there’s one element of planning a wedding reception that many couples never even think about, but wedding planners are always thinking about. it has a big impact on the amount of fun people are able to have, the ability for people to take in all of your entertainment and really connect and celebrate with each other. we’re talking about traffic flow.
to use traffic flow to your advantage, you need to understand where people are going to be moving to and from, and what is going to draw people from one part of the room to the other. this is an element that is often overlooked, but plays a huge part in the quality of the experience your guests have at your wedding.
here’s an example of what might happen with poorly-managed traffic flow. in some venues, a typical floor plan includes the dance floor on one end of the room and the bar on the complete opposite end of the room, with all of the dinner tables and chairs in between the two sides. in that set-up, if someone goes to the bar to get a drink (which they are bound to do!) and hears a song that they like, they will want to get out on the dance floor and cut a rug. however, when they have to go all the way through all of the chairs and tables before they actually get to the dance floor, it’s likely that they’re going to be distracted by friends and family that are sitting at those tables. by the time their song is over, they’ll still be stuck in conversation with Aunt Susan! DJs and wedding planners have had opportunities to work in different venues so they are perfect people to help you optimize traffic flow so that everyone gets to enjoy your entertainment, as well as all of the displays and decor that you’ve worked so hard to include.
here’s how to manage traffic flow in a nutshell.
first, you need to know that certain things always attract traffic, no matter what. the food, the bar, the bathrooms and any exit or outdoor smoking area or patio – these elements will always have people travelling to and from them. if you have a photo booth, that is also likely to draw a lot of traffic. the key to maximizing the traffic, which will naturally flow to those areas, is to make sure you place items that you want your guests to experience in the midst of that flow of people.
for example, if you have a photo wall that shows off snapshots of you and your fiancé throughout your lives, that’s a really special part of your day that you want everyone to take a look at. however, if it’s tucked in the corner, away from any moving traffic, a lot of people won’t even notice it’s there. In order to get the most people looking at those photos, the best thing to do is to place it in a high-traffic area, like on the way to the bathroom or near the door that leads to the patio.
remember, some of these things can be moved in your floor plan, and some can’t. exits and bathrooms can’t usually be changed, but depending on the venue, the food and the bar might be able to be placed in any part of a room. when you’re determining your floor plan, see how you can utilize the flow of traffic so that your guests will engage in the entertainment you’re providing. in order for people to get out on the dance floor, it’s really helpful if it is in a high-traffic area. of course, your DJ should have lots of tricks that they use to get people dancing, but it certainly helps a lot if people have to walk across the dance floor to get to something. another option is to place your photo booth on the edge of the dance floor. that way, when people are waiting to get into the photo booth, they’ll be dancing a little bit and already part of the action part and part of the fun.
another thing that’s often tucked in the corner is the wedding cake. whether you’ve paid a professional to design your dream cake, or a family member poured a lot of love into making something beautiful and unique – you want that cake to be seen! make sure it’s somewhere that people see it before you cut it. if it’s tucked away in the corner, no one will see it until it’s cut and on a plate in front of them. you can avoid this by displaying your wedding cake – or any other beautiful things you put a lot of effort into – in a high-traffic area, so that they get noticed and are worth your time and effort.
often, a busy wedding venue will have a set floor plan that they use as a default. don’t be afraid to talk to your venue liaison about changing things up a bit! think about the traffic flow based on the crowd-drawing items we mentioned above, and place things where they need to go to ensure your guests get to enjoy all of the special things that you organized.