DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a woman in my late 20s, who has been in a relationship with another woman for going on five years now. My family is not especially supportive, but there are times that I do receive formal invitations to events from extended family (think weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, etc.) that include my name and a plus-one.
My mother, who is vehemently unsupportive of my relationship, keeps trying to tell me that accepting a plus-one on an invitation is rude. She tells me that the people hosting the event are only giving me a plus-one to appear polite, and that if I bring someone else, it will cost the hosts money, so I shouldn’t accept it.
I’d like to think that my family members are showing passive support by offering me a plus-one, even if they are not listing my partner’s name on the invitation. In my opinion, an offering of a plus-one should always be seen as genuine!
My mother also insists that as maid of honor in my sister’s wedding, I was not supposed to bring a plus-one to the rehearsal dinner, despite other bridesmaids’ plus-ones being included. She is very concerned with politeness and appearances, so normally I do default to her, but given this dilemma, I am driven to ask you, Miss Manners, for your expertise and advice.
GENTLE READER: A misguided attempt to make their single guests feel more “comfortable,” plus-one communicates instead that the host does not want -- or cannot be bothered -- to find out the names of any serious partners.
Inviting anyone to a formal event should be done using that person’s name.
In your case, Miss Manners agrees that it was probably a passive -- if still rude -- attempt on your sister’s part to invite your partner without directly acknowledging her.
Your mother’s use of made-up etiquette rules is a passive way of rejecting that attempt. If your sister specifically asked you to invite someone, you may do so -- and passively ignore your mother’s advice to do otherwise.