Yes. They do not have to be invited as a couple. Of course, their friends probably *will* invite them together, because they are their friends. But, in cases such as the OP, where there is a reason to keep the guest list small, they do not *have* to be invited together.
Not technically by the book, perhaps. But it will create bad feeling if they are not.
If the couple doesn't want to be parted, the invitation can be declined.
Yes, it can be. And then Larry gets it in the head for being 'the cousin who thought his girlfriend was more important than Auntie's last holiday before she goes into a home'. I wouldn't want to be in that position - would you?
But they can't go around saying that the invitation to one member of the couple only was rude, or in any way against etiquette. No matter how much service was given to their country, or how desperately in love they are. It is the hosts' choice to invite them.
Perhaps not, again, if they're going 'by the book'. But they would be quite within their rights to feel hurt at the exclusion.
BTW, your hypothetical couple in your post could make themselves a social unit by announcing themselves "engaged". If they do not feel able to take that step, they should not judge society harsh in saying that they are not a social unit yet.
I find that rather judgemental, honestly.
No, that's the thing - they're not within their rights to feel slighted. Just being romantically involved does not make them a social unit
. People can still choose to socialize with one, or both, as they wish, without being rude.
Will it create bad feeling? It shouldn't, if people are reasonable. Do you think it will create good
feelings if Larry shows up with an uninvited guest? Or forces Aunt to choose between giving up her last party in her own home, or trying to put on an event that she is not physically capable of doing?
I think it's pretty darn judgmental of Larry to insist that his desire to spend every waking minute with his current girlfriend is more important than his aunt's happiness or health. And if his girlfriend is offended by this, I'd say Larry should cut and run, because she's a special snowflake.
The irony is that I'd bet good money that if Larry's guy friends called him up the week afterwards, and asked him to come hang for a guy's night, he'd not think twice about leaving his girlfriend behind. After all, I'm sure he'll say, it's not like they're joined at the hip, right?