Weddings have a way of making even the simplest things seem complicated. Take plus-one etiquette, for example. It’s almost always more fun to attend a wedding with a date, but unlike a regular date or outing, weddings–no matter how casual–are inherently high stakes. With those high stakes comes pressure for you and your date to make a good impression.
One easy way to do that? When you’re signing the wedding card. If you’re sitting down, pen poised in hand, and feel a little confused, you’re far from alone. While your name should definitely be on the card, the rules are a little fuzzier when it comes to your plus-one. Let’s break it down.
Photo Credit // Chris Koeppen Photography
Your plus-one should sign the card if...
There are a couple of instances when your date should always sign the card, including when:
- He or she is your long-term partner—and you both know the couple. Perhaps you’re not married, but you’ve dated or lived together for several years. This one’s a no-brainer. Both your names should be on the card, even if one or both of the couple is more “your friend” (or family) than your partner’s.
- You’ve been dating for at least a year—and your partner has met the couple at least a handful of times. Maybe your plus-one doesn’t know your childhood bestie or sorority sister or cousin as well as you do, but if the two of you have been together seriously for at least a year and the soon-to-be-married couple has met your partner at least three times, put his or her name down.
- You’re bringing a family member who knows the couple well. For example, you’re bringing your mom or sister as your date to your old neighbor’s nuptials.
Your plus-one doesn’t need to sign the card if...
- Your relationship is brand new—or you’ve only been on a few dates together before the wedding
- He or she has never met the soon-to-be-married couple
- You’re bringing a friend who doesn’t know the couple
What if your relationship to your plus-one doesn’t fit neatly into one of the above categories? First of all, don’t fret. Feel free to use your best judgment: If your plus-one and the couple are complete strangers who couldn’t pick each other out in a crowd, you can leave his or her name off. If you think it might hurt your plus-one’s feelings if he or she is excluded from the card? Go ahead and sign for the both of you. Chances are, the married couple won’t be offended by your plus-one’s good wishes. In fact, they’ll probably appreciate them!
Does My Plus-One Have To Give A Gift?
Generally, gifts are given as part of a unit, whether that unit is a family of four or a couple. In other words, no, your plus-one doesn’t have to purchase his or her own gift. It’s perfectly acceptable to purchase one gift from the two of you.
It’s also acceptable for your date to contribute to the gift in some way. However, like most wedding guidelines, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. It depends on how close your date is to the happy couple.
If your cousin is getting married, and your date has literally never met him, consider picking up the full cost of the gift yourself. If your date has met the bride here and there, he or she may offer to contribute or split the cost with you in some way. Ultimately, if your date is a near stranger to the couple getting married, you may want to just plan on taking care of the gift yourself. Since your date is coming as your guest, it’s a thoughtful gesture.
Photo Credit // Eichar Photography
Do I Need To Spend More On The Gift If I’ve Been Given a Plus-one?
Generally, yes. However, you’re not obligated to spend a certain amount of money on the gift, and you’re definitely not required to spend enough to “cover your plate.” (This is the wedding etiquette myth that won’t die!)
A good rule of thumb is to double whatever you were planning on spending if you’re bringing a date. For example, if you’re comfortable spending $75 when you fly solo, plan on spending around $150 if you’re inviting a plus-one.
Think about your budget and what you can reasonably spend, but don’t sweat the dollar signs too much. The most important thing to remember is that you’re giving a gift because you love the couple.
At the end of the day, don’t let these relatively minor details stress you out. When in doubt, put your plus-one’s name on the card, put aside an extra $50 or so for the wedding gift (if possible), and get ready to have fun celebrating your loved ones on their big day.