You’ve picked out your color palette for your dream wedding, designed the floral arrangements and set the perfect dinner menu; but how is the room going to be set up for everyone to enjoy these things? Will there be round tables or rectangular tables? Maybe a mix? Where will the band or DJ be set up and how big of a dance floor will there be? A well thought out floor plan is key to a flawless reception! If it sounds complicated, don't worry. We're going to walk you through it. It's likely your wedding venue already has a "normal" way of setting things up, but that doesn't mean you can't add some of your own input. 


Follow these easy steps to help you create the perfect reception floor plan. 


1. Decide where the dance floor and DJ/band will be.

Think about it, your reception will mostly revolve around the entertainment, so make sure the dance floor is centrally located, large enough for your guest count and if you are having a band that they are front and center from the dance floor. If your venue has a permanent dance floor, you might not be able to move it, but you can certainly work around it. If you are having an outdoor wedding and will require a dance floor rental, take into consideration the size you want. Too small, and it feels overcrowded. Too big, and guests feel like they're too exposed to let loose on the dance floor. 


2. Pick what table shape you want and how many you need. 

Once you’ve got the dance floor location picked, you should fill in your tables around it. First and foremost, decide where you and your future spouse will be seated. Will you have a sweetheart table, a king’s table or a head table? After that, decide if you will use rounds, rectangles, squares or a mix of both for the guest seating. Lastly, once you know your final headcount, you can figure out exactly how many tables you will need. A 5 to 6 foot round table will seat 8 to 12 guests. If you use rectangle tables, will you squeeze extra guests at the ends of the table? If so, you will need to leave a little extra room between tables. 


3. Place the bar(s).

Don’t place the bar by the entrance because it will create a bottleneck. However, do place it near the dance floor so it’s easily accessible and doesn’t pull guests too far off the dance floor during the party. When making your wedding reception floor plan, highly consider adding a second satellite bar when your guest count is over 150 to ensure everyone can be served in a timely manner. 


4. Now, add the food tables.

While you won’t need buffet or station tables if you are having a plated meal, there are still food tables to consider. Don’t forget the dessert table and/or cake table. If you are having a traditional multi-tiered wedding cake and doing a ceremonial cutting, make sure your cake table is centrally located so people can watch. If not, ask your venue if they have a rolling table so they can roll it onto the center of the dance floor when it’s time to cut. 


5. Lastly, pick where you want your extras.

When it comes to a reception floor plan, you might have "extras" like a seating chart or escort card table, a welcome sign, gift table, memorial table, favors table or guest book table. Really, anything else that is going to be displayed! Not only will it help with set up, but you won’t be scrambling last minute to find a table to set your card box on. Go over these details with your wedding planner to ensure you aren't forgetting anything. 


Don’t forget these pro tips when working on your reception layout!

  • Mix the sides of the family, it doesn’t have to be one family on one side of the room and one on the other.
  • Wedding planners are a great tool in helping you create floor plans.
  • Seat your older guests further away from band/DJ for sound reasons.
  • Don’t forget ceremony and cocktail hour floor plans.
  • Number tables in a way that makes sense so it’s easier for guests to located.

There you have it! Creating your wedding reception floor plan is easy, especially with a great team of vendors on your side. Your wedding rentals and decor team will be able to provide you with more details about how many tables or chairs you will need or how much space certain decorations might take up. Now, it's time to party!


Photo Courtesy of Highland Brewery

Photo Credit: Caroline Lima Photography