You’ve set off on your journey to the altar and now it’s time to decide who you want to be there when you say “I do.” Planning your guest list isn’t just about choosing which loved ones to invite. You also have to decide whether all or some of your guests can bring a significant other along. Read ahead for a complete overview on how to navigate the wedding etiquette plus one dilemma. 

What is a plus one invitation, and how does it differ from a regular invitation?

A plus one wedding invitation allows your invitee to bring a guest to your big day. These are usually addressed to single guests. (It’s always considered proper etiquette to include both members of a married couple or committed long term relationship as invited guests.) A plus one wedding invitation is typically understood as an invitation to bring a date, but there are some occasions where it’s appropriate to bring a friend. 

Why do couples extend plus one invitations to single guests?

Including plus ones can be great for both the guest and couple experience. After all, the more people on your guest list who have a dance partner, the more fun your celebration will be. It’s also a nice way to thank your guests for taking time to celebrate this exciting occasion with you. That said, it’s perfectly acceptable to have some boundaries in place over who your guests can invite to share your wedding day.

Plus One Wedding Etiquette Guide

How to decide who gets a plus one

If you have a venue that can accommodate a plus one for each single person on your list, go for it. But if you have limited seating, allotted a certain amount toward catering, or simply prefer a more intimate gathering, here are a few things to consider when narrowing down the plus one list. 

Your wedding party

You should always give members of your wedding party the option to bring a plus one. After all, they’re spending the day making sure you have the best experience possible. They may need some support too. Thank them for all their hard work and give your wedding party priority for additional guests. Even if they decline the offer, it’s an important gesture to make. 

The couple’s relationship to the guest

It’s understandable if a close friend gets priority over a coworker. Like with your wedding party, it’s also standard practice to extend a plus one to any immediate family members. But depending on the size of your venue, it may be easy to accommodate. 

Additionally, the decision can also depend on how well the couple knows someone’s plus one. For instance, if your guest wants to bring a friend instead of a date, it’s understandable to hesitate if you don’t know the person coming to your wedding. But if it’s a friend you’ve met, you may feel more comfortable including them on your special day. 

Plus One Wedding Policy

If the guest knows other attendees

If your wedding guest only knows you and your spouse-to-be, it’s a good idea to let them bring someone along. With everything happening on your special day, you likely won’t have a lot of extra time to spend one on one with everyone. They should have someone to talk to and enjoy the party with, especially if this guest is close to you or your future spouse.

Any additional unique circumstances

There can be a number of other reasons you need to limit the amount of plus ones you invite. Maybe there’s only a small number of seats or you only allotted a certain amount toward catering. Or you may just have a specific wedding daydream in mind. As long as you communicate your policy to guests in a considerate, timely manner, you get to set the rules on your day. 

How to communicate your plus one policy to your guests

Formally, you’ll note if plus ones are included on your wedding invites. It can also be a good idea to include clarification on your save the date, so your guests have more than enough time to plan. Depending on the guest, such as the wedding party, it may be appropriate to informally let them know what your policy is as well. If you’re unable to accommodate plus ones for all, you can tactfully give your guest a heads-up through a phone call or in-person conversation. That way, they won’t be surprised by an invite for just one seat.

Plus One Wedding Guide

How to address plus ones on invitations

Your wedding invitations that include plus ones will look similar to your invitation design for married couples or long term partners. Whereas an invitation to an established couple addresses both partners by name, a plus one invitation will replace one of those names with “invited guest” or similar language. If you’ve invited a long term couple that doesn’t live together, you can send one invitation addressing both people to one address.

You can also include RSVP instructions that request the plus one’s name when responding, so you still know everyone that’s attending ahead of time. If you’ve opted to not include plus ones, add a polite, but clear note, such as “one seat is reserved for the invited guest.” 

What to say when a guest requests a plus one

Sometimes, even with your best efforts to communicate a no plus-ones policy, a guest will ask if they can bring someone anyway. It’s not considered proper etiquette for guests to request a plus one, but it’s important to consider the context. If you have any flexibility, you may want to weigh the pros and cons before saying no. 

For example, you may have been under the impression a single guest was only casually dating and didn’t think they needed a plus one. But if they reach out to ask if a recently established significant other can attend, you might want to include them. 

If there’s absolutely no wiggle room, though, it is perfectly acceptable to send a polite but firm response stating your policy. Let them know that while you’d love to expand your guest list, your venue has limited capacity. 

Guide to Plus One Wedding Guests

What to do if a guest arrives with an uninvited plus one

It’s not the most fun part of wedding planning, but having a backup for unexpected situations can save you stress if they happen. The arrival of an uninvited guest is one of those situations you can prepare for. 

You may choose to just let it go if there’s room for an extra seat. But if you want to prevent uninvited plus-ones from entry, you have a few options. You can use similar language as you might have used for guests that requested a plus-one after receiving an invite. Politely, but firmly let them know there’s no room. 

If you understandably don’t want to be responsible for turning people away on your big day, you can designate someone to handle guest list enforcement. This can be another guest that you know, someone in the wedding party, or you can work with the venue staff. 

Plan the perfect guest experience with Trademark

Your plus one policy is all about what’s right for you and your partner. Give yourself plenty of time to plan and give your guests the same respect by communicating your policy early. As long as you follow basic etiquette, you and your guests will have a great time celebrating together, no matter what you decide. 

And if you want to host a dream wedding for you and your attendees, Trademark’s unique wedding venues can help. From enjoying a handcrafted menu to dancing in stunning outdoor reception areas, Trademark has everything you need to throw the party of a lifetime. Reach out to Trademark today and start planning a celebration to remember.