Have you considered the traffic flow at your wedding and reception? This key element of good layout is often an afterthought, superseded by the more fun parts or the need to squeeze a maximum amount of people into your ballroom.
But traffic flow should be one of your first and biggest considerations long before you start placing tables. Here are a few key traffic flow patterns to pay attention to.
1. Main Entrance. If all your guests arrive within a short window of time, a poorly planned entry area will become a bottleneck. Guests' first impression will be disorganization and a line to wait in. Avoid this by using a wide, double-door entrance or even by directing guests during overflow times to a secondary entrance for convenience. In addition, don't place obstacles such as the gift table or guest book in this area.
2. Between Tables. The harder it is for guests to get around once they are seated, the less mingling and mixing there will be. Leave plenty of room to walk between and around tables — preferably up to 60" of open area. Table shape may help if your guest list is too large to leave open space. Square tables, for instance, are a more efficient use of space for the same amount of diners.
3. Catering Routes. If you will have a plated meal, the biggest dining consideration is the entry and egress from catering rooms. If possible, try to ensure there are separate doors where servers and caterers can go into the ballroom and others where they will exit the room. Routes should be clear and straight and not have restricted vision as people come and go from food areas.
4. Buffet Tables. Anywhere guests will serve themselves is another high-risk point for bottlenecks and lines. Buffet tables should have ample open area on all sides to allow for the expected size of food lines and to allow the catering staff to work. Breaking up the buffet tables into stations reduces the risk of one or two overly long lines. This also includes appetizer stations, bars, grazing boards, and the cake table.
5. Dancing. The size of your dance floor is dictated by the size and makeup of your wedding. Generally, plan for about nine square feet of space for each dancer and plan on about half of the guests dancing at any given time. If space is too crowded, people are less likely to participate, so don't press tables into this area. And remember to make it easy to get to the dance floor from all angles.
When you and your guests can move comfortably around the reception, everyone will enjoy themselves more and will feel more free to party the way they want. Learn more by consulting with an experienced wedding ballroom manager.
To learn more about setting up your wedding ballroom, contact an event planner.