I don't think any couple out there wants to tell any of their single friends that they can't bring a date to their wedding. We've all been single invitees at weddings, and we've all felt awkward about it at some point, especially if we didn't know many of the other guests.
Unfortunately, with the cost of weddings — per person — being what they are, some couples simply cannot afford to allow all their single friends to have plus ones at their weddings. It's not that they don't want to give their friends the option, it's that letting 10 friends bring a date could add up to between one and two thousand dollars in extra expense, depending on the cost per guest. Those 10 plus-ones are seats at the table that the bride and groom could not use for friends and extended family.
When faced with whether to invite more good friends or to let several members of their wedding party has plus-ones, most couples will give into tradition and simply deal with the wrath of their single friends.
But there are times when adding a plus-one to an invitation is mandatory:
If the guest is living with someone, you must invite their significant other. Even if you've never met them.
If the guest is in a serious relationship with someone, their partner is an automatic invite.
All married couples get invited together — even if you're not a friend (or a fan) of one half of the couple.
You do not have to allow your guests to invite (and etiquette does not require you to include) dates under the following circumstances:
Your invitee is not currently dating anybody specific.
Your invitee has only been dating someone for a few weeks when you send out your invitations.
Your friend starts dating someone after the invitations have gone out.
Remember, nobody wants to feel alone or disconnected at a wedding. You have to use common sense to try to ensure that all of your guests have a good time. But sometimes, telling unattached friends to bring a date actually puts more pressure on them and results in less fun at the wedding, especially if they feel compelled to bring someone they don't know very well.
If your old college friend is coming from far away and isn't in the wedding party and doesn't know anybody but you, giving them the option to bring an escort is a very nice thing to do. But if it's your BFFs who are in your wedding party griping, and you know they don't have a serious love interest they're dying to spend your special day with, stick to your guns and keep them solo. They'll still have a blast — promise.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.