Bringing a guest to a wedding

mkfuscMay 6, 2013

Here is my situation. I was invited to an old friend from high school's wedding back home. We were good friends back in the day but college and adult life as caused us to drift apart, but we always make time to have dinner and catch up when I return home for holidays and vacation. I was invited to her wedding with an "and guest." Unfortunately, my boyfriend has had a long standing trip planned for that same weekend and cannot attend with me. I was wondering, since I was invited with an "and guest" would it be OK for me to invite a platonic friend as a date, especially since I will only know a few people at this wedding? I would very much like to bring my best (gay) male friend who also attended high school with us and was friends with the bride. What is the appropriate etiquette for this situation?

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"And guest" means that you can invite anyone you please. If the Happy Couple had wanted to invite your boyfriend specifically, they would have found out his name and put that on the envelope.

You can safely bring your mother, your next door neighbor or your best platonic male friend to this wedding. You could also go alone, if that's what you prefer.

Which isn't to say that the bride and groom might be surprised at seeing you with someone other than your boyfriend. But that's not your concern. They allowed you to pick your escort by putting "and guest" on the invitation.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:14AM
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Camlan is right as a matter of etiquette. An invitation that says "and guest" means any one person you want to bring.


A disturbingly large group of people seem to think it's an acceptable way to invite someone's significant other, rather than bother to find out his/her name. It's not; that's terrifically rude. (I've even seen someone put "and guest" to refer to a new HUSBAND he knew about rather than take a minute to find out his name.) Or maybe they think that the purpose of "and guest" is to make sure that everyone has a dance partner or something and that "everyone knows" that so it's understood that you only bring a date-y guest.

So if you suspect that that is the case in your situation -- that they meant to invite you and your boyfriend as a couple, and don't want some random stranger, not that they are simply inviting all single people to bring escorts -- then you have a different problem.

You still will be perfectly correct if you bring anyone at all, not just your boyfriend -- after all, they did word your invitation that way. But you can't force them to understand that and convince yourself that they have no right to be upset because "it's their own fault if they don't like it because it was their own mistake," true as that would be.

In short, I don't think that the etiquette answer is the whole answer to your problem.

I'd first try to find out if they have invited all single people "and guest." If so, then you have your answer: bring anyone you like. They don't mind having random strangers and don't care if it's a romantic partner or not.

If you don't know anyone you can ask, then I'd send an email to your friend and say something like, "Thank you for the beautiful invitation! Unfortunately, my boyfriend will be out of town that weekend and can't attend. I'm not really in touch with most of the old gang anymore, so I feel a little shy about coming alone. Would it be all right if I brought Dudley Jones instead?" He will either answer, "Of course! Bring anyone you like!" or something like "You know, Katie also doesn't want to come alone; why don't the two of you ride together?" And then you'll have your answer.

I would, though, advise against bringing as your guest anyone who knows the bride or groom more than very slightly. It makes it awkward for the couple if the person is someone who might conceivably been invited on his own, but wasn't. There might also have been a good reason, like bad feelings between him and some other guest. Consider whether you even want to bring a guest at all; it may make you feel more comfortable in the first ten minutes, but if you find yourself wanting to reminisce with your old school friends, you'll be glad you don't have to worry about neglecting your date. Like at a reunion.

Finally, I don't understand how your friend's being gay is relevant to any of this.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 3:04PM
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Take your friend and have a great time!! They are expecting two.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 10:04AM
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Perfectly fine/correct to bring your male friend. "and Guest" means just that. They need to know the number of guests to plan for the reception luncheon/dinner, not the personal particulars of your guest. I'm sure your good friend won't care whom you bring. Just as long as you are there to see her get married. As susie53 said,"take your friend and have a great time!" Don't worry about it. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 8:42AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

gellchom seems to making a mountain out of a mole hill, in my opinion.

Ask whomever you think that you'll have the best time with and don't give it a second thought. Your friend would want it that way and will probably be happy to see another old friend.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 3:04AM
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After having just planned and paid for my own wedding I would advise caution.

Paying for an additional tag-a-long friend for every single or half single girlfriend is not a way I intended to spend my budget. Be a good girlfriend and go by yourself and enjoy the day with a bunch of people who actually know each other.

I invited "and guest" out of respect for one of my friends who has an on again off again relationship with a guy. I did it out of respect for her, in cased they are "on again". Yet since they are not officially a couple half the time it seemed weird to imply on the invitation that they were. He would only have been invited anyway because of his relationship to her.

I did not add "and guest" so that she could bring a complete and total stranger to my wedding.

I am not sure where society ended up feeling as if the only way to attend a wedding is with a date?

This post was edited by chachabella on Thu, May 16, 13 at 17:05

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 5:00PM
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Chachabella, I don't know why people think they are entitled to bring a date to weddings, when they'd be happy to attend any other kind of party by themselves. There's something weird about weddings that brings out the crazy in a lot of people.

However, once a host puts "and guest" on an invitation, they are allowing their invited guest to bring anyone they please to the event.

If you want to allow a guest to bring their boy/girl friend, but only that specific person, then you get the name of the friend and you put that name on the envelope.

The general rule is that if a couple is engaged or married or living together, you invite both of them. Couples always get invited to events as a couple. (Unless it is clearly a "girls only" event or "boys only" event like a bachelorette or bachelor party.)

Couples who are dating but not living together are a bit trickier. What the host who wants to control their guest list can do is contact their guest before the invitations are sent out and ask if the guest has anyone they'd like to invite to the wedding. Get the name of that person and put it on the envelope.

If your guest says, "Well, I'm dating Tom, but it's kind of on again/off again," the host can say, "Well, I'll put his name on the invitation. If you are still together when you reply, he can come. If you break up between then and the wedding, let me know. I don't have to get final figures in to the caterer until 5 days before the wedding." That establishes the time frame the host needs to know exact numbers, and makes it clear that Tom, and Tom alone, is invited--that Susie can't dump Tom and invite Sam three weeks before the wedding.

But once you put "and guest" on the invitation, you are telling your invited guest that they can invite anyone they please to your wedding. And as you say, you could end up with a total stranger at your wedding as a guest, which is not what you thought you were getting. Which is why "and guest" isn't the first choice of a lot of etiquette mavens.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 10:15AM
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