- When you meet with your catering manager or coordinator, get a layout that shows the size of the room or rooms you will be using and definitely ask if they have suggestions as to what has worked in the past, what doesn't work, and if they have any used floor plans on hand that you can take a look at. Many locations, like hotels or event spaces used frequently, will have this information on hand for you, or may provide this to you when you first begin looking. They may have one that has worked well in the past that you would be happy with, and that will save you the trouble. But you may want to make your event special in designing your own plan. On this layout make sure that the areas included on the map are a stage, columns, etc. that may make certain situations difficult. Also, map where the electrical outlets are located to think about those that will need power and their location in the room.
- After you have determined how much space you have to work with, this will help you determine if the tables you want will work. Do you want all round, square, do you want a mixture of round, square, and rectangular? Determining this will help you see if the tables are going to work in the space. Some rental companies that you work with can provide you a CAD, or drawing layout of the room with all of the elements included, so that you can see your room in 2-D, and sometimes 3-D, and see if there any changes you want to make. Not all rental companies will assist with this, and some charge, so your wedding planner will come in handy with her floor plan software in this case.
- When considering how much space you will need, there are some handy tips for dimensions that you need to keep in mind, especially keeping in mind if you have any plus sized adults that will need room:
- Keep in mind that people need between 2-3 feet of elbow room, especially if you're doing a seated dinner, between them and the next guest for easy movement.
- Tables need to be at least 4-5 feet a part so that your guests have easy move ability in the space.
- Always keep in mind if you're going to need to add a stage for your band, or DJ, and if you want a dance floor. If so, what size dance floor will you need? Do you have a large dancing group? If so, you need to allot a good size dance floor for your guests.
- Try to keep all of your guests localized so that they don't have to go from place, to place, to place to see all of the evenings events.
- At an event we had recently, the guest book was at the ceremony for a short period of time. Once a line began forming it was taken up and we displayed it at the cocktail hour. Guests didn't miss it, there wasn't a long line, and it gave them something to do during the cocktail hour as well.
- Always make sure that your older guests aren't seated near a speaker that may blow them out of their seat. Keep that in mind when you're making your seating arrangements, as well as placement of your tables.
- Consider the flow of your event. Take a "walk" through the space in your mind as to how you have it laid out and make sure that it flows well and that your guests are going to easily navigate and have fun at your party!
- When you are finalizing your floor plan, create a drawing to pass along for the set up. If you have a planner, this is something she will finalize and pass along to those for set up as well.
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Sharon Patrice, Simple Perfect Peace/Designs by Shay