Weddings are a beautiful celebration of love and commitment. I think everyone leaves a wedding feeling a bit more hopeful and “in love”. However, it can be difficult if you aren’t in a committed stage of your life. Maybe you just started dating someone. Maybe you’re single. What do you do then? This leads us to the infamous “Plus One Debate“.
General wedding etiquette states that guests should be able to bring a plus one. That can get a little dicey though as it has the potential to double your guest list. I think How I Met Your Mother does a great job of pointing out the occasional ridiculousness of your “perpetually single” friend or family member.
How do you combat this without making people feel excluded? Some couples instate an “only if you’re engaged or married” rule for plus ones. Is this just another way to single out single people? While it may feel like that, it’s also just a protection for the documented proof of the day. My family will never let me live down the fact that I put in ONE picture of myself and my ex-boyfriend, claiming it has now ruined the photo book that I made for them.
Con: Not allowing your guests to bring a guest can make them feel excluded, or extra single.
Con: A guest of a guest can also ruin some of your favorite pictures, videos, or moments of the day, should something end poorly.
I had the opportunity to talk to one of my male friends on his perspective of this debate. In summation, if not in a committed relationship, this gentleman would prefer to go on his own rather than bring someone for the sake of bringing someone. However, if it’s a wedding of someone you may not be as close to where you may not know as many people (if any beyond the bride and groom), it may be advantageous to bring a plus one. I see his points. Do you really want to spend the entire evening filling your date in on the people around you or introducing them to everyone who passes? Probably not. You probably want to enjoy the wedding, celebrating the bride and groom. If it’s more of an acquaintance where you may not know as many, it would be nice to at least know your date and be able to enjoy the evening with them, while meeting new potential friends!
Pro: Your guest has a buffer of someone they will know to help them better enjoy your day.
Con: Your guest’s day is full of running commentary about those at the wedding.
Those are some of the pros and cons from your guests’ perspective. What about you as the bride and groom? Finances are obviously an extremely important part of planning your wedding. Unless you won the lottery, or you’re a Rockefeller, you have a set budget for your entire wedding. You know your family, you know your friends. Once you get the imperatives on your guest list, take a look at your number.
A girlfriend of mine got married this past October. I was concerned with getting a date to the wedding because that’s just “what you do”. It was an option that I had on my invitation. However, after talking to the bride and a few of the other people going to the wedding, there were going to be a ton of single girls and guys there! Why bring a date when you can dance the night away with your lady friends?!
Pro: Inviting a larger number of single/non-committed people is more welcoming to not allowing guests to bring a date.
The other side of having a lot of single friends, and allowing them to bring dates is that the guest list rises very quickly. If you have 8 single coworkers…that’s suddenly 16 people. That’s two more 60″ round tables. Two more tablecloths.
Con: Allowing dates of guests is expensive.
What’s the answer?
Unfortunately, I don’t have one for you. Personally, I go by the “old school” rule book in that you should always allow guests. I don’t know that it’s fair to limit it to “only engaged or married couples”. My cousin and his now wife were together for seven years, I believe, before they got engaged. Are you really going to tell me that they weren’t as committed as a couple engaged after a year?
At the end of the day, you know your guests. You should have a good grasp on where they are in their personal lives. If your cousin is dating a dirtbag, maybe you don’t allow a plus one for non-committed guests. I can’t tell you one way is right or one way is wrong, especially because it does involve money. (I can tell you the right way to cut your wedding cake though.)