20-40-60 Etiquette: Is it proper for singles to add guests to a dinner party?

by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman Published: March 28, 2012

QUESTION: We had a dinner party last week. It was a buffet event and we invited 30 people. Most of them were couples, but five were singles. We didn't specify to bring a guest/ date and just assumed they would come alone or call if there was a significant other they wanted to bring. Two of the singles brought people we had never heard of. And both of them said they didn't want to come alone, so they just asked a friend to come with them I am glad it was not a seated dinner because I would not have had a place for them. What is the protocol on this?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: Make sure to specify or you should call them and ask. Some people just forget. I am glad it was just a buffet.

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Somehow I always understood that if the invitation addressed to me didn't say “and guest,” then I shouldn't bring one. However, sometimes the host has told me when I RSVP'd that I could bring one, and sometimes I have known the host well enough to ask whether that's a possibility. But the important part here is to ask ahead of time if it's OK to bring someone else. If you're the host, and space is limited, let single guests know that, such as when guests call to tell you they are coming. It's a good thing that you were having a buffet and that the extra people didn't add extra burden.

HELEN'S ANSWER: We all love to have parties and invite our friends. It is nice for a host/hostess to ask single people if they have a friend they would like to bring. And importantly, as a guest, if you would like to bring a friend with you, you should always check to see it that is appropriate. If space is limited honor your hostess by not being offended if the answer is “no guest.” Communication is the key here.

Most people are happy to add an extra person, even if they have never met them. New people give an added dimension in all gatherings.

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by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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