“Excellent floor plan” is not typically a phrase you will see in your customer reviews. However, neglecting the basics of a good floor plan can lead to knock on effects in other areas that will most definitely show up in those reviews. A good floor plan is like the unseen dowels in that magnificent five-tiered wedding cake – it holds the magic together.
Whatever type of venue you are using, from private castles to hotel function rooms, indoors to outdoors, a strategic floor plan is essential to ensuring a successful event. Placement of the dance floor, tables, stage, band/DJ and bar(s) will have a major impact on the flow and feeling of the event. If you have ever found yourself straining to see the toasts or hitting your chair off another guest every time you need to get up - you have been the victim of a bad floor plan.
Read on to find out how to nail the floor plan for your venue and get rave reviews every time.
The Importance of Planning Ahead
To fail to plan is to plan to fail, no truer words from Benjamin Franklin. Planning ahead gives you the best start on getting that floor plan nailed down so that everything else falls seamlessly into place. Knowing your venue size and dimensions, what tables are available and their capacity, and most importantly, how many guests and guest roles are critical information for your floor plan.
Some wedding software, such as Sonas, allows you to upload your venues’ floor plans and pre-plan the room layouts and desired furniture for each event. It allows clients to choose the table layouts for their wedding breakfast, upload their guest list and indicate which guests are involved in speeches or other events. Coordinating the guest list, table plans and seating arrangements with your clients has never been easier!
How Floor Plans Affect Behaviour
If you have ever been the guest at a wedding, you already know that certain things can have a huge impact on how you feel - did they serve your favourite dish and play your all time favourite song? Amazing! But what if every time you got up you bumped into someone else? Or your server spilled gravy all over your best dress? What if to get to the bar you had to navigate a veritable obstacle course of tables, and you couldn’t even see the speeches without straining your neck? These may all have the same root cause - you guessed it --- floor plans!
A well thought out floor plan will make guests comfortable, without them even realising it. Guests and staff need to be able to move freely throughout the venue, and there needs to be unobstructed access to bathrooms and fire exits, as well as bars, the dance floor and a buffet (if applicable). All guests want to feel included, so consider the visibility of the main attractions – speeches, toasts, the cutting of the cake and the entrance of the bridal party. After all, that is what everyone has come to see!
All good nights end on the dance floor - but what if yours is empty? It could be that your dance floor is too large for the event or is out of sight from guests. A gigantic dance floor can be intimidating, even to the most enthusiastic guests but if guests can’t even see the floor, the party will never get started. Easy access to a central dance floor makes for a much more involved crowd.
It can be tempting to spread out all the “fun” things around your venue, but by cleverly placing your dance floor next to the bar and other attractions (e.g. photobooth, games, sweet carts) you can actually increase guest interaction and turn up the fun factor.
Practical Tips to Nail your Floor Plans
Now that we know how important floor plans and crowd psychology are, here are some more practical tips to help you ensure your event goes off without a hitch.
We already know that a central and visible dance floor is crucial when it comes to people getting on the floor, but how can you ensure that once you get them there, you keep them there? Firstly, always have the band or DJ directly in front of the dance floor – part of their job is to motivate the crowd to keep dancing, and no one can achieve that if they are tucked away in the corner.
It’s always a good idea to keep the dance floor the right size for the number of guests. Pro tip: half the number of guests multiplied by 4.5 equals the minimum square footage (sq ft) needed for a dance floor; e.g. for 150 guests you would have a dance floor of around 340 sq ft (or approximately 32 m2).
Most wedding parties include a mix of ages, from the adorable toddler bearing the rings to your great uncle who starts every sentence with “in my day…”. It’s important to make sure that everyone has a good time. One area of concern can often be the speaker set up - make sure there is a sufficient buffer between the speaker set up and the nearest table. The dance floor itself can act as an excellent buffer between seated guests (especially elderly ones) and the speakers.
And finally, if your event is reaching capacity, round tables are your friend. They can optimize the space and accommodate the most guests most comfortably.
Using Software to Facilitate Floor Planning
Software like Sonas enables seamless coordination with the client to input the guestlist, table plans and seating arrangements, so you can plan your floor plan well in advance and never be subject to last minute changes.
Sonas can streamline your workload by hosting optimised floor plan templates online that are ready to use, together with the preferred furniture for each event. You can highlight the “fun zone” and other areas to be allocated to each section of the wedding. Marking each area will enable you to do a virtual walkthrough, avoiding any floor plan mishaps and ensuring optimal guest comfort.
They won’t necessarily realise it, but your clients will be grateful that you put floor plans center stage and the after-event reviews will surely reflect that.