(Closed) The age-old dilemma: partners at weddings

posted 6 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
8738 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2011

I think as long as the same rule goes for everyone (i.e. only married or engaged can bring partners unless the partner is also a friend who would make the invite list,seperately) then you are fine.

Is the wedding local to her? Will she know other guests?

If the wedding is local and other people she knows are going, then she just needs to deal with it. If she can’t spare 1/2 a day away from her bf that would be really sad. Once you start,making exceptions though, everyone will want one.

If the wedding is far away or she will know no one else there, then I can understand her side a bit more, but it is still your wedding = your rules.

Post # 4
2889 posts
Sugar bee

Honestly, the longer you have known someone and the older we get, the more I think it is necessary to invite partners if they are in a relationship. In this case, is she part of a group of friends? I imagine that she won’t be spending much of the night with you so it makes sense that she wants her partner to be there for her enjoyment. While I think it is okay to not invite someone to bring arandom date if she is in a committed relationship, her partner should be included if she specifically asks. Yes, you may not know him but maybe you don’t know the husband of another firend, why is it fair to invite him only because they have a legal contract? I know this is a personal issue and comes up a lot on the boards but IMO, it is better to leave off some not so close freinds in order to keep your close freinds happy if you want to have a small wedding. 

Post # 5
2815 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

Etiquette-wise, this is a big, big no-no.

If you want it this way though, you better make it VERY clear to everyone that this is the case. Some people might not catch on just from the address on the invite that their spouses aren’t invited.

It’s a very difficult situation…I know I’d feel really strange going to a wedding by myself.

Post # 6
149 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

@shan_dyl:  We invited only our friends not their partners which is mostly okay except I was at a party on sat and my OH couldnt make it and I just wanted to leave as soon as.

Im very socialable but just wasnt feeling it. A few of my friends have asked if they can bring their OH and my respionse is yes, but we are DIY so very flexible on catering. It depends how much per head your paying and if your friend would have a miserable time on her own. Some people are just not confident

Post # 7
719 posts
Busy bee

This is tricky.  I have  several people on my FI’s side and we don’t know if they are in comitted relationships or not, so we aren’t sure if  we should give them a plus 1.  Is it possible for you to let your friend know that she will be seated with people she knows (if that’s the case) and maybe she will feel more comfortable coming without her SO?   I think it’s sad when someone is willing to throw away a 20 year friendship because she can’t spend one day without her SO.  Sorry she is puttin you in this position!  🙁 

Post # 8
1304 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I know that technically it is the host’s choice.  When I was single, I didn’t really appreciate not being given the option of bringing a guest even though I rarely exercised it unless I was in a long term relationship.

We had very few single guests at our wedding, so it was not a budget-buster to just invite everyone with a guest.

It’s a tough call but I often sympathize with the single guest because attending a wedding alone is not much fun.  I know because I’ve done it a number of times.

Post # 9
67 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

I think it’s bad form that she doesn’t want to attend at all without him. It may be a misunderstanding though. If she offered to pay his way then she obviously cares enough about the wedding to make a big effort. She might think that money is the only reason here and if you still turned it down, she may start thinking things like “she hates my BF”. Maybe explain to her again that as a couple, you only want to be surrounded by people you know and love on your big day, it’s not just a case of cost.

Post # 10
3152 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2018

Will she know other people? While I think her response was pretty dramatic (we get it, you’re in love) I understand where she’s coming from. Unless its a group of friends there without their partners, it’s awkward. Personally, I would always offer a guest, but I’d also let my friends bring their kids if they wanted so what do I know…

Post # 11
2815 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

@JustJen_wd:  I think it’s bad form that she doesn’t want to attend at all without him. 

I don’t think it’s bad form. It’s a possible result when you tell guests they cant bring thier SO’s.

Post # 12
487 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Another point to throw in – what do you define as “engaged”? There are people in my circle of friends who have the ring (and have for a few years), but with no wedding plans to speak of. How could I possibly say they would be allowed to come, whereas another friend who has been with her partner for 12 years, with no sign of a wedding, should not be allowed to bring him because she isn’t wearing a ring? 

Maybe married/living together makes it fairer than married or engaged (unless you ONLY define “engaged” as having set a date and are doing wedding planning atm, as it seems less discriminate) i.e a “serious relationship” – but then there of course will be outcry from those who do not live together, that their relationship IS serious, and in the case of my engaged friends I mentioned above, well they were engaged years before moving in together, so where to draw the line? AND there are those that move in within days of meeting…ARGH!!! Too many what if’s!

I think you need to allow people their plus 1’s IF they are in any sort of relationship whatsoever. You don’t have to give a plus 1 to a single person, people will no doubt be understanding of that, but ordering people to leave their partners behind is not going to make you popular. And whilst your venue has restrictions on numbers, you still need to fill up those numbers.


Post # 13
11747 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

While I see where your friend is coming from, it is crazy to me that after 20 years of friendship, she wouldn’t attend because she had to come alone. She seems like she is trying to manipulate you into bringing her bf.  I’d normally say to you that you should let him come not to ruin the friendship, but honestly the fact that she is willing to just not go because of this bugs me too much to say you should let him come! Clearly she has no problem causing a rift in your friendship over a date so why should you? Do whatever it is you want in this situation.

Post # 14
2715 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Sorry, I’m in the camp that believes all SOs need to be invited. So I think you should have invited her Boyfriend or Best Friend. I always find it a bit hypocritical when brides and grooms ask people to come celebrate their love yet ignore the love of those invited.

Also, I know you’re hurt that she isn’t willing to come without her Boyfriend or Best Friend (and I get that), but she’s also probably hurt that her good friend of 20 years won’t recoganize her relationship and include someone that’s important to her.

As far as the including her Boyfriend or Best Friend but not others, does she live out of town?  Will she know other people there?  While I think you should do your very best to include ALL SOs if any of those 2 things apply you could use that as an excuse.


Post # 15
3885 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

“IMO your friend is being selfish and she needs to grow the hell up.”

Not at all. As the hostess, we are allowed to choose whoever we want for the guest list, and while we each may have different feelings on the subject, drawing the line at married or engaged couples is a logical boundary, as long as it is evenly applied.

But when we do this, we do so with the understanding that some guests might choose not to come without their significant other.

There is no slight intended in either the hostess leaving the boyfriend off of the invite or the friend declining the invite.  It’s an invitation, not a summons, and if the friend chooses to turn it down because her  boyfriend isn’t invited too, that’s perfectly her choice, just as it would be her choice (and no social insult) to decline because the travel costs are too high, she can’t get the afternoon off of work, or any other reason.

Post # 16
1696 posts
Bumble bee

@shan_dyl:  A wedding-board meme has recently reached critical mass, that “etiquette says” anyone in any sort of a relationship must be invited as a couple, because it is not up to you to judge the “significance” of other people’s “others”. Some people, we are told, know that their squeeze-de-jour is “the one” within weeks, even hours, of meeting one another.

Cool. I am happy for them.

But let us all admit that “married” is a special kind of significance. These are, after all, wedding boards that we are all pontificating upon. If being married were not an extraordinarily big deal, then why would the wedding industry contribute forty billion dollars per annum to the gross domestic product of the United States, and why would so many young women spend years on these boards planning every detail?

So the rule — for all formal parties, weddings included — is that couples who have established a publicly-announced (or publicly demonstrated) marital status must be treated as a social unit. That includes married couples, couples who have agreed to become married (id est, engaged couples), and couples who are living together as married without benefit of sacrament or civil registration (id est, common-law couples). And that, not the wedding-board consensus or the wishful thinking of happy-looking couples, is what etiquette actually says.

But people make choices. Guests can choose to ignore etiquette, and reply for more people than were invited; hostesses can choose to stick to their guns; and guests can choose to decline invitations. I must say that I think a good deal less of a lady who puts a recently acquired boyfriend over a lifelong girl-friend, and I imagine you probably think less of her now, too. But fortunately, you have a couple more choices.

My choice, when confronted by someone taking liberties reserved for a people in a particular situation, is to assume that they are in that situation. When young girl friend starts talking about “us” in response to an invitation that was given to “her”, I sparkle at her and ask “oh, is he the one?!!! How exciting! Have you announced your engagement yet? Why don’t we announce it at dinner … I would love to offer a toast to the two of you!!!” After all, if he really is her “everything”, then why are they not ready to publicly declare their permanent commitment?

Your choice, since you are doubtlessly nicer and less manipulative than I, is to invite the boyfriend. NOT give Miss Old-good-friend a “plus one”; plus-ones are a violation of etiquette in the first place. But instead, get Miss Old-good-friend to introduce you to this wonderful man; have coffee together or have the two of them over to dinner, and then invite him as a person in his own right. You do not then have to justify to other people why she “got a plus-one” and they didn’t. You invited Mr Wonderful, because having met him you really do see how wonderful he is and have formed a friendship with him. And you as hostess — you are the hostess, right? Or else this is someone else’s problem to deal with — you as hostess can choose to invite whichever friends you wish.

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