Offering a plus-one on wedding invitations is a courtesy that etiquette dictates should be extended to some guests, but does not need to be extended to everyone.
It would be nice to offer every single guest a plus-one, and what a party it would be! But it would definitely increase your guest list and budget by a lot. Here is your guide to plus-one etiquette so you can plan your guest list and wedding invitations, and keep your budget in check.
Married guests should always be invited with their spouse, and engaged guests should always be invited with their fiance. In fact, the spouse should not be referred to as a plus-one. They should be invited by name. Go to the trouble of finding out who your guests' significant other is, and collect their details so that you can send them a formal invitation. There are some great apps that make this process pretty easy. Check out Get Wed's guide on how to make collecting wedding invitation addresses a breeze!
People who are in long-term relationships (LTRs) should also be extended a plus-one. You don't need to go as far inviting their significant other by name if it's a fairly new long-term relationship, for example, a young couple that has been together just over a year. However, if they have been living together for 5 years, it's courteous to invite them both by name if you can. It should be fairly easy to judge the situation, but if the relationship is borderline, extend the plus-one just to be safe.
These people are your inner circle, and your most VIP guests. Offering them a plus-one is a no-brainer. Even if they are single, offer them the option of bringing a guest anyway. They have sacrificed a lot for your wedding, and that deserves to be acknowledged at every opportunity, including giving their guest of choice a spot at your wedding.
If you have guests coming to your wedding from out of town, like a childhood friend from your hometown, or a relative from another country, put yourself in their shoes. They are putting in the effort to come to a huge party where they know basically no one. It's a very intimidating situation. Trust me, they will appreciate being offered a plus one (aka safety person), whether they are single or not. You should plan for them to bring one because they very likely will.
While most of your guests will be bringing a date, or at least be offered the option of a plus-one, there are some exception.
Guests keeping it casual
You don't need to offer a plus-one to your truly single friends who are dating absolutely no one, or dating very casually. If you are trying to stick to a budget, etiquette does not require you to offer a plus-one. Technically you don't need to offer a plus-one to guests in a relatively new relationship either. People who have been together for longer than one year is a good benchmark for offering plus-ones. Use your judgment though. You may have a friend in a new-ish relationship of less than a year, and they're pretty serious. It would be weird not to invite their significant other. If you're not sure, always go with offering a plus-one.
People you are not close to who are single
This is probably the most straightforward of the plus-one scenarios. If the guest is someone you don't know very well, and they are truly single or haven't been dating long, you do not need to offer them a plus-one.
When in doubt, extend a plus-one invitation. It is kind and courteous to your guests who are making an effort to celebrate your big day. In an ideal world, you could offer plus-ones to everyone, but we all have budgets to stick to, so apply the guidelines above and you should be golden.
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