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The Rules Regarding "Plus Ones"

However, with weddings costing an AVERAGE of $196 per guest, not every couple feels like doling out "and Guest" to each and every one of their single friends, and sometimes take great pains to avoid the extra mouths to feed.
05/04/2012 12:28pm ET | Updated June 20, 2012
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A funny trend has emerged in the wedding world: as the cost of weddings has increased, so have the number etiquette breaches as related to guests and the sticky issue of "Plus Ones". These aren't just faux pas committed by guests, as I've chronicled on this site before; these acts of rudeness are as often committed by the couple hosting the wedding as they are the guests that they've invited.

In ye olden days, when weddings could be had for less than the cost of a car, it was very simple: if you were single, you were invited to mingle... or, to bring a date if you chose to do so. For the guest, it became a matter of deciding if there was anyone worth bringing as a "date", or would they take their chances at the "singles table" and see if they might be able to make their own fun.

However, with weddings costing an AVERAGE of $196 per guest, not every couple feels like doling out "and Guest" to each and every one of their single friends, and sometimes take great pains to avoid the extra mouths to feed. Single friends, on the other end of it, generally not having had weddings of their own, are totally oblivious to how costly that "and Guest" can be. This is where a lot of problems originate. Below, some tips for Couples and Guests on the "guidelines" involving "and Guest".

For Couples:

1. You MUST invite couples that are living together. There was a time when people would make rules like "only married people and engaged people", but the truth is not every couple today has the goal of getting married. If a couple has committed to sharing a home together, they should both be invited to celebrate together.
2. It seems obvious, but you MUST invite both members of a couple if they are married, even if you don't know the spouse. I know that sounds ridiculously obvious, but when I was married I was once invited to a destination wedding without my husband. The address was sent to me using my married name (Mrs. and all) but didn't make mention of him at all.
3. If you only have a handful of singles (i.e. less than 5) and they do not know each other and would never possibly date or flirt or whatever, consider their dates the cost of having a wedding and just invite them "and Guest." I know it's expensive, but one goal of a wedding is to show your guests a good time and sitting awkwardly alone is likely not a good time.

For Guests:

1. Remember, and this is most important, the name on the front of the invitation is kind of also an instruction label: if only your name appears, only you were invited. So, even if you have a new boyfriend or girlfriend that you are SO excited about, if you weren't invited with a date, don't reply for yourself "plus one." It's a wedding, not a product launch.
2. If you were invited with "And Guest" on your invitation, please respond with the actual Guests' name. This might seem obvious, but if you are the host/ hostess and you get a response card that says "Gary Smith +1", you can't help but feel a little annoyed that you are spending $200 or more for some random person that Gary decides to bring last minute. Again, it's a wedding, not a club.
3. No Substitutions. If you are in a relationship and get an invitation that says "Mr. Gary Smith and Mr. Todd Martin", and Todd can't actually make it because he's travelling for business, you aren't meant to sub Todd out with your cousin or a friend. Todd was invited, not your friend Marie.

And so there you have it. If you keep these 3 simple rules in mind when hosting or attending a wedding, you will avoid the pitfalls and awkwardness of the "plus one situation".

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