How do you feel about having strangers at your wedding? (plus one issues)

posted 3 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 2
167 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: March 2015

I 100% agree with your view!! I have never understood the concept of bringing somebody to a wedding on a whim, or even being a +1 date for somebody other than an established SO or maybe a close friend (moreso if there’s a chance you-the plus one- might know others at the reception). My friend had this happen at her small-ish reception (120 ppl) and was pretty annoyed. Her parents insisted on inviting one of her brother’s football teammate’s parents (obscure, right?) and the lady showed up with a random neighbors or friend bc the husband wasn’t available.

Idk how “PC” it is, but I am fairly strict about plus 1’s and plan to spell out exactly who is invited to my own wedding. There are few people who I would freely give a plus 1 to just to bring whomever to my wedding, and I would trust those individuals’ judgement. I plan to spell out on my cousins’ invites  “John Smith and Sarah Wilson” so that if they break up, the next random fling isn’t invited. Cousins not in relationships will not get a plus 1…I figure they have our entire big family to mingle with. I’m sure this is a controversial topic, but that’s just my two cents. 

As the guest, I have to agree that it is not much fun to be at a reception for somebody that you or your SO have absolutely zero ties to. 

Post # 5
3280 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

I’ve been to weddings of people I didn’t know and there will be many people that I’ve never met at my wedding. To us it really is just a community event that we want to share with everyone we, our parents, our families love and want to celebrate with us. I am totally fine with having people idk at my wedding, and the plus ones of the people I don’t know! lol You definitely shouldn’t be forced to go but I don’t see anything wrong with going a wedding of someone you don’t know. 

Post # 6
1136 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2015

lemonlyman:  Totally agree with you! It’s one of if not THE most important and special days of your life, why would you want to share it with strangers rather than just close friends and family? Your family’s view really surprises me, like you, I think the idea of a bunch of strangers going to a wedding (mine or anyone elses) is weird!! We’ll have around 90 people at our wedding and ALL of them are family and VERY close friends. I wouldn’t have it any other way! Not everyone may agree with me but as a guest i’ve always felt very honored to be asked to attend, I don’t feel as though the bride and groom should feel as though they’re lucky to have ME there! I notice a lot of bees have the opposite view..  To me its an honor and priviledge to be asked to share in a couples wedding day, not just a flipant invite you shell out to every man and his dog!

EDIT: I should probably add that when I say ‘strangers’ I don’t mean plus ones, i’m referring to your mothers view that a wedding is a community event for everyone to join in on. If you don’t know the person and there’s no real reason for them to be there, I don’t see having them there as necessary!

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 7 months ago by  Miss_E_xx.
Post # 3
6697 posts
Bee Keeper

There are lots of sides to your questions.

I agree with you that if your mother was invited to the wedding, that does not give your father carte blanche to substitute anyone he likes. That is rude and wrong unless specifically encouraged by his friend.  

However, if your father RSVPed that your mother could not make it and his friend suggested bringing you in her place, there is nothing wrong with that.   It is very common for the bride and the groom not to know every single person in attendance.  I had never met many of my in-laws friends before my wedding and H had never met many of my relatives.  Some people allow for their single guests to bring dates and some do not. 

Singles  who are not engaged, married or living with someone  are not automatically  entitled to a +1. It is a nice and generous gesture, but there is no obligation to do so on the part of the host.

Your BF and mother’s perspective of a wedding as inclusive rather than limited, is actually the  favored one in terms of traditional etiquette and certainly there are cultures where this is the view.   The philosophy is that one plans the wedding one can afford after taking into account who should be there rather than looking to cut numbers in order to save money.  In the strictest sense, it is better to have cake and punch for everyone than to cut out a single person who deserved to be invited, only because you’d rather have a more elaborate affair. 

That said, lines eventually have to be drawn  somewhere.  It’s best to do that in a consistent way, according to similar relationships for the sake of people’s feelings.  For example all first cousins, but  no children of first cousins.  All single friends with dates or none.  

Some cultures traditionally invite the entire church or community, while many  people do not do this.  


Post # 4
2264 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

I think it depends.

Was your father given a plus one, or was your mother the guest invited on the invitation? If someone else was invited on the invitation and you showed up, I would agree that it is not only awkward, but it is also quite rude.

I don’t mind having people that I don’t know at our wedding. We live far away from many of the friend we grew up with, but that does not preclude us from inviting the SO’s of our friends even if we do not know them. It is polite to give them invitations, regardless. Plus ones are never required for truly single guests.

If a guest has a significant other, that person is listed on the invitation with their name, not as a plus one. If your father was given a plus one, the couple clearly does not mind if someone they do not know attends, and are trying to be good hosts by making sure that you father has an enjoyable time.

Post # 9
8678 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

Probably around 80% of my wedding guests were strangers.

I knew practically no one on my husband’s side. He knew practically no one on my side. A lot of them were out of towners that neither of us had met and our parents had sent invites to. Some of his groomsmen brought dates that he (or I) didn’t know (and they knew no one, either.)

We all had a fantastic time. I met a lot of new people, he met a whole lot of new people, and two families really combined.

A handful of “strangers” isn’t something I’d lose sleep over, you probably wouldn’t notice them anyway.

Post # 13
382 posts
Helper bee

I can kind of understand where you’re coming from. It’s a complicated issue. To me, a plus one kind of lends itself to strangers attending (unless the invitation is to a married or serious couple or a mutal friend). I have been also been a stranger plus one wedding guest as a wedding date and did feel a bit out of place. Until recently, I didn’t have an issue imagining strangers at weddings and I still think it is pretty normative especially the larger the wedding guest list gets. In your case where your dad’s friend specifically suggested you attend I don’t think it is an issue at all.

At the same time, in some situations I think it can be awkward. A good friend of mine married recently and the venue they fell in love with could only accomodate 70 people so she and her now DH had to really skim their list from their tentative 150. It was very difficult for my friend and she felt so badly that she couldn’t invite other people with whom we are also good friends. She resolved that 70 people would be more intimate so she accepted it at the end. When they got married instead of making it more intimate tho, there were at least ten to twelve strangers that were plus ones in attendance. I realize it is petty, but as I sat in the reception I kept thinking about our good friends who didn’t get an invite because of spacing issues missing out on attending and celebrating with the couple while people the bride and groom didn’t even know were there as plus ones. I think it is unavoidable as I can’t imagine excluding plus ones, but I think it can be awkward in certain situations.

Post # 15
1466 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

lemonlyman:  I think you’re right. Also I think your parents are using you. Granted, I don’t know what’s going on between them, and you are an adult, but you are their child and you are not there to protect them or escort them to events- they’re there to be your PARENTS. It sounds really hard but I think you are doing the right thing by putting your foot down and being true to yourself. 

Post # 14
7055 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I think if someone is in a relationship (however short) their partner always gets invited. That goes for anything – birthdays, going out for dinner, or weddings. By the same token, when you go out with a friend, they do not need to bring a date. Again, this applies for anything, weddings included.

So I had no problem with strangers at my wedding who were bf/gf of one of my guests, even if I didn’t know them.

Your situation is kind of different though, because you aren’t your father’s partner. But if the hosts don’t mind, and your father would like you to come, I don’t see any reason for you not to go.

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