Can I Bring an Uninvited Guest to a Formal Event?

In a word, no. And you cannot try to squeeze in an exception with that seriously weak they’ll-barely-eat-or-do-anything excuse.

Why is it pretty much always unacceptable to bring someone who wasn’t on the invitation? Let me count the ways.

Dear Rue: Uninvited Guest

One: They’re Too Expensive.
If the event is catered, the company will most likely add the expense of additional guests to the final bill, lifting the cost of the party beyond what the host was expecting. Not exactly the best thank-you-for-hosting present.

Two: They’re an Extra, Nonexistent Seat.
Whether it’s a small dinner party or a large wedding, the host will have planned for a specific amount of people in the space available. They simply may not have the chairs or overall room for another person. And even if they can squeeze in some additional space, is it fair to make, say, the bride or groom scramble on their big day in order to fit someone in? If you answered yes to that – well, I don’t know what to say. You’re wrong.

Three: They’ll Be the Odd One Out.
Not only will there probably not be enough food or seating for them, but many people who attend as uninvited guests end up feeling incredibly awkward – especially if there are place cards, personal favors, or customized activities involved. Definitely not fun for them or the host.

But Surely Children (or Significant Others) Are an Exception…
Kids are not an exception, no matter what you may have heard. Just ask master-of-etiquette Emily Post. The host may, for example, have prepared for an adults-only occasion, and the location, activities, and food might not be appropriate. The same goes for your significant other – almost all invitations will specifically mention a plus-one. If they’re not listed, they’re not invited.

In short? Never assume. Assumption is the mortal enemy of good party etiquette.

By Shaina Malkin, Copyeditor

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September 19, 2013