We recently heard from a couple who can’t bear to leave anyone out of their wedding guest list. They’ve already gone beyond 200 guests and counting…and are beginning to freak out! Their SOS question: “How can we prepare for all the challenges that are sure to come with a large guest list?”
Well, not to add to their panic but to help them cover all the “big wedding” bases, here is our reply. You might call it a reality check about what they’re letting themselves in for!
The best and only way to be truly prepared for the challenges of inviting so many guests is to foresee what they are likely to be!
First, there are the obvious logistical concerns:
- being realistic about the costs per guest (do your pencil-pushing meticulously!)
- finding a large enough venue within the wedding budget
- arranging lodging and transportation for out-of-town guests
- planning ceremony seating and reception table assignments
- preparing sufficient food, drinks, desserts and wedding favors
- handling noise levels—especially during the reception revelry and dancing!
- ensuring sufficient bathroom facilities for such a large crowd (yes, even that!)
Then, far more sticky are the “people” issues:
- any family feuds or conflicts among the invitees
- sibling or relative rivalries
- step-family issues
- combining family with friends (current and from years past), neighbors, work associates, business colleagues, clients, sports or hobby buddies, and so on
- having quite a number of children at the event
- cultural issues to consider like having a mix or clash of customs & traditions
Finally, there are the special needs and requests:
- dietary restrictions (for example, gluten-free, vegan, etc.)
- an “open bar” or not, for so many?
- assistance for the elderly or disabled
- weather eventualities (how to keep so many guests cool at a summer wedding, warm at a fall/winter wedding, and dry in a downpour!)
IF you must have a large guest list, then we suggest the following:
- Hire a wedding planner or coordinator to help you out. Don’t go on auto-pilot, either. Make sure she or he sends you timely status reports.
- Plan at least 12 months ahead of the wedding.
- Communicate your plan to all key stakeholders (e.g., maid of honor, best man, etc.)
- Unless you have a luxurious budget, do understand that you may have to make compromises here and there.
- Get in shape now. Take time to breathe and relax!
- Don’t turn into a bridezilla. Patience is key.
- Have a diary or binder to record the tasks and expenses.
- Get your BFF to be a sounding board for ideas.
- Delegate secondary tasks to members of your bridal entourage.
- Remember: you can’t make everyone happy!
Help this couple out, too, by sharing how you dealt with some of these challenges at your own wedding. Did you end up regretting not having put a practical limit to your guest list? Or did it all work out happily in the end?