For a bride and groom, their wedding day is one of the most important moments of their lives; filled with love, the hope of making wonderful memories and beginning a new chapter with two becoming one.
For their wedding guests, it’s simply an extravagant event in their social calendar, and if there’s one thing we know about events, it’s that nobody likes to attend them alone.
However, it has become more common for the couple to decline plus-ones for wedding guests, particularly for those who are just dating and technically single. An extra person is an extra plate, right? And while that can seem like a slap in the face to those going out of their way to be there for the bride and groom on their day, even when allowed a companion, licensed etiquette guru and wedding industry expert Elaine Swann says proceed with caution. She says more single and non-committed people need to put thought into why they really want to bring a plus-one, and then consider if the date they have in mind is someone they could actually see themselves with down the line. Literally.
“For a guest who wants to bring a plus-one, what you want to ask yourself is based on this: This marriage is forever, the event itself will be etched in time,” she says. “If you were to take a photo with this person at this event, which will be a part of someone’s forever memory, would the person still be in your life or would you be ok with having yourself etched in time with this particular person? That is the litmus test guests should give themselves.”
Swann says the last thing you want to do is look back at photos and know you shared a special moment with someone simply meant to be “a blip on the screen” who you no longer associate with.
“If this is somebody, even if it doesn’t work out, we’re in a committed relationship, we’re not engaged but it surely looks like we’re in it for the long haul, whatever that might look like, then bring them. But if you just met them on your online dating app and you’re in the early stages and getting to know them, you might give a second thought to bringing that plus-one,” Swann says.
If you’re determined to not attend solo, it’s recommended that you consider bringing a good friend as opposed to a romantic interest. But Swann says there is a benefit to going alone. If you’re willing to socialize, new connections can be made with guests in the same boat as you. Mind you, these are guests who in most cases are good friends and family of the bride and groom, so the hope is that they’re even better people — and have been vetted in a sense by the couple.
“Too often people think about bringing a date. Usually people invited to weddings hold a special place in the lives of the couple. They’re going to bring the cream of the crop of people they like. That could be a really nice place to meet people but we miss our chance,” she says.
If the current plus-one in your life is not someone you see yourself being immortalized with in photo memories from your friend or family member’s wedding, Swann says it’s good to be honest and let them know you would rather go on your own.
“If there is not a plus-one you can lean on the couple’s rules and be truthful that they’re keeping it to family and close friends but you guys can hang together afterwards,” she says. “But if plus-ones are allowed and you just don’t want to bring that person, be honest and tell them no.”
“You can say, ‘you know what? At this stage in our relationship I’d rather attend the wedding by myself. This is an important day for the couple and I really want to focus on them. We’ll get together afterward,'” she advises. “But be honest and tell them. This is what long-term relationships and marriage inevitably looks like, telling the truth to a person when it’s not easy. Being truthful in an early stage will help you identify if this person is able to handle, or how they handle not-so-good news.”
As we jump head first into wedding season, keep this advice in mind as you plan to attend all sorts of nuptials. While it can sound less than fun to go to a wedding on your own, if you’re open-minded, there’s a chance to, perhaps, meet someone new (romantic and friendly). And if nothing else, it’s an opportunity to avoid a cringe-worthy photo with someone you’d like to forget later.