Aisling Keenan reckons Shakespeare hadn't a clue what he was on about with his "to be or not to be" nonsense. "Do I invite their plus one?" Now THAT is the question...

Illustration: Carol Mahon

There’s a universal truth about weddings, and it is this - they are expensive affairs. Even the most intimate ones still rack up a juicy bill for any couple, and one of the biggest cost-cutting measures involves guest list trimming. To help couples navigate this pre-marital minefield, we’ve come up with some best practice guidelines for you to follow, as well as some gentle suggestions for any future wedding guests reading this.



Married couples? Yes. Whether you like them or not, and no matter how well you know them.

Engaged or living together long term? As above, invite them or it could be seen as a snub.

Short-term relationships? If you know both parties well, invite. Otherwise, don’t feel pressured to.

Single? If they know lots of other people and have a table of pals to sit next to, a plus one isn’t necessary. If they’ll know very few people, or just the people getting married, a plus one might make them feel more comfortable.

Bridal party? The exception to any rule. Allow them all a plus one, whether they’re single or not as a gesture of thanks for all their efforts.



  1. Set a rule and stick to it. Consistency is key, and anything less will result in put-out guests. If you make allowances for one person, word will get out and your guests’ noses will be out of joint.
  2. Be crystal clear on your invites. Sending Michael and Mary an invite will send the signal that Michael can’t take it upon himself to bring Miranda. But “Michael and Guest” leaves the door open for anyone to rock up.
  3. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’. If a guest you invited solo emails or texts to ask for a plus one, roll out a polite but firm “We’re actually really tight for numbers at the moment, but I’ll let you know closer to the time?” Chances are, they won’t ask again, and if they do, blame the venue’s size. No one will argue with that!



  1. RSVP promptly with the full names of whoever you’re inviting. Don’t say “we’ll be there” and leave the couple wondering who “we” is.
  2. Don’t bring a plus one that you know will be (a) likely to make a show of you/themselves, or (b) someone you know is not universally liked, for instance, an ex of either of the people to be married. Just be sound.
  3. Don’t put pressure on the couple getting married by asking for a plus one - they’ve enough to be worried about!
  4. Don’t do this: “We invited our friend with his girlfriend, who’s name we specified on the invite. They broke up three weeks before the wedding and our friend text to say to reserve his exes place for a “mystery hottie”. That put us in the awkward position of having to text him and say “no mystery hotties, please” which we didn’t want to do. But we felt the wedding should be exclusively people we know and love,” says Rachel, 31.
  5. Or this: “One of my bridesmaids was given a plus one and we all assumed she’d bring the guy she’d been seeing for a few months. She instead brought her mad sister, didn’t tell us in advance. Her sister wore a white dress and got so drunk she had to be put to bed at 9pm,” says Michele, 36

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