Wediquette Wednesday: Do I have to take my ex to a wedding if his name was on the invitation rather than ‘plus one’?
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. (Note: Questions may be edited for clarity and brevity.)
Question: My friend is getting married in a couple of weeks. The invitation came in the mail a few weeks ago. It was addressed to me and then the inner envelope had both my name and my now ex’s. We’ve been together for years and were headed toward engagement and marriage, but recently broke up. We haven’t made the breakup public yet, other than to our closest friends and family, because we want to give ourselves time to grieve and deal with it. Meanwhile, I don’t know what to do about the wedding. He is friends with the bride as well. My preference is to take my best friend, rather than my ex, but I don’t want to break any etiquette rules and I also don’t want to keep him away from the celebration, when technically, he is invited. Do I have to take my ex to a wedding if his name was on the invitation rather than ‘plus one’?
Answer: Technically, unless a couple lives together, an invitation (even for long-term couples) should simply state the names of the people living at the address and then the number of plus ones, if there are any offered. This is precisely due to these types of situations. I’m sure your friend was well-meaning in including your boyfriend by name and couldn’t have divined the breakup. You have a couple of different options here.
- Disclose the breakup in confidence to the bride and ask her if it’s OK to bring your bestie instead of your ex.
- If you absolutely do not want to make the breakup public yet, and your split was amicable, tell your ex he is still invited, then do what you can to avoid too much time spent together during the event in favor of mixing and mingling. Keep it civil and consider it practice for upcoming events when the two of you are present among mutual friends.
- Again, if your split was amicable, discuss it with your ex and ask if he will bow out. If he accepts, attend solo and just give his regrets on the R.S.V.P. and at the event, without explanation. You can say he has another commitment.
- If everything is simply too painful and you feel you still need time to yourself, send regrets that you and your ex will not be able to attend, then send a gift and a card with your best wishes and congratulations.
The most important thing in this situation is to honor your emotions, while at the same time being as gracious as you can as an invited guest.