August 4, 2021
Depending on the type of event you are hosting and the event venue you have chosen, there will be a number of different seating options available. Choosing the right one can make all the difference at your event.
Let’s start with important questions to ask when determining the best seating arrangement for you:
How many people are attending? Some seating styles are better suited for large groups, others for smaller, more intimate events.
What space is available? Talk with your venue representative to determine what type of seating is suggested. Your venue contact will be the expert with the space and will also be aware of items like space needed for a check-in table, food service tables, bar service, room needed for a stage or dance floor.
What are event priorities? Consider if you are wanting an event for social reasons like a wedding or anniversary or is this a corporate event, maybe a product roll-out, workshop, or sales meeting?
What furniture is available? Speak to your venue coordinator to see what is available from the venue. You might also work with an event rental company. Be creative. Seating at your event does not need to be limited to only one style.
Different Types of Seating Arrangements For Your Event
Outdoor garden wedding at The Lakefront Garden at The Willows
The Lakefront Garden at The Willows
Theatre Seating has the seating all facing in the same direction usually facing a stage for a presentation. The seats are placed in rows with an aisle in the middle. This is a popular seating style for a wedding ceremony and corporate events like meetings, annual general meetings, large group presentations, and product launches.
All seats facing forward toward the presenter
Maximum seating capacity
Audience is contained in their seats so no movement or interactions
Aisles are required for people to move in and out of the rows
The seating doesn’t offer space for note taking or for any food or beverage.
Classroom Seating Arrangement for a Corporate Training EventThe classroom style of seating arrangement is perfect for exactly what the title implies. If you are hosting a training event, a conference, or maybe a sales kick-off, then consider the Classroom arrangement.
The seats are facing toward the presenter. By having seats that include tables or individual pull out tray tables it allows space for note taking.
The audience is contained in their location so movement or interaction with others is not easily available. Seating capacity is reduced with the addition of tables.
Outdoor Wedding with U-Shaped Seating ArrangementThe U-Shape setup arranges the seating in long tables in a horseshoe design. It is popular for training, conferences, workshops, and board meetings with presentations.
The open end allows or a focal point or presentation area and it allows the presenter to approach and engage each audience member.
Audience interaction is enhanced by facing people facing each other. Tables allow space for notetaking and food and beverages. This would be a great set up for an interactive meeting that includes a working lunch.
This layout is not ideal for larger groups as it is not the most efficient use of space. Most of the audience is seated side by side so while audience interaction is increased with the design it still has some limits.
The Lodge at The Willows decorated for a spring wedding reception in Indianapolis
The Lodge at The Willows
When you are thinking about a wedding or a large dinner gala, the banquet style is likely what you imagine. With round tables situated throughout an event venue this is the perfect design for an event that will include a meal. Banquet seating usually means assigned seating. We will offer suggestions on creating your seating chart in a future blog.
Like a family dinner table, the banquet style optimizes opportunity for your guests to interact. Being seated at round tables allows all the guests at a table to see one another, which encourages an enjoyable, social climate.
While the banquet style is great for guest interaction, the interaction is focused on the table where your guests are seated. Be sure to work with your venue consultant to optimize the space so that guests may easily enter and exit the space because traversing through a large event like this can be challenging. If your event includes a presentation, speakers, or a wedding head table, some guests will need to turn around to see.
Cabaret Seating for a Speaker SeriesThe Cabaret style is similar to banquet seating except that one side of the table doesn’t offer seating. This is a great option if you would like your event to offer the social benefits that round tables provide while ensuring that your guests have a clear view of the presentation area. This is popular for non-profit and corporate events which include training sessions and awards nights.
Audiences face the presenter and presentation so no one has to turn their chair to see the main event. It provides a more social climate with table space for a meal or needed workspace.
Your seating capacity is reduced because one side of each table is left empty.
Wedding Event at Ballroom at the Willows in Indianapolis Indiana
The Lakefront Garden at The Willows
The Cocktail style arrangement utilizes small cocktail tables and generally no chairs. This is what is often offered during the Cocktail portion of a wedding reception. It is great for large company holiday parties and networking events.
This arrangement is the most efficient use of floorspace, so you get the most bang for your buck if you need to serve a large crowd. Guests have the greatest opportunity for interaction with one another. Practice those mingling skills! This is a great idea for shorter events too.
Cocktail seating arrangements generally don’t include actual seating. Be cognizant of guests that would require seating. Cocktail tables are most suitable for light food and beverages, not a full meal. Since this is such a social arrangement getting your crowd’s attention for a long presentation would be challenging.
A Corporate Event at The Crane Bay Event Center in Indianapolis
The Crane Bay Event Center
The Lounge area is a popular trend in events. This offers creative opportunities with layout and décor. As corporate and wedding venue specialists are noting a desire for clients to have a more casual feel to their events and a wish to incorporate relaxing opportunities for guests to interact, this concept has seen a huge uptick. Many venue locations include lounge table furniture that their clients can choose in addition to the typical tables and chairs.
Lounge seating gives the audience an informal area to mingle and relax. It creates a sense of space within a large venue space.
The Lounge Zone requires more space to accomplish so it could be a challenge based on your guest count and venue size. If your venue does not have furniture to create a lounge area renting is an option, but it can become pricey.
Family Style Seating
Corporate Event being hosted at the Indiana Roof Ballroom
Indiana Roof Ballroom
Family style seating generally refers to a layout with one long rectangular table or several rows of longer tables. While it had seen a decline in use at venues, lately there has been an increase in this layout with the rise of rustic, vintage décor. There are some beautiful ideas here.
It optimizes your space and creates a dining room table atmosphere on a large scale.
You will need to be very conscientious of allowing space for people to move in and out of the venue space. So your guests don’t have to traverse long rows of tables consider incorporating aisles for easy in and out. Because this style is generally used to serve large crowds working with your event specialist will be critical when planning food service.
Newer Trends To Consider For Your Event
The Pod style is a newer trend that utilizes small, generally square tables with a focal point for a presentation. It is a great fit for workshops, training sessions, and team retreats. The small group can engage in discussions or team building activities while having a good sight line to the presentation area. The presenter can move about the room easily engaging with the audience.
Serpentine Seating Arrangement for an Outdoor Wedding
With the trend for outdoor, rustic style weddings and large winding table layout is the perfect way to incorporate the outdoor scenery as part of the décor. There are particularly beautiful ways to immerse your guests in nature while enjoying your event with a seating arrangement like this.
Mix and Match
Indiana Roof Ballroom featuring Mix and Match style seating for a corporate event in downtown Indianapolis
Indiana Roof Ballroom
Utilize multiple seating styles for a more unique seating arrangement. For example, round, square, and rectangular tables would create a more interesting seating layout and possibly make room for extra seats at your wedding or event. Plus, it can solve issues on seating assignments by using varying sizes of tables.
Mix and Match also refers to the concept of using a variety of seating arrangements styles. You might be hosting a more intimate wedding reception. One section of the venue may house the cocktail reception. In the banquet area where you serve your meal, in addition to the round dinner tables, you might want to include a lounge area so people can relax and visit throughout the evening.
Corporate Party at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Downtown Indianapolis
Indiana Roof Ballroom
Similar to the Cocktail Style seating design, bar tables with stools is a great setup for a cocktail event. It is not as efficient in space usage as traditional Cocktail Style seating, but it creates the same atmosphere and allows for seating. It is also easier to enjoy appetizers and cocktails.
Enhance Your Seating Design With This Ideas
Use circles over straight lines
Mix in unconventional furniture
Incorporate multiple types of seating arrangements to add variety and meet needs
Coordinate event lighting with the seating design
Be creative with colors
Add variety of eye levels if possible