So, you are getting married! YAY. All of your family and friends must be pretty excited for you. Almost immediately after they congratulate you on the big news, they will start to demand an invitation to the wedding. That sounds insane, right? They do this by saying things like, “I can’t wait until your wedding!”, “I know I’m invited, right” or “where’s my invite?” This can leave the future couple in an awkward space. Oddly enough, you will hear this many times while planning your wedding. So the best thing to do is to prepare for it.
Most of the people who will casually invite themselves to your wedding have either never been married, never planned an event where they incurred a per person cost, or they don’t want to feel awkward or alone at your wedding. First things first, let’s get into the per person cost. Each person seated at a table incurs a cost. The cost is for their food, beverage, napkin, tablecloth, glass, plate, favor, etc — the list goes on. The average cost of your wedding can vary by state. I am writing this from Virginia, where I plan weddings. In Virginia, the average cost of a wedding is $29,240. The national average guest count is 136 people. This would mean you will be spending about $215 per person you invite. So let’s think about that; would you want to spend $215 on your third cousin’s new boyfriend, whom you have never met? Probably not! The issues arise when you have to tell your third cousin that their new boo isn’t invited.
The rule of thumb for who gets a plus one is as follows:
- Anyone who is married – even if you have never met their spouse. It is polite to acknowledge and respect their union. You would not want anyone to invite your spouse, and not you once you are married either.
- Anyone in your wedding party (Maid of Honor, Best Man etc.) Your wedding party will spend more time, money, and energy, as well as do more for you than any other guests. They get a plus one.
- Anyone Who is Engaged, Lives Together or is in a Long-Term, Serious Relationship You and your fiance should be able to determine, together, who fits into this category. You will be able to tell which relationships are serious, and which aren’t.
- A singled out guest who may not know ANYONE except you Say you have a co-worker, whom you enjoy lunch with daily. But, they are single, and they won’t know anyone there except you and your future spouse. These one-off guests should get a plus one.
Everyone else like friends, distant relatives, co-workers who will have other co-workers there to party with, and single guests who will know other guests do not need a plus one. It’s a great idea to put all of the singles at one table so they can get to know each other. Planning out the seating chart that sits people who share common interests goes a long way, and creates a more enjoyable atmosphere for your guests. You would not sit your great Aunt Janet with three of your single, rowdy co-workers. The same can be said for tables of older family members – you may want to seat them closest to the food or the bathroom, but away from the dance floor where people may have crazy high energy. It would most likely be uncomfortable for all parties involved.
An easy way to make the plus one question easier, is how you address the invitations. Invitations sent to guests with no plus one should have only that guests name on them – as should the RSVP cards. Do not leave a place for the invited guest to add other names or numbers of people. Guests who are receiving a plus one, and you do not know their name, should read “& guest.” There should be a place left on the RSVP card for the extra guests name. In the event that you do extend a plus one, take the time to get their name right, once you learn it. Nobody wants to be labeled “& guest” on the reception seating chart.
No matter how much care and planning you put into your guest list, someone will almost always feel left out, upset, or forgotten. Keep in mind that this is YOUR big day, and to do what makes YOU happiest.