In the throes of the autumn of 2014 (May), I came to the primary realisation that doing seven courses for nine people felt like significantly more time in the kitchen than I would prefer.
The larger group of people also meant less opportunity to discuss the food (and wine) with guests, and I felt that presentation had been sacrificed slightly for required speed – nine plates take time to plate-up by only one person.
I suppose 9 people × 7 courses plus 1 amuse (or more accurately put, 23 or so components served to 9 people over 8 courses) is the point where assistance in the kitchen is required so that I don’t compromise on quality (as I’m dining too). For such an event, a fellow-dining ‘sous chef‘, to assist with plating, is probably the way to go.
However, I also realised that a smaller group (five or six diners rather than seven) remains my preference.