10 Ways to Make a Big Wedding Seem Intimate (so Every Guest Feels Included)

Yes, it's possible to make your wedding feel personal for everyone—no matter how large your guest list is.
The Knot
Updated Sep 14, 2018

The average number of guests couples have at their wedding is 136, according to The Knot 2017 Real Weddings Study, so there's a chance you could be on the higher end of the spectrum and blowing that number out of the water with a lengthy guest list at your wedding. Even if you consider yourself the ultimate social butterfly, finding one-on-one time with every single guest who spent time and money to attend your nuptials might be a bigger task than you can manage. But just because you're hosting a 350-person formal affair doesn't mean your wedding can't feel intimate too. Here's how to turn your huge day into something more personal.

1. Pre-parties are important.

One way to make sure you have plenty of opportunities for face-time with your guests is to host smaller, more intimate events leading up to your wedding day with various groups of guests. Think: your bridal shower(s), your rehearsal dinner and more.

2. Make your guests feel welcome immediately.

For a "homey" kind of vibe, have drinks and hors d'oeuvres waiting for your guests' arrival at your cocktail hour. Not only will things like miniature bottles of champagne make them feel relaxed, but it'll give off a "welcome-to-my-party" feel your guests will appreciate.

3. Think of creative ways to "shrink" your space.

No matter what your venue is, we guarantee there's a way to make the space feel more intimate. (For example, move your altar to the center of the large room and play around with ceremony seating arrangements to make it feel smaller.) You can also use lighting (like adding warm uplighting) to make large spaces feel a little more inviting.

4. Don't underestimate the significance of good lighting.

Speaking of lighting, remember how important it is to producing a welcoming atmosphere. Incorporate soft and romantic lights (think: candles, lanterns and string lights) to enhance the mood. Try straying away from lights that are too bright or harsh (like spotlights).

5. Make it feel like a family feast.

Instead of delegating your guests to small, round tables, choose long ones that create a feeling of a "family feast." Your guests will immediately be reminded of an intimate dinner party with friends and family.

6. Remember your centerpieces.

Sometimes huge, dramatic centerpieces feel appropriate—especially for a large wedding. But as far as we're concerned, low and lush centerpieces are probably a better option for you, as they allow guests to see each other and easily carry on conversations.

7. Think of how you're serving your food.

Your guests are guaranteed to mingle with one another if you have various food stations or self-serve buffets throughout your space. They'll have the opportunity to get up, walk around and interact with one another while selecting their meals rather than staying seated throughout the reception.

8. Greet your guests.

Here's an obvious (but extremely important one): Take the time to greet every single one of your guests. Whether that's via a receiving line or by spending a few minutes at each table with your partner, you want every single one of your guests to feel like they were included—and not slighted—at your wedding.

9. Designate a chill space.

It might sound strange, but designating a space away from the reception room (like an intimate cigar and whiskey lounge) is the perfect way to encourage your guests to gather and chat while they're not on the dance floor.

10. Invite everyone on the dance floor.

Prior to your first dance, invite your guests to gather along the edges of the dance floor. You'll love going into your first dance warmly surrounded by your family and friends, and your guests will love being so close to the action—and then they can join in immediately after.

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