Guests and Dress
When to bring a plus one and dress codes for every type of wedding
Q: I have a few weddings to attend this summer and am wondering if it’s rude to add “and guest” to my reply card. I’ve always thought that it would be appreciated, but recently I mentioned that I was going to do so to a friend of mine’s maid of honor and she flipped out on me. Am I wrong?
If the bride and groom wanted a single friend of theirs to bring a guest, the outer envelope would be addressed to the friend and the inner envelope would read “Miss Smith and Guest.”
If your invitation doesn’t have “and Guest” on it, and you aren’t married or living with your romantic partner, then under no circumstances should you bring someone along with you — or, for that matter, call the bride or groom and ask if you can.
Doing either is considered rude and can lead to awkward conversations about the wedding party’s finances. The only caveat to this is if you’ve recently moved in with your romantic partner or became engaged, it’s OK to ask the bride or groom. However, you should explain the situation, and if they say you cannot you shouldn’t argue, threaten to not come (this is the height of rudeness) or make a stink.
The short answer here is: Respect the bride and groom’s decision; wedding planning, especially decisions on the guest list, is very difficult and as a guest your job is to do your very best to lessen that stress.
Q: My husband and I have been invited to a wedding that has several events associated with it, and each one has a different dress code. I know what they mean for me, but what does he wear to each? When is a tie appropriate and when can he wear a short-sleeved shirt?
Dress codes can be hard to navigate, but men’s options are actually easier than women’s. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the dress codes you might come across:
White Tie or Ultra-formal: Tuxedo or cut-away jacket, white tie, vest, shirt and cummerbund. Women wear long gowns (ankle to floor-length).
Black-tie or Formal: Tuxedos. Women wear long dresses, long cocktail or dressy separates. Note: For a more modern look for men, sometimes this can include a black shirt or not wearing a tie with tuxedo for men.
Black-tie Optional: Basically, the same as Formal, but men have the option of wearing a dark suit with a tie instead of a tuxedo.
Semi-formal: The only dress code that changes depending on time of day. Before 6 p.m. this means a suit for him and an appropriate shorter dress or dressy suit for women. After 6 p.m. calls for a dark suit for him and a cocktail dress for her.
Cocktail: Dark suit for him and short, elegant dress for her.
When in doubt, either call someone associated with the wedding party and ask, or err on the dressier side. As my grandmother always told me, you’ll never feel embarrassed for looking too good, but the first time you don’t have lipstick on when you go to the grocery you’ll see every crush you’ve ever had.