In true wedding planning fashion, the initial focal point of coordinating is toward the ceremony. But once those details are fleshed out the focus becomes solely on the reception. From coordinating with vendors, selecting menus and entertainment, to determining the timeline of specialty dances, there are many moving parts to the evening, but honestly none of it will matter if your guests aren’t comfortable. The amount of space between tables and the quantity of tables and chairs will influence the flow of the event.

The first thing to consider when determining the set design of the reception is what are the capabilities of the venue. For instance, in some venues, they will transform the room that was occupied for the ceremony and transmute it into a reception space. The downfall to double utilization of space is the guests need to go somewhere while these changes are taking place. Typically, venues that provide this option will have a secondary space for a traditional cocktail hour. Traditionally, cocktail hour set designs are a mix of high-top tables and no chairs. Keeping that in mind, it’s a wise decision to limit the cocktail hour to exactly that, an hour. The longer guests are waiting with no seat, the more anxious they will be to leave, especially if they are in heels. To buy time, consider having light hors d'oeuvres and stiff drinks to preserve the peace.

Event professionals will advise, but generally sitting 8-12 people at a table depending upon the size of the table is a rule of thumb. If it’s a smaller table, opt for 6 per table. Allowing breathing room and considering comfortability should always be top of mind. Additionally, it’s important to evaluate the guest list and try to pair people together who will enjoy conversing if you plan to use a seating chart. If having a seating chart isn’t of interest, consider appointing someone in the event staff to usher people to tables. The goal is to utilize the space as eloquently and efficiently as possible.

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