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#21: Floorplans

Reception Floorplans - 5 Tips to Rock Yours

Floor plans should get way more hype and credit than they do when it comes to planning. It is the BIGGEST way to bring your vision to life and will outline your entire reception.

A lot of times what we see though are couples who are burnt out by the time they need to sit down and draft a floor plan. It’s not the most exciting thing, and it doesn’t always look the best - compared to floral arrangements or that cute custom sign you had made that is. It can also be very overwhelming once you start thinking of all the little details and things that go into a floor plan. This brings us to this blog post - 5 steps to setting up your perfect floorplan.

As always - resources, links, and more are at the bottom!

floorplan planning tips and free download for wedding planning

Wedding guests and your floorplan

Knowing how many to plan for and who your VIPs in the room are is crucial.

Everything comes back to your guest count - you need to know how many to plan for. We get that until your RSVPs come back it’s a bit of a guessing game but that’s okay!

We suggest planning for a safe number - the upper range with some flexibility. If you choose a layout with 10 tables you can seat 80 by placing 8 chairs at each, or 100 by placing 10 at each. What that really means for you is if your RSVPs come in at 90 you’re not stressing to build/order another centerpiece to make it work.

If your count comes in lower? That’s easy! Seat less per table or bonus remove a table meaning you have the decor you would have set on it to use at the bar, the entry, etc.

When thinking about your guests you should also consider the VIPs in the room. These typically include your wedding party, their significant others, and your immediate family members. We can’t recommend reserved tables enough - with their names at their place setting. Each weekend we see parents come in from taking post-ceremony photos with the gorgeous couple to be stopped by many friends who are saying hello. What couples don’t think about though are all their other guests - you know, the ones not in those family photos who made their way into the reception hall half an hour ago to claim their seats. Your VIPs should not be left looking for a chair in the back corner of the room - a simple “reserved” sign helps. Place cards with their names to ensure that your second cousin once removed doesn’t self-proclaim to be VIP, and it also enables your pros to help direct guests to a fantastic seat while leaving those seats reserved alone.

Know your wedding venue space and size

There’s not much worse than designing a floorplan for a square room and arriving to see it’s

wedding and event planning tips and checklist

actually half as skinny as you thought. We have a blank scaled-to-size floor plan for our couples - it has the main entrance, exit doors and even dressing rooms so that our couples can really work with the right shape of the room and plan accordingly. If your venue doesn’t have a blank floor plan (or even an example so you can simply trace the outline) then be sure to take a tape measure with you to your next visit! ​

The room itself is not the only thing you will want to know the shape and size for though if your venue has tables, chairs, or other furniture provided for you as them the sizes so you can space accordingly. There is a big difference between 6-foot-long banquet tables and 60-inch rounds. Your venue should also have basic details and information about the furniture for you. For example, our 60-inch round tables seat 8 - 10 with our Chiavari chairs. If someone were to bring in folding garden chairs which are wider we would suggest 9 tops, and ideally only 8 chairs per table.

Fixed Items at your venue

This includes all the permanent features and things you cannot move or change about your space.

Every venue is different - one thing you don’t want to forget about when planning your perfect floorplan are the permanent features in the room. It may be large furniture or decor items that cannot be moved, or it could be something more structural such as a door or counter. For our venue that includes our bar - a long granite counter located in the southwest corner of the reception hall. Keeping these permanent features in mind will help you use the space to your advantage and really let the floorplan work for you rather than being stuck with what you have.

Electrical outlets are another feature couples sometimes forget about. For example that band you’re planning on having? Or that amazing photo booth your guests will be lined up at all night long? They need power - and enough of it too. For our couples we keep it simple, we have multiple outlets on every wall, outlets at the ceiling for those who hang decor and have larger installations such as lights, and we even have outlets on the floor. It keeps creating their floorplan a little simpler with one less headache to have to worry about.

Prep before you start

You have to know your details before you begin - otherwise, you will feel overwhelmed and lost. It’s kind of hard to plan your space when you don’t have a clear vision of everything you need there. Are you serving a buffet line or will meals be plated? Do you have a DJ or an 8-piece rock band? All these things make a huge difference in what you have space for and where you need to start to tackle your floor plan. If you jump the gun and start drafting your floor plan without knowing these details you may find yourself erasing…. A whole lot. Or you might finally reach the end and then realize you forgot to put your head table in the room - YIKES.

This checklist is just a glimpse of the questionnaire we send our clients and items that are in the majority of the floorplans we’ve built.

Know the flow of your celebration and guests

Knowing where your guests need to walk to, walk from, and around is so helpful in planning your space. Talk about saving the best for last! This is the one area that can be hard to visualize - so please talk to your vendors and have them look over your floorplan with you. The flow of your guests is very important. Often we hear during tours how couples don’t want lines - lines at the buffet line, the guest book, and especially not at the bar. Now keep in mind that there will be busy times when lines are unavoidable. Even our intimate weddings with less than 40 will have a line at the guest book to sign in and leave a note - that’s expected. What you do not want though is a traffic jam.

Could you imagine if the line for your bar crossed paths with your buffet line? What about if in addition to that your caterers and bar staff had to walk across the lines to get to ice and their utensils. PLEASE don’t do that to your pros, your guests, or your sanity! Break apart the hotspots of the evening - even photo booths can be so fun near the bar but if they are in the same corner is a crowd waiting to happen.

Our venue was designed with the kitchen and the bar on opposite ends of the venue for a reason. The kitchen has multiple doors so that caterers can move freely and not through crowds. Use it to your advantage - keep the buffet line near the kitchen and spread out the flow or your event to utilize all areas of the venue.


floorplan checklist for wedding planning


This Episode was hosted by AMANDA

Co-written by Hawthorn Hills Ranch

Grab the Checklist:

Floorplan Checklist (1)
Download PDF • 319KB


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