Ask the Experts: “How Do I Discourage Plus-Ones Without Offending Anyone?”

Welcome to our latest installment of “Ask the Experts,” where our contributor team of wedding planners solves readers’ most pressing wedding-planning dilemmas! This week, Kristin Alexander from Esoteric Events and Claire Gordon fromClaire Gordon Events weigh in on the sticky subject of plus-ones. Do you have a question that you’d like to submit? Fill out this form, and we’ll do our best to respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

Q. “My guest list is adding up, and I do not have room to add on plus-ones for certain people, but how do I deal with the plus-one issue for my bridal party? I don’t want to upset them, but I also don’t want them bringing a date that my fiancé and I don’t know as a couple.” — BG reader Chelsea


(bridesmaid dresses from

Photo Credit: Timepiece Studio

Kristin Answers:

“If you are not comfortable with a member of your bridal party bringing their significant other to your wedding, it’s best to address the situation with her one-on-one. Keep in mind that it is 100% acceptable to request this if they are newly dating, but if they are in a long-term relationship or married, I do not suggest going this route. Be upfront and honest from the start. Don’t just rely on an invitation without a plus-one option, as it will be confusing, and it can cause unnecessary drama.”

Explain that you are trying to keep your wedding intimate and small. Stress how important her role is to your big day and ensure that she knows you appreciate her understanding. Also, avoid discussing this with other members of your bridal party before addressing it one-on-one, so to sidestep hurt feelings!

In the end, it is your wedding and you and your fiancé should be completely comfortable and content with every single person attending. It’s understandable to want to please everyone, but, unfortunately, this is not reality when it comes to working with a budget or size restrictions.”

Claire Answers:

“I think it’s important to acknowledge that, on almost every level, the cost associated with hosting a wedding is directly proportional to guest count. Not only will food and beverage costs incrementally increase with an ever-expanding guest list but often, so will venue fees, rentals, décor and floral arrangements (more guests, more tables to adorn!).

Simply put, if couples aren’t married, ‘plus ones’ are optional invitees for the client. The same rule should also be applied to the bridal party and their guests. (Rest assured, It’s not bad manners to omit “…and guest” from a groomsman’s invite when you’ve only had few brief social interactions with his current partner.)

Exceptions to this rule can, of course, be made here. However, the decision to extend an invite to a long-time partner of a good friend or family member is entirely up to the bride and groom and/or their hosting parents.”

—Stefania Sainato

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