Avoiding Unwanted Guests with Grace
Inviting Who You Want to Your Wedding, Without Hurting Feelings

As with most details and traditions with weddings, there is a “proper way” to not invite people. Maybe you’re having a small wedding, with a small budget to match. Or perhaps your intimate setting doesn’t leave room for extra guests. Whatever the reason, you may want to leave plus ones off of your guest list, but don’t know if you can.
It’s something of a controversial subject because it depends largely on individual specifics and family dynamics, so debating whether or not it’s in bad taste doesn't really get us anywhere.  Instead, we’ll just help you with the how-tos if you decide to go this route.

The basics.
To avoid plus ones at your wedding, address your invitations solely to the people you wish to invite, omitting the phrase "and guest." It is a direct way of communicating your request. To be even clearer, you could add an RSVP card that says “X number of seats have been reversed in your honor.” For an invitation to a single person, state “one seat has been
reserved in your honor.”

Just remember that there are some couples you must invite together. People who are married, engaged, or living together should be invited as a unit, and you should probably also invite couples who are in long-term, serious relationships. It can be difficult to determine who makes the cut, but it mostly comes down to common sense: there is clearly a difference between your uncle’s partner of ten years and your friend’s brand new boyfriend.

The problem guest.

What happens when your guests disregard your subtle suggestion, and add extra people to their reply card?  In this case, you should call them and explain that, for whatever reason, you are unable to accommodate extra guests.  Even thought they should have picked up on your hint, it’s not surprising that they assumed they could bring someone. If you are tactful and polite, your friend should not be offended.

If she is upset, let her know that you plan to seat her with friends, so she won’t feel uncomfortable at the reception.  Keep your word and place her with people she knows or has something in common with! Make sure that you do not just leave your single guests to fend for themselves in a sea of couples.

To be courteous to your friends, you should have the same rules in place for everyone. It’s much easier to state that no one is allowed to bring guests than it is to explain to Betsy why she can’t bring a date when Samantha can. If you allow some people to bring guests and not others, the friends who attend alone will feel that they are not important to you!