Excluding ‘And Guests': Where to draw the line

Q: I’m getting married in September. Due to budget reasons, my fiance and I have decided not to allow single guests to bring a date. The dilemma is that a guest is ‘bummed’ that she cannot bring the special person in her life to share the wedding with. My ‘friend’ has expressed her dissatisfaction on several occasions. I’ve already explained that we had to set a general rule to include spouses or fiances. What should I do?

A: You are obligated to invite spouses, fiances or fiancees, and significant others of your guests. If your friend has a long-standing relationship/is living with her ‘special person’ then he really needs to be invited. If not, and he is someone she is dating, it is not a requirement that he be included. If she is so unhappy with the arrangements, she can always decline the invitation and then be at home being bummed that she is missing a wonderful time.


  1. Leah

    One of my best friends is getting married in October. When she didn’t ask me to be a bridesmaid I was kind of hurt but I got over it bc it’s her day and I’m so happy for her. She called me a few weeks ago and told me that my boyfriend of 4 years who I live with is not invited because we’re not engaged or married. While I understand weddings are expensive, it feels more like a personal thing against my boyfriend or my lifestyle choice of cohabitation while unwed. I really don’t want to go without him, but I don’t know how to politely decline without hurting her feelings.

    • Alicia

      As you live together you are a social unit and it was rude to invite one of you but not the other. If you do not wish to attend without your boyfriend simply RSVP no. RSVP no is never rude.

    • Elizabeth

      It would have been best for you to share your feelings when she brought up the topic, when she called to say that your boyfriend wouldn’t be invited. That was a good time to ask why, and to say, “I respect that this is your wedding, but you’re making it awfully hard for me to come. BF is going to be really hurt that he’s not invited, and he would be even more hurt if I came without him.” Etiquette is useful as a guideline, but when you are very close to someone you should be able to level with them. If my best friend declined my wedding invitation because she had a problem (guest list, finances, etc) and didn’t bother to talk to me about it first, I’d be upset. Plus your friend has already broached the subject, so I would consider it open for discussion. If this was someone you didn’t know that well, then yes RSVP no and be done. But if this is a longtime friend who you continue to want to be friends with, then talk to her. Sometimes the high road goes so high, the air is thin and things stop making sense.

      • Elizabeth

        You could say something like this:
        BF, you know I love you and am beside myself with happiness about your upcoming wedding. I want nothing more than to celebrate with you that day. However, the fact that Jim is not invited is making things difficult for me. We live together, we are a social unit, whether or not we’re married. He’s hut that he wasn’t invited, and he would be incredibly hurt if I attended without him. If our positions were reversed, and his best friend didn’t invite me, I’d feel the same way. So, I understand there are financial issues or other considerations that have gone in to your guest list. But on my end, I won’t be able to attend without Jim, and I just wanted to tell you that before I sent my response card back with regrets.

  2. Leah

    Thank you so much for the insight! A follow up: I do want to attend but it would definitely hurt my boyfriends feelings and I also feel it is disrespectful to our relationship. We are very close, close enough that I almost want to tell her how much it’s bothering me but I don’t want to a) stress her out or b) possibly hurt our friendship in any way. Do I rock the boat and tell her it is bothering me? If I RSVP no she will want to know why, do I give her a passive answer or tell her that it really hurts my feelings that my relationship isn’t valid enough to warrant an invite?

    Thanks again!

    • Alicia

      You rsvp yes or no with no comments. Telling her off is rude and will only cause issues. Just send in the RSVP card don’t make drama. If she asks which is unlikely why you RSVP no then day “I felt uncomfortable attending without Bill as we are in a committed relationship. I hope you have a great time. ” then leave it. Move on. Yes she is being rude but asking to expand the guests list is also rude. Take the high road the view is better.

  3. David

    I can’t help but wonder if the bride and groom (to be) had co-habitated before announcing their nuptials. Hmmm.
    You may have seriously misunderstood the level of your friendship with the bride to be, until now. I frankly don’t know if I’d even acknowledge the invitation after her comments. This is a tough one and I think Alicia has the best and most adult approach to this unfortunate situation. I’d simply be too angry to respond.

  4. David

    I really don’t think you’d be comfortable going alone at this point, wearing the scarlet letter. I think RSVP no. If questioned, say exactly as was suggested by another contributor. You can’t straddle this fence any longer. You need to be as decisive as she. Your dignity is at stake here. So sorry you’re in this position, but at least you know her true feelings now and she will know yours. It may even make for a better friendship in the future. Plan a day away with your loved one.

  5. Kelly

    In response to the original question, I’d say it depends on how long the couple have been together.

    For my wedding I’m trimming down on the guest list and I will have no “+1″ on invites. If my friends and family have someone in their lives now, 12 months from my date, and they are still “dating” in April when I send out invites, then his/her name will appear on my guest’s invite. If a friend gets married or engaged obviously their significant other will be invited. I’m also not inviting children, end of discussion.

    When your friend is upset just explain, calmly and rationally, your reasoning. If your friend is a good and loving friend they will accept your reasons and get over it. Or they won’t and they won’t come. But be honest and stress that you invited them because they are special to you, you want them there, but you can’t and won’t make exceptions because then everyone else will want exceptions. If she can’t leave her significant other behind, then you understand and will miss her.

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