Can you imagine the discussions you’ve been having recently? Who knew that you would be talking about the number of people at a party – your party…your wedding party!
So here you are planning your wedding and amongst the plethora of details you are going over, you are wondering “how many people?”
You are not alone. Other couples are too.
Before we go down the rabbit hole of who should and should not be invited to the wedding, it is important to know why being intentional about the guest count is important. Your wedding guest count is an important detail of the wedding planning process, as the number you decide on influences many other decisions that you have to make towards the wedding day(s) celebrations.
Aside the obvious like your venue size, the wedding guest count also affects the decisions you make about other aspects like food, décor, favors, basically your budget.
Here’s something you must bear in mind; your guests need to be treated like you are really glad that they have chosen to celebrate with you. So your food, venue, entertainment, decor …everything needs to be curated in a way that makes the wedding guests feel pampered and truly appreciated. So the rule of thumb is to invite the number of guests you can comfortably cater for.
So, here is a simple breakdown of how to factor in your guests in your wedding planning.
1. Wedding experience: Engaged couples have different desires when it comes to the experience they want with their guests. Some choose to have an intimate style event, and this usually has a fewer guest count. Larger weddings are not as easy to make feel
intimate and tend to have a party feel, just because of the number of the people in the space. A small event doesn’t mean it has to have an intimate feel, it is just easier to have a more cozy atmosphere with fewer people.
2. Venue: For many couples, this is often one of the first aspects of wedding planning that they go after. It’s very easy to get a check mark on this to-do item, but it’s not always that simple. In order to decide on a venue, you must make certain that the venue will accommodate the number of people who you have invited – especially if in a weird way that all respond ‘yes’ on the rsvp. Crazy right! While the question of occupancy is crucial, there are other issues like the style of the space. Does it work better for a certain number of guests, even if it can occupy more people? If you anticipate a lot of mingling amongst your guests, it is advisable to book a space that will hold at least 120% of the count, that way you have enough space to accommodate everyone comfortably. Remember to think of parking. One quick way to inconvenience your guests is to have them struggle with parking.
3. Food: It can be anticipated that you may have some meals that you want to feature on your menu. However, there might be some meals that you may not be able to include due to the number of people you might have to plan for. The more expensive meal options might have to be swapped out if you have a large guest count and a budget to stay within. The smaller your guest count, the more room you have to serve any meal - go as exotic as your budget can accommodate. So if you have a large guest count, you might have to tailor your menu to include a variety of meals that would not break the bank. Remember, it is important to ensure that you can properly feed your wedding guests.
4. Dinner style: You might not have this in the front of your mind, but how will the dinner experience be? Do you want your guests to be served or would you rather a buffet style? It requires a lot of people to serve a larger guest count and this would also cost a lot as each server would have to be paid. So the practice tends to be that larger wedding guest counts usually feature a buffet style dinner option, while events with smaller guest counts may choose to serve their guests at their table. ** A buffet style dinner is such where the guests approach a serving station, pick a plate and get on a queue - either to be served or to serve themselves from a display of meals.
4. Decor: Now let’s talk about beautification. Events with larger guest counts usually would have lots of tables and chairs, and just like with smaller events, these guest tables need some decor pieces to make them beautiful. The decor features you decide on depend on how much space you need to cover and how well your wedding budget can cover the expenses. Asides the cost of the decor items, there is also the issue of style. The design you opt for may need to be adjusted to your event size. You don’t want a crowded room, so for a wedding with larger guest count, you might have to choose simpler design options for most of the tables and then have some tables be set-up with elaborate arrangements. For events with smaller guest counts, you have more room to feature any type of tablecloth, napkins, centerpieces, flower types, and the entire tablescape.
5. Cake: Hmn…yum! Do you dream of an impressive multi-layered wedding cake display? Well that works in the favor of events with large guest counts, except you plan to freeze the extra cake tiers after your small wedding guest size event. But note that bakers charge per cake slice, so the more people you plan to serve cake, the higher your cake cost will be. An interesting piece of information is that everyone at the wedding might be interested in the cake, so it’s ok to plan for about 70-80% of the wedding guest count. Basically, if you plan to have a wedding cake, your guest count is one of the factors that will influence the size of the cake you feature.
6. Favors: Yes, people still give favors! If you want it and can afford to, it is a nice gesture which your guests will appreciate, as long as the favors themselves are reasonable items. The more the people the more you have to provide. Also, the more the people, the fewer the options you have, particularly if you have a budget size to work with.
8. Budget: This was intentionally left for last. As you may have guessed with the obvious build up to this last point, typically, a larger budget will be needed to cater to a larger wedding guest size. If you want a premium experience for the wedding, including food, decor, venue, cake, etc…this would require more for a large wedding size than for a small wedding guest count. For example, a large nice befitting wedding venue may cost more than the venue that may be needed for a smaller wedding size. An interesting fact is that a smaller event does not always have a smaller budget, as some small weddings have had larger budgets than many large events.
At this point, it is important to note that this post is not pushing an event size over the other. You should have a wedding size according to your preference. However it is great to be informed about what might be anticipated with each choice.
A small wedding size can be as simple or elaborate as you desire, and the same applies to the wedding with a larger guest count also. Still, if you were to apply the small approach to both wedding sizes, a larger event will require more and experience more restrictions.