No matter the location, you’ll need to decide on your wedding reception layout in advance. One can easily underestimate the amount of decisions required to complete this task. A good floor plan lends an intimate vibe, is in sync with the venue space, ensures guest comfort and involvement (good view of the stage); and dictates the flow of the room. Once you’ve decided on the placement of the stage and the dance floor, you can move on to the type of tables you would like; rough or rectangular. Placement of bar(s), buffet tables, dessert tables comes next. Finally, you’ll have to put names into the seating chart and chances are you’re going to be going through it over and over again leading up to the big day.
If you’re getting married in a well established wedding venue, it’s likely the floor plan may be fixed and therefore you can skip the first parts of this article. However, you may still get to select the type of tables and arrangements you’ll like. If you’re going for a non-established wedding venue, then you should start this guide from the top and make your way down. It is by no means an easy feat; but we’ve done the homework and have discovered these tips on how to get started.
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How to Get Started on the Floor Plan?
#01 Stage and Dance Floor
The first thing you should do is to start with the focal point of the room, decide where the stage and the dance floor are going to land. You will need to decide on the dimensions of stage depending on the entertainment you intent to have and the how much decor is going to go on it. The size of the dance floor can be determined by estimating the number of guest that would find themselves on it at the end of the night.
#02 Buffet Table
As a rule of thumb, there should be a complete buffet station for every 50-60 guests. There should be enough space between the buffet tables and the guest tables for guest comfort and service. Keep them close to the catering entrance and away from the main entrance. Space out the tables to help guest spread out more evenly.
#03 Bars, Dessert Stations and Additional Food Service
Again, space out the tables to help avoid crowding. Generally, you’ll need one bar for every 100 guests. Place a bar near the dance floor to keep your guest satiated and another further away to avoid congestion between those heading to the dance floor and those heading to the bar. Dessert stations and additional food service should be spread out too.
Options for Table Arrangements
Decide on the Type of Table(s) to Use
Round tables encourage group conversations. The main table can be in front of the stage with the bride and groom facing the entrance, followed by families’ and friends’ tables. Alternatively, for bigger ballrooms, the main table can be on a platform in the middle of the venue, with tables all around it. This way guests will be able to feel the presence of the newlyweds.
Couples are usually seated opposite each other with male and female guests alternating to encourage conversation. Do note that this seating arrangement is only suitable for individually served meals(require more time for preparation and service) and buffets.
TIP: Banquet tables require less elaborate décor than round tables to achieve a ‘filled-in’ look.
Mixed Table Arrangements
We love how these new arrangements that can freshen up a typical ballroom wedding. As mentioned, round tables require stronger centrepieces that might involve higher costs, so mixing it up is a great way of achieving that look without spending quite as much money. Mixed table arrangements can be done in various ways, including putting a few round tables in the centre, bordered by long tables. Alternatively, you could use long tables to create a square in the middle for a dance floor, followed by round tables all around. These arrangements might take up a bit more space, but they’re also a great way to make a big hall seem less empty if you’ve got a smaller reception.
Main Table Seating Arrangements
Who sits at the Main Table?
#01 Family members
Traditionally, parents, grandparents and immediate family members are seated at the main table. This is one example but there are so many possibilities. The point is for those closest to the bride and groom to sit next to them, and the rest working their way around the table.
Tip: Some hotels have main tables that seat up to 14 people. If there are separate receptions for the families of the bride and groom, the main table should be filled by the host family. If it is a shared reception, it is usually shared equally.
Family tables are then arranged around the main table. Occasionally, the Best Man and the Maid of Honour are given the honour of sitting at the main table along with the parents of the bride and groom.
#02 Bridal Party
The alternative is to have the bridal party – Best Man, Maid of Honour, groomsmen and bridesmaids – seated at the main table. If you choose this arrangement, consider asking both sets of parents to host a table each for their family. These tables can be placed next to the main table.
Tip: This usually signify the reception is hosted by the bride and groom, and is commonly more intimate. It would be much more convenient to have the maid of honour seated next to the bride as she may need assistance; for example with her dress during the reception.
#03 Bride and Groom
As bride and groom, you are the stars for the day. Your table and seating position should be easily visible from anywhere in the venue. Some couples choose to sit in a separate table altogether, this is called the sweet heart table. Another form of seating is called the King Arthur’s table arrangement, that is where the bride and groom is seated at the end of a long table, as seen below