Who is invited to your wedding and how do we let them know? I probably receive this question more than any other. With proper etiquette getting nudged lower and lower on the civility totem pole these days, some of our guests need hit over the head with an Emily Post book to understand basic etiquette. Therefore, we have to make it very clear who is invited and who is not. Unless you are one of the lucky few where money is no object, you will have to whittle down your list to meet your budget. The best way to start this colossal task is to make a list of your invited guests. From there, designate who is married, engaged and in a serious relationship. Serious is relative of course. My bachelor friend says he is "seriously committed to monogamy with as many lady friends as possible". But you get what I mean. Traditionally, ONLY the names written on the outside of the envelope are to attend the wedding. Period. Let's look at a few basic ways to address your envelope:
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Frost
Charlotte Frost and Guest
Charlotte Frost and Henry James
Miss Charlotte Frost
It is scarcely necessary to say that unless Miss Charlotte Frost was born in a barn, she should not bring a guest to the wedding in the last scenario. The other scenarios are clearly identified as to who is invited. It is always nice to pick up the phone and ask your guest for their date's name. Otherwise, "and guest" is perfectly acceptable. Another easy way to denote who is invited is on the reply card. Often times we put, "we have reserved _____ seats in your name". You will fill in the blank line with the number you are allowing. It's not always the prettiest way to invite guests, but it does work, especially if you have guests that might not pay any attention, whatsoever, as to what is written on the outside of the envelope.
In general, I do think it's good form to allow your bridesmaids to invite a "plus one" even if they are not married or in a serious relationship. It's a nice way of saying "thank you" for their commitment to you. Lastly, if you look at your list and realize there are only a few single guests invited, then go ahead and allow them a "plus one" so that they too, can have a good time and not look like chairpersons of the Lonely Hearts Club.