We're introducing a new feature here at The Lovely Little Label called #WeddingWednesday Ask us anything!
Kind of a cross between a blog post and an agony aunt you can ask us anything wedding related (or wedding business related) and we'll chat about it both here on the blog as well as on instagram.
If there is a particular topic or dilemma you'd like us to cover send us an email to hello AT thelovelylittlelabel.com or send us a DM on Instagram.
One of the first steps in planning your big day involves creating a budget, lots of venues have minimum & maximum numbers to work with, so from the very beginning of your wedding planning journey to (most likely) the night before the big day you will be considering the issues around the guest list & plus ones.
Before I get right into it, I'm going to caveat this by saying no matter what you read online, or what your bff says you make the decision on plus ones based on what makes you comfortable and what works for your budget. Now to be clear I am not on the train of "it's your big day so do exactly what you want regardless of the consequences" as I see in so many Facebook groups and other blogs. I fit squarely into the plan the day you want, & accommodate as much as you feel comfortable with because a. it's a nice thing to do and b. as a previous bride I can absolutely tell you that on the day, and two years down the road it just doesn't matter that your Aunt Jane brought a guy she met on Tinder! And sure they might be happily married by now.
Ok let's get back on track. One of the first things you need to do is consider the size of the wedding you want. Split the family tree, work out minimum and maximums based on the number of people you want to invite and then consider it in terms of budget. Start by going back to the basics: Each headcount costs money, and venues hold only a certain number of people. You also need to take into consideration who is paying the bill. I.e. if your families are contributing financially then they get a say. Have a quick conversation with them on who they want to invite and add it into the mix.
Anyone Who’s Engaged, Lives Together or is in a Long-Term, Serious Relationship should get a plus-one. In this day and age, lots of couples live together before they get married—or never get married at all—so acknowledging their commitment is the right thing to do.
**Same caveat to married couples applies, also your 16 year cousins girlfriend doesn't count.
Say one of your very best friends from childhood who lives across the country is a VIP guest, and single. While she knows you and maybe your parents and partner, none of you are likely to have much time to spend with her. Give thought to these guests, remember you will be super busy on the day so a plus-one here (is a nice thing to do!) that way they can feel comfortable and have fun too.
Probably the second most controversial topic when discussing the wedding guest list is children. Once you've decided on whether or not your having a an adult only affair or a child friendly party, consider if there are any children you want to accommodate with a plus one. I'm thinking specifically here if there are loads of small kids and one teenager - give the teenager a plus one to keep them company. We all remember being that age - otherwise they'll spend the entire day on their phone.
If the guest in question seems to have a new squeeze every few months or hasn’t been dating the same person for more than a 6 months, giving them a plus-one isn’t a priority, although it is thoughtful if you have the budget to do so and don't be surprised if they ask for them to come, it's not that they haven't considered your budget it's that they are in the middle of young loves dream and can't bare to be apart for the day!
Coworkers can be a tricky guest list category altogether, even without the issue of plus-ones, so let’s back up for a moment. The easiest way to avoid any drama is to not invite any. That way nobody feels left out. But if you're close to some of your coworkers and everyone knows it, it’s fine to invite them. Just don't hand them their invites at work or make a big deal out of it.
If your mother-in-law insists that your cousin needs an invitation, it’s okay to not give her a plus-one if she’s not married or in a serious relationship.
But if your budget just won’t allow certain guests to have plus-ones (and you want them to bring someone), this is where having a B-list comes in handy or evening reception invites.
If you think you might be sending a second set of invitations for a B-list, prepare for it ahead of time. Not only will it make the process smoother, it'll save you some serious cash since buying invitations in small batches is much more expensive.
Crunching the numbers isn't the most glamorous part of wedding planning, but there is a figure you really can't avoid: your guest list count. Your budget and the venue size are the main factors that should play into this decision. Each guest adds to the number of plates your caterer will prepare, favors, chair rentals and how much cake you'll need. Remember on average 15-20% of guests invited won't attend and take this into account.
Yours wouldn't be the first wedding where a guest crams two (or three or four) plus-ones onto one line, even though the invitation was made out to one person. The way to avoid this problem is to print the guests' names onto the RSVP card. Do this and there's almost no way anyone can force an invite on you. If for some reason you still get an extra write-in, don't take their faux pas personally.