Do I Have to Bring a Plus-One If My Invite Includes a Guest?

To bring a date or fly solo?

Updated 10/23/17

Photo by Corbin Gurkin Photography

Even as the etiquette surrounding who gets a plus-one has loosened up—meaning your new boyfriend could qualify just as much as a fiancé would—getting invited to a wedding with a guest is still a perk single (or “single”) guests cross their fingers for. But if you’re truly flying solo, don’t consider your relationship that serious, or aren’t quite ready to invite your new beau to a destination wedding on a Greek island, do you actually have to use your plus-one privilege? Our experts weigh in.

This side of the coin isn’t considered very often, but there are plenty of instances when using your plus-one might not be the right choice for you. It could be too early for you and your partner to “define the relationship,” or he or she simply might not be available on the date in question. And if you’re totally single but your BFF gave you a plus-one just in case that changes before her wedding day, those last few weeks (you know, when you’ve got to mail in that RSVP!) are probably not the best time to meet someone new and casually ask him or her to go to a wedding with you on your second or third date. So RSVPing for one when your invitation is for two is totally okay!

If you decide that you’d rather attend alone instead of bringing a guest, let your friend know ASAP. The seats at a wedding reception are in high demand, so the sooner she knows you’ll be attending by yourself, the better. She might be able to extend an invitation to a friend or coworker who didn’t quite make the A list, or she can let her teenage stepsister bring a friend along so she’s got someone to dance with. Knowing whether you’ll be attending with a date or alone will also impact the wedding’s seating chart, since you might be able to snag a seat at a table with three other single friends now that you don’t need two spots at the same table. You should RSVP promptly no matter what, but you should especially do so if you won’t be using all of the places reserved for you at the celebration!

Of course, if your invitation reads “Allison Goodman and Guest”—and doesn’t specify on the envelope who your guest should be—being single doesn’t mean you have to attend alone. By putting “and Guest” on the envelope, the couple is allowing you to bring whoever you want as your date. Sure, you could scour the dating apps for a suitable person to bring with you, or you could turn the wedding into a fun evening out with a friend instead!

If you do decide to bring a friend, check with the couple first. Most of your mutual friends probably made the guest list, but if there’s someone from the group who didn’t get invited, ask the couple before you include him or her as your plus-one. The bride or groom might have a good reason for not including that person, and it could be awkward for a mutual friend to tag along as your plus-one instead of a guest in his or her own right. Instead, consider bringing someone who is a friend of yours but doesn’t know the bride or groom, avoiding any awkward questions about why he or she didn’t get an invitation in the first place. Your high school BFF could be a fantastic wedding date, and haven’t you always wanted to introduce her to your grad school bestie? Or if the bride’s a friend from your hometown and your sister loves her as much as you do, turn it into a girls’ weekend and choose her as a fun and nostalgic alternative.

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