A Royal Fuss: Are All Wedding Guests Entitled To A Plus One?

19/04/2011 10:45 | Updated 22 May 2015

I always thought that one of the advantages of marrying royalty was that the aristocracy didn't need to deal with the horrible, stressful side of weddings.

Naturally, I'm referring to the dreaded guest list. To plus one or plus none?

Surely, Kate Middleton shouldn't have to feel bad for not wanting to invite Will's ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend to her big day. Or perhaps she should - newspapers are reporting that hundreds of invitees did not receive plus ones and their partners are - how do we say this regally? – miffed, to say the least.

While I can understand that it's unfortunate to have been thisclose to seeing the Queen (not to mention Kate Middleton's dress) in the flesh, my sympathies lie with those getting married. If you weren't given a plus one, you and your partner/best friend/royal obsessive who was dying to attend should have the decency to do the noble thing: Deal with it. And don't pester the royal couple about it.

Weddings bring out the best - and the worst - in people, both those getting married and friends and relatives. Choosing whom to invite, when each person costs upwards of £100 a head, isn't easy. What's harder is when people you thought were your friends complicate the situation by throwing a fit about not being able to dance with their latest flavour of the week while the bride and groom share their first dance (True story: This happened at my friend's wedding even though this person's devastated ex was going to be in attendance as well).

Stories like this (and I've heard plenty) make me feel that the notion of the plus one should be abolished. In an ideal world, the couple would save everyone the trouble, embarrassment and stress and invite - by name – only the people they really want to come. (And the people forced upon them by relatives). Of course, hurt feelings and awkwardness would still abound, but maybe the bride and groom wouldn't have to deal with fielding phone calls clarifying if it was OK to bring some (potentially totally inappropriate) person along.

What bothers me about the whole plus one dilemma is that people get selfish. As if the wedding day isn't stressful enough for the bride and groom, who are both trying to look perfect while organising a million things at once, they now have to deal with harassment from their guests. Who are, lest we forget, supposed to be their friends.

Of course not everyone has terrible wedding etiquette, and I sympathise with people who want to attend a wedding to spend the day boozing and dancing with someone they know they'll have fun with. I just really dislike the idea of guilt-tripping bride and groom into getting an extra invite just so they're not alone.

True friends (hell, even true acquaintances), understand the power struggle(s) involved in putting together a lavish wedding. Often, whoever holds the purse strings is puppet master, and bride and groom are just along for the ride. Taking offence at not being asked to attend is just petty. Whether the couple didn't offer you a plus one because of cash reasons, lack of space, or general dislike is irrelevant. Just move on without causing a fuss.

I'm not a plus one Nazi. I definitely believe that certain people should get them, regardless of how well the bride and groom know their significant others (married couples, those hopping on a plane to attend, attractive sibling of your friend's who you need to boost the single male quota at the event, etc.). But what I disagree with is the expectation of an invite, the sense of entitlement. People should feel gracious and happy to be invited to a wedding, just like the bride and groom should feel pleased with whom they're spending the day with.

Since the modern dilemma of the plus one seems firmly entrenched in our wedding repertoires, people should at least be doing it right. In defence of those who may have demanded a plus one when it wasn't proffered, it is the responsibility of the bride and groom to make sure that guests without a plus one won't be stuck in the wedding equivalent of Siberia. If they are the only individual from a social group and won't know another soul, then they should be able to bring a friend or partner. And if one person in a core group of friends gets a plus one, they're all going to be expecting it, so fairness is key.

Admittedly, and rather unfortunately, no one seems quite aware of wedding guest list and plus one nightmares until they've gone through them. The brides and grooms who have seen bridges burned, phone calls unanswered and friendships lost as a result of a lack of pen scrawl are all the wiser. So maybe the girlfriend embittered that her boyfriend will spend the night dancing with the royal family isn't selfish, but inexperienced. You don't really realise the extent of the potential landmines you're stepping into until you're planning a wedding yourself.

So while plus ones continue to exist (and irritate), we should just remember what the purpose of a wedding should be: A celebration of two people (not you and your plus one) and their love for one another (not yours).

And really, should anyone who got an invite to the royal wedding be complaining about anything?


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