Here’s Our Take on the “No Ring, No Bring” Policy

Your guests deserve better.
by Maggie Seaver

If you’re making your wedding guest list while trying to stick to a reasonable budget, you’ve likely asked this question at least once: Should all of my guests get a plus-one, or only married and engaged guests?

Enter the ever-controversial “no ring, no bring” policy—an unspoken “rule” that attempts to reassure couples they don’t need to invite guests’ significant others to the wedding unless they’re married or planning to get married. (You may be even more familiar with this topic since it resurfaced around Pippa Middleton’s wedding in 2017—she implemented a "no ring, no bring" rule for her wedding ceremony and only invited Prince Harry’s then-girlfriend Meghan Markle to the reception.)

Listen, no one understands better than we do how challenging it is to include all your loved ones and stay within budget—it’s really hard! But not letting someone attend your wedding with their partner of several years because no one’s "put a ring on it" isn’t the answer. Just because there’s no symbolic jewelry involved in their relationship, doesn’t mean their love isn’t legit—they deserve to enjoy your wedding with their significant other as much as any married or engaged couple.

If you’re trying to set parameters to trim your wedding head count (and show your bank account some love), there are other, more etiquette-friendly tricks you can try than the “no ring, no bring” thing (trust us, your guests will thank you). Instead of bringing down the hammer and only inviting one half of a serious couple, go another route and try to cut your guest list in other ways. Maybe you can opt for an adults-only wedding, nix inviting your coworkers or ask your parents if they’ll edit their portion of the list.

So, who absolutely needs a plus-one? Married and engaged couples are obviously package deals, so that one’s easy. Your wedding party members, whether or not they’re in a relationship, should be given the option to bring their partner or a date. But, and we totally get it, it does start to get murky when it’s time to determine which non-engaged guests should be considered a social unit. Basically, couples you know to be in a serious or long-term relationship (think: they live together, have been dating for a year or more, or you simply know they consider one another a significant other) should get invited as a pair (and none of that Tom Smith and Guest stuff—use both of their proper names on the invitation: Mr. Tom Smith and Mr. John Doe).

From there, it’s up to you (and the space you have left) whether or not you let single guests bring a date. If you have the budget and know it’ll make them more comfortable, go for it. If you’d rather keep your wedding as intimate as possible after inviting the necessary couples together, you’re welcome not to. Your 15-year-old cousin may be a ladies man, but if you don’t feel like having his prom date of the month in every family portrait, we think he can handle one night flying solo.

Up Next
Your Wedding Budget Calculator - The Knot
Use The Knot’s personalized wedding budget calculator to track wedding costs. Follow a checklist with a breakdown of your budget to make planning a wedding on a budget easier.