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10 Super Tips for +1 Wedding Etiquette

December 11, 2019
by Tracy Mitchell Griggs

Unless you’re in the “Wedding Crashers”, which, incidentally, was partially filmed in St. Michaels, it pays to know your way around “+1” etiquette. While traditions have changed over the years–think barn weddings, barefoot brides and pig roasts–both brides-to-be and guests should take a minute to become familiar with “best practices” for wedding invitees and +1 wedding etiquette.

The most important thing that all guests should keep in mind is to reply promptly to the wedding invitation. Many couples may hire a calligrapher or stationary shop to create seating cards or tags for gift bags, for example. A quick reply will help minimize stress and costs for the couple.

Couple holding champagne glasses | My Eastern Shore Wedding

An often-overlooked etiquette item for +1s is attire. Clue your +1 in about what to wear – especially for summer weddings. If you’re unsure about what to tell your +1 about their garb, look to the invitation, venue and season for clues. And, if you’re wondering if it’s too white, remember the 90% rule: if it’s less than 90% white, then it’s wearable! If questions still remain, ask the bride. Remember – it’s the couple’s day.

We’ve created a cheat-sheet with 10 quick tips for +1s– we think if you follow these rules, you’ll be AOK!

1. If your invitation doesn’t say +1, don’t bring a guest

No exceptions. Don’t forget – the bride and groom are likely hosting a catered reception and are using the guest list to plan for food and beverages. Bringing uninvited guests will increase the costs, cause headaches for seating, not to mention potential bad feelings about your friendship with the couple post-nuptials. 

2. Don’t ask for a +1 if you were not offered the option

Exception: You have not kept the lucky couple in the loop on your relationship status – perhaps you have gotten married or are engaged. If you think they have made a mistake, a call to the bride is ok. “Hi Melissa, I just got your invitation to the wedding and was not sure you knew I was engaged. I was just checking to see if I can bring my fiancé.”  This is a better option than just showing up with your +1. Then abide by the bride’s response.

3. If you’re single and your invitation doesn’t include a +1…

You are not entitled to a +1. Yeah, we know. Sometimes being a singleton in social situations like weddings is difficult.  But, hey, maybe you’ll meet somebody!

Couple kissing under mistletoe | My Eastern Shore Wedding

4.  You’ve received a +1. RSVP using your guest’s name, not your name and “+1”

Weddings often bring together lots of strangers.  Warm things up and do the couple a favor by telling them who you’re bringing.  And it’s also nice to see a name on seating cards.

5.  If your guest was named, don’t substitute someone else

The couple invited you and a specific +1 but your guest can’t attend. Don’t swap in someone else. If a specific name was provided, it’s because they want that person to attend. If your named +1 can’t make it, attend on your own.

6.  Along the same line: don’t bring your bestie as a +1 unless that person’s name is on the invitation.

A +1 is a date and not an invitation to bring a random friend. If you feel comfortable asking the bride or groom if you can bring a friend, ask. Some couples won’t care. Others will think it’s rude. And if you’re feeling anxiety over the “ask,” you probably shouldn’t.


Couple taking a selfie | My Eastern Shore Wedding

7. Hedging your bets with +1. Don’t RSVP with a +1 unless you know for sure the specific named guest is going to attend.

If you’re uncertain whether your +1 can attend, don’t RSVP with a +1 assuming you’ll find someone else(see #5).  And you’d hate for the couple to pay for a no-show.

8. Drama Queens: choose your +1 guest carefully

Don’t bring your ex! Remember – this is the couple’s day. Avoid drama!

9. Introduce your guest to the couple and your friends.

It’s the polite thing to do, especially if the couple doesn’t know your +1. They’re paying for this person to be there after all.


10. The matter of the wedding gift and the +1.

If you’re in a relationship and you’re both close to the couple, discuss sharing the cost. If the wedding is for one of HIS friends or family members, he should pony up for the gift. If it’s one of YOUR friends or family, you should pay.

Bride and groom kissing | My Eastern Shore Wedding

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