Wedding Plus One Etiquette Tips for Zero Awkwardness

Know when it's okay to bring a guest to a wedding, plus how to ask the couple about it without being awkward.

Published March 23, 2023
guests at a wedding

No one loves to go to a wedding alone, but knowing how and when you can bring a guest can get a little tricky. If you're thinking of bringing that special someone (or even just a good friend), it's important to understand a few things about wedding plus one etiquette.

Couples don't always have room in the wedding budget for everyone to bring a guest, so they sometimes have to make some hard choices. If you're not sure whether you can bring a plus one, look to the invitation. If it's still unclear, there are a few ways you can ask the couple without making it awkward. Avoid a major wedding faux pas with a few simple tips.

What Is a Plus One at a Wedding?

If you haven't heard the term "plus one" before, no worries. It's mostly a wedding thing, and the concept is pretty simple. A plus one is the person an invited guest can bring with them to the event - basically a guest of a guest. It just means the couple planning the wedding is expecting up to two people to come, even though they are only inviting one person by name.

Often, a plus one is a romantic partner or date, but your plus one could also be a good friend. Sometimes, an older guest might have a friend or family member come along to the wedding to help out if they have mobility issues.

Plus One Etiquette: What You Need to Know

Bringing a guest to a wedding can get a little tricky in a few ways, including the seating chart, menu planning, and budget. Avoid any awkwardness with these tips.

You Don't Always Get a Wedding Plus One

woman at a wedding

Just because you're invited to a wedding doesn't mean you get to bring a guest with you. You can find out by looking at your invitation. If it says "and guest" or "plus one," you can bring someone along. If it only has your name, you shouldn't bring a guest unless you work it out with the couple.

Ask for a Plus One if You Are Living Together

If your invitation doesn't indicate you can bring a guest, you shouldn't plan to bring one. However, it's okay to ask for a plus one if you're living with someone and they weren't invited. This is especially true if the couple didn't know you were living together when they sent out invitations.

Only Ask for a Plus One if You Know the Couple Well

It's only appropriate to ask to bring a guest if you have a close relationship with the couple getting married. If you're not close to them, it simply doesn't make sense to bring this up. It's a potentially awkward situation, so you need a close relationship to make it work.

Ask Graciously if You Want to Bring a Guest

If you're going to ask the couple, do it graciously. Let them know you understand their perspective - that the wedding may have budget and space limitations making it difficult to include extra people. Tell them it's okay if they can't allow plus ones, but that you just wanted to check. Be prepared for them to say no and make sure you prioritize your relationship with them.

Quick Tip

It's not always easy to figure out how to ask about bringing a plus one, but you can use this as an example: "It's totally okay if you say no, but I just wanted to check if there's room for me to bring a plus one to your wedding."

Don't Substitute One Plus One for Another

If you have one name as your guest on your invitation, don't bring a different person without discussing it with the couple. They shouldn't be surprised at who attends their wedding. In most cases, they'll okay the swap, but you should drop them a quick text or phone call to check.

Send the Right Message With Your Plus One

If you do have a plus one and ask someone to come with you to the wedding, it's good to make sure your relationship is clear to the person you're bringing. Weddings are romantic events, and if you're going as friends, make sure you say that to avoid any awkwardness.

Plus One Tips for Couples

If you're the ones getting married, there are still a few etiquette tips to keep in mind with plus ones:

  • Offer plus one invitations to family and members of the wedding party.
  • If a couple is living together, it's good etiquette to invite them both.
  • If someone doesn't know anyone else at the wedding, it's nice to include a guest so they have someone to talk to.
  • Be polite but firm if you're turning down a plus one request. Simply explain that your budget or space does not allow room for guests.
  • Get the name of all plus ones at the wedding so you can greet them personally on the big day.

Mention the Plus One in Your RSVP

If you're attending a wedding and will be bringing a guest, be clear about it when you return your RSVP. Include the name of the plus one so the couple can feel informed about who will be at the event. Don't forget to include any special dietary requirements for your guest too, since this can affect menu planning for the couple. As long as you keep everyone's perspective in mind, you can navigate this tricky etiquette situation without any awkwardness.

Wedding Plus One Etiquette Tips for Zero Awkwardness