13 Sep

5 Tips for Large Weddings

Everyone loves a great party, especially my family… so when I became engaged this past July it was no surprise that my parents were ready to throw a big bash. How big you may wonder? Think of more than 240 Italians getting together to celebrate marital bliss. In a world where the average number of wedding guests is 120 people, my wedding is going to double it. But, I know I’m not the only one throwing a large wedding and having a large guest list is more manageable than many realize. A wedding is still a wedding regardless of the guest count.

These are the five best tips I have encountered to help keep all the festivities within control. Some are tips I have picked up over the years working in the wedding industry and others were offered to me by some of the best wedding professionals I have had the pleasure of working with.


Make sure the venue will comfortable fit all of your guests.
This might seem like a no-brainier, but trust this: Always visit your venue before you book to ensure that all of your guests will have a place to sit and can comfortably mingle. Until you see a venue with your own eyes, you can’t fully envision the floor plan and see where your guest tables will fit, how your centerpieces will look, or if the dance floor can accommodate 200 of your favorite happy-go-lucky relatives. If the vision for your wedding doesn’t fit the space, it’s important to know that up front.

Have a plan to (try) and see everyone.
Your wedding guests are coming to see and celebrate you – but having over 200 people means that it’s a challenge to spend time with every single one of them. As much as a couple wants to relax, enjoy and dance the night away – a great host also needs to make time to say hello. Receiving lines are going out of style, and if you choose to do one with 200 or more guests you should expect it to take a while. There are a few great ways to touch base with each of your guests without it being a time killer. Before the wedding, host a rehearsal dinner or welcome party inviting people beyond your wedding party to attend. It’s a great way to visit with out-of-town guests. Skip the receiving line and opt to have a first look with your spouse so you can both attend the cocktail hour. This is a great way to do some mingling and begin enjoying your reception right away. During the reception, after the head table is served and the newlyweds are done eating, visit eat table as the remaining tables are served and people finish their meal. Spend 2-3 minutes at each table to say hello to everyone, thank them for coming, and tell them to get out on the dance floor later in the evening.

Skip the buffet if you don’t want to spend an extraordinary amount of time eating.
If you want to offer a buffet, that’s fine. Your reception meal is a personal choice. However, buffet meal service with very large parties can take longer than a plated meal. The best way to make a buffet efficient is to have multiple double-sided buffets set up to help move your guests through the line faster, but that still doesn’t completely eliminate the fact that there may be a bit of a wait. Plated meals allow for more control over your timeline. It won’t be exact to the minute, but if you have several after-dinner plans such as cake cut, toasts, first dances, parent dance, bouquet and garter toss, dollar dance, etc., a plated meal can help ensure there will be ample times for those activities and ample time for dancing with all of your friends and family. Not to mention, a plated meal can help your budget as it is less costly than a buffet.


Don’t wait to make your seating chart until the last moment.
Creating the seating chart for a larger wedding may take a little more finesse and focus than a typical event. It may be tempting to try and start the seating chart process before you’ve received any RSVPs, but it’s best to wait until you know your final headcount. This keeps you from having to make any large changes when you find out a group of people that aren’t coming to the wedding. Since most guests will only be hanging around their table to eat dinner, don’t stress about having the perfect seating arrangement. Once you have your final headcount, get started right away on creating a plan to tackle your seating. It’s helpful to organize your RSVPs as they are returned by family, family friends, college friends, etc. Giving everyone a category helps speed up the seating process later on. If you wait till the last minute to create your seating chart, you’re going to be rushed to create your escort cards and your place cards. Try to eliminate any possibility for error by getting things done early and checking your work. (Although this is great advice for any size wedding!)

Don’t forget about the ceremony capacity!
Within my own wedding planning, this is one of my larger concerns – having enough space at my ceremony for everyone to attend and not leave anyone standing. Much like finding a venue, your ceremony space should be able to accommodate everyone that is invited to your wedding. After all, you are inviting them to your wedding – this means both ceremony and reception. Expect 100% attendance of all invited. Be sure the location you select, whether it is your childhood church, a space at your reception venue or another off-premise location, can comfortably accommodate all of the guests you’ll be inviting. If you are concerned and want to ensure enough seating, don’t be afraid to ask your guests to RSVP to your ceremony on your response cards.

A large wedding doesn’t mean extra stress or extra work. While it might require a bit more focus with a few select tasks like creating a seating chart, it is no different than any other wedding.  These tips may be simple, but with a larger than average wedding they bring to light a few elements that may be glossed over.

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