How should I address wedding invitations to significant others of my friends?
September 25, 2012 2:30 PM   Subscribe

How should I address wedding invitations to significant others of friends?

We are in the early planning stages of a wedding. We are soon going to send save-the-date cards. I am at an age where a number of my friends are dating someone seriously. I want to invite all these people. But here is the dilemma:

If I address the invite to friend+guest, without using the guest's name, it seems impersonal. I am friends with the significant others of all my close friends and I want to make them feel welcome.

However, there is a non-zero chance that any of these friends might break up with the significant other before the wedding comes around. Will this lead to awkwardness? Am I potentially implying a greater longevity or seriousness to my friends' relationships than they would be comfortable with? Am I over thinking this?
posted by mai to Human Relations (14 answers total)
Overthinking it. Save-the-dates don't need to be formally addressed to all invitees. It's just a note to important invitees to literally "save the date" on their calendar.

If there really is a non-zero chance they could break up in the next 6 months, just address the Save-the-Date to your friend.
posted by muddgirl at 2:32 PM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

You write the full names of your friend and their SO or potential date on the envelope.

If something happens in the six weeks between the time you send the invitation and your wedding day, you can have a short telephone conversation about it. Order one less chicken, or allow a cousin to attend in place of that no-good cheater.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:33 PM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

(I do agree that invites should have the full name of all invited persons. If your friends might break up in the, what, 6 weeks between the invites going out and the wedding, you might want to discuss that with them in advance...)
posted by muddgirl at 2:36 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's also a non-zero chance that your married friends will break up in the next six weeks. You still send the invite to "Mr. and Mrs. Bob and Teresa Smith"; do the same for "Mr. Frank Jones and Ms. Alice Johnson".
posted by Etrigan at 2:52 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

If they're dating seriously enough that you want them both there because they're both your friends, then a breakup shouldn't change that. It might change how one or both of THEM feels about attending, but that really isn't your call to make. Let them drive off that bridge when/if they come to it. Let them both know that you want them to celebrate with you.
posted by jph at 2:55 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you send an invitation to "John Doe and Mary Roe" at John's address, and he and Mary have broken up between invitation time and wedding time, Mary isn't going to come to your wedding, promise.

And you don't have to send Mary a separate invitation at her address if you know her primarily as John's gf.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:00 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Write the names of each person who is invited on the save-the-dates.
This is the one true answer.

It is improper for invitees to assume that their SO is invited automatically (so if you address to just your friend, they may assume the SO is not invited), and it's weird to invite someone you know as "and guest".
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:01 PM on September 25, 2012

Sidhedevil has it.

For an added bit of caution, if you are legitimately concerned that a particular couple is likely to break up before the wedding, address it to "John and guest." This is what my wife and I did at our recent wedding. Most of our coupled friends were invited by name: "Susan Jones and Bryan Anderson" got a joint invite that went to Susan's address, for example. A few couples were in a place where there was some serious tension, to the point where the primary friend wasn't sure if they'd even be bringing their partner regardless of whether they broke up or not, so we addressed the invite to "Bob Jones and Guest" rather than "Bob Jones and Antonio Banderas."

But, basically, we wrote the full names of each person. Except in one of two cases, the only people who got an invite that said "and guest" were the people who weren't part of a couple.
posted by asnider at 3:07 PM on September 25, 2012

Am I potentially implying a greater longevity or seriousness to my friends' relationships than they would be comfortable with?
Depends on the friend and the friend's relationship. You have absolutely no control over how comfortable your friends feel with being addressed as a couple - they might be thrilled to get their first official on-paper acknowledgement that they go together, or they might be terrified. That's not your problem. Just do what you're going to do, and have an idea of what you'd want to have happen if a couple broke up.

Consider how you're treating your currently-single friends. If John is single, does he get a John+guest invite so he can bring a date if he wants, or are you really counting seats and John can't bring a date because you need that chair/chicken for your mother's cousin?
If Frank and Alice break up, would you want Frank to find another date (Frank+guest) or would you want him to come alone (Frank+Alice)? It would be nice to make sure John and post-break-up-Frank are treated the same.
posted by aimedwander at 3:09 PM on September 25, 2012

Don't worry about it. "And Guest" is fine, unless you know them well enough to invite them personally. Sending each an individual invite is also fine. Sending one invite to both parties is also fine. Seriously, if someone is going to get upset about this, it's probably someone who is going to find something to get upset about regardess.
posted by windykites at 3:31 PM on September 25, 2012

I am sure you know this, but if any of your friends live with their SO, you must include the SO by name on the invitation.

For seriously-dating non live-in SOs who you've met and are friendly with, an invitation to Friend and SO (by name) mailed to Friend's home is the way to go.
posted by Kpele at 3:34 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

If they're living together and you know the SO, put their name separately:
"Mr. Bryan Anderson and Ms. Susan Jones"

If they're not living together, & Guest is completely acceptable.
posted by disillusioned at 5:43 PM on September 25, 2012

My 28yo friends are sending out Save The Dates now, and have decided to send jac+guest to myself and my non-cohabiting boyfriend of a year that they know quite well, and will then put jac+boyfriend on the invitation. If we broke up, I don't think he'd be invited on his own.
posted by jacalata at 10:15 PM on September 25, 2012

Are you giving single invitees a +guest invitation? If one of your couple friends broke up, would you be okay with them bringing someone they have been with for less than 6 weeks?

I would invite couples you know by name - if they live together there is really no other polite way to do this. If they don't live together, I would only send the invitation to the house of the person who you are actually close to, but name their significant other if you know the SO.

If you are equally close to both parts of a non-cohabitating couple, and would want them to both attend regardless of their relationship status, send invitations to both of their houses. For the couples that you think might break up in the next few weeks, you could hint around that you are inviting their SO (ie ask how to spell their SO's name, mention seating at the wedding, whatever) and see if they don't plan on being together at the time of your wedding. I think the vast majority of the time, if they broke up in the interim, only your friend would show up. The only trouble you might have is if their SO mistakenly believes that they are just as close a friend to you, or is really socially inept.
posted by fermezporte at 5:08 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

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