Whether it is in a traditional ballroom or at a unique venue like a museum or a sprawling ranch, your wedding is one of the few opportunities you'll have to get everyone you love in one place, so inviting them all to join in your celebration might be a no-brainer. Even if your goal was a wedding with just 80 of your closest friends in attendance, there's a likelihood that the guest list will balloon beyond your expectations once you start writing down names. When that final guest count starts to creep up, and up, and up, are there things a bride and groom should make sure to keep on their to-do list? Our experts weigh in on the important questions couples need to ask themselves when hosting a large wedding.
Is there enough space?
Accommodating a larger guest list often comes with a higher price tag, but it also means remembering details that couples planning a more intimate celebration might not have to worry about. The first thing to really think about is having enough space to fit everyone. Sure, your total might be under the maximum capacity of your venue (an important place to be, since too many guests could result in a visit from the Fire Marshall), but if the space fits 300 and you've got 295 people invited, think about whether it might feel cramped or if you'll run out of room to include those special touches you'd had your heart set on.
If you're really hoping to have a separate lounge area or a 12-piece band, you might need to look at a slightly larger venue to allow for some extra breathing room.
How can we avoid long lines?
And with all those guests comes the risk of long lines at the bar or for the bathroom. Consider adding an extra bar to your floor plan so it's easier for your family and friends to get their hands on your signature cocktail. Hosting your wedding at an outdoor venue with limited facilities? You'll definitely want to rent a few portable restrooms to compensate.
What about timing?__
When it comes to your timeline, be sure to add an extra buffer to any times when guests are moving from one space to another. Having cocktails from 6pm to 7pm? Plan for everyone to be seated for dinner at 7:30 so there's time to round up the stragglers. Speaking of dinner, service for a crowd will take longer than it would for a smaller group, so consult with your caterer about how much extra time they'll need to get entrées out and plates cleared.