One of the most over looked details when planning your wedding reception is the floor plan. More than likely you will spend several months figuring out your seating chart which can be stressful at times because you know that Aunt Carrol doesn't get along with Uncle Phil so you're constantly making special seating arrangements. But before the RSVPs come back to your house lets make sure you have the best floor plan for your reception.
FLOOR PLAN TIP #1 - LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
The floor plan is typically discussed with your Venue Manager once you have locked in your date with a down payment for your dream venue. The majority of the Venue Managers that we have personally worked with already have great layout plans for your reception and have placed the entertainment in the proper location. However there are some Venue Managers out there that do not see your overall floor plan from our perspective. They are typically more concerned with the catering staff being able to serve your guests or they have been setting their venue up the same way for decades because "that's just how we do things around here". The location of your DJ is often overlooked or is placed "out of the way" against a far wall away from the dance floor. Even if you hired the best wedding DJ placing him out of the way will significantly impact your wedding reception.
The perfect floor plan for your wedding reception, has the DJ setup centered on the dance floor without any tables in between the dance floor and the DJ's speakers. Once the open dancing begins, the music will be significantly louder than during cocktail hour and the dinner portion. Placing your DJ on your floor plan centered on the dance floor will ensure that the proper volume level for your dancing guests is achieved. The dance floor is also the focal point of the room where all of your special moments will take place. Your DJ plays a key role in the creation of all of your special moments, which is why having your DJ as close to the dance floor as possible is a great idea.
Below you will find an example of an improper floor plan (provided by Mick from Elite British DJ), which has the DJ located away from the dance floor. As you can see from the diagram once the open dancing begins the DJ will have to play the music louder in order to reach the proper volume level for your dancing guests.
Some of your guests may want to catch up with family members and remain seated during the open dancing portion. If they are seated at a table in between the dance floor and the DJ's speakers, in this case Tables 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 they will not be able to carry on a conversation together during the open dancing portion of your reception. This may cause some of your guests to leave your big day earlier than expected.
FLOOR PLAN TIP #2 - SIZE MATTERS
Now that we have your DJ in the correct location on your floor plan there is one more detail that needs to be addressed. The size of your dance floor. This is another minor detail that often gets overlooked. Let's face it when it comes to dancing there are some of us that need a little help from Jack Daniels and may be feel intimidated by dancing in front of everyone. A great way to ensure all of your guests feel comfortable with dancing in front of people is making your dance floor smaller. This will cause your dance floor to become more inviting to all of your guests especially when they see everyone dancing.
Now if you're asking yourself what is the perfect size? We do not have an exact answer because it solely depends on the amount of people on your guest list and the available space at your Venue. We can however give you a real world example of what we would consider a improper and proper dance floor size.
In 2012 we provided the entertainment for a wedding reception with a guest list of approximately 225 people at a local venue. When we arrived to start our setup we were very surprised by the layout plan. The picture below was taken behind the head table and in front of where we had to setup. As you can see this is an example of an improper floor plan and too large of a dance floor. Check out the distance between the table and their guests... and not to mention the last few rows of tables all the way in the back do you think they will be able to see let along hear what's going on?
When meeting with your Venue Manager it is very important to ask if they have any examples of previous floor plans. Typically you will see examples of floor plans that are just on paper. By asking for photos you can get a better feel for what your floor plan will truly look like. If you are wondering why the Venue setup the floor plan as shown in the picture above... We were told "That's how we always setup our wedding receptions". Don't let the lack of creativity and laziness of your Venue's staff potentially impact the overall success of your wedding reception.
When we were approached in 2013 for a wedding reception at the same Venue we made sure that we shared our pictures with them. After viewing our photos, It was very obvious that a new setup plan would need to be followed. Especially since this wedding was about the same size as the other wedding. Check out the picture below and see what we came up with for their floor plan.
As you can see this picture represents the best floor plan and is an example of a proper dance floor size given the number of guests and the amount of available room. You can definitely see the difference when compared to the first picture. Having the tables wrap around the dance floor in more of a 'U' shape not only makes the area smaller but now is a more inviting space.
FLOOR PLAN TIP #3 - SEATING CHART
When determining where your guests will be seated we recommend not placing your elderly guests directly in front of the speakers. A lot of people think that your elderly guests should be directly up front so they can see everything. Once open dancing starts the music will be the loudest and if you place your elderly guests closest to the speakers there is a good chance that the music will be "too loud". By using a horseshoe style setup as shown above you can move your elderly guests away from the speakers. Since all of the special moments will occur in the center of the horseshoe your elderly guest will be able to see everything. If your layout plan has the dance floor in the center with your tables on two opposite sides, we recommend placing your elderly guests as far away from the DJs speakers as possible but still on the dance floor.
FLOOR PLAN TIP #4 - COORDINATION
It is very important to share your layout plan with your entertainment vendor before finalizing everything. We typically go over your plan during one of our meetings together. That way we can provide feedback to ensure that your plan works the best with our capabilities and to ensure the greatest potential of having everything run smoothly on your wedding date.
We have the capabilities to provide wireless speakers in Venues that are large in order to distribute the sound evenly. If your Venue is large this is an important question to ask your entertainment vendor. If they do not have a plan or have the technological capabilities to provide sound in large venues, in order to have your guests way in the back hear everything that's up front they will have to turn up the speakers above normal level. This will cause your guests in the front few rows to complain that it's too loud. After spending all that hard work on your plan and following our tips above it's very important to match your venues size with the proper entertainment vendor.
FLOOR PLAN TIPS - CONCLUSION
We hope you found these floor planning tips helpful and enjoyed reading this article. Remember when determining the location of your entertainment vendor it is very important to not place tables in between their setup and the dance floor. To ensure that your dance floor is more welcoming and inviting reduce it's size where applicable. Place your elderly guests as far away from the entertainment vendors setup as possible. Last but not least, coordinate your plan with your entertainment vendor to ensure that everyone is on the same page.