What is the proper etiquette for inviting significant others to a wedding? Should everyone get a “plus one”? Only people who have been dating for x amount of time? Couples in which the bride and groom know both of them?
What should I do if I feel like I deserve a plus one but do not receive one?
- Plus/Minus 1
Dear Plus/Minus 1,
Wedding etiquette is extremely important, since weddings have a tendency to turn people maniacal (and I'm not just talking about the brides). Horror stories abound, from brides who transform into Mr. Hyde as the date approaches, to relatives who decide a wedding is an appropriate place to be intoxicated, and relatives who thoughtlessly provide the bride with a list of demands for her special day.
That being said, many different etiquette queens have weighed in on this subject. I will defer to the advice of Emily Post and Miss Manners. Emily Post says that spouses, fiancées/fiancés, and live-in partners must be invited, issuing an invitation to a boyfriend or girlfriend is up to the bride and groom's discretion.
Miss Manners goes a step further and says that “plus one” is not appropriate, and that all invitations should be issued to a particular person. For instance, if a bride would like to invite an old college friend (we'll call her Amy Brown), and is aware that Amy has a beau (we'll call him John Black) that she would like to have included, she should call Amy and ask for his name and address. Then, she should issue separate invitations to Miss Amy Brown and Mr. John Black.
The reasoning behind these mandates is that a wedding is a special, usually formal event for two people to make a lifelong commitment to each other in front of God and their loved ones. It makes sense that the bride and groom should have discretion in inviting or not inviting whomever they wish, and should not be coerced into issuing invitations to people they do not know. In addition, the cost of many weddings precludes them from inviting more than a certain number of guests.
In response to your question about deserving a “plus one,” I do not know if you actually deserve it or merely feel entitled to it in some way. If you are married or engaged and your spouse/affianced has thoughtlessly been left off the guest list, I would advise you to gently approach the bride or groom (whomever you feel closer to) and ask if the invitation was meant to include your significant other. If they reply no, then it is your decision—would you prefer to go to the wedding alone, or miss it on principle? (For the record, if I were invited to a wedding without my husband, I do not believe that I would attend.) While it may seem rude, the couple to be wed has every right to order the guestlist as they choose.
If you are simply dating, I recommend you plan on spending several hours without your boyfriend or girlfriend while you are attending the wedding. While you may ask if your invitation included a “plus one,” realize it is not rude at all for the couple to issue invitations only to the people they know and desire to have at their wedding.