Community & Advice

Etiquette Guide To… Plus Ones

As a rule of thumb, etiquette suggests that married, engaged and cohabiting guests should traditionally receive a plus one to a wedding. However, we all know rules are made to be broken! Especially when it comes to planning your own wedding.

We have a few tips to help you decide on and communicate your ‘plus one’ choices.

Make your own rules

The most important thing is that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to the guest list. Agreeing the ‘rules’ before you start building your list keeps things fair and gives you time to consider and manage any potential hurt feelings or upset before it happens. 

It might be that you don’t want to invite anyone you haven’t met, and want to limit plus ones on extended families or colleagues. Alternatively, you could consider inviting plus ones and wider groups to only attend certain parts of your day, such as the evening reception. 

The only exception to your rules you might want to discuss is for members of your wedding party. Amber Harrison, a wedding expert at Shutterfly, suggests that allowing all members of your wedding party to bring a plus one ‘is a small token of appreciation you can offer in exchange for their efforts and support’.

Communication is the key

The easiest way to set out your stall early is to address all invitees clearly and up front in your Save the Dates and Invitations. 

Where possible, include each invited individual’s names in invitations- including partners, children and families invited. If you’re unsure on any names, make it clear they can bring their ‘plus one’ by addressing the invitation to “[Name] & Family” & “[Name] & Guest”

Your wedding website is the perfect space to include a clear note to all guests about who’s invited. You can also include a note on your printed or email invitations too:

‘Unfortunately venue capacity/financial limitations mean we can only accommodate guests named on your invitation. We appreciate your understanding.’

‘Regretfully we must ask our guests to please not bring a plus one, unless they are specifically named on the invitation.’

Well this is awkward!

Unfortunately, there may always be some who think the rules don’t (or shouldn’t) apply to them. However frustrating this is, it’s important to be as honest as you can and hold your ground- before everyone else does the same!

If you are comfortable, let the guest know the ‘rules’ you decided on as a couple while planning and share the reasons you put these in place. Following up with ‘I hope you can understand and we really hope you can make it to the wedding. We’d love to see you.’ may help soften your response.