Were you planning a small, intimate wedding only to find that your guest list has grown bigger and now seems too big for the Venue you chose? Whilst we recommend doing a draft guest list before you choose a Venue, we know this doesn’t always happen. Or perhaps you did, but changed your mind after locking in your venue and now you’re not sure how you’re going to fit everyone in. Don’t despair! In any venue there are things you can change and things you can’t – the position of the walls is one of them. But there are things that you can do to fit more guests into a Venue. Let’s take a look at some of your options to see if one of them could fix your space challenge.
If your venue has multiple spaces you may have the option to spread your wedding out amongst them. For example you could have dinner in one room and dancing and cake cutting in another. Another alternative is to have an outdoor dance floor under a Marquee, or to utilise other outdoor spaces such as a wide deck. At the I Do Crew we often find ourselves styling spaces to accommodate a wedding that needs to ‘spread out’. This can work really well, but it’s very important to consider which space will work best for which activity and how to create a really nice flow between them. And when putting your timeline together pay particular attention to how you will move people between the spaces for each section of the day and how long this may take to happen.
A bar and the activity happening around it can take up a lot of space within a room. If there is an option to put it outside this is a great way to save space. To maximise the benefit of this I recommend having table service for drinks and having wine along with water on the table for guests to serve themselves. Doing this minimises the movement of guests within the room which also helps to keep the space from feeling too crowded.
When selecting your chairs look for smaller, narrower options. The bigger the chair, the less people you’ll be able to seat at the table. And over the length of a table even a saving of a few centimetres can make a difference. Here’s some popular chairs widths to illustrate my point:
Along with using a narrower chair a simple way to fit more people into a room is to use a longer table than the standard length. Joining tables together to create long rows can also help you to fit more people into a space. What we always do when considering this option is measure the table with chairs within the space. Your priority is to ensure there is enough room for guests to move around the tables safely and that they can push their chair back without ending up in the lap of the person behind them. But if you have also used a smaller chair you will be able to decrease the space between the rows which has on occasion enabled us to fit an additional row into a room.
One way to accommodate a guest list that is just too big for the wedding venue you booked is to take some guests off the main list and invite them to an after-party. This idea is probably the biggest compromise amongst the ones I’ve suggested. However, an after-party is a good option if you really did want a intimate wedding, but have just found it too hard to invite some friends and not others. To make this work go back to your original intention for an intimate wedding and look at your list in that light. Who absolutely must be there and who could be part of your after-party? At the I Do Crew we had a couple who threw an after-party at their home the day after their wedding. They extended the rental on a lot of their decor and furniture and moved it over to their home for a second day of partying with friends – some of whom had been at their Wedding and others who hadn’t.
Every couple wants their guests to enjoy their wedding so much, they stay to the end. Considering your guest’s comfort is one of the ways you have a wedding like this. Squashing guests into a room and around tables is a quick way to make your guests feel uncomfortable. So whilst the ideas I’ve recommended above can solve some space challenges, they won’t solve all of them. If you really do have too many guests for your wedding venue and you can’t find a fix that will ensure everyone feels comfortable, you may have no choice but to revisit your guest list or consider an alternative venue. Before you decide, visit your Venue with a professional so they can walk through the venue with you and workshop your options. A venue visit is something we do with our clients as part of our On the Day Coordination and Styling Services.