Before the Big Day
Columnist Anna Post offers advice on how to assign plus ones and more.
Anna Post, great-great granddaughter of Emily Post and co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition, is an adviser on the new line of Emily Post Wedding Photo Books available at PhotoBookPress.com
Q: I’ve heard stories about people not RSVPing and still showing up, which could mean issues for seating and catering. What’s the best way to secure definite RSVPs?
A: I can guarantee that every bride faces this conundrum. There are two steps you can take to minimize the hassle. The first is to add a date to your RSVP: Please reply by _______. Choose a date that’s three weeks before your wedding, and at least one week before your caterer needs a final count. This date serves not only to encourage your guests to reply early, but gives you a week to contact any stragglers before final numbers are due.
While your absent-minded guest is the one at fault, you will need to pick up the phone and call. As annoyed as you may be, you’ll get better results being calm and gracious. Chances are you’ll get an apology and an answer at the same time. If your guest still isn’t sure, then ask for an answer in a day or two.
INVITING PLUS ONES
Q: I'm not sure we can afford for all the guests to have a plus one. How do I decide? And how do I express that not everyone can bring a date?
A: Some guests get an automatic plus one. It is an expected courtesy that you invite the spouse, fiancé(e), or live-in partner of your invited guest, even if you have never met. The same is true if your guest has a partner or is in an exclusive relationship. It’s a package deal. If most of those in your wedding party are in committed relationships, it’s kind to invite the singles to bring a date. And, if your officiant has a significant other, that person should also be on your guest list.
Now to the optional plus ones—save this decision until after your core list is complete. If you have room and your budget allows it, the best way to construct your plus one list is to use logical dividing lines. For example, you may decide that you will extend the privilege to relatives only. It’s much trickier when giving some friends a plus one and not others. It’s bound to be noticed and cause hurt. It would also be hurtful to publicize in any way that some people may bring a plus one and others may not. That information is for you and your fiancé(e) only, to help you make your list, and not to be shared.
By the way, you’re not obligated to give plus ones to your single guests. Many a romance has started at a wedding and ended at the altar.
Q: I have something very specific in mind for my bridal shower, but I don’t know how to tell my bridesmaids my vision without sounding demanding. Help.
A: Bridal showers are such an ingrained wedding tradition that most brides aren’t aware that their bridesmaids are not obligated to host a shower (or any other party for her). These days, being in a wedding requires a considerable outlay of cash—for clothing and accessories, transportation, and gifts. Hosting a party as well, especially one that requires bridesmaids to travel, could be beyond their budgets.
When bridesmaids do host a shower, it is up to them to plan the theme and the party particulars. The bride is consulted about the guest list as shower guests are also wedding guests. Since the bride is never the host of her own shower, there is no way she can dictate the party plan without seeming demanding. It would be okay to drop a few very general hints: “I saw the cutest ideas for a monogram shower in this magazine,” or “I loved the refreshments/games/decorations at my cousin’s shower—could I show you?” Leave it at that, and let your bridesmaids surprise you with their own ideas. Be gracious, enthusiastic, and appreciative of their efforts.
WONDERING ABOUT WORK
Q: I’m close with some people in the office, but not all. How do I go about inviting certain coworkers without offending others?
A: When it comes to work colleagues, most people understand that it is not feasible for brides and grooms to invite all their coworkers to the wedding. When inviting a few, whether it is your boss and your respective assistants or those with whom you are close, the key is to do it outside of the office. These guests should receive invitations at their home addresses, not at the office. In addition, keep wedding chat to a minimum at work. People expect to hear a little about your plans, but fill them in on the cake, not the guest list.
It may be the tradition in your workplace that coworkers host a shower or contribute to a group gift for the bride or groom. This does not mean that you must invite them all to your wedding. A personal note of thanks to each person who contributed to the party or gift is all that is expected.