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RSVPing to a Wedding When They Weren't Invited With Guest

Ask a Savvy Bride: What to Tell RSVPs With Uninvited Plus Ones

Wedding planning and etiquette can be tricky. If you have a dilemma like the one below, be sure to ask our Savvy Bride for help in the Ask Savvy group.

Dear Savvy Bride,

My fiance and I are currently collecting our RSVP cards to our wedding. We're having just 100 people and already a handful of guests have replied plus one when they weren't invited with a date. My fiance is much more laid back than me and doesn't understand why I'm beyond irked and disappointed in our friends. Not only do I find it incredibly rude, it also puts a huge financial burden on my parents, who are paying for our wedding. We made the decision to have a small wedding from the get-go so how do we handle these unexpected, uninvited guests who think they will be attending our wedding?

Disappointed in People Penny

To see the Savvy Bride's advice, read more.

Dear Penny,
I'm completely with you — RSVPing with a guest when you weren't invited with one (even though most caterers and wedding planners account for a few extra heads) is without a doubt manner-less. While your fiancé is more mellow about the situation than you are, I happen to feel that you have every right to call those guests and simply tell them that you're sorry if there was any confusion, but they were not invited with a guest. I would hope they'd understand, but if you get some push back, stand your ground, be firm, and tell them there are no exceptions — period. If it's your fiancé that's giving you a hard time about not allowing extra guests, explain to him that it's more about the cost side of it than anything else. I hope this helps!


Ask anything budget-, etiquette-, or planning-related — well, almost anything — by posting your questions in the Ask Savvy group, and I'll find the right expert to help you out. If you are planning a wedding, already happily wed, or still looking for Mr. Right, start sharing your big day with our community. Don’t forget to check the wedding content box on your post.

—Additional reporting by Alexis Nordby

Image Source: Thinkstock
cinder555 cinder555 6 years
I am getting married in 3 weeks and I had someone RSVP with a +1 without calling us first. It turned out to be their 2 yr old child. We chose not to invite children because the restaurant we are having our reception is small and we don't want to deal with children running around, etc. I was very irritated that someone would assume that their child was invited. My fiance, of course, thought it was no big deal. They are his friends and he was too embarrased to say anything. I let it go when I found out children under 2 are free but otherwise I would have called them and explained that there are no other children coming because it's a small venue plus most parents want the day off. Even my MOH decided to leave her kids at home that day. The restaurant does not have an extra area for children since the rest of it will be open for regular customers and I don't think they even have a kids menu. They will regret their decision once they see there are no other kids to entertain her! I think that if you are inviting friends with significant others, and you can afford to invite them, you should but if they are just a "date" then you have no obligation. Weddings are costly enough these days without adding extra people and stressing over the money later. Stand firm on your decision!
amber512 amber512 6 years
If you don't like attending a wedding alone, it's simple. Don't. Don't bring people who are uninvited no matter who they are. If they aren't invited, they aren't invited. If for some inexplicable reason your spouse wasn't invited, then you clearly know what this person thinks of you. And you would be completely within your right not to go. It's the bride and groom that decide the guest list, not the guests.
boringgrownup boringgrownup 6 years
I agree with Nicole and anonymous- ask your parents what they think. If they don't mind, I don't know why you should, although you should definitely offer to chip in for the extra people. My parents would be mortified at looking so cheap; risking relationships to save money. Even if it's $1,000 out of your own pocket, that's still a lot less than most couples have to shell out without their parents' help. Also, the first time I got an invitation without a plus one, I was confused because I didn't know that people did that. I didn't bring a date but I definitely googled the etiquette of such a situation. I don't think it's as appallingly rude as you do- I think a lot of people assume that they're allowed a date, especially if the wedding is far away. And though I would be fine going to a wedding alone, I realize not everyone is outgoing and it's usually more fun with a date. It makes me sad when people say "it's the couple's day!" I think accounting for the comfort of your guests should not detract from your day. So long as no one's bringing Charlie Sheen as a wedding guest. If it's only your day and only your concerns matters, then don't invite anyone else.
snarkypants snarkypants 6 years
ok, this post is old, but whatever. going to weddings alone is fun. although i've never been to a wedding where i've only known the bride/groom. that would be weird. if you're good enough of a friend that you were invited to a wedding, you're probably a good enough friend to know others at the wedding. when i get married, i'm not allowing my slutty friends to bring whatever dude they're sleeping with at the time. it's my money! usually, i'm all about weddings not just being about the couple. but this really irks me when people have no etiquette about guests. it it doesn't say "and guest", you don't bring a date! it's as easy as that!
brombe1 brombe1 7 years
As a bride who has been in both situations, I think this can be dealt with in a very simple and clear way - if you didn't plan on inviting someone or it puts you over your budget to include others, that's the bottom line. The first wedding I was ever invited to I RSVP'ed with a plus one, simply out of ignorance and excitement to want to share this day with my friend. She politely called and explained that it was "just the girls" and I immediately apologized all over myself for my faux pas; she graciously understood. Now as the bride, I knew how terrible I felt when I realized what I had done and have dealt with our guests that misunderstood the invite in a similar manner as my friend did with me. All of them have responded in the same manner - apologetic and happy to comply. We are inviting many of our friends' boyfriends/girlfriends/fiances but not the "flavors of the month" shall we say. As we are relatively young (I guess) at 26 and 27 and the first of most of our friends to get married, I can understand that this is a first timers mistake. Any wedding vets should know better but still, this is something that can be handled with tact and grace no matter what. If you can't see yourself (or your parents) having a simple phone conversation with these people than why are you (or your parents) inviting them?
DazzleDe DazzleDe 7 years
In my opinion, what is really rude is someone thinking they can spend another person's money. And thinking you are entitled to bring a guest at someone else's wedding is just that. If you have a problem with being the only person on the invitation, don't go. Weddings are expensive enough. Unless you are helping to flip the bill, you shouldn't be asking to expand the guest list.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
I agree that it's rude to bring uninvited guests to a party, but I also agree with Skigurl, in that it's rude and annoying to invite guests without significant others. Have you ever been dateless at a wedding where you don't know ANYONE but the bride (who is too busy to talk to you)? I have. And I would never do it again. And I would never inflict that type of awkwardness onto anyone I consider to be a friend. Do you think that on your wedding day, you're going to be able to personally entertain each one of your dateless guests? In reality, they'll be lucky if they get to have a 30 second conversation with you. It's one thing if people are single, but if they're in a relationship and you don't invite their significant other, I think that's the equivalent of saying "I care enough about you as a friend to invite you to my wedding to celebrate ME, but I really couldn't care less about your personal life and I have no desire to meet your boyfriend." I understand that weddings cost, on average, $100 per person (which is about what your guests will be spending on YOUR wedding gift), but if you can't invite an entire couple, don't invite either one of them. As for how to handle the situation you're currently in, you obviously didn't have any problem telling your guests via the omission of a +1 on your invite that they aren't allowed to bring a guest, so why do would you not be willing to say the same thing over the phone?
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I have been to many, many weddings and I have never assumed I was invited with a guest unless it explicitly stated on the envelope that I was. (Either with the name of the guest when I had a serious boyfriend or with +1 when I didn't.) I don't think it's the responsibility of the couple to state that no guests are allowed; why would you assume you were invited with a guest when the invite didn't say you were? If I were ever to mistakenly RSVP with a +1 when I wasn't invited with one, I wouldn't think the bride was being bitchy at all; I would be embarrassed at my own oblivious behavior. And, that's the thing, I'm guessing most of these people were just oblivious and, for whatever reason, didn't realize they weren't invited with a guest. If they get angry and choose not to attend over it, are these really people you want to be friends with anyway? On a side note, I love going to weddings by myself, particularly if I'm only casually dating someone or not dating anyone at all at the time. And, if my boyfriend/date doesn't know anyone else who is going to to be at the wedding, I definitely prefer to go alone because I feel like I can have more fun that way!
Marshmelly411 Marshmelly411 7 years
#17 - I agree...I can't imagine just assuming that people would want to come to my wedding by themselves (awkward much?). I've never been to a wedding but I always assumed that dates were invited. Of course this particular bride and groom have the right to make their own decisions by not having a +1 option, but I can't see how they're so shocked that people wrote it in. If they were very adamant about it, a small note at the bottom of the invite stating that there are no friends allowed would have made it more clear. If she really does not want to deal with the extra guests, I don't really see anything wrong with calling up those friends and explaining the situation to them with in apologetic might be a little awkward but I'm sure most people would be understanding and wouldn't take offense to it.
Sundown321 Sundown321 7 years
If you don't want people to bring a guest, that should have been stated in the invitation. I have been invited to weddings where there was an extra card explaining that they are asking friends not to bring a date.
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
I post on a wedding website and this is one of the biggest etiquette problems brides are dealing with. That and people just not RSVPing, then expecting a seat and food when they get there. Some couples decide to treat their guests with expensive meals, if 10 people brought uninvited guests, that could cost over $1,000 more. More cake, plate cost + tipping and tax, the couple may have to set up another table for those extra guests (buying/renting linens plus getting another flower centerpiece), their hall might have a limit, the couple may only want people there they know, etc. I think the bride or a member of the family should call. As long as they're nice about it and basically convey to the person that it was an honest mistake, it's not a big deal. Many guests might add +1 thinking it's no big deal, it's similar to bringing a person to a family BBQ. It's not. It's beyond rude. If you're in a situation like this and you want to bring someone, call and ask the bride before turning in your RSVP card. The guest put the bride in an awkward situation, not the other way around.
Kellanawida Kellanawida 7 years
I'd definately give the friends a call and let them know that it was not okay to be bringing the plus 1's unless otherwise indicated. Weddings are expensive enough without adding extra people and I'm sure that there's a budget!
runningesq runningesq 7 years
I disagree with everyone who said "really, how many extra people can it be?" If 10 of your guests bring one uninvited guests, that's around an additional THOUSAND DOLLARS. Guests should be invited with spouses and fiances - and, in my opinion - long term/ live in couples, but other than that, I don't think it's rude to exclude "+1." If you don't want to go to a wedding by yourself, or without your children, then don't go. To the OP: It's awkward, but make the phone call and let them know that there is only room/ money for x people, and you're sorry, etc.
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