A large space can work for a small group if you plan carefully.

By Alyssa Brown
January 28, 2020
cat denis wedding reception tables

Some couples are able to find the perfect venue that's the exact size they need for their guest count, while others fall in love with a space and later realize its capacity is far greater than the size of their guest list. No need to panic in this case, as event planner and designer Matthew Robbins is sharing some of his top tips on working with a venue that's too big for a couple's guest count. From the importance of lighting to the best table size for making a space feel more intimate, Robbins has highlighted great advice that's easy to follow.

Develop a great lighting plan.

A space that's properly lit for a wedding has a soft glow that makes everything feel warm and welcoming, which ultimately makes your guests feel comfortable as they move throughout the space. Robbins says, "Good lighting can really make or break the vibe of an event. Keeping the space dark, with the focus on the tables and décor details, will really create a more intimate vibe. Directing light to the intimate groupings at the dinner tables and on the dance floor will make a huge difference rather than trying to highlight all of the architecture in a large space."

Give your guests extra space.

With a larger venue, it's nice to give your guests a little more space to spread out. Robbins says, "We like to use larger tables with smaller groupings, such as rectangular tables with eight guests at each, rather than classic rounds with 10 or 12 guests." As well, you can bring this concept into the spaces outside of the dining area. "Using lounge furniture in spaces can help to create beautiful spaces that feel connected to the décor and energy of the party," he says.

Create a good event flow to utilize excess space.

Robbins says rather than close a room or try to divide a space with artificial walls, "It can be nice to use some of the other spaces for the cocktail hour, a huge dessert display, or a great lounge. I believe a clean, open, and unfussy space can be quite dynamic and amazing if the layout, lighting, and design details work with that approach." Just keep in mind that you don't have to fill every nook and space with décor to make it feel intimate, as long as there are a few spaces that have a cozy feel.


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