How to Host a Fun Wedding at Any Size
It doesn’t matter if you’re inviting 50 or 500 people to your nuptials, your wedding should be an epic day. And there are benefits to guest lists of all sizes: a small invite list means you can add more personal touches while a larger one gives you the chance to focus on the fun-factor. Here are some tips on how to host a great wedding at any size.
Small: Under 50 people
Add some special touches: Having a smaller guest list means you can make your wedding day a more personal experience for everyone involved, something you can’t necessarily do with a larger wedding. Make a batch of your famous pumpkin butter to give out as a favor to your guests, hand-write your escort cards or use photos of your guests as your centerpieces. Adding these little unique details becomes much more manageable when you only have to think about a couple dozen of them instead of hundreds!
Aim for intimacy: Since you won’t be inviting a ton of people, you can spend more time with each of your guests. Get creative with your table arrangements and try to structure your reception as if it were a dinner party. If you have under 20 guests, you could even try to sit everyone at one big table to keep the vibe cozy. If that’s not possible, keep the number of tables to a minimum and then make an effort to sit down at each at some point in the night to give your guests the personal attention they deserve.
Splurge on the details: Wow your guests by investing your money in one or two big ticket items. Since you’ll have fewer mouths to feed, you can offer more luxurious and elaborate food and drink at your reception. Consider serving lobster, braised spareribs, mushroom risotto or fancy (real) Champagne. You can also spend more on other details, from your decor (go big with your floral arrangements) to your band (go for that twelve piece band).
Pick a unique venue: When you’re only inviting your nearest and dearest to the wedding, you can get more creative with your wedding venue. Take over your favorite restaurant, rent out a private townhouse or stake out a spot on the beach. Other places like national parks and caves also become a real possibility to consider when you keep your guest list short. Have you been dreaming of tying the knot in a private Italian villa? Rent one out and host your closest friends and family. You won’t be spending as much on the little things—favors, programs, menus—so you’ll be able to blow your guests away with the locale.
Medium: 50-100 people
Skip the rehearsal dinner: Since your guest list is somewhat manageable, pass on the traditional rehearsal dinner and host an all-inclusive event to kick off your wedding weekend instead. Consider doing a barbecue or buffet-style dinner to welcome all of your guests. You can still have toasts and show a slideshow of all your embarrassing childhood photos, but more of your loved ones will be able to participate than if you had a massive headcount.
Involve your guests: A mid-sized wedding gives you more of an opportunity to get all or most of your guests in on the fun. You can ask for their input or a couple of personal requests and actually be able to bring those ideas to life on the day of your wedding. When you send out your invitations, ask everyone to include a favorite song with their RSVP and then send that list to your DJ.
Serve a variety of hors d’oeuvres: Cocktail hour can be really fun when you’re serving a practical number of guests. While you still need to focus on quantity (you need to make sure you’re serving enough), you can also spend your energy picking out a good variety. Think about what your guests would want (are there any vegetarians in the group?) or what would be a unique item to serve (sushi?). You’ll be able to devote your resources to providing a good spread!
Focus on the fun: With a large guest list, you won’t be able to give everyone your undivided attention (you do want to dance, eat cake, and spend time with you new spouse, right?), so make up for it by providing them with a good time. Invest in a photo booth, a cartoonist, or a band that’s known for putting on an epic performance to make sure your guests are entertained all night long.
Find a venue that fits: The more the merrier! Right? Well, yes and no. A big wedding means you don’t have to stress over who makes the cut; everyone from your second-cousin to your dad’s golf buddies can get an invite. But you need to make sure your venue fits your head count. Look for a venue that’s big enough to accommodate everyone on your list for dinner AND dancing. No one wants to feel like they’re at a nightclub.
Make sure your guests don’t get lost in the crowd: Even if you won’t be able to spend one-on-one time with everyone the night of your wedding, it’s important to make sure ALL of your guests feel special. A large guest list doesn’t mean you can skimp on the little details. Provide welcome bags (complete with a guide to what to do in the area) for out of town guests. Have your venue greet guests with champagne or sparkling water as soon as they arrive. Give out creative favors at the end of the reception. Going the extra mile will show your guests just how much you appreciate them being there, which is an important message to communicate when you can’t say it to them directly. The best part? With such a large head count, you’ll be able to buy in bulk. You get to save money while showing your guests a little love. It’s a win-win, really!
—By Claire Aven
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