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'Do We Have to Invite Plus Ones to Our Wedding?'

While the rules of etiquette are slightly flexible on inviting 'plus ones' for single friends who aren't in serious relationships, they are rigid when it comes to inviting the spouses and live-in partners of guests.
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Dear Wendy,

My fiancé and I just got engaged, and have decided on a smaller wedding and found a venue that we love! It only holds a small number of people, though, and we're finding it hard to trim our guest list, especially when it comes to plus ones. We have tons of friends who are in long-term relationships, but we've only met their significant others once or twice. What about married spouses we haven't met? We're at that age where most of our friends are married or in long term relationships, and with plus-ones, our guest list is almost twice as long. It's not that we want to exclude plus ones, but there literally is no space in our venue! Please help! -- Newly Engaged

Since you're newly engaged (congrats, by the way), I'm going to cut you a little slack and assume you haven't delved too far into the world of wedding planning yet. Surely if you had -- perused even a few wedding blogs, magazines and guidebooks -- two things would be abundantly clear by now: 1) while the rules of etiquette are slightly flexible on inviting "plus ones" for single friends who aren't in serious relationships, they are rigid when it comes to inviting the spouses and live-in partners of guests; and 2) sometimes the venue/dress/cake/ring/DJ/etc. that you love, love, love simply won't work out for a variety of reasons (price, size, availability) and you have to make a few compromises.

The fact of the matter is, you can't get away with inviting people to your wedding without extending an invitation to their spouses or long-term partners. It simply isn't done. Not only will some people assume your invitation was improperly addressed and bring their S.O.s anyway, they'll think you're so rude if they figure out your invitation was properly addressed and you really did mean to exclude the very people they're married to/live with/have been dating for an eternity. This is doubly true for any guests you may invite who live out of town or don't know your other guests very well (if at all). To pay for travel expenses, wedding attire and a gift and not have the privilege of bringing your significant other along for the ride is going to make your once-close friends a tad resentful, and who wants to start a marriage with that kind of baggage?

As hard as it may be to accept that you'll need to make room at your wedding for people you may not know well -- if only because they are closest to the people you do know well -- if you can't trim your guest list down to include all significant "plus ones" at your preferred venue of choice, you're going to have to pick another venue. It's early in your planning and this is likely just one of many compromises you'll have to make to have the perfect wedding because, as you'll soon learn, a perfect wedding isn't about having your preferred everything; it's about creating a space where love can be celebrated. And trust me, it will be much easier for your friends to celebrate your love if the love they have for their significant others is shown a little respect.

Wendy Atterberry writes the relationship advice blog, Dear Wendy. You can follow her on Facebook.

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