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Wediquette Wednesday: Can I bring my boyfriend if there wasn’t a ‘plus 1’ on the wedding invitation?

Each Wednesday, we tackle wedding etiquette. At times, it’s a reader question or one from a colleague, friend or family member and other times we’ll cover a popular issue. (Read last week’s Wediquette Wednesday companion piece to our series about the four Cs of diamonds. It talks about what to do if you don’t like the engagement ring.) This week, because it’s such an oft asked question, we’re running an excerpt from Dee Lane’s etiquette column in our New Orleans Bride Magazine Winter/Spring 2015 issue. Lane answers a reader question about bringing an uninvited guest to a wedding.


Question: I received an invitation to my cousin’s wedding, but she didn’t include “+1” on the invitation. She knows that I’ve been dating my boyfriend for over six months, so I figure I can just bring him with me, but my mom says no. What do you think?

Answer: Creating a guest list might be the most stressful part of planning a wedding. Think of writing down a list of everyone you know and everyone your fiancé knows, then add everyone your parents know and his parents know, then add those extra family members, friends, co-workers and the vendors with whom you’re creating your big day. If you could stop there, you would already have the fear that you’d forgotten someone important. But even the most well-funded couples and their families cannot afford to include everyone. That means taking that huge list and whittling it down.

The best way I’ve ever heard this process described is to think of your guest list like an onion. Each layer is a layer of friendships or family; immediate family in the center, then closest friends, then extended family, other friends, co-workers, and on and on. If you decide to include, or conversely cut, one person from a layer, then you must invite or discard all the people in that layer.

All this to say that if your cousin knows of your relationship and didn’t include your boyfriend on your invitation, then she probably has a very good reason for doing so. If you feel like you cannot attend this wedding without your boyfriend, you can call your cousin and ask her to include him with your invitation. But please think very carefully before you do so; she’s most likely very stressed and asking her to add one more person could become an awkward conversation quickly. My advice is to attend your cousin’s wedding with another family member who’s company you enjoy and who has already received an invitation, and have a great time.
Do you have a solution to share or a wedding etiquette question? Respond in the comments or email Melanie@MyNewOrleans.com.

For more advice by New Orleans Bride Magazine etiquette columnist Dee Lane, check out her most recent column in the new Winter/Spring 2015 issue.


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