Your invitations set a first impression. In this guide, our experts lay out everything you need to know about proper wording for wedding invitations.
There are some parts of wedding planning that are just, well, awkward. And a lot of these awkward decisions have to do with your guest list. Determining who falls on list A, list B, and who gets a plus-one are just a few of the difficult decisions that can make the wedding guest list feel like something you’d really rather not touch.
We get it, your relationships with friends and family members often hang in the balance and you and your parents, in-laws, and maybe even your fiancé could have differing views on the list. If you’re struggling, we’ll help you navigate the waters of one of the trickier issues, and teach you how to word wedding invitations without (and with!) a plus-one, plus explain how to decide who’s entitled a guest in the first place.
Before you ever start thinking about how to word your wedding invitations, you have to establish who is getting those coveted plus-one spots. Here are a few general guidelines:
If a guest is married or engaged, the spouse or fiancé should always be invited. Guests who are living together should also be invited together. You can list these couples’ full names on separate lines, starting with the woman’s name.
How long is long? This is up to you and your fiancé, but consider six months as a starting line. Also, it’s appropriate to extend the invite to any significant others that you have met and spent time with. If you set a hard-and-fast rule when it comes to dating couples, it will be easier to field questions when they come.
You want all of your guests to have a good time on your wedding day, and there are likely a few on your list that may feel alone or uncomfortable without a plus-one, ie. coworkers, your study-abroad friend, or an old roommate. Letting them bring a date, even if it’s not a romantic partner, will ensure your big day is enjoyable for everyone.
Additionally, if you’re asking your guests to travel for your celebration, adding plus-ones is both appropriate and encouraged. Traveling is always more enjoyable with someone to travel with, so it’s more likely that your guest will attend as well as make a vacation out of it if you allow them to bring a plus-one.
Of course, this is all dependent on two very important factors: budget and space. As your guest list increases, your costs increase accordingly. If the budget is tight, think about setting limits on plus-ones. (Note: The cost of adding one more place setting shouldn’t trump ruining a relationship with your invitee.) Similarly, if space is tight, you may also need to cut back on the plus-ones you dole out. If your venue or caterer has capacity limits, you can always extend plus-ones once you receive regrets.
For the single guests you are inviting, a plus-one is a nice gesture, but shouldn’t come at the expense of people you wanted to invite but couldn’t due to budget or space constraints.
Once you’ve made your decisions on who gets to bring a guest to your wedding, how do you make it clear to them? Here’s how to word wedding invitations with no plus-one or with one:
It is best practice to include the name of your guest’s plus-one on the invitation when you know it. You can include the plus-one on the invitation with the guest, listing his or her name on a separate line below your guest.
Example: Mr. Shawn Mendes Ms. Camilla Cabello
Or, you can send a separate invitation to the plus-one directly. If you can find out their name and address easily by sending a text to your invitee, it will not only affirm their wedding guest but also make the invitation more personal.
Example: Mr. Sawn Mendes Ms. Camila Cabello 123 Lover’s Lane 456 Ranch Road
Are you good friends with the plus-one? If so, they should also receive their own invitation, addressed and delivered directly to them.
If you don’t know who your invitee will bring, but want to allow them a plus-one, you can simply add “and Guest” to the envelope.
Example: “Mr. Harry Styles and Guest” or “Ms. Veronica Corningstone and Guest”
When there’s no plus-one, wedding invitation wording is pretty simple: Only include the name of the guest on the envelope.
Example: “Mr. Harry Styles” or “Ms. Veronica Corningstone”
The odds are good that a few of your more-confrontational guests will bring up the topic of a plus-one directly. You can navigate this scenario in a couple of ways:
Did you and your fiancé set hard-and-fast rules when you made your wedding guest list? If so, stick to them. You decided on a certain length of time couples had to be together, or on no plus-ones at all for a reason. If you go making exceptions for one couple, or person, the word may get out, and you may feel pressured to add a few more to your guest list.
If your guest just goes ahead and writes in a plus-one on their RSVP card, you need to address it tactfully. Call them and graciously explain that their plus-one is, unfortunately, not invited. Give a reason like budget or space, or refer back to your hard-and-fast rules to let them know this is the case for everyone.
Let’s face it, not everything is black and white, and some cases may actually warrant a second look. Maybe a guest you originally didn’t extend a plus-one to got engaged after your invitations went out. In these scenarios, it’s best to call or send a thoughtful text to let them know their nearly-wed partner is also invited.
Or, maybe a friend has recently become much more serious with their partner and you’ve begun to spend more time with the couple. If your wedding guest asks politely if they can bring their SO, use your best judgment.
Inevitably, some of your guests will regretfully decline. If you receive more “no” RSVPs than you were expecting, it’s okay to extend the invite to plus-ones. If a guest asks for a plus-one and you may genuinely be able to add them down the line, tell them numbers are tight but you would love to have their guest attend and will reach out if anything changes.
Even though there is proper etiquette to follow and feelings to tip-toe around, these tips can help you navigate the wedding invite process, plus-one or not, with ease so you can send your invitations off with confidence.