When it comes to things like a large wedding party, the more the merrier!
We really do believe that and, in case you could not tell, we live by it.
However, when planning a large wedding party, you don’t necessarily want to go too far overboard or break the bank.
Whether it’s the number of guests, the location, or the catering, some part of you probably wants to account for as much as possible.
Are you feeling the anxiety yet?
I would be too!
Trying to plan or account for every little possible thing and every unlikely contingency can be unbearably stressful, especially when you are already emotional about getting married.
This is, of course, why it is always recommended to hire a professional wedding planner for any large wedding party which involves more than just your cousins, aunts, and uncles.
If you need some help doing that, here is a handy guide from (appropriately named) Here Comes The Guide.
Don’t worry though, whether you’re hiring a professional or not, we are here to help you with this comprehensive guide to planning and managing a large wedding party.
What Do I Actually Need To Plan For?
Luckily, not quite as much as you might think.
It is impossible to account for every single possible variable (weather, traffic delays, a caterer calling in sick, etc.) but, far from being a let down, that fact is liberating once accepted.
You don’t need to account for everything.
The spontaneity that tends to ensue at events like these is partially why people find them so enjoyable.
Realistically, most of the things that’ll trigger the most anxiety are actually relatively minor and most attendees will not notice them – but nevertheless, we’ll want to get things just right for you..
Let’s focus on the top 5 things that you should focus on in order to make any large wedding party a success.
If you focus on these 5 major topics, those small seemingly insignificant & anxiety provoking triggers should fall into place on their own.
Big Thing #1: Large Wedding Party = Large Guest List
This is the first item on the list for a reason: everything else on the list is affected by it.
Depending on how casual or formal you want to be, you may or may not be ok with an invited guest bringing a “Plus 1.”
In general, it is advisable to plan for at least ⅓ more than what you think you will need when it comes to food, chairs, and everything else.
This includes planning with the expectation that at least ⅓ of your single guests will bring an extra guest, so that if they do, you will be ready for it.
If the thought of expecting the unexpected gives you anxiety though, WeddingWire actually has a great article about how to figure out whether or not your wedding party is too large.
Again, you are expecting a few more people than just those you invite, so be sure to only invite those people you really want to be there.
If you are expecting at least 200 guests, you might also want to check out this short but very helpful article from The Knot.
Big Thing #2: Large Wedding Party = Large Venue
Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be that complicated.
Now, obviously you know that we have you covered when it comes to venues, but let’s just pretend that you’re not going to be having your wedding in wine country.
How do you decide whether or not a venue is just the right size – just big enough to hold everyone while being just small enough to still be intimate?
Beyond just the size, you want to keep your budget in mind for this one too.
While a venue being larger does not necessarily mean that it will be more expensive, they tend to have a directly proportional relationship.
Our recommendation is to learn the weather patterns in your venue’s area.
Ensure you’ve picked a venue that can hold everyone inside under a roof but which also has plenty of outdoor space to walk around in.
That way, you will be good even if the weather doesn’t cooperate – you will not necessarily need to cancel or reschedule everything.
For even more tips on finding and choosing the perfect venue, we have a whole article just to help you with that.
Need help figuring out your wedding budget?
We know that all weddings are unique and so are wedding budgets. Let us share a customized cost estimate based on YOUR preferences in catering, decor style, season and more.
Big Thing #3: Large Wedding Party = Scheduling Conflicts
Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to make it.
It is nearly impossible to choose a day on which everyone you know will be able to fly, take off work, or do whatever else it is that they need to do in order to be at your wedding.
However, you can choose a day on which the maximum number of your chosen invitees are able to show up.
… or at least the maximum number of those you really want to be there.
Yes, it is ok to choose favorites and having more people is not necessarily better than having more of the people you most want to be there.
After all, isn’t choosing favorites exactly what you did when either proposing or saying yes?
We’re not saying that you should disinvite anyone or that one guest being higher priority than another means that the lower priority guest is not someone you still want to be there.
What we’re saying is that, in the event of a scheduling conflict that results in either your beloved sibling or your chemistry classmate from sophomore year not being able to make it…
If you must change up the schedule for one of those two people, which one do you do it for?
Also, like the good people at Kahn’s Catering suggest, it is generally wise to not make your seating chart until you already know everyone who is attending.
Big Thing #4: Time
You may not be thinking about it right now but, let’s face it, as much as you are going to love your wedding day, it will still just be a 24 hours – like any other day.
So you want to make sure that you budget yourself enough time to realistically be able to see everyone there at least once.
You may not be able to because life is unpredictable like that (and weddings more unpredictable still), but it’s good to plan for at least a few minutes alone or in a group with each guest.
That “in a group” part is important because it’s largely why professional wedding planners typically arrange for several guests to sit at the same large table.
There are going to be things throughout the day that take you a bit off schedule and pull you away from whatever you had planned for exactly 4:23pm, and that’s ok.
In any gathering of more than 1 person, it simply becomes impossible to predict everything.
So, as with food and all of those other things, plan to give yourself at least ⅓ more time than you think you will need.
For you, a less stressful and more streamlined wedding is a better wedding.
Big Thing #5: Physical Movement
Not constantly of course, but it is good to mix things up a bit by interspersing speeches and other things with periods of walking around and socializing.
This keeps people from getting bored or sleepy and it also increases the chances for you to meet everyone and for all of your guests to meet each other.
Also, weddings are long – essentially lasting all day.
Who wants to just be sitting down quietly in the same spot for an entire day just listening to speeches and watching embarrassing slideshows of childhood photos?
Don’t worry, you will still get to have the speeches and slideshows, and your guests will surely still want them just as much as you do.
But you also want everyone to be up and mingling for at least as much time as they spend quietly sitting down.
Relax! This Is A Day For Joy And Celebration.
Don’t stress yourself out!
The last thing you want to feel on your wedding day is pressured or frustrated.
If you really need to, like we said in the beginning of this guide, you can always hire a professional wedding planner to handle all of this for you.
Actually, we highly recommend budgeting for a professional wedding planner exactly for that reason unless you have a very organized aunt who is experienced in these things.
If you prefer to do everything yourself though (we totally get it), Brides put out a great guide a while back for doing just that.
This is one of the biggest days in your life, but trying to put yourselves into the shoes of one of your guests might help you relax.
You have probably been to a wedding or two yourself and you probably were not as overwhelmed as the bride and groom then, were you?
Why was that?
Because, for you, it was a special day but it was not a day during which you nitpicked every single little thing and made a big deal about things that weren’t really that important.
You were just happy to be there and, as long as nothing truly insane happened, you were probably good with everything and could not have been bothered to notice the tablecloths.
From the bottom of our hearts, we hope that this guide helps you and that your wedding day and married life are the best that they can possibly be.