had money trouble. As much as I would love to spend my graduate student sized budget on people I don’t know, we are not allowing +1’s if you are not in a long term relationship or married. (Unless you want to pay the price per head for your guest, then you’re more than welcome to). I literally would have to cut out half my family if all my friends wanted to bring a +1 and that’s not happening. If you can’t come and be jolly then don’t come at all.

    • Julia

      wow sassy! She is just giving her opinion you don’t need to take it.

    • Tarah

      Saying that you might not end up bringing a guest even if you were given the option is still going to end up costing the Bride & Groom money and/or stress. They have to reserve the seats, and when doing the seating chart and all the planning they would logically allot 2 seats at your designated table for yourself and your guest, so if you ended up not bringing your guest they still have to pay for their spot- since you pay per head. Even if you gave notice and RSVP’d no “plus-one”, the B&G would have to scramble and mix everything around to accommodate one odd missing seat. Usually if you’re not in a committed relationship and don’t have a specific “plus-one” in mind, you might ask a friend, or a new person you’ve been seeing, and those people tend not to feel super obligated to attend, since they usually don’t even know the couple, so they have a greater tendency to flake on you and not show up, even if you RSVP’d for them. It’s actually quite rude to put the couple through all that because you may or may not bring someone who they don’t know, who may or may not end up attending. Like LC said, it’s polite to include a plus-one invite if they don’t know many people at the wedding, but if they’re surrounded with family & friends, I think it’s absolutely reasonable to just invite you, and save a lot of money for an already expensive day.

      • Guest

        Right! And if you are limited to a certain number of guest you can invite. That plus 1 probably took the place of someone else you may have wanted a the wedding but they just didn’t make the cut.

    • Me

      There is a 90% chance that I won’t bring a date, and will find a girlfriend to go with who is also single, but don’t make a big deal about the fact that I am ABSOLUTELY not allowed to bring a date, it only makes me want to bring one that much more.

    • Jamis

      I agree with you Theresa. I’m 27 and single- but I would be upset being invited to a wedding alone. And regarding the argument “I don’t want ‘random’ people at my wedding well I think that’s bollocks. You can’t tell me you know all of your friends/co-workers husbands and wives… And yet they get invited just for the sole fact they are married to someone that you do know..

      • Amonite

        I’ve been invited to weddings by myself alone several times (in fact, I have never been offered a +1. The closest was when the bride/groom invited both me and my sister even though she barely knew the bride. However, I have never been upset at all! I socialized with both married and singles at the weddings, and I knew the wedding was about them and their families, not me. I ended up being a last minute +1 at a casual wedding that my grandparents took me to, however they checked first and I was allowed because many people had cancelled.

        Furthermore, a spouse/fiancee is not invited “just because they are married” – but because a wedding is about joining two families/social circles. A fiancee/spouse will likely be part of the future, wheras a friend or date might be just passing through. Inviting people you may only meet once in your entire life is low priority compared to a relative you do know, an old friend, or a potential in-law, etc.

      • Sara Maude

        I’ve invited single friends solo… and those who really wanted to bring a plus one just gave me a call and asked. And of course I said yes… It’s not because you receive an invitation in the mail that you can’t communicate with your friend by other means and ask questions.

    • Amonite

      As a single person, I am not offended in the slightest if someone does not allow me a plus 1 (and I’m 30). It makes sense to invite the fiancee or spouse of a friend even if you have not met them, since if you are friends/relatives with a person it is likely their spouse or fiancee will also be part of your life.

      Friends & boyfriends/girlfriends are another story. They are neither personally invested in the wedding or guaranteed to be a part of your life later on. It is a huge imposition for someone who is single (even dating) to demand a plus 1.

      A plus 1 is not to ‘keep you from being bored’. If you hate the idea of a wedding so much and cannot socialize with the people there, then you are probably not very close with the bride and groom, and they will not be heartbroken if you choose not to come.

      Furthermore, it is up to the bride and groom on who they invite, beyond the polite requirement of immediate family. If they choose to exclude children or plus 1’s or cousins, etc, due to budget or a wish for a small wedding, that is their choice.

    • Bertie

      I am very budget concious. We have had little help from parents in terms of paying for the wedding and so not inviting someone you don;t know to your wedding on the basis that this will save you £50+ per head is a more than valid ‘excuse’. I think that the basis on which you are invited to a friends wedding will come down to how good a friend you are to the Bride or Groom and not on if you are single. Also, and I can;t speak for eveyone here, but I really couldn;t care less about gifts – we have lived together for well over a year and have everything we need, the attendance of those we love and want to share our day with will be gift enough.

    • Clara

      Let’s give Theresa a break here. I have been that single person at the wedding lots of times in the past. Nothing worse than sitting there with all your friends and their partners, the only one without a date – it’s horrible. Having said that, I did meet my now husband at a wedding! If you do decide to budget no plus ones for single friends, think carefully about who and where they will be seated. My friends didn’t seat me next to my now husband, but the groom did introduce us. It’s true that the wedding is about the bride and groom, but it’s supposed to be a good experience for all your guests. When we got married we ducked all responsibility entirely and only had a tiny wedding, family only. Doing it this way was a bit strange for some of our friends entirely, but at least it was completely fair, it also meant that we spent lots of time with relatives we hadn’t seen for a long time. Sure, I would have loved to have a few very close friends at our wedding, but it wouldn’t have worked that way without hurting lots of people’s feelings.

      • Jessica

        I can think of nothing worse than being single and seated amongst couples! We plan on only giving plus 1’s to guests who are married, engaged, living together or in a serious relationship so there will be a handful of friends and family who will be invited solo. BUT we are making sure that single people are sat with other single people so that they don’t feel like a third wheel. The only solo family members will be a few cousins (they will all be seated together anyway) and our friends are pretty evenly split between couples and singles.

        • Lizzy Lou

          I can think of lots of worse things. Just because someone is single and at a wedding seated around a bunch of couples, doesn’t make them less of a great person or pathetic. I am single and I love going to weddings by myself. I often meet new people or just get to hang out with people I haven’t seen in a while. Plus I don’t have to deal with some annoying date whining about how he wants to go home or is bored.

    • Beentheredonethat

      Hahahha…..I love u and ur comment. Thank u so much for that! I am 34 yrs old and have been to COUNTLESS weddings. It is the biggest insult to get an invite and not have option to bring guest. (Why should I b punished because I’m not married? Most people aren’t close the the other persons spouse /and may have never met/ but they wouldn’t consider not including that person also.
      I have plenty of times not taken “guest” with me (even when I was in an long term relationship and I was in out of town wedding/just wanted more time to cater to bride instead of having guy w me) but prior comment hit nail on head…it shows you give a s*#t ab us.
      Thankfully I am now in great relationship w/guy for over year now an we will be heading in direction of engagement/wedding. I will most definitely give my guests option to bring “date” regardless of if they are married or not at that time. And no, mommie and daddie arent paying for my wedding, I (grown adult) am. If u have to nickle and dime that bad, maybe u should go to courthouse

      • Amonite

        How are you being ‘punished’? Are you punished because someone else is richer than you? Or has different talents? Being single is not a crime, nor should it feel like a social horror that other people have men and you do not. Only if you let the Hollywood lie that a significant other defines you will that be a problem.

        Furthermore, +1s are *your* guests, not the bride’s guests. You are demanding a right to let a friend/significant other party crash someone else’s special day, rather than let it be up to her budget and wishes, because you are focusing more on yourself and what you don’t have than on celebrating her new joy. Remember, before that day, she was single too!

        Fiancee’s and spouses are assumed to be part of a person’s life, forever, barring anything horrible happening – so many brides choose to invite them as they are seen as an extension/part of the person they are inviting, and will likely be part of their lives in the future.

    • Kristen

      I fully agree with Theresa. I am sorry to see so many people ganging up on her comments. Theresa is right to say that guests over 25 should be afforded the chance to bring a “plus 1.”

      I think it is easy for the bride to get clouded over with her own wants and needs and demands -and yes, it is her special day- but the bride and groom want their guests to have a wonderful experience, too. Guests are partaking in the special day in so many ways — paying for a gift, making travel/work/scheduling arrangements, often attending more than one event (engagement party, bridal shower, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, wedding, brunch, etc.) and so guests deserve to have respect and consideration, too.

      I think of a wedding a two-way street of joy and celebration, meaning that the bride/groom and guests both get to share in the joyousness of a marriage ceremony. In a lot of ways, single people get the short end of the stick. It would be nice if the bride and groom are conscious and thoughtful about that and allow plus-1s for their single or unmarried friends. The women who are commenting below that the wedding day should be all about the bride and groom sound haughty and self-centered.

      I would recommend shortening the overall guest list in order to allow the people you care about who are single to have the option of a plus-1, which might mean cutting some friends you are less close with off your list, in order to ensure that the guests you care about are taken care of and respected. Again, thank you for speaking up Theresa, I agree with your perspective.

      • Amonite

        The wedding is not all about the bride, but it *is* all about the union of two families and the celebration of that. Many brides are restricted by budget on who they can invite – there is a vast difference between a small and intimate wedding of just close friends and family, and a giant wedding of 300. If a bride had to pare her guest list down to save costs, then it is extremely rude to think she must invite perfect strangers who have no permanent relation to their guests.

        You seem to be recommending that she not invite, say, her closest friend from highschool, than risk ‘disrespecting’ a current friend. (And if her current friend is so offended she can’t survive a wedding without a plus-1, then that’s not very friendly.

        Or, perhaps she’d have to not invite her cousins to make sure her friends all have +1s.

        Remember, you can always *not go* to a wedding that is invconvenient – it’s not rude to turn down an invitation and send a letter with well wishes instead.

        • Kristen

          Amonite, I don’t disagree that the wedding is a celebration of the union of two families, and that the fact that a bride may be on a budget must be respected. I agree – I think we just have different opinions as to who makes it onto the final list and who gets cut, in order to take care of the guests who are invited.

          I favor not inviting an old friend from high school who I’m not in touch with anymore, in order to let one of my current best friends who is in a new relationship bring the man she is falling in love with. This is just my opinion. I think that in general, single/unmarrieds are often overlooked, given less status or consideration, and are the underdogs at such events. If we have single friends that we really care about than it’s our job as their friend to look out for them.

          Indeed, if a single friend is flying solo and not in any type of relationship, than there is some room to consider whether or not he/she warrants getting a plus-1 if the budget is tight. But that being said, if he/she is a relationship that is really special, even though they are not married or engaged, I’m going to make sure they can come as a couple with their significant other.

          • Bridget

            Ok. I see the points being made about possibly not knowing your guest’s current boyfriend/girlfriend etc. And that they may break up and you will never see them again and it is a waste of money.

            BUT….this seems so ridiculous to me. You cannot possibly tell me that you are “friends” with ALL of your friends’ wives/husbands, fiances, etc.

            So basically you invite a close co-worker to your wedding and because she has a husband who you may have met a couple of times, it is ok for her to bring him? BUT….the other close co-worker who is recently divorced but wants to bring a date is not allowed???

            Even if your single guests knows a lot of the people attending, if most of these people are in “long term relationships” and allowed to bring their significant other, it is rude for the single guest not to be allowed to bring a date to dance with.

            Sorry, but I honestly think many married couples do not care for some of their significant other’s friends. Some of these commenters are acting like they are family with all of their friends’ significant others. And everyone does things as couples – I don’t believe it.

            What fun is the reception to not have a partner to dance with except for a stranger and then you must stay sober in order to drive yourself home alone.

            For anyone who is going to say “we’ll you are not that good of friends if you feel like you have to bring a date” – I say the bride is probably inviting too many friends she is not even close enough with, to think it is not tacky as hell to tell your close friend she has to attend alone while she watches all of the other couples having a nice romantic time.

            If it’s a very young couple getting married and lots and lots of the singles are actually friends….then OK….don’t allow the plus ones. But if you do that then I don’t think you should be allowing husbands/fiances either if you are not very close to them.

          • Bridget

            And I forgot to add….what about all those couples who attended your wedding and now they are all divorced? Now you are no longer friends with your best friend’s husband. He was good enough to attend your wedding, but now you won’t speak to him out of loyalty to your best friend. See my point?

          • Bridget

            To “guest” – I actually wasn’t replying to you at all. Just commenting in general

      • SydneyGal

        It’s people like this who are the very reason I’m keeping my wedding to a maximum of 20. I don’t want a big hoo ha with so called “friends” complaining about how we choose to celebrate our union.

    • Ember

      Totally agree! Besides how many of your friends have significant others you really don’t want to invite but do anyway? They still become part of the special day! Anyone over the age of 25 should be given the option of bringing a guest!

  • Lauren

    I don’t fully agree with the “plus-one” portion of this post. As a 30-year-old single woman, I would be highly offended if I was invited to a wedding without a plus-one. At a certain age, it should be expected that you will be invited with a plus-one since most of your friends are married or in serious relationships.

    • Trena

      Yup, because what I wanted at my wedding were “guests” that I didn’t even know watching me bawl my heart out in my vows. No thank you. If I were 30 and not yet comfortable attending events alone, I would want someone to slap me upside the head. I had to cut family. Why on earth would I invite someone I didn’t even know just so my so called “friend” would feel comfortable joining us?

    • Amonite

      I’m 30 – I have no problems attending weddings without a +1. I have a decent mix of married and single friends – but even at weddings where I do not know anyone but the bride and groom I have been quite happy to ‘go alone’. Why -must- they accommodate a stranger they will only meet once? It just wastes time they could be talking to others on their special day, or takes a spot that could belong to another friend or relative who actually cares.

      • Jayla

        This works fine for weddings in the area, but for weddings you need to travel across the country for (most that I’ve been to) there’s no way you should have to go alone.

        • Amonite

          There’s no way you have to go to a destination wedding, at all. If you are not comfortable with the travel (for whatever reason), you can politely decline. Plus, you can always carpool with other invitees or make arrangements to travel with other guests.

          Bride’s understand that destination weddings are a huge commitment for guests and that many will decline. If you dislike traveling by yourself, then don’t go.

  • gina

    Since me and my Fiance both have big families, its is only aunts, uncles and adult first cousins. For friends, it is only people that we hang out with all the time or people who we grew up with and are still in contact with. Since both of our parents are paying for the wedding, they each got to invite some very close friends, so to make up for that, neither of us are inviting any co-workers to the wedding.

  • Emily @ Perfection Isn’t Happy

    Our plus one rule was for anyone 18 and older. Many of the guests declined the invitation for the guest, but I thought it was a nice gesture, as I wouldn’t want them to feel left out, or bad.

    • Me!

      Ladies, you cannot please everyone, especially if you want a really good planned and organized wedding, you need to first decide the exact number of guest you wish to have present. Just in case of any reason some of your expected guest decline the invitation, you can then fill in those spaces with the 2nd option people. Until then, plan you guest list, cartering commitees, seating capacity as you want it to be. Imaging a wedding with 10 singles having a plus 1? I think even your husband will be furious with you and could ruin part of his day. What if that was the case of your husband inviting 10 of his friends and allowed them to bring a plus 1. Sure enough plan it with your future husband and make him happy. :) please….

    • Jam

      I definitely agree with your ‘anyone 18 and older’, however I would definitely do 20 and older and 18-19 if they’re in a relationship. My cousin sent me (when I was 22) an invite with my mom and her boyfriend. REALLY – I get an invite with my mom? All that meant was that I didn’t need to get her a gift because I believe if you can’t afford to send someone their own invitation then you shouldn’t expect another gift. Also, I was in a year and a half relationship whom I am now engaged to and I did not get to bring a guest even though my other cousin my age got a +1. The main thing I believe wedding planners should do is BE consistent. I wouldn’t have minded not having a +1 if my cousin the same age as me didn’t have a +1 and her own invitation. No I was not living at my mom’s house either so it was very strange. Consistency is the main thing. If you invite one cousin’s kids, you should invite all cousin of the bride/groom kids. Even though it’s a hassle because you might not want to, you need to make rules and stick to it regarding everyone.

      • Jam

        & no it is NOT fun walking into a wedding alone so keep that in mind when thinking about your guests everyone!!

      • Amonite

        Actually, inviting all the immediate family together is proper etiquette. You place the children on the line below the parents. (If they are on the same line with an & it implies you are married :P).

      • Rebecca

        WOW, that’s a self-important comment. Maybe she didn’t have your address, maybe you’re not that close, maybe she didn’t think you were mature enough to deal with your own rsvp or maybe you were an ‘obligation’ invite due to family connection.

        I really cannot understand why it completely passes people by that it is not about them. Say it with me this is NOT ABOUT ME’. And I say this as someone unmarried and who has managed to be a big girl and attend weddings without my hand held.

      • Amonite

        Children usually get invites along with their parents (no matter how old they are), especially if they live in the same house. Same with siblings. (If you lived in different locations and were over 18, I think most would choose to mail out different envelopes – but it’s still not a breach of etiquette if the bride knows the mother can easily contact you).

        Was your cousin engaged/married at the time? If she was merely dating, then you are right that would be a breach of etiquette (unless she was in the wedding party, which has it’s own etiquette for +1s). If she was engaged and you were not or in the wedding party, then the bride was fine in what she did. It’s not about age, it’s about the permanence/status of the relationship.

  • Misty

    I completely agree with your plus-one thoughts. We had a very small, intimate wedding weekend (at age 30). Only the closest friends and family members. My husband’s oldest friend brought his of-the-moment girlfriend that he broke up with soon after the wedding. Selfishly, I don’t love that she was part of our special day because we didn’t know her.

    • Zazz

      Why did you feel the need to point out “at age 30”?

      • lor

        Lol my thoughts exactly

      • HerrDerr

        Why did YOU feel the need to point out the fact that she said “at age 30”

  • Renee

    I am getting married for a second time and was struggling with this too since we are trying to keep the list short. A friend gave me good advice saying to invite only the people that you really want to see there and will make your day happier. Cutting out the ones that I am saying “I really don’t want them there but we should invite them” Leaving out the “should invites”. What is your wedding date? I’m 8-2-14

  • Kirsty

    I don’t think anyone should feel entitled to a plus 1, after all, they are paying for a wedding and have invited you cos they want you there, they shouldn’t feel as though they MUST give you a guest to bring along, possibly someone they have never met! I agree that long term partner, fiance(e)s and spouses should be also invited but not everyone over a certain age, unless you can afford £50-100 per head extra for each single guest over a certain age!

  • Nicole

    I agree with you on the plus one situation. I had an extremely small wedding (30 guests) and unless you were married, engaged, or we had known you as a couple for a long time we did not give out plus ones. My reasoning is because I wanted to keep it small and intimate and would not have felt comfortable if there was only 1 person there I didn’t know prior. All of my friends know each other so that was not an issue.

    • Theresa

      Trust your friends to make the right decision to bring someone or not to a small wedding like yours. I would know better than to bring a random friend or a fling to a wedding that will only have 30 people.

      • Trena

        unless you don’t know that it’s supposed to be an intimate affair. That’s not really fair. I had family inviting extra random guests on their RSVP’s. So no, you can’t always “trust” people to do what you expect. It’s better to lay ground rules from the beginning.

  • Alex

    I completely agree on your rules…..I’m going through the exact same now & it’s hard to cull who should attend or plus 1’s but the fact is when it’s costing £££ per head why should my parents pay for people we don’t know or haven’t seen for years. Until people go through with planning a wedding they really don’t understand :-( xx

    • Ana

      it’s like you’re writing my thoughts hahaha… i think the same way!! sorry but i won’t have plus 1’s unless they’re married!!

  • SMM

    I think it’s ridiculous that guests without a significant other would feel “offended” if they didn’t have the option of bring a plus-one. This is the bride and groom’s day, not anyone else’s. They should do what they want to do. If you feel like you can’t celebrate and be happy for them without bringing someone else along then you aren’t a very good friend.

    • Sabrina Nooruddin

      I couldn’t agree more. If you feel like you NEED someone else there with you to have a good time, chances are you don’t need to be there. Also, if we haven’t met – you probably aren’t invited. (exception is spouses & fiancés but even then, either me or my future husband has probably been introduced to you at the very least)

    • Samantha Brown

      I definitely agree and I think this goes for all kinds of celebrations – not just weddings!

      It’s nice to be able to go somewhere with your partner but I don’t believe you have to go everywhere with them. If both members of the couple are friends with the host then of course it’s great to invite them both, but when a close friend brings their plus-one and the plus-one doesn’t know anyone else and they spend the whole time hanging around their partner it just isn’t as fun (and chances are the plus-one doesn’t need to be their either)!

      I think plus-ones should only be invited if they are also a friend of the host or if the person you want to invite won’t know anyone else at the wedding – just my opinion (and I say this as someone in a couple).

      Sam xx – how to make the most of your twenties

  • Kate

    I agree with your plus one sentiments. We also went by this guideline. Some of our friends were offended but the plus one situation can get out of hand and we wanted to keep our wedding small and intimate. I really didn’t want to walk down the aisle and see a sea full of unfamiliar faces. Your wedding day is the most important day of your life. You are entitled to celebrate it with those you love and who love you.

  • Jen

    I didn’t go to a wedding once because I didn’t get a plus one invite even though I was/am in a long term relationship and we were also a month away from moving in together.

    • Jessica


      I’m in a similar situation now. My boyfriend and I have been together just over a year and are planning to move in together. The couple getting married are my friends though (and while we are friends, I’m mostly part of the friend group, and do not consider her a “best” friend of mine). I will have lots of friends at the wedding. I guess a part of me feels sort of embarrassed about not having a plus one there, though, when all of my other friends in relationships who will be there will be with their significant others who they are either married or engaged to. I have a couple single friends who will be at the wedding, but as petty as it sounds, I don’t like the idea of being lumped in with the single crowd when I’m very much in a relationship.

      • Jen

        It was the same case for me. Not a super great friend, but in the group so to speak. I just didn’t go. I would have felt weird without him there when all of my friend mostly had their significant others there. Don’t get me wrong either, I have no problem with Brides not inviting a plus 1, but in the case that I mentioned above with a moving in situation I disagree. ALSO…. It was a wedding that required a hotel room out of town!!!!!

        • Jessica

          Jen, this one does too. Thankfully it’s not a flight away, just a couple hour drive, but I’m just trying to decide if I have the right to feel annoyed. I want to see all of my other friends who will be there (we’ve all moved further apart at this point and don’t have many opportunities to catch up), but a lot of them also haven’t met my boyfriend yet just because we don’t all get to see each other that often, and I’m a little disappointed I won’t get to have him there with me to introduce to everyone. As it stands, I’m sharing a room with two of my single girlfriends who are going, but it’s sort of frustrating. I know I shouldn’t take it personally, but it’s kind of hard not to, right?

  • Berna

    It’s not fair that she can’t invite a family member that barely didn’t make the cut so her single friends can bring a stranger to their wedding! I say your wedding you decide! If someone is offended the “DO NOT” have to attend!

  • Kylie

    I didn’t have plus ones for family members, mostly because of a lot of drama. Some people were really upset, but I knew that drama was much less than dealing with baby mama drama, secret relationships, etc. My friends had a plus one, but they knew we were on a budget and didn’t bring anyone. Honestly, the people who gripe aren’t the ones who don’t care as much about you.

  • katey

    we are getting married this year and we were brutal on our guest list – only immediate family that we have a close relationship are invited and a handful of our close friends.
    This means some cousins, auntie and uncles are not invited- but hey if i dont get a birthday card your not getting a free meal! that was our rule.
    with regards to plus 1’s i agree if you are in a long term relationship its nice to have your partner there but i wouldnt want to see someone id never met at our special day – its about us not them and if they dont like it they dont have to come
    Luckily all of our friends are married and we are the last ones!!
    but when my partner and i first got together he was usher at his friends wedding and they asked him if he wanted to add me to the day list, as we’d only been together a few months and i had met them only briefly, i declined and said i would rather just come to the evening reception as i didnt think it was fair on them to have to pay for someone they didnt know.

  • Cera Crowley

    Another good rule for the guest list, invite all your family that live far away. Why? Chances are… they won’t be able to come and they will send you gifts. Plus family does get offended if you don’t invite them. No matter how far away they live from you. Trust me. I have a huge irish family and it was an event when someone didn’t get invited.

  • Rachel

    Oh boy… I am clearly not ready to plan a wedding 😉 I hadn’t even thought about the +1 aside from just thinking about who to invite. I think it really just depends on the person you are inviting! If they are truly friends you keep up with and love, you probably know more about their situation. I don’t know, it seems like it could get really complicated. At the end of the day, I guess you have to do what you feel is best for each guest! I can think of a lot of my friends who are currently not dating, a few I would definitely include a +1 (because inbetween the time inviting them and the wedding they could find someone!) and a few who don’t want to get married or ever be in a serious long-term relationship. I would assume they would be okay with coming on their own and hanging out with other friends there! I think these are good guidelines!

  • Hannah

    My husband and I decided that if we visit a city or town a person lives in and don’t feel inclined to make a connection, we shouldn’t put them on the list.

    • Kris Tin

      Tell me about it. When I flew over 7000 miles to see my family, They couldn’t drive 20 minutes to see me. That’s when I gave up.

  • Yolanda Navarro

    I am recently engaged and in the middle of the planning process, our rule is if they don’t know my name or fiance’s name, they are not invited. We both have very larger families, if there is a cousin of mine or his that has not meet either of us, they are not invite. We have been together for over 5 years!! If I haven’t seen you in 5 years…. why would i invite you? I completely agree with the +1, If I or my fiance do not know you, you have no business at our wedding. Amanda I completely agree with you girl!!

  • Amy

    The +1 debate is so controversial, my friend fell out with the bride because she didn’t have a +1 and put a downer on the day. I think it’s unfair to expect a +1 as each guest adds a lot of expense, something you only really understand when you plan a wedding!

  • Meagan

    I would have a question about “family”. I have a few relatives that I haven’t seen or spoken to once, in years! And I mean years as in 3-5. Should I feel obligated to invite them, even though we don’t speak, ever. And some I don’t speak to because though they are related, it doesn’t make them easy to be around or make them good people.

  • Orerietia

    I totally agree with you on your guest list! I will be doing the same thing for my wedding! My guest list will be short and sweet. I’m only inviting the ones who I am very close too and our family. I really don’t want nothing too extravagant but I want a wedding field with memories, laughter and love!

  • Melinda

    I recently went to a friends wedding who I have known for about 10 years and her rule with plus ones was that if you haven’t been in a relationship with that person for 12 months or more unfortunately you weren’t given a plus one on your invite and I think that is incredibly fair! Some people take advantage of the plus one situation and it is a cost to the bride and groom to have them there so I think it is only fair that the bride and groom pick who they give a plus one to. If you don’t get one, then you will get over it. If you don’t go to the wedding because of it or kick up a fuss you need to remember that it isn’t your day – like Lauren pointed out, you can’t invite everyone!

  • Stephanie, Sandpaper and Glue

    When we first got engaged and drafted a list it had about 120 people on it, then parents gave their two cents of who “had” to be invited it went up and up and up, and we had to cut our own friends to accommodate their requests and still stay within budget. At one point I decided… I don’t want any of this! And I cut everyone! lol. We had about 20 people at our wedding- which covered parents/step parents, grandparents, siblings, and aunts/uncles. Then we threw a big backyard party a month later for all our friends :)

  • Gen

    seating chart tips!

  • Ashley

    Talk to your wedding planner to make sure the guest list works within the budget you have. Don’t invite anyone you don’t feel should be at your special day. We told all single people they can have a plus one but need to let us know if they will ahead of time and it worked out well. Good luck and enjoy! It is a lot of planning and the actual wedding day goes by too fast :)

  • Happy Wife, Happy Life

    I have had many a run-in with extended family members that were cut from the list. I have had a cousin that acted like a mother bear and was outraged because her children and the grandchildren were cut from the list. (There were no children attending our wedding.) These family members were removed because the daughter ignores me and has been rude to me on several occasions. I couldn’t invite her brother and his spouse but not invite the sister. With quite a big extended family, weddings are expensive and why should there be people at the wedding I don’t see on a regular basis? This was our wedding and nobody else had the right to step-in and dismantle the list that was made and checked several times over.

  • Jacqueline Gutierrez

    What’s the best way to allow guests to know you will be having an adult only wedding?

  • Kll

    Jacqueline, to answer your question, we stated some thing like ” please respect our decision to have an adults only reception” and it was fine, everyone respected it. One cousin demanded as to why her little darlings couldn’t come, and we calmly replied that a lot of thought went into this day, and for a few different reasons we decided for adult only, and we expected everyone to respect our wishes. She was fine with that. You don’t need to justify your decision, it’s your day and well as your hubby’s :)

  • Jade

    Such a fantastic way of deciding, I imagine that’s such a tough choice to make and you just have to be ruthless or you end up feeding 500 people on the night. I think those are really fair and useful rules, great post. You’re making me want to plan a wedding now!

    Jade | skinsweet

  • Sarah

    What if you’re a bridesmaid? Considering the amount of time and money each is putting into the wedding, should each bridesmaid/groomsman be allowed a date?

  • Chantelle

    Lauren, what are your thoughts on who should be invited to your bachelorette party? Bridesmaids only? Or are other friends who aren’t in the bridal welcome?

  • RF

    One of my best friends has a long term boyfriend who I CANNOT stand. He is the most rude, obnoxious, and misbehaved adult I know. He takes every opportunity he has to insult people about their looks, career choice, and religious preference. On more than on occasion I have asked him to leave my house when my friend has invited him to girls night (which is a NO in my books), as well as other occasions as he repeatedly makes other people uncomfortable and want to leave. I don’t need him there on my wedding day to ruin it and piss everyone off. Would I be wrong for not letter her have a plus one option? I guess the other part is I asked her to be a bridesmaid, but I am seriously regretting this decision now!

  • Kata

    I think it’s a good solution. I’m doing the same, my wedding will be in August, and I told my friends, they can’t bring a plus one except I know their partner, and they are in a long term relationship. And you know what they said? Sure, we will be there because of you! So, I think it depends on your friends. Xoxo

  • Dalia

    When we drew up our guest list we said we would only people we both know AND like. And the same went for their +1, husbands and wifes included. If your husband and wife never bothered to hang out with us, why would he or she want to come? That way we narrowed it down to 30 people, and can now have a really intimate and luxurious wedding for the few.
    And you know, if you feel offended we are not going to be upset if you don’t come, because the purpose of the day is for us to start a new chapter in our life and not for us to please everyone.

  • Nic

    Im getting married in May and our rule is that if I havent met you or if you have been with your partner less than 12 months than your not getting a plus one invite. To make matters difficult my step brother got engaged to his girlfriend in under 12 months and to this date we havent actually met his now fiance. We are paying a reasonable amount per person for our 57 guests at our small intimate wedding so I feel it is only fair that I am not inviting someone I dont know to our wedding. Am I doing the right thing or only causing drama for myself?

  • Sonja – Red Sonja Blog

    Very smart guest list rules! I will keep them in mind when I will get married 😉

    xo Sonja

  • Constanza Galleguillos

    When I got married, I only invited people that I knew, I told my friends: ” I don’t care if you don’t want to be dateless to a big party, if you aren’t officially dating the guy, I don’t want a stranger at my wedding hanging out with my grandma and my little cousins.”

  • Katie Albury

    Love this! I definately had issues with this when planning our wedding and my clients when I was a planner. It’s so hard to cross people off a list and I know we upset a few people by not inviting them, but we hadn’t seen them for years! But it’s your big day and your money at the end of the day and bums on seats can break budgets!

    Katie x

  • Leslie

    We did first generation family on my fiancés side- which was still 70! But cut out a lot of relatives we never see. We are giving everyone a plus one, but adults only ceremony and wedding! We don’t have nephews or nieces since we are the oldest and wedding party is kid free! Our list is still over 300 though… But very typical Midwest size!

  • mariska

    How to decide (one day… not engaged 😉 ) who to invite when your family lives in an other country? I have a loooot of uncles, ants and cousins.. I left the Netherlands for France and don’t and won’t (real self-confidence) have the money to pay for everyones plane/train-ride.

  • Marianna Neal

    I very much agree with this post. I am not a fan of huge weddings to begin with, so when it came to mine I wanted a small gathering of closest friends and family, people who surround me and support me in my daily life. I keep hearing about those poor brides that barely ate at their weddings and spent the day stressed out because they were worried about everyone else. I don’t think it’s how it should be: this is the big day for the couple, not the big day to entertain everyone you know.

  • Kim

    I’m planning my wedding and I would like to know what styles of wedding dress suits which body types!

  • Jessica

    I like the dining together rule. I might even narrow that down to one year. 2 seems a bit much, especially if you think about the fact that’s 730 days you haven’t managed to get together. On the other hand. I think everyone deserves a plus 1.

    Other ways to narrow: only close friends and family. No need to invite distant cousins or even aunts or uncles that didn’t have an active role in your life.

    Co workers is a tough one. If you work with them daily and talk about the wedding planning I feel you have to invite them. But don’t invite a boss just because they heard it through the grapevine.

  • Hannah L.

    I have actually been thinking about this a lot lately for when I get engaged…eventually. I have a REALLY big family. LOTS of aunts, and uncles, and cousins, and second cousins that I would love to invite. Realistically, I know that I can’t invite all of them. Many of them live in other states. But I don’t know how I would go about making cuts without offending anyone. My family means a lot to me. Do you still apply the 2 year rule? Or do you invite all of the family and just wait and see who will come? Luckily I don’t have to worry about it yet, but I’m still so torn.

  • Ashley

    Those are both great points. I too regularly get together with the people I’m close with (or Skype/WhatApp the overseas ones) and think your two year rule is a great way to help narrow down who to invite! The plus-one tip also makes a lot of sense- with some people it’s a no-brainer, but for not everyone needs one!

  • Mikki

    Yes.. It can be very stressful.. At my wedding, seating plan was quite difficult too.. I really recommend having your wedding in New Zealand ! like I did..

  • Samantha

    I think the plus one rule is perfect. Not everyone can afford a huge wedding, and this is an easy and simple way to cut costs.

  • Katelin

    When I created my guest list, I really only allowed a plus one to people who had that significant other. I had a budget and 150 guest limit that I did not want to exceed plus I had a sit down dinner which was paid by each plate. I did not think it was fair to have to pay for someones guest whom I did not know, nor my family knew. I know everyone feels differently about the situation but that really help cut my list down to meet my limit! Even if you do not have a budget, never feel obligated. This is your wedding and it is ok to be bridezilla. lol

  • racingcourne

    I like that 2 years rule!

  • Elizabeth

    I think that is a fantastic guest list rule, I think if you haven’t socialised properly in the last 2 years, you’re probably not going to in the coming two years, and therefore why would you want those people sharing such a formal intimate moment in your life. I get married in July, and it has been so incredibly tricky writing the guest list…but the invites are finally sent.

    Elizabeth x |

  • Ane

    Have any creative ways of telling people you’re engaged? Something that important should be announced in a more creative way than a Facebook relationship status change…

  • The Macadame

    Ah the dreaded guest list! It’s always hard to draw the line – but you have to somewhere. I find the most difficult one, is if you have a friend who’s in a new relationship and you haven’t met their partner. Do they crack an invite?

    The Macadame. xx

  • katherine3leigh

    My fiancée and are following similar guidelines. We are keeping it smaller and most people are going to have to travel. For this reason we gave all of our singles plus ones so that if they make a weekend out of it they have someone to travel with and check out the area with and I don’t feel like I need to make sure they are entertained. Even if it’s a friend and not a date. We can figure out the seating charts closer to the date.
    We made a hard rule that we have to have spoken to the person on our list at least in the last year, it’s helped to keep it smaller and an evening that we are really excited about. My rule to my mom was that I have to have actually met any of her friends she wanted to invite.

  • KLN

    I’ve been at my church for 3years now, and i know like half of them but lets face it, i cant invite all of them…best tip i got, “If they don’t even invite you to their things don’t feel obligated to invite them”

  • Ashley

    Please write what to wear for engagement photos! I’m so stuck….
    And I agree with how you limited guests–I especially like the sharing a meal rule, because I’ve seen people but only through other weddings. We haven’t spoken outside those events in years and I don’t feel like they should be at my wedding, so this makes me feel less guilty for not inviting them.

  • Lynn

    I actually need some advice. I was recently invited to a wedding in November. I was surprised I was invited since we’re not really in touch anymore, but now I’m getting married and I’m not sure I want to invite her, especially since if I invite her, I will offend others from the same circle I wasn’t even planning on inviting.

    Any thoughts? Ok to not invite her since we only talked at her wedding and don’t keep in touch otherwise? (She doesn’t meet Lauren’s meal rule mentioned above)

    • The Pale Mare

      I had the same issue, and i’m not inviting the person who invited me to their wedding because we dont talk anymore. I gave them a nice gift (cash), so i dont feel bad.

  • Noora Al-Mutawa

    For us, it started to become a problem once I allowed all of my family and his family to invite their friends too! Seeing as their individual lists verged on 100 people (his in-laws even invited their families!) I couldn’t have my list be less. It was the absolute worst thing I did in my wedding, and the only thing I can tell you I definitely didn’t enjoy (being surrounded by so many people I did not know at all).

  • Jennifer Long

    When I get married, I plan on having a destination wedding. This way I can invite a lot of people, but most likely, the ones I’m closest to, will be the only people that actually attend. I think this will save a lot of feelings getting hurt. And, if someone asks later on why they weren’t invited, I will just say, “We had a destination wedding.” :)

  • Montana

    I have a plus one situation currently! I invited two co-worker/friends with the understanding they would come together since they are so close. One tells me she wants to bring her cousin so she can do her hair! And the other told me she is going to bring her boyfriend. Did I mention she was still married when they started dating? I did not give them plus ones, they just assumed they could bring someone. Before all of this, I was already questioning inviting them because we aren’t that great of friends to begin with. I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place now.

  • Natasja

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot.. I come from a huge family and I want a reasonably small wedding (realistically about 100 persons) so I haven’t even begun to think about my friends. Just cutting down on family members will be painful enough and my parents aren’t very agreeable either. Sigh.

  • Samantha

    I cut my guest list down by if I haven’t talked to you with in the past 6 months. It cut a lot and we were able to stay under our goal of 300

  • Brenda Ard

    I think social media has cheapened what a real friendship should be. I thought the article made a good point about “friendships”. True friendships are cultivated. You visit them, they visit you. I know there are circumstances when it can’t be often, but you should talk with each other and know about each other’s lives. I think it’s a good general rule and reminder for everyone…if someone is important to you, make time for them. We often say “we should get together” but nothing comes of it. Schedule time for your friends regularly. You’ll enjoy life more, I’m sure! Great article. My guest list is only about 50-60 families (150-180 total).

  • Bertie

    I have just been reading some of these comments. I am currently in the process of organising my wedding and my fiance and I have had the same issues most couples have regarding guestlist, budget and not to mention venue capacity. We agreed we wanted a small intimate wedding with 75 guests. Coming from a bigger family that my partners I didn’t want my partners family to feel hugely outnumbered and so we restricted to Aunties and Uncles, Grandparents and our imediates (with the exception of one cousin who I am particularly close to). We decided we didn’t want children at our wedding, more than anything because most of our friends with children would welcome a weekend away without them. When it came to plus ones it was simple, if we didn’t know them well or consider them a friend in their own right then they werent invited. I ahve plenty of friends who have been with their boyfriends for years yet when we socialise we rarely include boyfriends. Your wedding day is YOUR day and any ‘friend’ should be overjoyed that you want them there to share it with you, not bellyaching because they didn’t get to bring someone along. I have been invited to a university friends wedding at Easter, my fiance too is invited, but I have decided to go by myself because non of my other university friends partners have been invited so frankly I want a good knees up with my old gang without having to worry that my fiance doesn;t really know anyone etc.

  • Noeris Gil

    You know, I’m not engaged or in a relationship that is on the road to marriage. But, I will say this. If you are like me, a full blooded Latin girl, born and raised in Miami, FL where English is a second language, there will be guests that your mother will ask you to invite. And I am completely OK with that, my mom has only one daughter and as much as I know is my day. It will make her so happy to know that she can share her daughters happiness with our extended family.

  • TheMrsStill

    To the comments down below….. to give a person who is in a relationship or married a “plus one” is being considerate. It’s the nice thing to do. If your with someone or married and you actually love them, you want to spend every fun moment with them. I wouldn’t be offended if I couldn’t bring my husband and he would be okay with staying home, but why would I want that? I’d love to bring my husband anywhere and share fun times with him. I’m guessing your both single? or not in great relationships. My husband is my best friend, I want to bring him everywhere, not because I have to but because I want to. I gave everyone who was married or in relationship a plus one. I only had a 50 person wedding so the extra cost was very minimum by doing that. You try having a wedding and tell your friend they can’t bring their husband. It’s not nice. I completely agree with Lauren’s rules. I kind of did the same thing as in how close we are.

  • NLB

    does anyone think one has the right to be offended when one of there wedding guests asked to bring a plus one we agreed and now that person and there plus one are getting married we arent invited

  • Blb

    Why get worried about who adds a plus one…when it really only matters to the bride and groom. Let whoever is getting married. REMEMBER that is only half of a day that your actually married, every other afterwards is what matters!!! So I think everyone has their on opinion do how they want on their day.

  • Maureen

    How do you politely let guests know that their children are NOT invited?? Especially at an evening wedding where fussy children can spoil the ceremony and distract parents from enjoying the reception! Please share your ideas!

  • Stacee Tweedlie

    Guest lists are the worst! It’s so hard to make everyone happy! :) I love the “Dinner” thought, it has helped me A LOT in this difficult process!
    I used this blog post for inspiration for one of my wedding posts! I would love your support!

  • Carol

    I see both sides of the story. My daughter is 25 and single. When she is invited with a “plus one”, she makes sure to give a money gift from two people that more than compensates for an additional guest. On the other hand, there are times where she has been invited and knows absolutely no one but the bride or the groom. In this case, she very much understands and still sends a gift but is very uncomfortable to travel and spend time alone at the event with strangers. Of course, the day belongs to the couple and that is all that matters. But for a single who knows positively no one, that is just not a pleasant experience and she chooses not to attend. We have held many weddings in our family and for situations such as this, we choose to add a “plus one” to our invitations. It’s not worth having anyone feel uncomfortable if we truly want that person to spend a special day with us. For all other singles who are not in relationships, a plus one is not necessary if they have other friends and/or family attending.

  • Stefan Salvatore

    According to me it will be the perfect dress for wedding because of their design.
    Hawaii Marriage License

  • Cleilani

    I do airbrush makeup for brides and have been invited to the wedding several times after getting to know the bride. The invites have always been verbal and not an official paper invitation. I never had the thought cross my mind that I should, could or would bring someone along with me. These events have been so much fun and I always cry for my new friend. I have enjoyed meeting her friends and family during the reception and I typically get seated with the bridal party (they don’t seem to have +1s either). I mingle about the room and feel no pressure at all to speak to others or feel insecure because I’m alone. All of the guests have always been very nice and friendly. I’ve also attended weddings for two of my very close friends, but i chose to drive to both (alone). One was in Toronto and the other was in Denver. I was living in Chicago both times. I didn’t feel like asking someone to drive all that way for a wedding. They don’t know my friends and wouldn’t have had the motivation that I did to share in their happy day. If a guest is concerned about bringing someone, they shouldn’t come. +1s aren’t necessary in my book.

  • Chris

    I’m thankful for this post because I was wondering if I should invite the friend whom I haven’t seen in nearly 3 years (and no effort on her part either). It’s not like we can play “catchup” on one of the biggest days of my life!

  • Laura

    I don’t think plus ones should ever be assumed but I think the bride and groom need to give it some thought. I was invited to the wedding of one of my oldest friends who told me she that numbers were limited and she couldn’t really stretch to me having a plus one. I don’t know any of her other friends now as she lives in another country so stumping up flights and accommodation with nobody to split it with (or talk to on the big day!) was a bit much. I was still going to go until I heard she had given other people plus ones who knew most of the people going. I was gutted to miss her special day but I didn’t want to be surrounded by complete strangers….

  • Jo

    I was invited to a friend’s wedding 3 years ago. I was single and was invited alone, and it wasn´t any problem ’cause lots of my friends were invited too. At the party I met a boy… we danced and talked all night long, and had a really nice time together. Next day he invited me on a date… and 6 months ago we got married! And we actually had the same rules you describe for the “plus-one” invitations. So I’d say it works perfectly good!

  • Bride to be

    What if my daughter wants to invite her best friend is that okay?

  • camilamv

    Im only 25 and getting married and only a half of my friends are in a “long therm relationship” So I decided to only invited them with a +1, because I know their significant others, and my singles friends just by themselves, and I will be seating them all together, so they can share and have a good time. I guess seating the “singles” all together is a smart move so they don’t feel they are left alone. What you think? Xoxo

  • jade

    What about children?
    Child friendly or child free?

  • Jamie

    We decided no “guests” at our wedding. If we had to write “and guest” on the invitation, we didn’t know the person well enough to invite them. If a friend has just started dating someone, they have to understand that so much time and money is going into your wedding- all of our friends understood!

  • stephanie

    I think that plus one should not be invited to the wedding ceremony or meal unless they are both good friends with the couple getting married, but should certainly be invited to the night party.

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  • Kris

    My one rule going into my wedding, I actually learned from my sisters wedding. I don’t want to be meeting people for the first time at my wedding. There are the obvious exceptions – like my fiances out-of-town college friends whom I’ve met a couple times, but haven’t met their significant others. As for the divorced cousin I have, who would more than likely bring her (trashy!) female friend, I set the rule as: If you want someone to come and join you, let them know they’re welcome for drinks and dancing… after dinner!

  • Malin

    I’m wondering, what about distant family and step siblings? Do I have to invite all aunts and uncles? What do you think?

  • Happy2bsingle!

    I have been divorced for over a decade and I am now at the age when lots of the children of my friends are getting married. I think it is just plain RUDE to invite a single adult to a wedding without a guest! I decided last weekend that I will decline any such invitations by telling the rude person that I don’t attend dances without a partner. Sitting at a table alone while everyone dances is not fun! If you can’t afford to invite a singe with a date, don’t invite them! Singles are real people with feelings! No more for me!

    • Jeabird

      It’s rude for a couple to care enough about you to invite you to their wedding but it’s not rude to decline by saying that you “don’t attend dances without a partner?” If I was willing to pay $100 for you to come a FREE PARTY and you responded like that, I can guarantee you that I would never talk to you again. Not being invited with a +1 doesn’t mean that the bride and groom didn’t consider you a “real person with feelings.” In fact, the very fact that they invited you means that they do consider you a real person that they want with them at their wedding. It’s a shame that you can’t get passed yourself to realize that.

  • Natalie

    I agree with the article on plus-ones. Most importantly, I believe that if a guest is in a long term relationship, they should receive a plus one. A wedding is a beautiful and essentially lovey dovey event that you want your friends to enjoy and share with you AND their significant other as well. In addition those saying that a wedding is “the bride and grooms day”… I do not believe it is JUST the bride and grooms day. If you do, why are you picking out food that you think your guests, in addition to yourself, would enjoy? So yes, I do believe my guests have a right to be grumpy if they have been in long term relationships and do not get a plus one. If you can’t afford giving plus ones to those guests, skim the price somewhere else like having the wedding on a Friday instead of the weekend.

  • Ashley

    I don’t know if the right word is really offended. I don’t feel offended when I get invited to a wedding without a plus one. I do however, feel overlooked. That it is more important to the bride to watch her budget, know everyone at her wedding, and whatever other reasons than it is for her to consider my feelings and me having a good time and feeling comfortable. I am 28, single and all of my close friends are in relationships and are given plus ones to weddings. It is not fun to attend a wedding with all couples no matter how well you know each of them. Not everyone is an extrovert and feels comfortable socializing with new people. So when I do get invited to a wedding without a plus one I politely decline and send well wishes. I think it is important for singles to remember that they do not have to accept every invitation that comes their way.

  • Christy

    I realize I’m a little late to the party (ha) but I was reading this and thought I might throw out my opinion for anyone interested in reading it. Though Lauren covered it, I read a lot of comments from people that seemed to hold fast to the rule that only married people should be invited a plus one.

    I understand where they are coming from, however there are a lot of people in this day and age that are not married but are just as committed as those that are (like myself and my boyfriend who have been living together for 3 and a half years). Yes, the wedding is absolutely about the couple getting married and the attendees should feel special being invited to celebrate the occasion with them. My point doesn’t really have much to do with this than with others insinuating that unmarried couples are not as deserving of a mutual invite as married couples.

    My stepsister recently wed her longtime boyfriend and if she had not invited my boyfriend to the celebration, I would’ve felt truly hurt (as would he). If the situation were on the other foot, I would not have dreamed of inviting her to our wedding without him! At the end of the day, it’s grey area. Sure, if you don’t want all boyfriends/girlfriends attending for budget or personal reasons, that is perfectly understandable. I certainly wouldn’t want a “flavor of the week” at mine. I just felt like I represented a group of people that had not yet been heard. Thanks for reading. (Love you LC!)

  • MN

    plus one advice for first cousins wedding invites. If you don’t want to hurt your adult first cousins I’d recommend doing the same for all those who are not engaged or live together. I do not agree that those in a long term relationships get treated differently. Serious the long term relationship could be going well when the invites are issued with the plus one, then they break up before the wedding and your cousin would be free to bring a date. Imagine the hurt this causes to the rest of your dating cousins. Consider the bigger pictures and treat all singles adult cousins the same. Invites plus ones to all adult cousins if you can afford it. And seriously always send adults their own invites regardless if they live with their parents. Very simple

  • wickdsickk

    Weddings, ruining friendships, supporting religion, and forcing people into absolute oblivion and boredom since… god knows when… what a bag of shit

  • Jess

    This is a great rule..I’ve been to a few weddings and there are always people there who the bride/groom haven’t seen in ages and spend ages catching up with those people / stressing if those who they don’t really fell 100% comfortable with are having fun so much so that the bride/groom don’t get to enjoy their big day. What is your rule on if they invited you to their wedding – but you haven’t saw them in years?

  • Girl

    I was told that I couldnt have a plus one because I wasnt married. I was so insulted and hurt so me and my boyfriend decided to spend the few grand we would have spent traveling for her wedding (flights, hotel, rental car and gifts) on a beach vacation where we were both welcome. She was upset that I didnt come and never understood my point of view but we both got over it with time. I personally would never expect someone to travel cross country to attend my wedding alone. But thats just me.

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  • Jane

    I was planning to attend my cousins wedding later this year. She sent myself and my sister messages asking for our street address for the invitations. I never got my invitation (so I cannot say what it said) but I was told one was sent. I’m not sure if she sent one to my sister but she didn’t get one either and was apparently added to my parents invitation. My cousin, myself and my sister are all in our 30’s. I’m engaged. I’ve been engaged for 6 months and have been living with my fiancee for 2 years. My sister has a boyfriend of maybe 2 months. My father called me the other day because my cousin was asking him if my fiancee and I wanted chicken or pork.

    Today my cousin called to tell me my “guest” (they have met), possibly couldn’t come to the wedding after all since they had to downsize their venue. Apparently the same is true with my sisters guest. But that they were still invited to the ceremony and the dance part afterwards.

    My first inclination is to be insulted, but I don’t know if that is the right feeling. If I had just been told they were keeping the wedding small and I wasn’t invited I would have been fine with it. Most of my cousins were not invited because they live on the other side of the country and we did not grow up together. I don’t like to judge people or pressure them about their weddings because I think the whole industry is a big money grab and people should care less what people think. That being said my fiancee will soon be officially part of our family. She will even have the name that my cousin grew up with. Plus I don’t really want to go without out her. But I cannot expect her to take two days off of work. drive to a city several hours away and twiddle her thumbs and wait for me.

    So most likely I am just going to cancel. That will free her up a bunch of space for her wedding. But I’m still wondering if this is something I should feel insulted over? I realize people have to make tough decisions in these circumstances. I guess I’m trying to decide if I should just shrug it off or cut her out of my life circle.

    Apparently this has pissed off my parents enough that they are thinking of just not going. Partly I think because instead of calling me to explain, my cousin called my father and asked him to tell me. He told her no and then she called me.

    I was initially inclined to think this was because I am a Lesbian, but her cancelling my sisters date has put that to rest. If that was the case I wouldn’t even have to think about it.

  • Lizz

    What about choosing bridesmaids when it comes to the groom’s sisters vs. the bride’s closest friends? Any thoughts?

    • gr8star

      i got lucky, my future sis-in-law didnt want to be in the wedding party. at the end of the day, its YOUR wedding. how do you want to remember it? you can have a gaggle of maids, or a select few, its up to you. but a reminder (because i have brothers) if the shoe were on the other foot, what would your expectations be?

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  • SanDiego20

    I love this idea! How do you go about handling the invitations so its clear you’re not offering single guests a plus one? I would love a diplomatic way to put it on the RSVP card. Thank you!

  • Just Engaged

    Help! I need advice! My fiancé and I want a very small and intimate wedding. We want just our closest family and friends (less than 60 people). After speaking with the future in-laws it turns out that they want to invite 8 of their coworkers (and their spouses) which would be close to 1/3 of our list! I’m cutting out very close friends that I grew up with that I have sort of lost touch with that would definitely be on our list before these 16 people that I’ve never met! How would you handle this?

    • gr8star

      the best way ive found to deal with this is by simply reminding everyone involved that there is a limit on head count. my parents tried to ad 70!! people to the list, most of whom id never met. its your day, dont feel pressured to make everyone else happy. even if your future in-laws are helping out financially, that doesnt mean they can pull rank.

  • gr8star

    in my entire adult life, ive NEVER been given a plus-one. not ever. as a bride, the best piece of advice ive gotten so far is to look at everyone as if they were a 100 dollar bill….a little crass, i know….but its seriously helped me narrow my focus by asking myself ‘is this person worth a Benjamin Franklin?’ And to be fair my guest list is still over 150 :-/ so it hasnt whittled THAT many down…

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  • Brittany

    Can anyone tell me how to politely explain on an invitation that someone is not allowed to bring a plus one? I am freaking out about having to do this!

  • JoJo

    If they wouldn’t or didn’t invite you to their wedding, why invite them to yours? That’s my rule.

  • Laura Marie’s my question. I know this might sound really mean to some people, but what about the single bridal party members? I have quite a few who are single and our guest list is SUPER tight and our budget stretched. Most of the single bridesmaids/groomsmen are already very close friends with eachother and half of the day their “plus one” would just be sitting around alone while we get ready and enjoy the day…is it wrong to not give them one?

  • Confused

    My fiances mom is fighting me on the fact that I am not inviting his step cousins to the wedding, I am already inviting his step brother and sister, step aunt and uncle? but why do I have to invite her 5 kids to the wedding? We see them twice a year. she’s telling me it’s rude that I am not inviting his family, but I am…I don’t see his stepfathers nephews as immediate family. Am I wrong?

  • lor

    Really so if I’m seeing someone but don’t feel like boasting about it as yet then I have to go alone?! If I’m inviting ppl to my wedding I want them to have fun & be comfortable. I think it’s rude to be invited alone. Just because people are single, it doesn’t mean that they go out alone!
    If my friends will invite me alone then I’m happy to narrow down their list and be cut off. After all we pay for weddings as monetary gifts nowadays are more appreciated therefore the costs business is an excuse. Many a times they make a profit out if a wedding.
    Actually I should get refunded for all the ones which did not last

    • JoJo

      If you’re seeing someone but keeping it a secret then why are you seeing them? Anyways, Are you married? Do you have an idea what the actual cost is for a wedding? Even a simplistic one at that? I would love to meet a couple that has profited from a wedding besides celebrities.

  • oneeyedsage

    Here is a topic I have yet to see anyone talking about but I know I am far from alone in this and simple answers do not exist: When the divorced or seperated family with a non-amicable history are brought together…. Think of this, seating, rehearsal dinners, when tempers flare up, when parents pull from both sides. Advice please! From all the wedding how-to or advice books, not one even mentions this issue and yet the bringing together of these two families is also very important and sometimes nerve wracking to the couple. Just saying, someone has to do it….

  • Name

    I have a question? My boyfriend’s best friend is getting
    married this summer. While I’ve gotten along with them from the beginning, there
    may be feelings of resentment toward us in that we moved to another state (for
    my career) and both were extremely close to him. We live together and he received
    his invite but instead of it being addressed or naming both of us it states his
    name +1. It feels a bit awkward but then
    again I am not up to date on wedding etiquette?

    • JoJo

      You’re probably invited but perhaps they forgot your name? While that’s not likely if he still received a plus one, at least you’re still invited technically! Go and support their marriage, be the bigger person :)

  • shibby

    I think it’s discriminatory to not give a single person a plus one.

    Why do married people automatically get a plus one? By the logic of denying a single person a plus one, then the spouse of a friends has no right to be there either if said spouse is not a close friend. Everyone should get their own individual invitations.

    Weddings are awkward and filled with relatives of the couple you never met. Sure I want to celebrate my friend’s union but I don’t want to hang out with her grandparents. So, if I don’t get a plus one, I usually decline the invite.

    • JoJo

      That’s pretty selfish on your part. While I can understand how you would feel awkward about not being allowed to bring someone with you to a wedding, you clearly don’t understand the costs associated with being a “plus one” such as an additional dinner for a complete stranger, also that one person can mean the difference in the number of tables and chairs needed and tent space if the event is outdoors.

  • Confused

    I’ve recently been invited to my cousin’s wedding and have an “etiquette” question. We were really close growing up, but now only see each other once or twice a year as we live in different cities. When the invite came in the mail it was a very informal postcard that only listed my first name – no salutation, no last name, no suite number (I live in an apartment), and no? plus one. I have been with my SO for almost three years and am confused as to if whether or not the invite implies I have a plus one to her wedding. While I know the general rule of thumb is “If it’s not stated you don’t have one” I am genuinely confused. My cousin has met my SO, but neither my SO nor I have met her fiancé … they have been engaged/dating for approximately 9 months and we missed each other at the last family gathering, Xmas, because my SO & I spent the holidays with my boyfriend’s family (we take turns each year as his hometown is a plane ride away as well). I don’t want to ask the couple what the invite means as I’m not sure the no plus one was intentional or if it is due to the informal nature of the invitation (i.e. doesn’t list my last name and other missing details) and I don’t want to appear rude. Any thoughts? Thank you!

  • Kim

    Being a bride planning her upcoming wedding, I feel that a plus one is something that is on the discretion of the bride and groom. After all, it’s a day they are planning, spending money on and ultimately they want to celebrate with those who count. And everyone attending should be coming to celebrate the union of the bride and groom. The budget is the biggest factor in all wedding planning and the guest count affects it directly. I can’t even invite certain friends because of the limited space/budget I’m working with, and I’d rather have them there than plus ones who I barely know. Guests should be more understanding and supportive



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