Dear Hobie & Monk,
I was invited to a friend’s wedding this summer. The invitation clearly stated my name only — there was no “and guest” — so I replied for myself and made travel plans, knowing there would be a large group of friends attending. A good friend of mine, who’s also been invited solo, told me she’s bringing a guest — even though she also will know many of the people there.
When I expressed my surprise and said, “Oh, my invitation didn’t include a plus one,” she said that hers didn’t either, but she was bringing a guest anyway. I was too shocked to even suggest that this would be inappropriate, not to mention quite a surprise for the wedding couple. She should know that wedding invitations are serious business, involving finances, seating arrangements and so on.
Should I warn or say anything to the host couple, bring it up again with my friend regarding her guest, or let nature take its course and enjoy myself?
– Meditating on meddling
Hobie: I honestly think that advice columnists would go out of business if everyone suddenly woke up one morning determined to follow basic rules of gracious social interaction when it comes to weddings. Thankfully for Monk and me, wedding trends may come and go, but rude wedding guests never seem to go out of style.
You are, of course, absolutely correct. For weddings (and every other social event to which you receive an invitation), the names of those invited are written on the envelope (or listed in the e-vite, etc.). When a host graciously invites you to bring a guest whose name he or she does not know, the phrase “and guest” is added to the invitation. The obvious corollary is that unless you are specifically invited to bring a guest, you should not do so.
Generally, I am not a fan of busybodies who meddle in the social affairs of others — and before you choke on your morning croissant, people voluntarily ask Monk and me to meddle. Huge difference! Sanctioned busybody advice!
Since you’re also correct about the financial (and sometimes also space) constraints attached to wedding RSVPs, however, perhaps in this case you’d be justified in talking again with your friend and suggesting that she mention her planned plus-one to the bride and groom. They can then handle it directly with her. Monk, what do you think?
Monk: Agreed. Your good friend is either unaware of the importance of seating arrangements and head counts for this formal occasion or knows she’s being rude and doesn’t care. Either way, your hosts should be informed, or better yet, asked about an additional guest. As Hobie suggests, I would have a friendly follow-up conversation with the guest-bringer and encourage her to speak to the hosts as soon as possible.
With a gentle and nonjudgmental prompt from you, she’ll probably do just that. But if she doesn’t — and here’s where it gets tricky — and I was very close to the bride or groom, I would anoint myself wedding whistleblower and leak the information to the hosts so that they can plan accordingly.
Hobie and Monk are two Alexandria women with husbands, children, dogs, jobs, mortgages, unmet New Year’s resolutions, obsessions with impractical shoes, English novels … and Ph.D.s in clinical psychology. Their advice, while fabulous, should not be construed as therapeutic within a doctor-patient context or substituted for the advice of readers’ personal advisors. To submit questions to Hobie & Monk, email firstname.lastname@example.org.