Sweet Ice Cream Photography  wedding reception rustic style long benches hall exposed rafters

Photography Credit: Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

Leave Room

Most wedding reception venues advertise a maximum capacity, which is calculated by assigning a minimum amount of space in square feet per person. This is usually around eight square-feet for a cocktail function, and 15–20 square-feet for a seated event.

For example, your chosen venue might offer a capacity of 200 for cocktail-style, while for a seated affair it’s 120, it’s important to stick to this when organising your guest list. While this is a good figure to have in mind, it’s also useful to break it down and see what will affect the maximum number of family and friends you can comfortably accommodate.

Written by Lucy Mackay



It’s important to remember that maximum capacity often doesn’t include the dancefloor or space for a DJ or band, and for many of us this is an essential part of your wedding reception. For this, leave a bit more room than you think you’ll need to make sure there’s room to walk around the edge of the dancefloor, and to ensure nobody ends up stepping on each other’s toes!


If your floorplan includes a bar, gift table, or buffet tables, or even supporting columns or partial walls, you’ll need to allow for a little extra room for your guests to navigate around them. Nobody enjoys having to pass through a ‘choke-point’ in single file just to get to the bar. It’s well worth speaking to your venue manager about what the space can usually handle when it’s full of guests. Ask what it’s like to move around the room, and if you’re having a few extra elements if you’ll need to consider cutting down the numbers a little to make sure there’s room to move.


This might sound obvious, but it’s an oft forgotten fact that the temperature affects how close people want to stand to each other. On a hot, sultry day, people are more likely to want a bit more space than they will in winter. An over-crowded venue can quickly heat up in summer, so it’s worth factoring the weather into your calculations.