Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Asking uninvited guests to a wedding reception is just rude
Anonymous: I'm getting married soon and the reception hall holds 150 people max. As such, we did not include "and guest" for any invitees who we know aren't involved with any specific person.
A few of these unattached people have RSVP'd for two, or, in one case, three: One person is bringing her cousin, another a friend from his office . . . people we didn't invite and have never met. Am I out of line thinking this is rude? Besides having to pay for a dinner for them, we simply don't have the room for random guests.
Did we commit a major faux pas by not including "and guest"? And, even if we did, how can we politely tell these people we do not have room?
These guests will know plenty of people at the wedding, so their "dates" aren't their only hope for companionship that evening.
Carolyn: Even if they'd be alone among strangers, they'd still have two polite choices: Go solo or stay home.
Writing in guests is rude. Astonishing, really. So while it won't exactly be a fun conversation, you have every right to call and explain without apology that the limits on your reception hall mean you can't accommodate their write-ins. (Though you can say you're so terribly sorry, if it helps.)
You can also say that if you change your mind and hold it in a barn, then they and their uninvited guests will fit right in. But that's perhaps best reserved for when you're taking vows of misanthropy and friends won't be necessary.
Anonymous 2: Re: RSVP: They could very well be dating someone serious whom the bride could not know about. I agree this is an egregious breach of etiquette — I would instead just stay home out of loyalty to my significant other. I don't advertise my new relationship, but use rather a gradual process of introducing him.
Carolyn: If that's the case, then you either talk to the couple, if you're a close-enough friend; brave it without your mate (loyalty? seriously? if your date was omitted just out of ignorance of your relationship? yikes); or, yes, respond "no" and stay home.
Anonymous 3: Re: RSVP: The whole "no guest" thing seems so weird and exclusive. If you can't afford to make it a pleasant, inclusive event for all involved, you might want to reconsider inviting 150 people who are forbidden from bringing the people they love. (Also, seriously? 150 with no guests? You couldn't trim that a little?)
Carolyn: Just so I get this right: You want couples to exclude people they know and care about, so they can include and pay for strangers?
Why do you get to decide what constitutes "inclusive"? Maybe they know a fair number of unattached people. So I see your "Seriously" and raise you a "You've got to be kidding": This couple should add more people to their guest list just because some people lack the (imagination) to dance without an assigned partner?
The issue was that invited guests wrote in names of people who weren't invited. They were rude. You are attempting to discuss something about which there is nothing left to discuss.