Whether you have a close-knit extended family, lots of friends and acquaintances, or both, wedding guest lists can grow almost faster than the bill for the reception. While there’s definitely something to be said for an intimate ceremony with a few close friends, a big wedding can be raucous and joyous without completely draining your wallet. Here are some pros, some cons, and some things to consider when you’re contemplating having a big wedding.
Pro: You’ll get to see distant relatives and old friends.
In our mobile society where many people don’t live in their childhood hometown and extended families are scattered across the globe, there are few events that can bring everyone together like a wedding. Sure, all of those old buddies and great-aunts might turn up for your funeral, but then you won’t get to enjoy their company. A big wedding gives those folks you haven’t seen in a while an excuse to make the trip, and puts all of your loved ones in one place for a few days.
Con: You might be too busy to enjoy their company
Of course, if you’re looking to relax, have fun, and really connect with those friends and relatives, the week of your wedding isn’t really the time to do it. Without careful time management, you might end up feeling like you didn’t really get to see all those people you invited.
Pro: You don’t have to hurt anyone’s feelings
Wedding grudges can last for years. The slight someone feels at being left off the guest list can lead to some seriously deep hurt feelings. Deciding on a big wedding frees you from having to pick favorites among your friends and family.
Con: You don’t have an excuse for excluding people
If you’re having a small wedding, it’s easy to tell your pervy uncle, “sorry, but it’s really just a few close friends and our parents.” If you’re inviting 300 people, that excuse won’t hold water. When you’re inviting so many, the few that you might leave out will feel even more rejected.
Pro: You get to have a fancy venue
With a big wedding, you’ll have the perfect excuse to go big and fancy. Sure, you could get married on your parents’ front porch, but with all those guests, wouldn’t it be better to rent that amazing arboretum downtown? With a big wedding, the glitz and glamor is built in.
Con: You get to pay for that fancy venue, and more
Of course, you’ll have to pay extra for that bigger venue–and for more tables and chairs at the reception, more meals, more cake, more everything. This is part of the extra expenses associated with having a big wedding.
Pro: Many hands make light work
If you’re good with delegating, you’ll have a lot of help on hand to make sure everything goes smoothly. Those second cousins can put up the decorations; your high-school gang can be ushers; all of your dad’s golfing buddies can set up tables and chairs.
Con: Too many cooks spoil the broth
You’ll have to make clear that you’re calling the shots for your wedding–with more guests comes more opinions and more potential for chaos leading up to the big event. All that extra help won’t be helpful if you have to micromanage.
Considerations: Keeping the budget from busting
For a more frugal wedding reception, consider a buffet instead of table service. Just make sure someone is in charge of calling guests from their tables into the line so the line doesn’t get too long, and provide bowls of nuts or other snacks at the tables for guests to nosh while they wait.
Bring some DIY into your preparations and decorations. Starting with the invitations all the way up to table decorations, there are ample opportunities to do-it-yourself–or to enlist that big guest list to do it.
If you’re fortunate enough to have hundreds of people who want to share your big day, there are definite advantages to throwing open that guest list. With some careful planning, delegation, and budgeting, a big wedding doesn’t have to be a big hassle.