How Big is Too Big?: A Planner’s Perspective on Large Weddings vs. Small Weddings

As a Wedding Planner, one of the first things that I encourage my couples to think about is their wedding guest list. The reason for this is because it dictates most of the other decisions that you will make about your wedding. The number of guests that you decide to host on your wedding day can determine where you host your wedding, your wedding budget, and your overall guest experience. I know, I know, it’s an exciting time and you want to share your celebration with everyone, even your 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Archibald, but you need to know the cold hard facts about weddings both big and small before jumping into a decision about the size of your wedding. So how big is too big? Get your mind out of the gutter and hop on this planning train.


Intimate Affair vs. Family Reunion

My favorite part of my own wedding was the fact that I got to have all of the people that both me and my husband love in one place. This is one of very few opportunities in life to have this happen and it definitely meant the world to both of us. So how do you figure out who makes the cut? It’s easy to fall into the good old “inviting your Great Aunt Faye who you haven’t seen since you were 2 years old because Uncle Mac was invited and she might get offended” trap. So let me remind you… this day is about YOU and the person that you are choosing to spend the rest of your life with. Anyone who considers themselves close enough to you to “deserve” to be invited to the big day in their mind should love you enough to be considerate of your budget AND your wishes and will understand that you have to keep your invite list reasonable.

So who do you want to invite? Weather you consider inviting the closest 20 people to you, or the closest 200, it is important that you know what each guest count will mean for your day. If you have 20 guests, you will undoubtedly be able to spend a lot of time with each guest and truly catch up with them during your wedding festivities. If you have 200 guests, you may only be able to spend a couple of minutes at each table as you make your rounds. No need to fret… if you decide on a higher guest count. You can try to avoid stretching yourself too thin by hosting smaller activities like a brunch or welcome party over your wedding weekend. But keep in mind that these things will have to be accounted for in your overall wedding budget.

Money, Money, Money, Money….Monaaaaay!

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when considering your wedding guest count is your budget. You can throw a fabulous affair for $10,000 for 30 people in most major cities, but you would be hard pressed to spend the same amount in Kansas for a 100 person wedding. Your wedding guest list can either help you develop a reasonable budget, or show you who you can or can’t afford to host if you already know the dollar amount that you are working with. Once you create your A through C List of wedding guests, your “must have” guest list can determine everything from where you host your wedding to what kind of food you serve. Start making that list, and checking it twice!

Guest Experience

Guest experience is something that couples are spending more and more thought, and cash on these days. Personalized touches are all the rage and definitely create moments that your wedding guests will remember for years to come. The advantage of having a smaller wedding is that it opens up your budget to be able to spend more per person. Yaaaas personalized welcome bags…late night food trucks… Caricature artists…we’ll take it all!!!…. For 40 guests or less. But having a large wedding doesn’t mean that you can’t have several wow factors planted throughout the evening. For larger weddings, overall event design and “one cost wonders” like a red carpet flower wall entryway may be the move to rock your large wedding. It is just important to have a clear understanding from the very beginning of which experiences you want YOUR guests to have.

In conclusion, size does matter… but it’s nothing that you can’t work through if you know what you’re up against from the beginning…of your planning journey!

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