A wedding is one of a few traditions left in 2018 whose success is contingent on truly excellent behavior by all involved. Great wedding etiquette on the part of a host means organizing transportation, providing food, and courteously thanking all of the people who took time out of their lives to celebrate you finding your special person. Great wedding etiquette as a guest involves R.S.V.P.-ing in a timely manner, not throwing shade on the venue, and showing up with an appropriate guest, if you were offered the chance to bring one. If you've been offered a plus-one but you're single, that last consideration can be confusing.
As a 29-year-old woman who has been invited to her fair share of weddings with and without plus-ones, here is the most important rule of thumb when it comes to "do I ride solo or not?" Treat your plus-one like you'd treat a bottle of hot sauce — "use sparingly." Receiving a plus-one to a wedding is traditionally reserved for those with spouses, those who are engaged, or those in serious relationships. There are no rules about returning plus-one favors, or even giving them to those in your bridal party with serious relationships (though I personally feel that's the right thing to do, especially when you're asking people to spend a pretty penny).
Plus-ones are costly. If you're single, and you're still getting a plus-one to a wedding, the bride or groom must think that you're pretty special, so kudos to you! However, back to our rule of thumb: always use your plus one sparingly. Just because you are offered a date does not mean you need to bring one, especially if your only option is someone random from a dating app. If you’re single and wondering whether you should use your plus-one or not here are a few considerations to make before deciding what to do.
How Well Do You Know The Couple?
Is this a wedding of your close friend from college? Or are you going to know most of the people at the wedding? If the answer to either of those questions is "yes," do you really want to bring a plus-one? Not-so-hot-take: weddings are a blast. Wedding weekends are the "senior week" of the post-grad world. There are open bars, cake, and ridiculous dancing. These are all incredibly fun things to indulge in whether you have a date or not.
Plus, do you really want to spend the night introducing everyone to “Andrew from Tinder”? Wouldn't you rather be chugging rosé with your roommates from college and hitting on the cute dude carrying the canapé at cocktail hour?
On the other hand, if this is the wedding of a newer friend, and they gave you a plus-one, they might be generously offering you room to bring a companion because they want you to feel comfortable. If you genuinely don't think you'll have a wedding buddy, and especially if the wedding is something of a destination (i.e. you need to book a hotel) then bring a plus-one if it's offered to you. Just make sure you choose the right plus-one.
If You Do Utilize Your Plus-One, Pick Someone Great
Pressure! But it's true, if you don't know the person you’re thinking of bringing well enough to know if they own an actual suit, or how they handle themselves at an open bar, maybe skip inviting them. A date you don't know is a liability, and you deserve to have a f*cking great time celebrating the fact that some people actually do find love out there. So only bring someone you really trust and like, whether that's in a friendly or romantic way.
I was once a plus-one for a friend of a friend who I had met in Atlanta, but never gone on a date with. He was coming up to New York for a wedding, and the couple who encouraged him to bring someone — all of his friends had wives/husbands/boyfriends/girlfriends/etc. So, yes, our first date was at a black-tie wedding, and it was a blast because we knew each other decently well. Something I wouldn't do: bring a platonic, long-time best friend "just for fun." That's a bit tacky. Also a good tip to remember that when a couple is generous enough to offer you a plus-one, your gift needs to reflect that as well.
At the end of the day, I stick to my original advice: use a plus-one sparingly. Weddings are great places to meet new people, let loose for a weekend, and not worry about your date and if they are having fun too. If you’re even twenty percent comfortable going to the wedding without a date, do it! Plus-ones are an extremely generous gesture, not an obligation.