Organising plus ones can be one of the most headache-inducing, stressful parts of wedding planning. If you’re like most brides- or grooms-to-be, then you’ll be very aware of your budget, and how inviting too many plus ones can spell a nightmare from a financial perspective. Every extra guest means an extra plate, which soon starts to add up.
If you don’t invite plus ones at all, you may scare away guests that wouldn’t want to attend without their partners. But if you offer plus ones to some guests, but not others, then you run the risk offending people.
So, how do you begin to navigate this difficult subject? The aim of this guide is to give you direction, and help you to help you decide which of your guests should and shouldn’t be offered a plus one.
What Are ‘Plus Ones’?
The term ‘plus one’ means a guest that somebody brings to a formal event - in this case, a wedding. If you’re inviting plus ones to your wedding, it means that you’re allowing your guests to invite a guest of their own and bring them along as a date.
Usually, if someone is offered a plus one, they will invite their spouse or partner. If a guest isn’t currently dating anyone, they may use their plus one to bring a friend along (though this is usually frowned upon from an etiquette perspective).
So how do you invite plus ones? Ideally you should find out the name of your guest’s partner before sending the invitations. Then you can simply write both of their names on the envelope.
If you don’t know their name, or you’re not sure who your guest will be bringing, simply write “Miss J. Smith and guest” (for example). This lets your guest know that they’re invited to bring someone along. Just make sure you find out their name before ordering your place cards!
Which Wedding Guests Need a Plus One?
Allowing your guests to bring guests of their own is a gesture of kindness. It ensures that nobody will be alone, even if they don’t know anyone else there.
But it probably isn’t realistic to allow all of your guests to bring plus ones. After all, you presumably have a limited budget, and your venue has a finite amount of space.
The downside of not inviting plus ones is that some of the people you invite may choose not to come. Guests that are married may even be downright offended that you haven’t invited their spouse. Navigating this situation can be tricky.
Traditional wedding etiquette dictates that if the bride’s mother did not know you, you did not get a wedding invitation. Of course, this advice is outdated now - these days, it’s up to the bride and groom.
Some couples decide not to invite any plus ones at all. But there are some guests, we feel, that really deserve one.
Married and Engaged Guests
If any of your guests are married, or engaged to be married, they should get a plus one. It’s just polite, even if you don’t know one person as well as you know the other. Married and engaged couples should always be considered a package deal. Imagine how you’d feel if you weren’t allowed to bring your other half to such an important event as a wedding.
Even if you don’t know one of your guests’ spouses personally, you should still invite them. We’d advise giving them a call to find out what their partner’s name is, so that you can put it on the invitation.
Guests in a Serious Relationship
Just like being married or engaged, any invitees that are currently in a serious or long-term relationship should be allowed to bring their partner. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to gauge whether a relationship is sufficiently ‘serious’ to warrant a plus one.
Generally speaking, if they are living together, this is a pretty good indicator that they’re in a serious relationship. Alternatively, if they aren’t living together, but have been together for a long time - say, over a year - you should also consider this plus one-worthy.
If you’re not sure, you can always ask them (before sending out the invitation) whether they’d like to bring their partner.
Guests that Won’t Know Anyone
If you’ve ever been to an event at which you didn’t know a single person, you’ll know how awkward it can feel - especially if everyone else already knows each other. That’s why it’s polite, if you know that one of your guests won’t know any other people, to offer them a plus one. You should do this even if they’re not in a long-term relationship - it can give them a confidence boost to be able to bring a date, or a close friend.
Wedding Party Members
Finally, you should consider all of your wedding party members as VIPs. That means they should each be allowed to bring a guest, even if they’re currently single. Chances are, they’ve helped you out a lot with your wedding, and therefore they deserve a little special treatment!
Wedding party members may include:
● Maid of honour
● Best man
If the bride’s parents or groom’s parents are separated, they should each be given a plus one as well.
If you’d like to offer a plus one to someone who doesn’t fit the above categories, of course you can. This list isn’t exhaustive - it’s purely to give you some guidance.
However, we’d advise to be wary when it comes to picking and choosing who gets to bring a guest and who doesn’t. You don’t want to cause offence. For example, take your work colleagues: if you give some of them plus ones, but not others, it might create some tension.
We’d advise making strict rules about who will and will not get plus ones (and why) before sending out your invitations. That way, if you get any awkward questions, you’ll have an answer ready.
Which Guests Don’t Need a Plus One?
You aren’t obligated to offer plus ones to any of your guests, whether or not they fit into the above categories. But as a general rule, single guests don’t need plus ones, especially if they’ll know lots of other people at the wedding.
Of course, the final decision is up to you. Some couples choose to offer every guest a plus one. However, this can quickly add up - a guest list of 100 people can quickly turn into 200 if everyone’s allowed to bring a guest. Not only will it be expensive to feed and water these extra people, but it also means there may be a lot of people at your wedding that you’ve never met before.
At the end of the day, the choice of who to offer a plus one is yours to make. You should carefully consider your budget, and the size of your venue, before coming to your final decision.
What About Kids?
So, you know by now that you should probably offer plus ones to any guest that’s married. But you may also be wondering: what about kids? If any of my guests have children, do I have to invite them, too?
In general, the answer is yes: it’s polite to invite your guests’ children if they are still young enough to live with their parents. In other words, if your coworker’s daughter is grown up and at university, you don’t have to invite her. You can invite her if you’d like to, but she should receive her own invitation.
If you are having a child-free wedding, of course you don’t need to invite your guests’ children. It’s your big day, so you get to decide whether you want young children in attendance. If you’d prefer the affair to be adults-only, simply address the invitation to your guests directly. For example, write “Mr & Mrs John Smith” rather than “The