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27th Mar 2024

The Wedding Stranger: We need to be more ruthless with who gets a plus-one

Jody Coffey


Celebrating the marriage of our loved ones is a joyous occasion, but it’s also an expensive one

Depending on what a couple’s ‘dream day’ looks like, planning a wedding requires copious amounts of time, energy, and money.

From venues to catering, after splashing out on an engagement ring, the costs keep coming and they don’t stop.

For a future bride and groom, being surrounded by our nearest and dearest is paramount on the list of to-do’s when saying ‘I do’ and fitting them all in is a necessary expense.

However, for those attending nuptials of loved ones in this day and age, it also comes with a pretty hefty price tag.

While the expense is one we normally don’t mind paying to celebrate the betrothed when we know and love them, when it comes to invitations to weddings where you feature as an anonymous plus-one, the generosity starts to wane.

I consider myself to be a generous person and I love love, but when does inviting plus-one’s start to not make sense?

*Disclaimer: When it comes to your partner’s extended or immediate family, it does kind of go without saying that you should be there, even if they’re an acquaintance.

Credit: Unsplash

Weddings, as we know, are expensive and these days, frequent

When you’re in a relationship in your 30s, it can feel like wedding invites come through the letter box on a bi-monthly basis.

Friends from the old college days, past jobs, and so on, begin to reach out with their amazing news and ask you to save a date.

The thing is, it is incredible news and a major cause for celebration.

Honestly, if I had the time, energy, and money, I’d have my box of tissues and dancing shoes on for every single one.

Sadly, this isn’t the case, which is why I would love to see the ‘plus-one’ tradition peeled back a tad.

Credit: Unsplash

It can be socially and financially taxing

While your partner may be a close link to the wedded couple, being the plus-one sometimes means being asked to watch the most intimate moment of two people’s lives, despite not really knowing them.

Many of us have likely attended a beautiful ceremony as a plus-one, only to realise, ‘That was my second time meeting the bride’ or, more awkwardly, having to introduce yourself on their big day. Yes, really.

In truth, these are weddings where we sit uncomfortably during private jokes we aren’t a part of and meet people whom we will never see again, all the while feeling our purse strings pulling at us.

While it’s a little uncomfortable, it can be downright stressing during a cost-of-living crisis to spend hard-earned money as a gesture of good wishes as they embark on their lives as newlyweds, a journey I likely won’t be receiving any updates on.

By joining two people in holy matrimony in this current economic climate, it can genuinely set you back hundreds.

If it’s an abroad wedding, you’re looking at sinking at least a grand.

Outside of the cash exchange, some costs often go unnoticed but are obligatory, such as buying an outfit, taking time off work, paying for drinks, transport, and booking overnight stays.

Credit: Unsplash

As a seasoned plus-one, let it be known, that there is no obligation to invite me

Turning down the invite and letting your partner fly solo at the ceremony is one option.

However, this couple is willing to generously pay for your seat at a table and but there’s never really a nice way to bow out of the affair.

Although, my inconvenience aside, I have always wondered: ‘Do they actually want me there?’

In my opinion, if one is inviting a friend to their wedding and extending a plus-one to their significant other, whom they’ve never met or only briefly met, it feels like an obligation.

I almost feel like they felt they had to extend the offer.

I imagine the conversation between the bride and groom sounding like: ‘If we’re inviting X, that means we have to invite their girlfriend/boyfriend.’

You don’t, and personally, I think brides and grooms could do without and would benefit from being a little more ruthless with their guest lists.

There will be no offence or hurt feelings if that invite isn’t extended to me, the stranger.