Etiquette 101: How to Tell Your Guests About Plus Ones, Dress Codes, Wedding Gifts, and More

“Can I bring a plus one to your wedding?” “How come you didn’t invite me to your wedding?” “Do I have to follow the dress code?” “Can I bring my kids?” These are just some of the questions your family and friends might ask you once they find out about your wedding. But how do you answer these questions without coming off as rude or offending someone? We’re breaking it all down for you here!

Etiquette 101: How to Tell Your Guests About Plus Ones, Dress Codes, Wedding Gifts, and More


How do we politely decline a request for a plus one?

Ahh, the plus one dilemma. While there is generally no one answer to politely decline your guest’s plus one, consider the following before you make your decision: Have you met the plus one? How long has your guest known his/her plus one? Are you having a destination wedding and does your guest know other guests? If bringing a plus one would make your guest more comfortable because he/she won’t know anyone, then perhaps an exception could be made. In any case, you can always mention that you have limited seating or your seating plan is already at maximum capacity. You can also send out invitations with cards that say, “We have reserved 1 seat for you.”


How do we tell our families that not everyone is invited?

If both sets of parents are expecting a huge wedding with all their friends, and you want a simple and intimate one with people you’re close to, then set expectations at the very beginning. Tell your parents that you want to keep the day special and that you only want to share it with the people whom you’re closest to. If they insist on inviting a few friends or extended family, look over their lists, and try to negotiate with them. If they’re paying for the wedding, then you might have to concede to a few of their relatives and friends, but if they’re not, then the decision is totally up to you and your partner. If your other relatives question why a certain person wasn’t invited, you can tell them that it was due to budget constraints, the size of your venue, you wanting to keep the wedding intimate, or even the fact that you aren’t close to the person, and haven’t heard or seen from them in a while.


How do I tell my entourage to shoulder their dresses?

This one is rather controversial. In the Philippines, majority of the brides pay for their bridesmaids dresses as they want it to be a certain color, look a certain way, and are made by the same designer. But technically, there is no rule that states that the bride MUST pay for the dresses. It’s seen as a kind gesture, especially if the couple can afford it. However, if you are working with a limited budget, we would suggest telling your bridesmaids ASAP so there’s no confusion. Once you ask them to be your bridesmaids, mention that it would be a great help if they could pay for their dresses as you have budget constraints. Of course, if you already know that your friend is having financial problems, it might be best to transfer the role of bridesmaid to someone else, or make a special arrangement with her where you pay for half of the dress. Another thing you can do to help lower the cost for both parties, is to buy the fabric. That way, you have a guarantee that your bridesmaids will be sticking to a particular color palette, and it also lessens costs on your bridesmaids’ end too.


How do we tell our guests to shoulder their plane tickets?

While it’s quite common for guests to pay for their own flights and accommodations in destination weddings, you should still put in the effort to make the entire process easier for them. Look up budget flights and possible options for hotels, make group bookings and reservations, and don’t forget to host a welcome dinner and even have a care package for your guests when they arrive. Exceptions can be made for VIPs whom you feel absolutely need to be at your wedding and can’t afford to go, or friends who you feel need the extra financial help–just make sure to offer assistance discreetly! And if you still have that one guest asking whether you’ll be paying for his/her ticket, just mention that no, you won’t, but you can help him/her with booking the flight and looking for accommodations.


How do we tell our guests to stick to a certain dress code?

The easiest way to do this is via your invitations. You can have a line that states the attire guests are supposed to come in, or if you want to go all out, you can have an entire page in your invitation suite dedicated to attire. This can include color swatches, drawings of silhouettes, pegs, examples of what not to wear, and so on. I mean, we’re pretty sure your guests will get the hint after that, right? If you’ve got a guest asking if they can wear a certain gown that’s not in the dress code, you can say that for photos and consistency’s sake, you’d rather have everyone follow the dress code so that no one will look out of place.


How do we say that we are having an adult only reception?

Sometimes, it’s just best to be straightforward and to the point. You can add a line in your invitation that says that you are having an adult-only reception, or that as much as you’d want to invite the kids, your venue and budget constraints make it difficult to. You can also reinforce this by again, setting the number of seats reserved. If the parents receive an invite with just 2 seats reserved, they’ll probably get the hint. Are there exceptions to the adult only reception? Usually, exceptions are made for infants (12 months and below) as some might be nursing. If you want children of immediate family to be there, you can make an exception for them as well.


How do we politely tell our guests to stick to our gift registry?

This one is quite the doozy because, try as we might, gifts are gifts, and you can’t completely control what people will get you. The most you can do is put a line in your invitation stating where you’re registered, and maybe you can even have your entourage spread the word about your registries, but other than that, just gracefully accept your gifts. Remember, that it’s not about the actual gift itself. It’s always the thought behind it that counts. So don’t forget to write your thank you notes!


How do we ask our guests for money as wedding gifts?

Here’s another delicate situation. Let’s say you already have everything you need, or would like some money for your honeymoon, car, or even some money to start a family, whatever the case, asking for money can be quite tricky. Lucky for you, we’ve tackled this entire issue in detail right here! (We’ve even included specific wording you can use to tell people about it!)


How do we tell our guests not to use their phones during the ceremony/reception?

Another issue you might have–phones. If you want everyone focused on the ceremony or reception, don’t want the aisle to be filled with phones as you walk down, or just want to uphold the sanctity of your big day, then it’s perfectly acceptable to request for your guests not to use their phones during your celebration. Looking for a way to word it? We’ve talked about it here!


How do we answer people who ask us why we didn’t invite them to our wedding?

Let’s say a friend or relative of yours comes up to you and asks why they weren’t invited to your wedding. What do you say? There are a couple of go-to answers you can choose from–you can say you are having a small wedding that includes just immediate family and friends, you can say you wanted to keep your wedding intimate, you can blame it on your budget or venue size (this never gets old), or you can simply opt for the real reason you didn’t invite the person. Maybe you haven’t seen or heard from them in a while. Maybe it’s because you’re not that close to him/her. Whatever the case, don’t beat yourself up about it, and stand firm.


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