Choosing a venue for your event is a big decision, but signing the booking form is just the beginning of your journey towards creating the perfect space for your guests. Whether you’re organising a seminar, workshop, wedding, party or dinner dance, it’s important that you give serious consideration to where, how and on what your guests sit.
Seminars and talks
Most sessions with a speaker have the same main requirement – for everyone in the room to be able to see and hear the individual(s) giving the presentation and any visual aids they’re going to be using – usually a screen. If this is your only need from your seating then theatre style is an ideal choice – tiered if possible. Make sure you talk to your speaker though, as part of their content may include breaking the audience up into small groups for discussions. In this instance, a cabaret layout could work better.
A comfy chair for a sit-down meal is obviously a must but for a seminar or presentation, you don’t want your invitees at risk of nodding off – particularly in that first after lunch session! – so avoid really cushioned chairs.
Seating plans for business dinners will vary hugely, depending on your guest list and what your intention is for the evening. If you’re inviting a mix of people – for example like at an office summer party – then it might be prudent to use a round table layout for the room. This way, different departments and senior management can be kept grouped together to ensure all guests are seated with their peers and awkward silences at the dinner table are avoided.
However, if you’re organising a conference dinner which has been put on with the express purpose of allowing your delegates to network, then the rules are totally different. Banquet-style seating maximises the contact between your diners and having a second seating plan for dessert will give everyone double the chance to make useful contacts.
It’s impossible to generalise when talking about wedding seating plans, as everybody’s set of friends and family has a different dynamic. It’s worth noting though, that these days the traditional top table and its line-up of bride and groom with both sets of parents, best man and chief bridesmaid either side, is not considered necessary contemporary etiquette. Many couples decide to avoid the politics of placing parents, step-parents and other family members in a hierarchy, and simply have a room of round tables with family thoughtfully dispersed with other guests whose company they will enjoy.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when thinking about the seating arrangements for an awards do, is giving winners enough space to get up and down from the stage without disrupting tables, chairs and other guests. There’s nothing more awkward than a room of people running out of enthusiasm for clapping leaving an embarrassed colleague climbing the stairs in silence. If the winners know in advance they are collecting an award, it might be an idea – in a very large venue – to seat them near the stage to make life easier for them.
If you’re hosting a party at which you’re serving just bowl food or canapés – i.e. no sit down food – it’s still important you think about seating. Leaving a room completely free of furniture not only makes it look empty and lifeless, it also doesn’t give your guests anywhere to perch a drink or take the weight off when they are feeling a little tired. Poseur tables and stools are great for parties and networking events as they make the room look furnished but also encourage ‘guest flow’ as people tend not to settle for too long.
Your next event at Regent’s
Our highly experienced Events Team understands how it’s the little things that can make a huge difference to the success of any event. They also know our stunning, historic venue inside out so are well placed to advise you on the best layout for your space. If you have any questions about our rooms or gardens, please don’t hesitate to contact us or give us a call on +44(0) 20 7487 7540.