Significantly Left Off The Invitation

by admin on April 14, 2010

I guess I’d like a bit of guidance because I am uncertain if this is a faux pas or not.

I have known my significant other for over a decade.  Circumstances separated us (I went to college in New York, he went to Iraq for several years), but he found me online and we started talking again.  Fast forward to today, I left my job in NY to move in with him in Oklahoma, and he has announced to his many friends that he intends to propose to me soon (his dear friends are the ones who informed me of this bit of joy).  I have since attended several events and weddings with him.  My point in saying all of this is that I believe I’m more than just a fly-by-night girlfriend.

The other day, he received a lovely wedding invitation from one of his male friends whom I’ve not yet had the pleasure of meeting.  My significant other asked if I were available to attend with him that day.  I checked the invitation, and informed my significant other that I was not invited.  He said, “Of course you are.  They know we’re together.  I’m sure it’s addressed to ‘John + Guest.’”  I assured him that it was only addressed to him.  He says that I should come anyway, but I replied that I cannot because there was no provision for him to bring anyone.

I feel offended.  Am I wrong to feel offended?  I will accept your judgment.  Thank you for your time.  0408-10

Being left off an invitation in this manner could be explained as the host/ess being too lazy to find out the current relationship status of their friend.  I just had a bride ask me last week about a similar wedding invitation situation.  She wanted to invite her married co-workers but wasn’t sure of the etiquette.

Dame: “You must invite the husbands as well because they are a social unit.”

Bride:  “I’ve never met their husbands  and I don’t know their names.  Can I just write ‘and Guest’ on the envelope?”

Dame:  “Absolutely not!  Are you sure you want to invite these co-workers considering the fact that you have no social life with these woman outside of the work environment?  You are not obligated by etiquette to invite them.”

Bride:  “Yes, I want to invite them.”

Dame:  “Well, then, you need to find out from these ladies what their husbands’ names are and properly include them in the invitation. One of the biggest offense I hear about are people who are dismissively invited as  ‘and Guest’.  Men may not notice or care but trust me, the women and wives do.”

Bride:  Exasperated sigh of tiredness

So, brides and grooms can resort to lazy methods of extending invitations.  My suggestion is for your SO to call his friend, explain the status of his relationship with you and inquire as to whether you can be included as well.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

PrincessSimmi April 14, 2010 at 6:32 am

Good on you for standing up to your SO and not inviting yourself.

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ferretrick April 14, 2010 at 7:33 am

Ok, its a little confusing, but the way I’m reading the letter, the invitation didn’t even say “and guest;” it was solely addressed to her SO.

Either way, Dame is way off on this one. For whatever reason, she is not invited. Period. And frankly, considering she has not met the couple, I don’t think she has any right to take offense. Maybe they have limited seating. Maybe their budget barely allows for family and close friends, not people they’ve never even met. What is unconscionably rude is for her or her SO to pick up the phone and beg an invitation. If he doesn’t want to attend without her, find, send regrets. But do not call and ask “is it ok to bring my girlfriend?”

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Powers April 14, 2010 at 8:28 am

“Men may not notice or care but trust me, the women and wives do.”

Such stereotyping! I am a man and I would notice, but my wife would not care one whit.

I’m also not sure on your advice to call and ask for the writer to be invited; if it turns out that the groom-to-be’s etiquette mistake was in not inviting the second half of a social unit, rather than in failing to put her name on the invitation, he will feel pressured to extend such an invitation. To impose that on someone, even someone who made a faux pas, is rude.

That’s not to say that a discreet inquiry can’t be made, of course; one just has to go about it in a roundabout way so as to make sure the groom-to-be doesn’t feel pressured to invite someone he didn’t wish to invite.

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phoenix April 14, 2010 at 9:37 am

Bravo to the OP for not going along with what her SO was saying, which is what she wanted to hear! I can understand feeling slighted, but a friend of a SO who hasn’t met her might not even have been aware that they were back together again. A discreet inquiry sounds perfect.

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NotCinderell April 14, 2010 at 9:42 am

I blame this lack of clarity for all the stories we hear of people wanting to bring uninvited guests to weddings. Invitations these days are horribly unclear, and the use of the word “guest” is used in a ridiculously broad manner. When my cousin got married, an invitation was issued to my mother “and guests.” My mother is in a long-term relationship, so I understand what “and guest” would mean in this situation, but who are the other guests supposed to be? The invitation did not say. I can only suppose that they were meant to be my sister and myself, but I can’t be sure, especially since I wasn’t even living with my mother at the time.

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AS April 14, 2010 at 9:54 am

Wait a minute… Ms.Jeanne, the problem here does not seem to be that the bride and groom have been lazy to find out their guest’s (John) significant other’s name, but that they have only invited John. Now, there is a possibility that the wedding couple is trying to cut down costs, and one of the way is not to invite significant others they don’t know personally, unless they are married or engaged. Given that the OP is not even engaged, I think the hosts/esses are within their limits to leave her out. (I am a bit about confused though as to whether she is engaged or not as she says that “fast forward to today… he plans to propose” and then “I have since attended several events and weddings with him”; the whole paragraph would have been insignificant if they were already engaged).

It is nothing personal against OP, but just that they want to cut costs. If they include her, they might have to include like 30 other people, or at least give their other friends the option to bring their significant others. This might lead to some friends bringing their casual dates, and the couple would probably end up spending ~$100 a plate for a person their friend breaks up the next day! I am sorry to ask, but is the OP sure that this friend of her significant other (John) does actually know that they are going strong? My point here is, the bride and the groom are possibly not aware of their serious relationship status, and they are trying to cut costs, thereby leaving out John’s significant other. It is probably not a faux pas on their part, though it might be on John’s part if he calls up – especially if he insists on bringing her.

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Skoffin April 14, 2010 at 10:34 am

I’d just like to add that it could also be that the couple cannot afford or have the space to include all their friends and their significant others. It may not have anything against the OP at all but merely the couple having a strict budget.
As would agree with what was suggested though, the OP’s partner could call his friend and enquire as to whether the girlfriend is included or not.

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OP April 14, 2010 at 10:57 am

Thank you for taking time to respond to my issue.
I did consider that they were cutting costs, which is why I told my significant other that I could not attend, and did not ask him to call his friend. Being of modest means myself, I would not want to embarrass someone on a fixed wedding budget. Yes, his friend knows we are together, but no, we are not engaged.
That’s why I said I would abide by your judgment – perhaps I am wrong to feel offended.

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Amanda April 14, 2010 at 11:34 am

It takes ten seconds to email someone with a “I’m writing out wedding invitations and I’m afraid I’ve forgotten your significant other’s name. Might I get that information from you?” Not a single person that I asked when writing my invitations didn’t immediately respond with the requested information.

I would have hated to offend someone that I cared enough about to invite to my wedding by making them come without the SO they live with — and I’d feel horrible about it. I would want to know about it, and I would not assume in this case that the couple knows about the SO (as she hasn’t met them yet). Anyway, if I were the bride in question, I would want to know. At the same time, if I were the guest in question, I would never ask.

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Squeaks April 14, 2010 at 11:42 am

I think some of us may have missed the part that she left NY to “move in with him” thus they are a social unit and should be invited.

Perhaps the friend did not know John was seeing someone, in which case I would suspect they are not close enough to either one feel too bad about John not attending.

I think the proper thing here to do is send his regrets, perhaps with a card of congratulations with both names clearly visable especially on the return address label.

I really do feel if more people would politely send regrets when in receipt of invites like this the advice to make sure both names are on the invite, and yes spend the time to find out the name, would be more common and might gain some steam. To attend sends the message it is either ok to exclude halves of social units, or be lazy and vague with invites. The later of which leads to people not understanding invites.

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Shoni April 14, 2010 at 12:20 pm

I understand what Dame is saying in that just like sometimes the bride and groom are too lazy to find out the name of the SO they might also be too lazy to find out if the person even has a SO. If that is the case then finding out in some roundabout way is fine I would think.
However it seems most people here think they are trying to cut costs. Personally I think it’s rude if you know the person has a SO to not invite him/her. I get that you’re trying to cut costs. If that is the case then invite fewer people and only the absolute closest friends, but you do not split up a couple.

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JoJo April 14, 2010 at 2:01 pm

I had a somewhat similar situation happen, with the Dame’s response to the situation. My husband and I invited my aunt and uncle only to our wedding (out-of-state), because one son refuses to leave the house (age 20), and the other one is in the military, and I had no clue where he was. Aunt calls me, and asks if my Army cousin can attend. I was surprised that 1) he was in the US, and 2) would be willing to travel so far to attend our wedding, since we didn’t know each other too well. I agreed to it, and then she asked if his girlfriend (whom no one, including his parents, had ever met) could come as well! I couldn’t say no to that, after agreeing for cousin to attend, and so we ended up having to spend a lot of money so my cousin’s “girlfriend” could meet the family on my dine.

By asking to invite anyone, you’re inviting a lot of trouble!

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famousamy April 14, 2010 at 2:20 pm

It seems like there are four reasons you wouldn’t be on the invitation:

1) They are keeping the budget low.
2) They haven’t met you and thought you’d be uninterested.
3) They don’t know about you.
4) They didn’t know your name and were too busy/lazy to call to find out.

It seems like you should only be offended by #4. You might be offended by #3, but not at them – only at your SO. Since you don’t know why you were left off you shouldn’t really bother with feeling offended.

Everyone has an opinion on the idea of calling the couple to find out if you can come and I think that’s a case by case basis and should be decided on by your SO and his level of comfort with it. If he’s OK with calling them he can find out if you were not invited (and the purpose) or if you can come. And if he’s not OK with it, then you should probably both send regrets and avoid it altogether.

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Dani April 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm

There are some Southern traditionalists who don’t consider you to be part of a social unit until you’re married, so that may be at play. Even though you’re living together, you don’t give any indication of how long you’ve been dating, either. If it’s just a couple of months, I might be hesitant to extend an invitation because then I’d also have to invite second cousin’s girlfriend whom I’ve also never met.

I wouldn’t take it to be a judgment on your relationship just because bf’s “dear friend” doesn’t want to pay for your $20 plate or invite you to a wedding where you don’t even know the couple.

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Merry Mrs April 14, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I agree in the case of married couples . I would never invite Mrs. Smith and guest. I did chose to invite everyone that wasn’t married with and guest , why?
Anyone not dateing a particular person was welcome to bring a guest.
There were people in the sub-groups of invitee were very close to each other.
So I had my friends John and Bob very close brothers……. John dated Mary for 2 years and Bob who has been dating Jane for a month. Bob and Jane had a very really possiblity of seeing John and Marys invite. I didn’t want Jane to feel less then Mary if she saw the invitation. I also had two or three volatile (long term dating but constantly breaking up)couples if they happened to be in a broken up month when the wedding happened . I didn’t ant them to feel any pressure ” We were invited to a wedding together , we are an official couple . I don’t want to go now that I am single ” and more importantly if Susie and Bill broke up Susie was welcome to bring a different guest. by the way two of those volatile couples are still together 20 years later at the time of my wedding one was dating the other was broken up.
Someone asked what and guest means , it means one guest so it would mean a person you were dating but it could mean a friend ,sibling or child just not two children.

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Unsure, but it's done. April 14, 2010 at 3:05 pm

I’m getting married in 25 days. I sent out invitations to most of my single (non-married) friends and relatives without “and Guest.” I invited most SO’s I was aware of, though not those of my second cousins (there are 14 second cousins, most in their late teens/early 20′s). I figured that if someone’s SO was SIGNIFICANT enough 1) I would have met them already and therefore have been aware to invite them in the first place or 2) the invitee would call me and mention that they would like to bring someone – which I would have accommodated to the best of my ability. (One second cousin did ask to bring his girlfriend and I told him to go for it.) We have lots of friends and I have a great big family. Having been invited to weddings with a guest in the past, I have almost always found myself one, even if they weren’t my SO (a fun girlfriend, for example). I didn’t want to people my wedding with or have to pay for guests I don’t even know when I could fill those seats with another single friend that I actually WANT to see that day. My point is, I agree with Dame – that a call to the happy couple should be made. Giving the B&G the benefit of the doubt, particularly since they haven’t had to pleasure to meet the writer personally as of yet, they very likely didn’t know about the invitee’s new relationship situation. For this reason, I think the writer is being a bit sensitive in being offended. While a phone call may put B&G in an awkward situation, it can’t hurt to ask. If B&G are unable to consent, I would think they’d say so – and even still, the writer should try not to be offended as she has no means of knowing B&G’s intentions or reasons.

Speaking of uninvited guests … how do I tell my second cousin (invited with his wife) that no, they can NOT bring their three very young (3, 5 and 7 years old), uninvited daughters to my wedding?

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Maureen April 14, 2010 at 4:11 pm

I had been married for 10 years or more when a wedding invitation arrived addressed to my husband ONLY. The bride was not a casual acquaintance but our (my husband’s) niece. I absolutely and utterly refused to go and nobody could change my mind. A phone call from the bride *or* the bride’s family citing an error WOULD have changed my mind but that never happened. Years later and I still get angry thinking about it.

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Emily April 14, 2010 at 5:15 pm

I was in a very similar situation last year. My husband received an invitation from a coworker I had never met. My husband asked if I was going to go and I told him I was not invited as the invitation was addressed only to him. He said he was sure I was invited and asked the coworker about it. She responded that yes of course I was invited and thought it was weird that we would think otherwise.

So while it is rude to fish for an invitation, I often ask if there is confusion because so many people issue their invitations incorrectly

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Casey April 14, 2010 at 5:21 pm

I wouldn’t get upset. They just don’t know you. It’s their day to spend with people they know and love. Weddings aren’t a meet and greet.

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Mom April 14, 2010 at 5:48 pm

To “Unsure” -
You say to your cousin (ever so politely) “I’m sorry, but we aren’t including children in the wedding. There are simply too many”. Now, that only works if it’s true… when I married, my nieces and nephews were all in the wedding, but NO other children were invited – and it wasn’t an issue for anyone. Now your cousing may say “but they are so well behaved!” ands which point you smile sweetly, say “I know! Unfortunately, we simply can’t include them – it isn’t fair to everyone else” – or some such nonsense.
Stick to your guns and remember – must parents of 3 young children will have a much better time at the wedding without the three young children.

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lifesabeach April 15, 2010 at 8:41 am

I fail to see the rudeness here-she’s never met the bride or groom and she expects to be invited to their wedding? For Dame to just assume that the B&G are just lazy is wrong in my opinion. Plenty of folks only invite fiancés or spouses (and practically engaged doesn’t fall in that category), and the OP didn’t make the cut. Calling and trying to get a invite is just as rude and the OP shouldn’t let her SO do that.

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Unsure, but it's done. April 15, 2010 at 9:00 am

Thanks, Mom!! I told her we’re not having any little kids (other than Dani) at the wedding. She apologized for assuming they were invited – something about it being a Sunday afternoon event. I told her I would try to find her a babysitter. She said they’re staying with friends here so she’ll either leave the girls with them or leave them at her mom’s. She was very understanding. I feel so much better now. Thanks again!

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Skoffin April 15, 2010 at 9:48 am

I’ve taken issue with some of the comments here so I would like to make comment on it.
Why is a couple expected to invite a partner of a friend/relative that they don’t know lest they be considered rude? Particularly ‘even if they don’t have the money’ for the extras. I thought a wedding was about the couple getting married and having those that they know there to celebrate with them, frankly I would find it rude to expect a couple to trim off their own friends or family just to make extra room for for the unknown people they’d have to invite.

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DGS April 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm

I am sure that the intention was not to offend; perhaps, they are simply on a very tight budget and decided to invite a long-time friend but not splurge on his companion whom they do not personally know. If you would really like to accompany your SO, it would be appropriate to inquire politely if you would be welcome to attend as well, and if they cannot accomodate you due to budget constraints, send them your best wishes and a lovely card – since you are soon-to-be engaged, you might appreciate their graciousness in return for yours.
Having co-hosted a pretty big wedding (200+ guests), the rule we had come up with was that we would invite all people who were married with their spouses, of course, all people who were in long-term relationships with their SO’s, and everyone whose dating status we were not aware of on a case-by-case basis (DH’s widowed aunt who began dating shortly before our wedding was invited with a guest as a courtesy to her and due to her being a family member, whereas friends from college who were presently single were invited solo and would be seated at the same mixed-gender tables, where they could mingle with those that they know and also potentially meet other eligible singles – they seemed to enjoy mixing with one another). However, everyone has to consider their budgets at some point, and people may have different cut-off criteria (if they are very traditional, they would not invite anyone with a guest who was not married).

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Jenna April 15, 2010 at 4:35 pm

I know that cohabitating couples are considered a social unit but for people who do not know the couple very well, the relationship could be difficult to interpret. My long-time roomie is my best guy friend. We are very much friends only but because we have never announced to the world our sleeping arrangements I am sure some people assume otherwise, especially people who do not know us well.

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AnnMarie April 16, 2010 at 6:36 am

I wouldn’t feel too bad. My cousin didn’t invite my fiance to her wedding, and I was getting married less than a month after her–and we’d gotten engaged on the same day. So it’s not like she was unaware of his existence!

Even better, my brother and I were simply listed on our parents invitation. I hadn’t lived with my parents in 6 years! I’m still not sure why I attended that wedding.

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livvy April 23, 2010 at 11:13 am

As evidenced by all the comments, there’s a large degree of uncertainty about the B&G’s intent here…there’s also the possibility that B got list from G, and didn’t know, etc.

So, your SO can call, with dialog like this: “Hi G, it’s SO. I just got your wedding invitation, Congrats! I did have one question though – I just wanted to check to see if the invitation was just for me, or if it included SO, who I think you know. I totally understand if you’re trying to keep the numbers small, or something, or if I was just misunderstanding, and you assumed my invite would automatically include SO. ”

@Maureen – Why be so quick to assume insult? Isn’t it possible that hurried bride or lackwit calligrapher made a mistake and just wrote Mr. instead of Mr. and Mrs.? Did your hubby call to check?

Seems like a ton of long-standing grudges begin when a small error is interpreted as a major insult. This seems to be even more the case with weddings, where everyone assumes they know the right etiquiette, and that everyone else has the same understanding that they do.

My advise to OP – don’t be offended unless the G comes back with: “No, we hate that chick, which is why we specifically didn’t invite her.”

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Mary April 24, 2010 at 9:59 pm

If you receive a wedding invitation that does not include your significant other’s name or “and guest” then it means that the invitation is just for the person to whom it was addressed. You should not call the couple and ask if you can bring someone. The couple obviously just invited you. If you feel offended then you should RSVP that you will not be attending. I think all invitations should include “and guest” even if they know that the person is not in a relationship. Going to a wedding by yourself can be a pretty lonely experience, especially when all the couples are up on the dance floor and you’re sitting by yourself like a wallflower. Maybe your single friend has a person that they are interested in and this would be a great opportunity to ask them out without it being awkward like asking them out on a regular date. Also, if money is the issue don’t people realize that they would get a more generous gift from people who bring a date?

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Melnick May 11, 2010 at 6:22 am

When my husband and I got married we had to limit our numbers. We were aiming for 85. This meant that we didn’t invite anyone we hadn’t met unless they were married/engaged. I would rather have the people I know at my wedding and not point to a photo in my album of a stranger to me. If I was the B and G and your SO knows other people at my wedding, I would only have invited him and put him at a table with our friends. If your SO only knew the B and G and no one else, then I would have invited you to keep him company. It has nothing to do with trying to offend you – it has to do with my budget and the people that I know and love that would have to be cut so that you, a stranger to us, could come. Who should be more offended that they weren’t invited? Someone that knows the couple or someone that has never met the couple? They are not trying to offend you and I’m sure you’ll have to make the same difficult decisions when it is your turn to walk down the aisle. :)

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KC May 28, 2010 at 11:41 am

I have to agree with many others – we had to limit the number of people at our wedding so chose to only invite partners where they were married/engaged or they’d been together a reasonable amount of time and we knew them. Our reasoning was similar to others – we wanted to make sure we were surrounded by people we knew and loved on the day. All our friends were aware of our plans, as were our parents (so they could have explained to cousins etc if they’d been asked). It turned out that the table of “random friends”/singles/people whose partners weren’t there had the most fun out of just about all the tables there – some of them still delight in telling us what fun they had 3 years later!

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Eden July 31, 2010 at 7:16 pm

This is one that I feel I need to comment on. As a young bride-to-be who isn’t getting any financial help at all for her wedding, the bride may not have included the original poster on the invitation because they simply can’t afford to do so. My fiance and I are not including a “+1″ on the invitation for non-married couples, not because we can’t be bothered to learn the relationship status and names of said guests, but because we want it to be a small, intimate occasion for immediate family and remain within our price range. Some people seem to forget that they are not entitled to attend a wedding because their boyfriend or girlfriend is invited, and that every guest costs money – something that is tight for increasingly more people these days.

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Enna December 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Bit late in posting this, a poster on a more recent story posted this thread.

I don’t see anything wrong in clarifying an invite, provided it is done politely and gracefully and the response is takeng racefully too. Could be any number of reasons. Maybe OP felt hurt because her bf made a fuss of it? E.g. by saying “I’m sure you are”.

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