If you've ever received a wedding invitation addressed solely to you and wondered to yourself, Okay, but can I I bring a guest? then you'll want to keep reading (and because #weddingseason).
The territory of wedding guest etiquette can be tricky to navigate. In theory, each invitation you receive should explicitly state whether or not you can bring a plus-one—but often enough, that simply isn't the case. Perhaps you recently got into a serious relationship (or got engaged!). Then what? The rules can always be tricky. Well, we're here to help. Keep scrolling for your complete guide to handling every plus-one conundrum with aplomb and grace.
If a wedding invitation doesn't explicitly say it's for you "and guest", and if you aren't married or living with your romantic partner, then under no circumstances are you to ask the couple or their families for permission to bring a plus-one. It's considered rude and can lead to an awkward conversation about the wedding party's finances. (Perhaps they can only afford to host a more limited number of guests at their big day!)
It is, however, acceptable to reach out to the couple and ask them for clarification about whether or not you are invited with a guest. The envelope should clearly state whether or not you may bring a plus-one, but if you got engaged after the invitations were sent out or you recently moved in with your romantic partner, it's okay to simply ask.
Ideally, a wedding invitation will explicitly state that you are invited "with guest". But if you are married, engaged, or in an otherwise openly committed relationship, according to etiquette maven Emily Post, it's okay to assume your partner may attend the festivities with you.
"Ms. Post recommends that those who are engaged, in a committed partnership, or living together be invited to come with that significant other," reads one New York Times article.
That being said, if there's any doubt in your mind, it's best to simply ask for clarification.
Emily Post also suggests that if you are single, casually dating, or otherwise romantically unattached, you should not assume you can bring a guest.
"Those who are single or dating someone but are not living with him or her, should not expect to take a guest unless the invitation specifically says so," Post says.
Wedding plus-ones are typically intended to be used for your spouse, fiancé, or romantic partner. It is generally considered to be in poor taste to bring anyone else.
"If there's any chance that your escort might be outwardly impolite or inappropriate, do not bring them," wedding planner Jennifer Brisman advises. "Do not bring a roommate, housemate, parent, or sibling as your escort. This is considered impolite and disrespectful."
Consider this the rule to trump all rules: Do not show up with a guest if you were not invited with a guest. It is better to be safe than sorry, so be absolutely clear on whether or not you have been invited with a plus-one before you show up with one.
Know that you're informed of the etiquette rules on bringing a guest to a wedding, shop the perfect dress to wear to any summer ceremony below.