Should You Have a Large Wedding Party? Consider These Pros & Cons
If you or your soon-to-be spouse come from a big family or have several groups of friends, you may consider having a large wedding party. However, before finalizing your decision, weighing all your options is important—and that's where we come into the picture. To help you decide if having a large wedding party is right for you, we've tapped experts and dug deep into research to uncover the main pros and cons. Keep scrolling to learn more, and let the wedding planning (officially) begin!
What's Considered a Large Wedding Party?
Before diving in any deeper, it's important to define what exactly is considered a large wedding party. According to wedding planner Sara Bauleke of Bella Notte in Washington, D.C., this number can vary depending on factors like location and culture. That said, she "typically consider[s] anything over four to five people on either side to be a large wedding."
How Large Is a Typical Wedding Party?
Put simply, says Bauleke, "There's no such thing as a typical wedding party!" However, Mango Muse Events owner and destination wedding planner Jamie Chang, who is based in the San Francisco Bay area, explains that "most wedding parties are between three to five people per side, with obviously some larger and some smaller." According to The Knot Real Wedding Study, the average wedding party has eight total members, four on each side .
Pros of a Large Wedding Party
If you're going back and forth between having a small or large wedding party, here are a few pros to keep in mind as you and your fiancé pick bridesmaids to propose to and/or select your groomsmen. Below, we're breaking down all the benefits of having a large bridal party.
Plenty of Helping Hands
"Having a large wedding party means you have lots of hands to help you," says Chang. You'll be able to utilize your large wedding party to help with wedding planning tasks (think: organizing the shower or bachelorette party) and day-of duties (including helping you get ready, taking photos and more)
Lots of Love
"One of the biggest pros to having a large wedding party is all the love surrounding you," says Chang. She continues, telling The Knot, "With a bigger party, you have more people showering you with love and supporting you, not just on the wedding day but [throughout] the [entire] process as well."
"A large wedding party can allow you to have a lot of fun with the wedding party's attire," explains Tonya Hoopes of Hoopes Events in Midvale, Utah. For example, "If you are doing a fall wedding and want to incorporate several colors, such as burgundy, burnt orange and a deep yellow, you can have your wedding party wear different colors while still having multiple of each color." Put simply, she says, "Multiple colors for your wedding party can make for fun photos that you will have for years to come."
Plenty of Photo Ops
According to wedding photographer Siobhan Healy, who is based in Westchester County and New York City, New York, a large wedding party makes for great pictures. What's more, you'll be able to work with your wedding photographer to capture precious memories, including a first look, candid getting-ready snaps and so much more.
Nobody's Left Out
Couples with larger wedding parties need not worry about deciding who to include versus who to leave out. According to Hoopes, "This allows you to select more friends and family members and more than likely not create hurt feelings among family and friends as to who you choose and why." And, on that note, it's worth pointing out that it's completely okay if you and your partner have an uneven wedding party, so don't let that deter you from including all of your nearest and dearest.
Ultimately, says Hoopes, "Having a large wedding party can be a lot more fun," both on the actual day of the wedding and the events leading up to the big day since you'll have so many friends and loved ones by your side. You know what they say: The more, the merrier!
Cons of a Large Wedding Party
While having a large wedding party sounds great in theory, it's not necessarily the best option for every couple. Here are some of the cons of a large wedding party.
Plan for Delays & Extra Time
In short, explains Naples and Marco Island, Florida-based event planner Carrie Darling, "Everything takes longer when you are managing 20 to 24 people instead of 10 to 12 attendants, so time is not always on your side." She continues, telling The Knot, "When the photo timeline takes center stage, you have to account for some cushion in case someone is in the bathroom or spills something on their dress." With all this in mind, you may even consider starting earlier in the day to ensure everyone is ready in time for photos.
Put simply, the larger your wedding party size, the more money you'll spend. For example, says Darling, "This means you need to book a larger mini coach or party bus for transportation, order bigger breakfast or lunch platters for the morning of the wedding, and book a larger suite to accommodate everyone in the 'getting ready' space." And, if you are treating your bridesmaids to hair and makeup services—which is totally optional—you'll have to factor that into your wedding budget, too.
If sitting with your wedding party during the reception is important to you, a large wedding party may not be the right choice. Just take it from Chang, who notes that "having a large wedding party means you're less likely to be seated together." However, you can always opt for a romantic sweetheart table to avoid putting together a head table.
Lots of Personalities
More people means more personalities, which means potential for cliques and clashing. "I have seen times where a large wedding party has caused the couple more drama leading up to and on their wedding day," says Hoopes. Before deciding on a large wedding party, make sure your friends from all walks of life will get along. Tip: If not everyone knows each other, consider breaking the ice by inviting everyone to brunch, dinner or another social event where everyone can mix and mingle before heading full swing into wedding planning mode.
"On the wedding day itself, it can be difficult to rein in and manage a large wedding party," says Hoops. For one, "You might have members of the wedding party be late because hair and makeup went over or they do not leave enough time to get ready." Chang echoes these sentiments, telling The Knot, "The biggest con to having a large wedding party is that with more people, it's a lot more work to manage." Despite this, it's definitely doable—and we've got you covered. Keep scrolling to check out our top expert-approved tips to help you successfully manage a large wedding party!
How Do You Manage a Large Wedding Party?
Managing a large wedding party can be tricky—but it doesn't have to be. Ultimately, says Darling, "Communication is key when dealing with any sort of large group of people, and having it in writing (in the form of an email or text) is key so they can go back and reference it in case they forget any main details."
Additionally, if you're hiring a wedding planner or day-of coordinator, utilize them to help keep everything running smoothly (and on time!) throughout the wedding day. Otherwise, Chang recommends putting someone in charge of the group—such as a maid of honor or best man—who "can organize the group and handle the major responsibilities of getting opinions, making decisions, managing questions and making sure everyone is on time and on the same page."
Alternatives to a Large Wedding Party
If you're overwhelmed by the idea of having a large wedding party, consider exploring alternate options, such as ahouse party, which initially started as a Southern wedding tradition. Today, house parties are much more mainstream. They're especially great since they offer couples the chance to honor and celebrate with all of their nearest and dearest while simultaneously keeping the bridal party tight-knit and intimate. St. Simons, Georgia-based wedding plannerEmily Burton previously told The Knot, "The biggest difference in the bridal party versus the house party is the bridal party participates in the wedding ceremony, while the house party does not," she says. Another option would be to have yourwedding without a wedding party—which, yes, is totally acceptable and feasible!