How a Couple Can Politely Say No to a Guest's Plus One Request

See tips on how to address the tricky conversation.

two guests at a wedding

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When coming up with your wedding guest list, there is a bit of an art to determining who makes the cut. You have to address your budget, venue size, and overall vision for the feel of your special day to first think of the number of guests you want. Then, you have to consider what each person brings to the event, their relationship with you and your partner, and sometimes, a little bit of family politics. While you might not be as close with a certain aunt, it might be better for future Thanksgiving dinners to not snub her with no invite. Then, you must consider the plus ones.

Giving a plus one to a guest is a generous offer. Depending on how much your wedding costs per head, there is a reasonable investment with that invitation. While offering a plus one will make your guest happy, it isn't always within your budget or vision for an event. So, it is reasonable for couples to not offer one to every single guest at the wedding, especially if they are not married or have a serious partner.

However, what do you do if a guest reaches out asking for a plus one? That's when you have to make a tricky decision regarding your wedding and your relationship with the person. Have a frank conversation with your partner and make the determination whether or not that plus one will work within your budget and if your relationship can take it. “Keep in mind, by limiting the invite list, there may be bruised feelings involved, especially if you have chosen not to enforce this rule with all invited guests," offers wedding planner Lea Stafford.

Meet the Expert

  • Lea Stafford has over a decade of experience in the event and design space. She is the founder of Lea Stafford Events, a California-based event planning, production and design company.

If you decide that someone on your guest list isn't going to receive a plus one after requesting one, now comes a tricky conversation. Ahead, Stafford gives advice how to approach it in a polite way.

Consider the Who and Why

“Working through two points will help you craft the right response and tone," shares Stafford. "Clearly identify your ‘why.’ Why you are not extending an invite for a plus one?” Answers for this why can range from your budget to venue capacity to health and safety.

Stafford then says you must address who will this affect? Is it a close friend or family member, a co-worker or your boss, or someone your parents have invited? Depending on who it is, you should address the request with an appropriate tone.

Suggested Responses

Looking for a clear script on how to address your guest? Stafford provided a couple examples with variation in tone depending on the reasoning behind denying the plus one and your relationship to the guest. "Please be prepared to have uncomfortable conversations or assign the best person between you, your partner, and your planner to carry out this task," she adds.

  • "Given our planned resources, we have decided to limit the number of guests."
  • "Our goal is to keep our very special weekend (or day) as intimate as possible, we are choosing to celebrate with only our closest family and friends. Thank you for respecting our wishes."

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