One of the trickiest elements of wedding etiquette is the plus-one problem: who gets a date, who doesn't, and how do you know one way or the other? Invitation wording should make it crystal clear, but not everyone is familiar with the common wedding protocol. If you're confused about the "and guest" arrangement, we have the answers to the most common plus-one questions:
Who gets a plus-one?
A good rule of thumb: for both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding itself, all spouses, fiancés, and live-in partners should be invited. As for long-term boyfriends and girlfriends, it's more or less up to you, but it's smart to go with a hard-and-fast rule — all or none — to keep things fair across the board.
How do you clarify plus-ones on the invitation?
Two magic words: "and guest." The name(s) on the inner envelope are the only people who are invited, so if you'd like to offer your guest the opportunity to bring a date, you must write: "Miss X and Guest." Otherwise, based on traditional etiquette, she should understand that there's no plus-one involved.
What if a guest replies for an uninvited plus-one?
It may be an awkward conversation, but you shouldn't hesitate to reach out and politely let the guest know that your budget doesn't allow for any guest list additions. As Anna Post writes in the Emily Post etiquette guidelines, "It's not okay for guests to ask you to make exceptions, so it won't be rude in the least to stand by your guest list."
What about children?
Again, stick with an all-or-none guideline to keep things fair. Guests may be offended if you make an exception for one family but not theirs, so be sure to communicate clearly whether or not children are welcome at the wedding. If you're struggling with the decision, try establishing an age guideline — no one under 18, for instance — to stay consistent.
Have any tips for keeping the guest list clear? Share your advice in the comments below!