As you dream about your perfect reception, creating a wedding floor plan is a great way to think through all the details. Whether your reception will be inside or outside, a floor plan will help you get a sense of how many guests the venue will comfortably fit, how the guests will flow through the space, and who will sit next to who. An ideal layout is easy to understand, spacious, and thoughtful - from the moment guests enter, to the bar, dance floor, dining, and restrooms. Another benefit to creating a wedding floor plan - it’s a valuable communication device with vendors, parents, and others.Read More
Let’s take a look at some of the most common elements:
As your guests arrive, your entrance layout should be welcoming and clear. Typical areas include a greeting table, perhaps with a guest book or framed photo of the bride and groom to sign. Depending on the weather, you may want to set up a coat rack or coat check near the entrance. A gift table is vital as a place to hold gifts and it’s a good idea to include a wicker basket for any cards. If your wedding reception will have assigned seating once the dining starts, you’ll want a location near the entrance on which to set up place cards. Place cards indicate the table or seat numbers and possibly the guest’s selected meal (if you have chosen plated dinner service).
Moving on into the main reception area, if you plan on having a dance floor, it is a good idea to figure out its location next. One common placement is centered in the room, with the head table behind it and the DJ placed at a corner. Another common location is towards the narrow wall of a rectangular room with the band behind it, the head table is then at the other end of the dance floor with a good view. To determine the size of your dance floor, the industry-standard estimate is 4.5 sq ft (.41 m2) per dancer. So if your wedding has 100 guests, and you estimate that ½ will be dancing at any one time, you’ll need 50* 4.5 sq ft = 225 sq ft (ca. 21 m2). This could be a 15’ x 15’ dance floor. You can adjust the size up or down depending on how many dancers you have in your friend and family group.
As your guests arrive, their first stop may be the bar so that they can mingle with a drink in hand. The bar area can be as simple as a couple of rectangular bar height tables. The bartender stands behind the bar facing out, with the various drink selections behind the bar. If you are using an established venue that hosts weddings, they may have a purpose-built bar area. If you are having a large event, consider adding more than one bar to the wedding floor plan, and spread them evenly around the venue to avoid congestion. You may want to provide a few cocktail tables in addition to any dining tables. If you are having a Cocktail Reception, rather than a full sit-down meal, you may prefer to have mostly cocktail tables, with a few regular height tables and chairs for any elderly guests.
It’s traditional to highlight a stunning wedding cake at its own table. Ideally, it’s somewhere near the dance floor and has some space around it so that the guests have a nice view of the cake cutting. In many countries, it’s traditional for guests to bring cakes to the reception. If this is your custom, make sure there is a special place for these lovely additional baked gifts.
For your dining table layout, a floor plan comes in handy as you can move tables around to figure out the best arrangement. As you consider the dining layout, there are a few questions to consider: First, for the bride and groom. Do you prefer a round sweetheart table for 2, which allows you a little quiet time during the event? Or is a long rectangular head (or King’s) table preferable? A head table has chairs on the far side, facing the guests, and seats the bride and groom, and possibly their parents, the best man and maid of honor, or the wedding party, depending on space. If you have a dance floor, the head table is usually placed at one end, so that it is a focal point.
For the guest tables, what shape do you prefer? Round tables are the most traditional, and allow all guests at a table to see each other. Rectangle tables can be more space-efficient if you have a lot of guests to seat. Square tables are very modern and have more room for the centerpiece. Note that you can mix and match and have a combination of table sizes and shapes. Next, you’ll want to think about the number of guests per table. It’s a good idea to try out different table sizes on your floor plan, to determine what will work best. As far as table placement, in general, you want to line the tables up symmetrically. A u-shaped arrangement is common, with the head table at the top of the U, and all the other tables arranged in a U around the dance floor.
If you’ll be hosting a buffet-style meal, you’ll likely want to set up long serving tables along one wall. This location is helpful if you need access to power for any warming trays or the like. If desired, leave space for serving staff on the side close to the wall.
What other activities are you planning for your wedding reception? A photo booth is one popular option. It’s a great way to engage guests. Place it somewhere the guests will see it, like near the dance floor or bar. If you’ll be giving away mementos of the wedding, you’ll want to designate a place for those as well. Putting care and thought into your wedding floor plan can help you think through the details and be well on your way to creating an amazing and memorable event.