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Newport Manners & Etiquette: Plus One Wedding Etiquette, Missing YOU’RE WELCOME & Funeral Etiquette

Wednesday, March 07, 2018


March Madness wedding questions about Who gets a plus one for the wedding? and Do there have to be attendants? What to say after THANK YOU? Whether to attend a funeral, or not, were all questions to Didi Lorillard at NewportManners this week.


Q.  We're overwhelmed by the number of our friends -- who after receiving their save-the-date cards -- have asked if they can bring a plus one to our wedding this summer. The best man asked us if he could bring a mutual friend as his plus one. He wants to know if he can get him invited to our wedding! We know the guy who wants to be the best man's plus one, so if we wanted him to come to our wedding, we would have sent him a save-the-date card. How do we handle this?  BC, Seattle, WA

A.  The whole plus one situation can be murky. A guest bringing his own guest. Especially if the plus one knows the wedding couple and knows that he wasn't invited. A wedding isn't just any party. It is a celebration of a marriage. You only invite people whom you like, like a lot, or love. If you, the bride and groom, had wanted the wanna be plus one at your wedding, you would have invited him.

What to know about plus one:

  • As the host, unless you're not particular, make a list of assumed single people you are inviting whom you want to extend a plus one invitation to your wedding.
  • If the guest doesn't list his plus one's name on the reply care to the ceremony, find out the name of the guest your guest is bringing as their plus one.
  • Add that person's name to your guest list after the original guest's name on the spreadsheet. That way if the name of the plus one changes, at least you're keeping a correct head count.


What people who haven't hosted a wedding don't know is this:

  • As a guest, he or she is being invited because they're liked by the wedding couple or their parents.
  • If a mutual friend hasn't been invited, it is because the bride and groom don't want him at their wedding, so it is in bad manners to bring him as your plus one.
  • It can be hurtful to the plus one to be told they weren't invited because they aren't liked, so don't push it.
  • Make it clear that if a guest is bringing a plus one, s/he sends a gift from the bridal registry from both the original guest and his/her plus one.
  • The plus one can certainly send his own gift from the bridal registry, as a thank-you for having been invited, but don't count on it.


At this age when your guests are apt to be in one of the various stages of complicated, dramatic or knotty coupledom or uncoupling or single, choose your plus ones carefully.

Who gets a plus one to the wedding?

  • Don't get caught up in being stuck with a revolving guest list of unwanted plus ones -- surprises that you either don't know or don't like.
  • Do give a plus one to a friend's SO when they've been together for over six months and you've met him or her more than once.
  • Don't give an open plus one because you're stuck if you know the plus one and don't like him or her.
  • Do give a guest traveling from afar, who may not know people at your wedding, the option of having a plus one.
  • Don't think you have to offer all of your extended family members plus ones, the fact that they're family means that they'll have people to talk to at the wedding anyway.
  • Do ask single participants in your bridal party if they would like a plus one, and get the name and address of the person to whom you can send an invitation.
  • Don't get talked into giving someone a plus one once the list has been finalized, which is after the cutoff date for the reply card return. Even if he says, "She's the one. I can't wait for you to meet her."


Important: On your wedding website, in person, and by word of mouth, get the word out that it is a "small wedding" and that you are not giving out many plus ones because you have a tight and concise guest list. 

  • Often the size of the list depends upon the fire code of the venue where the reception is taking place. 
  • Leave your answer at that. 
  • A small wedding is in the eye of the beholder. What a small wedding may be to you, might look like a big wedding to me.


Be clear, your actual invitation list is key to controlling the amount of plus ones: 

Couple: With a good pen print the names of the guests who are invited on the outside and inside envelopes (if you're using two both).

                                                             Mr. Matthew J. Whitman (guest)


                                                            Ms. Annie Louise Kelley (plus one)

                                                                          (their address)

For a family: when residing at the same address, list on the inside and outside envelopes the names of the children you wish to invite. For instance you may not have accommodations for small children and babies. You can also list, or just list, those names in the upper left hand corner of the actual invitation:

                                                              Mr. and Mrs. William Wilson

                                                             Miss Alice Wilson (under19) 

                                                             Mr. William Wilson, Jr.   (14)

                                                            Master Jake Wilson (under 12)

                                                        (the address on the outside envelope)


The Attendant-Free Wedding

Q. My fiancé and I are planning our smallish wedding. We're in our mid-thirties and have figured out our budget. We've decided that we don't want attendants. We went to too many weddings where attendants and family members stirred up drama which caused bad vibes. Here's our reasoning:

  • We've both been attendants ourselves so we understand that the cost, especially if you have to travel to a wedding, is a huge commitment, anywhere between $1,000-$2,000 per wedding.
  • Friends who thought they were close friends had hurt feelings because they hadn't been chosen to be in the wedding party. 
  • On the other hand, we know that it is hard to say no when someone asks you to be their maid-of-honor or best man. 
  • Does my college roommate, at whose wedding I was a bridesmaid, assume she is one of my bridesmaids? Several friends are pregnant, making choosing the bridesmaid's dresses a nightmare. 
  • Others have small children that will have to be fed.


We've decided that our wedding should be an inclusive wedding of our truly closest family and friends. And where certain guests are not signaled out as more special than others. Everyone will be treated equally. 

Quite frankly, I don't want to have to even invite my best friend from high school and my fiancé doesn't want to be guilt tripped into inviting all of his first cousins, their spouses and children. It would be easer not to have attendants but let those who wish to give a reading or be an usher, offer to do so. What do you think?  AS, Watch Hill, RI


A.  The older you are when marrying, the greater the expectations for the wedding, because you've accumulated more relationships and family members. Historically, attendants were appointed to protect the wedding couple from evil spirits. Practically thinking, you really don't need to have all those attendants!

  • Whether you have six attendants each or twelve each, you'll be spending too much energy on keeping everyone happy. For you, it may be better to have none.
  • Make everyone happy by sparing your friends the huge commitment of being an attendant.
  • You can get yourselves down the aisle without attendants.
  • Avoid drama, invite only your best friends.
  • Ask yourselves, Are attendants more of a hassle than an honor?
  • The current trend: Fifty percent of couples choose not to have large weddings with attendants.



Q. When did the expression "You're welcome" slide from fashion? When I thank someone for helping me in some small or large way and I say, "Thank you," I miss hearing the reply "You're welcome." How do we bring back saying "You're Welcome"?  Grace, Hilton Head, SC


A.  Don't stop using "You're welcome." Preserve the dialogue of gratitude. Keep using "You're welcome," and people won't take it for granted.

What you have to remember about saying "you're welcome," is that it ends the dialogue. What do you say in response to "You're welcome"? You don't have to say anything.



Q.  A person of real substance, whom we knew only peripheral, was felled by a tree and killed during a nor' easter last week. We knew him socially by sight, but never really had a conversation with him or his wife. They had no children. Their dog died last month. You never saw the widow without her husband who is now deceased. 

My question is that you don't want to be the person who goes to the funeral and the reception just to be seen. How do we show our respect without seeming ostentatious, and yet caring?  Name Withheld


A. If you have time, attend the funeral, but since you're uncomfortable about being seen for the wrong reasons, don't go to the reception. Either way, send a sympathy card with your condolences.


Didi Lorillard researches manners and etiquette at NewportManners for her forthcoming book.


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