Photo: Bonnie Sen
On more than one occasion, my clients have asked me for advice on how to handle uninvited guests during the planning process. A common scenario we have encountered: a couple’s friend RSVPs with a guest – or their entire family – even though the couple had only invited the friend. A worse wedding guest no-no that my clients have had to handle: guests who show up with dates without advance notice.
Bringing an uninvited date has unintended and stressful consequences for the couple. For an engaged couple determining the guest list can be a difficult process. There can be quite a bit of negotiations between the couple and their parents to determine the final guest list. By bringing an uninvited guest, no matter how you feel about attending alone, you are adding stress to the couple’s wedding because:
- If the couple can accommodate your plus one, they will need to make adjustments in their already-designed dinner seating arrangements and inform the caterer about an additional meal, the facility staff about an additional chair, the rental company about an additional place setting, and the printer about an additional escort card, place card and menu for your uninvited, additional guest.
- If you bring a date on the day of the wedding without letting the couple know in advance, it certainly can create an awkward situation as dinner tables are already set for a specific number of guests that responded. An unexpected guest may not actually fit because a table size is chosen to fit a specific number of guests. You may not be able to sit with your date and the newlyweds might have to place your date at another table.
Single guests may wonder why they can’t bring a date. You may not know anyone at the wedding; may not want to be the only single guest; and you may be bored attending alone. At the end of the day, it’s not up to you. The guest list was decided by the couple, whom of course want their friends to feel comfortable at their wedding, but may have reasons why they may not be able to accommodate your date.
- For example, your friends may be limited by a venue’s capacity or they may have budgetary limitations. A wedding can potentially cost upwards of $300 per person, a good reason for why a couple would be very careful in choosing who they invite.
- It is also possible that your friends have decided to have a very intimate wedding and they may not know your guest well, if at all, and really only want close friends and family in attendance. Regardless of the reason, this is their party and they can choose whom they want to invite and not invite.
How do you become a wonderful, appreciative and low-maintenance friend that everyone loves to invite?
The clue is on your invitation! Most invitations will come with inner and outer envelopes. If the couple want to invite a close friend and want her or him to bring a guest, the outer envelope will be addressed to the friend: “Miss Mary Jones” while the inner envelope will say: “Miss Jones and Guest” or “Miss Jones and Mr. Williams.” If the inner envelop says: “Miss Jones,” then only Miss Jones is invited and Miss Jones cannot bring a date.
The same rule applies to whether or not invited guests can bring their children. If there is no inner envelope, then the outer envelope will be addressed as if it were the inner envelope so you will know your status even before you open the invitation. For example, if a couple and their daughter are invited to the wedding, the envelope will be addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” and on the next line for the daughter “Miss Sarah Smith.”
Remember, if you are not invited with a guest, chances are you will not be the only single person there, and you never know who you may meet.