Is it Time to Update the Plus-One Policy?

I’ve been in Wedding Season Mode since May, and though it’s finally wound down, I have LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT.

Weddings are the best (true love! good food! breaking it down on the dance floor!) and in a perfect world, I would make a career out of being a plus-one. [Shameless Plug: I have the wardrobe for everything from black tie to backyard BBQ; I love to dance but am equally content to sit back and people-watch, if that’s more your style; I am excellent at small-talk and can just as easily bond with your great-aunt Myrtle as I can your crazy cousin; I will order the Uber and call for Domino’s delivery at the end of the night.]

And yet, even though I am possibly Wedding Season’s #1 Fan, it’s struck me just how outdated the plus-one policy is.

As a strong, independent woman (“who don’t need no man,” thank you meme culture) I’m used to attending weddings solo. This is totally fine when it’s a wedding where I know other people – maybe the bride or groom’s family, maybe other friends in attendance – but it totally sucks when the only people I know at the wedding are the two saying “I do.”

I can hold a conversation with a brick wall (side effect of spending seven years working in fundraising) but often I’m traveling long distances to weddings, and shelling out a lot of money on engagement parties, wedding gifts, hotels, airfare, shower presents, bachelorette parties, and more. I want to be a part of your big day, but just because I’m not married, engaged, or in a long-term relationship doesn’t mean that it isn’t nice to sometimes have a partner-in-crime along for the ride.

Look, I get it. Weddings are crazy expensive and every invitation counts towards that daunting budget. I am not trying to be greedy or inconsiderate. I don’t feel like I’m entitled to invite a total stranger to your wedding. It’s a privilege to just be invited myself. I’ve attended many weddings solo and had a FABULOUS time, and I’m a free-willed adult who can graciously turn down a solo invite if I don’t think I’m up to small-talk with total strangers for whatever reason. I just think that perhaps it’s time to expand the definition of “plus-one” a bit.

To be fair, I think this applies more to events that aren’t weddings. Thanks to my line of work, I get invited to a lot of galas and fundraisers where I also am seated at the singles’ table, or stuck as the 9th wheel at a table full of couples. And I am happy to be there, supporting causes that I care about and meeting new people. I just sometimes wish that I could share those experiences with the people who are significant to me, like any of my awesome female friends, who are the best ride-or-dies around; or my long-distance BFF, who’s always ready to grab his tux and eat all the gluten off my plate; or my younger brother, who is the funniest person I know.

The ironic part is that most of these events are ticketed, and I am more than happy to pay for a friend to accompany me, I’m just rarely offered the opportunity. Often even when I am able to bring along a non-traditional plus-one, it seems to surprise people that I have someone other than a significant other in tow.

All I’m saying is: it’s 2018, and perhaps it’s time to think about being more inclusive in regards to the plus-one policy, if (big if!) you have the financial capability and guest list flexibility to do so.

If you’re asking me to come to Hawaii for a wedding where I’ll be your only friend from high school, then maybe let me bring a BFF instead of just a BF. I promise we’ll both give you a really nice gift that more than covers the cost of our attendance at your reception! If you’re asking me to come to your Washington, DC event where I’m going to know a dozen other people, then fogettaboutit! 

Planning any large-scale event is incredible stressful (I speak from experience!) and I certainly don’t want to tell anybody how to organize their guest list. It’s a very personal choice and ultimately, I respect your decisions and am incredibly, genuinely honored to be included in your big day or event in any capacity. Plus-one or not, I’ll always be there to support and celebrate you. ❤

Penny for your thoughts?