Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Question: A good friend of mine, "Lori," lives out of town. We don't see each other much anymore - she's super busy with school, so visits are few and far between - but we keep in touch.
My wedding is coming up, and though it seems pretty large (over 100 people), 95 percent of those invited were close family members, and so we had to make hard decisions about which close friends to invite.
Lori texted me the other day asking if she could bring her new boyfriend (of a month) to the wedding, though she was not given a plus-one on the invitation. I'm in the unfortunate position of knowing how all of her past relationships have ended (badly, with much bridge-burning) and I feel uncomfortable having a stranger at my wedding.
Other friends she knows will be attending so it's not a question of making her feel more comfortable by having a friend there. I'm torn because I've always had a "the more the merrier" mentality, but I'm taken aback by the request. My fiance has left the decision up to me, but said he's not so sure he likes the idea of spending our wedding funds on someone he doesn't know who could be completely out of our lives the week afterward, for all we know. What do you think?
Answer: I am completely sympathetic - to the annoyance with a requested plus-one; to the misfortune of knowing too much; to the frustration at being asked to host a stranger when intimates have been turned away; to bristling at the money involved.
But I'm not so sure the answer is in those bullet points. Instead I think it's in your friendship with Lori. Is this a person, a bond, you want to serve? Has she been above and beyond in your life, to the extent that above and beyond makes sense here? Or has she always required a high level of maintenance that you've long questioned providing, and her distance from your life lately seems like an opening?
If it's the former, if Lori has been your rock, then you find a seat for her boyfriend and you treat him as an important part of her life right up until the day he isn't.
If you decide it's the latter and you're ready to deal with the consequences of saying no, then of course you say no.
Explain that you and your fiance have large families and therefore had to exclude several people who are very dear to you, so you can't in good conscience include someone you don't know - even when it's a good friend who is asking.
Note that there's no mention here of her boyfriend's newness or of his likely impermanence. If you so much as hint that her track record says you'd be throwing your money away on this guy's meal, then your friendship might depend on your ability to persuade her that you're being practical versus judgmental - and I'm not sure you can.