09 Aug 2017
August 9, 2017

Wedding Ceremony Guest Size Really Does Matter

One of the questions we ask our couples when first meeting with them is how many guests they are expecting.  We ask this because we find that although the basics of the ceremony remain relatively the same, there are a few things we do differently based on the number of guests.   Let me first define what we mean by size.  We consider an elopement to be the couple and, at the most, 6 guests, all who are very close family and friends.   An intimate wedding to us is between 6 – 30 guests, all still usually close family and friends.   A normal wedding is around 30 – 150 and yes, we understand that to some 30 is considered a small wedding but what I have noticed from an Officiant perspective is that as the size gets larger, how close the guests are to the couple begins to vary more.  And, thus once you get above 150 guests, we find that many people attending only have “surface” knowledge of the couple.  Note that these are our personal size ranges… other Officiants might define their ranges differently but the important thing we wanted to get across is a few differences to think about as you prepare the ceremony and why.

Elopement – The first difference is that for an elopement, the ceremonies are usually a bit shorter, 10-15 minutes.  we still want it to be personal and meaningful to the couple but don’t need to tell their story or set a tone or feel based on there being guests who don’t know the couple.  If there are a few guests, we always look for ways that we can have them participate (even in a small way).

Intimate – For an intimate size, we are not as concerned about length… if it is 10 minutes but really fits and is what the couple wants, we are fine and if it is 20 minutes (which is a normal ceremony length for me) and it fits, we are fine.  For an intimate ceremony, we do try to add a bit of the couple’s personal story but it is the deeper stuff (e.g. no need to tell the engagement story, no matter how great, since everyone has probably heard it).  And, since it is a small group of guests, we look for ways that we can have them all participate.

Normal and Large – We treat both of these pretty much the same.  A ceremony that is around 20 minutes with some leeway either way (longer or shorter) yet we usually don’t want to do a ceremony shorter than 15 minutes or longer than 25 minutes.   When we are adding in personal stories, we tend to use a mix of stories based on which ones show the love and laughter of the couple.  For example, I might relate the how they met story since even though some might know it, many probably don’t (or don’t know the details).   And, although we still want to look for ways to get guests involved in the ceremony, there are less ways, and each is usually more setup/preparation, the bigger the guest size gets.

Hopefully these recommendations help as you prepare your ceremony (or ceremonies) and note that they are just recommendations, the goal is still to deliver a ceremony that fits the couple and what they want.  For further recommendations and comprehensive ceremony preparation help, purchase the Asked to Officiate workbook, your complete guide to a perfect wedding ceremony!

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