Wedding Plus-One Etiquette Rules For Zero Awkwardness

Photo of author

Everything becomes more complicated when you’re planning a wedding. As an example, let’s think about the wedding etiquette surrounding bringing a plus-one to this event. Whether you are the couple extending an invitation or the recipient of an invitation, it can sometimes be challenging to determine what is considered appropriate in terms of wedding plus-one etiquette. Therefore, Viva Wedding Photography has gathered our top tips and etiquette guidelines for engaged couples and guests regarding plus-ones. If you are unsure about the standard protocol, please continue reading.

Wedding plus-one etiquette for the couple

 Consider wedding plus-one etiquette when creating your wedding guest list
Consider plus-ones when creating your wedding guest list – Photo by: iStock

Although there are no strict rules regarding plus-ones at weddings, following proper wedding plus-one etiquette can help ensure a smooth experience for both you and your guests.

Who should get a plus-one?

When creating your guest list, you may find yourself debating who should be invited with a plus one. Making decisions on your own can often feel overwhelming. To alleviate stress and avoid confusion, it is important to familiarize yourself with the traditional guidelines for determining who is typically granted a plus-one invitation to a wedding.

Immediate family

Etiquette for plus-ones at a wedding regarding family members
Etiquette for plus-ones at a wedding regarding family members – Photo by: Brides

It is important to carefully consider extending a wedding invitation to include a plus one for your nearest. Giving a plus-one option for your immediate family members can bring an added level of warmth and joy to your celebration. 

Whether it’s your younger brother in need of a dance partner or your doting aunt deserving of a charming companion, allowing them to bring a guest can enhance the overall experience. What could be more wonderful than having your loved ones celebrate your special day alongside someone who means the world to them? 

The wedding party

Extending a plus-one invitation to your wedding party is a thoughtful gesture that they will surely appreciate. These people have been there for you, supporting you in organizing, preparing, and maintaining your sanity throughout the wedding planning process. Therefore, it is only fair to extend a plus-one invitation to these VIPs. 

Extend a plus-one invitation to your wedding party members
It’s a nice etiquette to offer a plus-one option for members of your wedding party – Photo by: SuitShop

Remember, it doesn’t mean you should require each bridesmaid and groomsman to bring a date to the wedding, but it’s essential to make the offer since they have supported you since the beginning. 

Married, engaged, and cohabitating guests

Although it may be tempting to disregard traditional wedding etiquette for plus-ones, it is always thoughtful to extend an invitation to both individuals in a married couple. This holds even if you have a closer relationship with one person or have not yet had the opportunity to meet their spouse. Would you really want to attend a wedding if you can’t bring your significant other? 

wedding etiquette for plus-ones regarding married guests
Guests who are in a long-term relationship should be permitted to bring a plus-one – Photo by: Vogue

In a similar vein, it is customary to extend a plus-one invitation to couples who have been dating for at least a year, are living together, or are engaged. It’s common for many modern couples to cohabit before getting married or begin their lives together without ever tying the knot. Therefore, appreciating their commitment will make them feel more included and welcomed. 

A VIP guest who doesn’t know the other attendees

Wedding etiquette for plus-ones
Wedding etiquette for plus-ones – Photo by: Hitched

Consider the possibility that a close childhood friend who now resides far away will attend your wedding. Even if they know you, your parents, and your partner, none of you will likely have ample time to spend with them during the wedding. So, to ensure they feel comfortable and have a good time, it is worth offering them a plus-one. This thoughtful gesture will enable them to bring a companion and fully enjoy the celebration, even if you may not have many opportunities to interact with them personally.

Who shouldn’t get a plus-one?

Wedding etiquette rules about who shouldn't receive a plus-one invitation
Wedding etiquette rules about who shouldn’t receive a plus-one invitation – Photo by: Vogue

Not everyone can or should have a plus one, even though it can be a source of comfort for attendees and a sign of appreciation. More guests equal more money to spend, and in reality, not every invitee requires an added guest. According to etiquette for plus-ones at a wedding, here are some people you shouldn’t feel obligated to allow a plus-one to your wedding.

New couples/Guests who are casually dating

If the primary guest seems to have a new significant other every few months or has not been in a long-term relationship, it is not necessary to prioritize giving them a plus-one. However, if your budget allows, it is still polite to give them the option.


wedding plus-one etiquette for couples to consider when inviting colleagues
You don’t have to offer colleagues an added guest – Photo by: Ladders

Since allowing one coworker to invite a plus-one, then all other coworkers should have the same privilege. As a result, both the wedding expenses and the number of people attending can suddenly skyrocket. Nonetheless, it is proper wedding plus-one etiquette to offer an additional guest to your boss if you are close enough to invite them.

Single guests know other guests

plus-one wedding invitation etiquette for  single guests having friends at the wedding
Don’t need to give a plus-one to single guests having friends at the wedding – Photo by: The Indigo Bride

Do you have a close-knit family or a tight circle of friends where everyone is acquainted with one another? Do any of your single guests have friends or family attending the wedding? If that is the case, there’s no obligation to extend a plus-one. Even without bringing a date, they will still have a great time being surrounded by the comfort of familiar faces.

How do plus-ones influence the overall wedding cost?

The number of attendees at a wedding can have a significant impact on various aspects of the overall budget. This includes expenses such as food costs, bar expenses, venue setup fees, and more. To stay within your budget, it is essential to track the number of plus-ones accurately.

wedding plus-one etiquette for engaged couples
Couples should consider the number of plus-ones carefully – Photo by: Brides

The cost per person for a wedding guest can vary significantly depending on the type of reception service chosen. Buffet-style wedding receptions generally cost $50-$100 per guest, whereas formal plated dinners tend to be pricier, ranging from $100-$200 per guest. Including surprise plus-ones in your event can result in unforeseen food costs, which can quickly accumulate, given the high price of $100 or more per plate.

Certain venues may have strict guidelines regarding accommodations or limitations on the number of guests allowed. Hence, unconfirmed plus-one guests may lead to additional setup requirements, unexpected event expenses, or extra service fees imposed by the venue.

Wedding plus-one etiquette tips for couples

Assembling your wedding invitations and finalizing your guest list can be quite a challenging task on its own. When considering the possibility of inviting plus-ones, it can quickly become overwhelming. To minimize stress and adhere to proper etiquette, it is advisable to take into account the following tips.

Determine your budget

Consider your budget when deciding on the number of plus-one invitations
Consider your budget when deciding on the number of plus-one invitations – Photo by: Brides

Budgeting should be your first consideration while making your guest list. How many people you invite to your wedding will determine how much money you have to spend on food, drink, and decorations. Your final plus-one guest list should reflect your and your partner’s vision. It’s totally up to you if you want a huge party with a thousand people or an intimate gathering.

Consider your venue size

Check your venue's limitation is a wedding plus-one etiquette tip
Check your venue’s limitation is a wedding plus-one etiquette tip – Photo by: Carats & Cake

The number of guests you can invite will also depend on the size of your wedding venue. If you have a small venue, it may not be possible to accommodate every individual’s plus one. In this scenario, it is crucial to openly and honestly communicate with your guests regarding the constraints or limitations of your venue. Just remember, although some people may feel hurt, it is still your special day. You should not feel guilty about permitting a modest number of added guests or not inviting any at all.

Create tiers

wedding plus-one etiquette tip: create tiers
Create a different guest list for each group of invitees – Photo by: Vogue

After settling on a spending limit, it is advisable to categorize your guest list into tiers. Begin with the must-invite list, consisting of close family members and friends. Next, create a separate tier for acquaintances and coworkers. Finally, make a third tier specifically for plus ones. This wedding plus-one etiquette tip can make it easier to keep track of all the invited people, thereby reducing the hassle involved.

Get the name of every plus-one guest

Make sure to provide a designated space on your RSVPs for the main guest to add the plus-one’s name. This information is necessary to prepare the seating chart and reception place cards. Knowing every additional guest’s name will also lessen the chances of an unexpected guest or stranger turning up at the last minute.

Getting additional guests' names is a proper wedding plus-one etiquette
Getting additional guests’ names is a proper wedding plus-one etiquette – Photo by: Brides

Additionally, ensure that you verify the correct spelling of the added guests, along with their titles, if applicable. By doing so, the plus-ones’ names will be spelled correctly and addressed properly on any save-the-dates invitations, seating signage, or escort cards. It appears more formal than just a generic word like “guest.” Plus, all parties will surely appreciate your extra effort in every single name.

Include the plus-one on the invitation 

The envelope is the first place you tell your guests whether or not they can bring a plus-one. Typically, both an inner and outside envelope are included with traditional wedding invitations. The outside envelope features the primary guest’s name and address. All of the plus-ones’ names are written on the inner envelope. 

Plus-one wedding invitation etiquette
Plus-one wedding invitation etiquette – Photo by: Hitched

However, in modern times, invitations may not always adhere to this traditional approach, particularly when it comes to digital invitations or single envelopes. In such situations, it is crucial to address all the invitees from the beginning clearly. In case two people are in a relationship, you should list both guests by their full names. If you permit a guest to bring a casual date, simply write your friend’s name followed by “and guest.”

>>> Maybe you’re interested in Golden Wedding Invitation Etiquette Guide To Avoid Mistakes

Be mindful of seating arrangements

Wedding etiquette for plus-ones related to seating arrangement
Wedding etiquette for plus-ones related to seating arrangement – Photo by: Wedding Wire

Think about the comfort of your single guests while deciding on the layout of your wedding’s seating chart. Singles may find it uncomfortable to be seated between an elderly married couple or a couple who displays excessive affection. It is also advisable to refrain from setting up a “singles-only” table, as it could be perceived as segregating your unmarried friends. Instead, consider seating them among couples who are known to be outgoing and friendly. This will allow them to strike up conversations with folks naturally.

Be prepared for guests asking if they could bring a plus-one

You should anticipate that some guests may ask if they can bring a plus-one to your wedding, even if they were not initially granted one. The first step is to gather additional information regarding the requested addition. For instance, if you didn’t know that your friend recently changed their relationship status, you might want to include their partner if possible.

plus-one wedding invitation etiquette: Know (and use) every plus-one’s name
Some guests might ask for a plus-one invitation – Photo by: Brides

However, as mentioned above, it is your special day. You are not obligated to make it work. It is perfectly acceptable to decline politely. You can respond with a mindful message like, “We appreciate your understanding, but due to budget constraints, we could only invite our close friends and family. We sincerely appreciate your understanding and look forward to seeing you there!” Plus-one wedding invitation etiquette advice to have this conversation via phone or in person rather than through email, as it enables more personal communication. 

Keep track of wedding RSVPs

Establish a personalized invitation organization system that suits your needs. Make sure to keep a record of RSVPs as you receive them, and take the time to double-check them for completeness. If you receive an RSVP that confirms a plus-one but does not provide a name for the additional guest, it is essential to follow up. Keep tabs on those who have yet to respond and proactively contact them as the RSVP date draws near.

>>> Recommend reading: How Much Money To Give At A Wedding: A Complete Breakdown

Wedding plus-one etiquette for guests

Do not bring a plus-one if you’re not allowed

Bring an unexpected guest is a big "Don't" of wedding plus-one etiquette
Bring an unexpected guest is a big “Don’t” of wedding plus-one etiquette – Photo by: Martha Stewart

This wedding guest etiquette may seem obvious, but several guests have actually asked the couple whether they can bring a plus-one. While there may be valid reasons in some cases, in general, it can be a source of stress and awkwardness for both you and the couple.

To put it simply, if the invitation includes only your name, it means that you are being invited as an individual. Bringing an additional guest is not allowed, and it is also not advisable to try to do so. Please refrain from RSVPing with a plus-one and avoid bringing a surprise one on the wedding day.

Don’t assume you can bring anyone

Wedding plus-one etiquette: Don’t substitute the plus-one with someone else
 Don’t substitute the plus-one with someone else – Photo by: The Knot

According to etiquette for plus-ones at a wedding, a second guest refers to a formal date. Being allowed to have an additional guest doesn’t mean that you can bring anyone you want. If you don’t have a date to bring, please do not assume that it is acceptable to substitute with a friend.

You might always contact the couple and ask if it’s okay to do so. There are instances when they won’t care. However, some people may consider it rude. In case you feel uncomfortable about asking, it’s better to be cautious and attend the wedding alone.

If you receive a plus-one invitation, RSVP mindfully

wedding plus-one etiquette for guests when RSVPing
Wedding plus-one protocol for guests when RSVPing – Photo by: The Event Planner

When you have been graciously given an added guest, there are a few wedding plus-one etiquette rules to consider when sending your RSVP:

  • If you have specifically mentioned the name of your guest on the invitation, please do not replace them with another person. Your plus-one is not interchangeable. If they are unable to attend, RSVP for yourself only.
  • If you were given a generic “plus one,” it is important to include that person’s name in your RSVP, whether online or via an RSVP card. It is only polite to inform the couple in advance about the person you intend to bring along.
  • Do not RSVP with a plus-one unless you are certain that the person you are inviting can and will attend. If you or they are unsure, it is best to play it safe and RSVP with your name only.
  • Do not RSVP with a plus-one, assuming you will find someone to bring. The couple hosting the wedding is responsible for covering the expenses for each person who is expected to attend the wedding. If you RSVP with a plus-one but don’t bring someone, the money spent on their plate goes to waste.

Introduce your plus-one to the couple if they don’t know each other

It's a nice wedding etiquette to introduce your plus-one to the couple
It’s a nice wedding etiquette to introduce your plus-one to the couple – Photo by: Ivory Tribe

As no one likes to see a stranger at their wedding, find a low-key moment to introduce your date to the newlywed if they haven’t met each other. Not only is it the courteous thing to do, but it also expresses your gratitude to the couple for covering the cost of your date.

Give a gift that reflects that you bring a guest

If you are attending as a pair of guests, it’s proper wedding plus-one etiquette to bring a gift that accounts for two people. The general rule of thumb is to spend at least twice as much as you had originally budgeted. For instance, if you are comfortable with a budget of $75 when attending alone, you should anticipate spending approximately $150 if you plan to bring a plus-one.

Wedding etiquette for plus-ones when giving present
Wedding etiquette for plus-ones when giving present – Photo by: Pureboo

Consider your budget and what you can afford to spend, but don’t get too caught up in the numbers. The key thing to keep in mind is that you are giving a gift out of love for the couple.

It is also acceptable for your partner to contribute to the present in some way. However, like most guidelines for weddings, this rule is not set in stone. It all depends on how close your plus-one is to the happy couple. If your date is not acquainted with the couple, it is advisable not to ask for their help.

>>> Recommend reading: 

Don’t let traditional etiquette stress you out too much at the end of the day. As the engaged couple, make decisions that you believe are best for your wedding day, considering factors such as your preferred venue and budget. If you are a guest, follow proper etiquette and respect the couple’s wishes. It is important to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to wedding plus-one etiquette. All you can do is prepare in advance, enabling you to manage situations as they occur effectively. Regardless of the circumstances, Viva Wedding Photography has full confidence in your abilities and believes that the day off will be absolutely amazing.

5/5 - (4 votes)
Riley Mendas Avatar

Leave a Comment