Planning a wedding can turn into a real numbers game, especially when budget becomes an issue. Many brides have problems with whether or not to invite their bridesmaids’ friends (or their best man’s friends) to the wedding, rehearsal dinner, etc. And when they’re invited, how do you use them for the wedding dinner? These questions and more about dealing with the most important others of the bridal party are answered here.

Traditionally, a bride never has to invite a person “and a guest” to her wedding. It is mandatory to invite the spouses of all guests, including the bridal party. Where things get tricky is the gray area: friends of the bridesmaids and groomsmen. On the one hand, you don’t want to offend any of the bridal party members by excluding their significant other from the celebrations; on the other hand, if one of your bridesmaids has just started dating someone casually, how “significant” “is he at this point in their life? It is enough to make a bride pull her hair out (but not! bald spots look terrible in your pictures!).

A good rule of thumb is that if someone at your wedding reception has a life partner, that person should be invited to the wedding. The invitation should be addressed by name, not as “and guest”, which is too afterthought. When it comes to the dates of the rest of the wedding celebration, you should definitely ask long-term friends to attend. This is where it gets difficult. The most important thing is that you don’t care how you draw the line between invitees. If you allow your maid of honor to bring a casual friend, you need to extend the same offering to the rest of your bridesmaids.

However, the wedding reception shouldn’t bring “dates”, people with whom you don’t have a permanent relationship, as you won’t be able to spend much time with them during the wedding anyway. Remember that the dates sit alone in the pews when the bridesmaids march down the aisle in their beautiful dresses and bridesmaid jewelry. And while the lovely ladies in their bridesmaid dresses and elegant jewelry take their photos with the bridal couple, their dates will be on their own again. In many cases, the bridal party sits at a main table without their dates, so the person who brought them will be without them again. Because of this, it is always a bad idea for a bridal party member to invite a casual date to a wedding.

Once the bride and groom have made a decision about where to draw the line with significant others, they need to think about how best to include these guests in the wedding celebrations. It only makes sense that the significant other of a bridesmaid or groomsman’s rehearsal dinner should be invited when invited to the wedding, especially if the event is taking place out of town. Think of it this way: How would you like to travel to a wedding as a guest of your friend and then be alone in a strange city the evening before the wedding because he was invited to a rehearsal dinner and you were not? It’s just inconsiderate.

Finally, think long and hard about the seats at the reception for the other most important people at your wedding celebration. If the majority of your bridesmaids and groomsmen are bringing a guest, either put all the dates at the main table next to their partners, or skip the traditional long head table and put the wedding party members among the rest of the guests so they can have dinner with their spouses or partners . If these options aren’t feasible, at least put all the dates of the bridal party as close as possible to the main table so they can visit them with their significant other. The members of your bridal party will be sure to appreciate your efforts to be considerate of their partners and yourself.

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