Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Don't Make Assumptions About Wedding Plus-Ones

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my good friends growing up got engaged a couple of months ago. The wedding is in August, and I’m excited to attend. One thing that has been on my mind is whether I’ll be getting a plus-one with my invitation. I would love to have my girlfriend there with me, but my friend doesn’t know her that well. I think it’s awkward to bring up, but I would like to know. What is the proper etiquette about wedding invites? If he is one of my best friends, shouldn’t I get a plus-one? -- Plus-One Please, Baltimore

DEAR PLUS-ONE PLEASE: Weddings are stressful for couples and families because they are so expensive and detailed. One of the biggest stressors is the guest list. Each person invited costs hundreds of dollars to host. Obviously, that’s not what your friend was thinking about when he invited you or anybody else. Chances are, he made a big guest list and whittled it down over time when getting practical about managing expectations and budget.

That said, the old-school wisdom about a plus-one is that one should be offered that invitation if one is married or engaged. In today’s world where many people are coupled but not married, the rules bend a bit. Still, the wedding couple can decide to invite a few single friends without plus-ones, especially if they are not in long-term, committed relationships.

You can ask your friend if your girlfriend will be invited, but don’t press him if the answer is no. Instead, ask who else among your mutual friends will be there so you know who you can spend time with.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My brother is visiting from New York City and is staying with me in my apartment in Los Angeles for a week. We are very close and usually tell each other everything. In the past couple of months, he has been asking me for money quite frequently. They are not huge amounts, but it’s still money that I’ve earned that I’m now giving away. When I ask my brother what the money's for, he says for food and transportation, but I have a feeling he owes someone money and needs to pay it off. Should I push my brother into telling me? -- Brother's in a Financial Pickle, Los Angeles

DEAR BROTHER’S IN A FINANCIAL PICKLE: It is OK for you to stop giving your brother money. Tell him that you feel uncomfortable doling out money to him regularly. He should be able to pay for his own food and transportation. You are happy to host him at your home, but you do not want to pay for his livelihood. Add that if he is in trouble and needs to talk about it, you are all ears, but the constant money transfer must stop now.

If you stop giving him cash, this may trigger your brother to be more forthcoming -- especially if there is a loan involved. Just be clear about how far you intend to go to help him. It’s great to support your brother, but there has to be a limit, for his own good and for your wallet.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)