When planning a wedding, it can turn into a real numbers game, especially where the budget becomes an issue. Many brides struggle with whether or not they have to invite the boyfriends of their bridesmaids (or girlfriends of their groomsmen) to the wedding, the rehearsal dinner, and so forth. And if they are invited, how do you seat them for the wedding dinner? These questions and more about dealing the with bridal party’s significant others are answered here.
Traditionally speaking, a bride never has to invite a person “and guest” to her wedding. It is mandatory to invite the spouses of all guests, including the bridal party. Where things get dicey is the gray area: boyfriends or girlfriends of the bridesmaids and groomsmen. On the one hand, you don’t want to offend any of the members of the bridal party by excluding their significant other from the festivities, but on the other hand, if one of your bridesmaids has just started casually dating someone, how “significant” is he in her life at that point? It is enough to make a bride want to pull her hair out (but don’t! Bald patches will look terrible in your pictures!).
A good rule of thumb is that if anyone in your wedding party has a live in partner, that person should be invited to the wedding. The invitation should be addressed by name, not as “and guest”, which is too much of an afterthought. When it comes to the dates of the rest of the wedding party, you should also definitely ask any long-term boyfriends or girlfriends to attend. This is where things get tricky. The most important thing is to be even-handed in how you draw the line about invitees. If you allow your maid of honor to bring along a casual boyfriend, then you must extend the same offer to the rest of your bridesmaids.
The wedding party, should not however, bring “dates”, people with whom they do not have an ongoing relationship, because they will not get to spend much time with them during the wedding anyway. Remember that as the bridesmaids are marching down the aisle in their beautiful dresses and bridesmaid jewelry, their dates will be sitting alone in the pews. And while the lovely ladies in their bridesmaid dresses and elegant jewelry are having their pictures taken with the newlyweds, once again, their dates will be on their own. In many cases, the bridal party will sit at a head table without their dates, so once again, the person they brought will be without them. This is why inviting a casual date to a wedding is always a bad idea for a member of the bridal party.
Once the bride and groom have reached a decision about where to draw the line about significant others, they then need to think about how best to include those guests in the wedding festivities. It is only reasonable for the significant other of a bridesmaid or groomsmen to be invited to the rehearsal dinner if they are invited to the wedding, especially if the event will be out of town. Think of it like this: how would you like to travel to a wedding as your boyfriend’s guest and then be left alone in a strange city the night before the wedding because he was invited to the rehearsal dinner and you were not? It is just plain inconsiderate.
Finally, think long and hard about the reception seating for the significant others of your wedding party. If the majority of your bridesmaids and groomsmen will be bringing a guest, either seat all of the dates at the head table next to their partners, or consider skipping the traditional long head table and seating members of the wedding party amongst the rest of the guests so they can have dinner with their spouses or partners. If these options are not feasible, at the very least, seat all of the bridal party’s dates as close to the head table as possible so they can visit with their significant others. The members of your bridal party are sure to appreciate your effort to show consideration for their partners and themselves.