• Wedding Guest Etiquette: Tips for Addressing Invitations & Tackling the Plus One That Wasn’t

    Wedding Guest Etiquette: Tips for Addressing Invitations & Tackling the Plus One That Wasn’t

    How-to's for addressing your wedding invitations and dealing with wedding crashers, fun-haters and flavors of the week


Creating a guest list for your “I do” celebration isn’t a piece of wedding cake. And budget isn’t the only factor – there are also limitations in terms of the capacity of your big-day venue, not to mention the fact other people’s feelings are involved.

But let’s face it, wedding crashers and the uninvited plus one are about as welcome as a broken zipper on a groomsman’s tuxedo pants. Fortunately, there are some tried-and-true techniques for deterring the strangers in the celebratory night (or day) without exchanging nasty glances or turning into a bride- or groom-zilla.

According to society’s most respected maven of manners and wedding guest etiquette, Emily Post, invitations are to be addressed clearly and only to those who are invited. If you wish to allow your single friends and family to invite a guest of their choosing, be sure to include the words “and Guest” on the invitation. If you are inviting someone specific to attend with your friend or family member, such as his or her long-term significant other, be sure to mention that person by name. If that person’s name escapes you, reach out to ask so your invitation is explicitly clear. Or, if you want to keep the guest list lovely and lean, address it to the sole invitee only. Most people will understand that this means they should “come single and ready to mingle.”

For some guests, however, a name-only invite means calling you up to see if you can make an exception for them and their flavor of the week, or that boyfriend you’ve never met. Consider additional guests carefully. Sure, there’s usually an over/under to cover the yays that become nays and vice versa, but don’t overextend your budget or the catering or risk your sanity just to please that cousin you only see once every two or three years.

In the event you do receive an RSVP with an unfamiliar name that increases the guest count, do contact the guilty party right away and explain your reasoning for keeping the guest list to a given number. This can be done gracefully by explaining how you, the happy couple, are hoping for an intimate day surrounded by nearest and dearest. Or simply explain by letting them know the venue is unable to accommodate additional guests or children, whatever the case may be.

And what about cute little kids? If the reception is an adults-only affair, communicate this on the save-the-date card, invitation and/or wedding website. If your big day is open to guests big and small, be sure to write “and family” with the name of the parent couple. If your festivities are exclusive to grown-ups, include the parents’ names only. If they still bring their children, delegate your wedding planner or a trustworthy friend or relative to work with the caterer to shift some food around and make the best of it. After all, aren’t dancing kids adorable?

When all your “I dos” are said and done, you may still find yourself interacting with an unknown face or two during your celebration. Rather than get your Spanx in a wad, it’s best just to go with it and be kind to these guests – after all, they may not even know that they weren’t welcome. Besides, it’s your happily-ever-after day, and the last thing you’d want to do is let a perfect stranger rain on your love parade. Instead, don’t worry, be happy and seize all the blisses and kisses you can.

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