How to Be a Plus-One at a Wedding

Wedding guests sitting at a table as they're eating and chatting.

Whether you’re attending a wedding with a friend or a new significant other, being someone’s plus-one is more than just getting dressed up and enjoying the free drinks (although, let’s be honest, that’s a huge perk). So, how do you get to be the perfect plus-one? Being a great wedding date means you’ll not only have to be thoughtful, but you’ll also need to make your wedding partner feel like they can mingle without having to be by your side all night—meaning you’ll have to flex your social muscles. About to be a plus-one for an upcoming wedding? Read up on our tips for how to be the best one you can be.

Dress the Part

Not all weddings will specify exactly what kind of dress code there will be, but if the invitation does mention that it’s black tie or cocktail attire preferred, you should follow the instructions to a T. For men, black tie traditionally means a black tuxedo with formal white shirt, cuff links, black cummerbund, and black patent shoes. For women, it’s typically a formal floor-length gown.

If your invitation doesn’t list a dress code, it’s best to go with your instincts—but also do a little bit of research. Look up pictures of the ceremony and reception venues to see how formal it is. If, for example, the wedding will take place in a grand historic hotel, it might not make sense to wear just slacks and a button down or a simple cotton dress. However, if the ceremony is at a rustic ranch, the dress code may be more casual than your typical wedding. Whatever you do, ask your date what he or she will be wearing so that you can plan accordingly.

Offer to Split the Gift

Even if you don’t know the couple very well (or you’ve never met either one of them), the polite thing to do is to offer to go halfsies on the gift. Weddings are a big expense for everyone involved, especially if there’s travel to go along with it. Do your date a favor and take some financial pressure off by paying for half the gift or supplementing their present with a gift card.

Don’t be a Wallflower

Wedding guests sitting at a table and talking.

Being a plus-one at a wedding where you don’t know anyone can be an intimidating social situation, but the last thing you want to do is be the date who doesn’t engage with other guests. This will be especially important if your date is involved in the wedding as a bridesmaid, groomsman, or in some other capacity. You don’t want them to feel like they have to babysit you all night or make sure you’re having a good time. If social situations aren’t necessarily your bag, try making small talk with your tablemates. If all else fails, chat up the bartender and those who are hanging around the bar.

…But Also Don’t Ditch Your Date

You might be having such a great time at your table or with a guy you met by the bar, but don’t forget to hang out with the person who brought you to the wedding—your date. There’s a fine line between being independent and ignoring them completely, so be sure to check in with them throughout the night and accompany them to the bar, to the buffet, and to the dance floor.

Participate in Whatever Your Date Wants to Participate

A man and woman dancing at a wedding reception.

You may not be a fan of dancing, but if your date asks you to dance, then don’t let your fear of doing the wobble in public get in your way. You don’t want to feel like you’re being a wet blanket, so the best thing to do is to let loose and have fun. Looking ridiculous on the dance floor is all part of the celebration—just avoid the videographer if you see them heading your way. For other events in the wedding like the bouquet or garter toss, look to your date on whether or not to participate. It’s safe to say that if you don’t know the couple very well, then it may not be appropriate for you to dive head first into the bouquet toss.

Don’t Get Too Carried Away on the Cocktails

Everyone likes to cut a little loose at a wedding, but don’t be the person everyone remembers from the reception as getting a little too sloppy. Remember, even if you only had a few, always call an Uber or a taxi to get home or to the hotel at the end of the night. It also goes without saying that you should make sure your date makes it home safely as well.

Don’t Leave Too Early

You may normally go to bed around sunset, but this is no evening to be going home early—unless of course your date wants to go. Follow their lead on what time to leave, especially if they are having a good time.

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