How much space do I need?

“I have 50 people coming for my party. How much space do I need?” That’s a question we hear often. It’s also a question that has several different answers. Our follow up question is “50 people doing what?”. You can calculate the needed space for a party or event by determining what activities you wish to provide space for and how many people you expect to be engaged in that activity at one time. For instance, if you want to provide space for everyone to sit down at a table to eat you will need anywhere from 8 to 12 square feet (sq ft) per person. Use 8 sq ft if you are using 8 foot tables with 10 at each table. Use 10 sq ft per person if you are using 8 foot tables with 8 per table, 60 inch round tables with 10 people per table or 72 inch round tables with 12 per table.. Use 12 sq ft per person for 60 in round tables with 8 per table or any other round table. So, to answer the above question for 50 people. If we assume that we want seated dinner space, we need 400 sq ft to seat them at 8 ft tables, 10 per table, 500 sq ft to seat them at 60 in round tables 10 per table or 72 in round tables 12 per table. We need 600 sq ft to seat them at any other round table configuration.

Given the standard space for certain activities, you simply multiply out the number of people doing the activity and add up the different space requirements. Use the following table:

Activity Sq ft per person
Dining 8′ Rect. tables 10 per table/Dining 6′ Rect Tables 8 per table 8
Dining 8′ Rect tables 8 per table/Dining 6′ Rect tables 6 per table 10
Dining 60″ Rd tables 10 per table/Dining 72″ Rd tables 12 per table 10
Dining all other round tables 12
Dancing 5 Per person dancing
Buffet Table 8′ 75 sq ft per table
Buffet/Bar Table 6′ 50 Sq ft per table
Band/DJ 32 Sq Ft per member of Band
Cocktail Party Standing Room 6
Seating Cathedral style (Includes 4′ aisle down the center) 6
Head Table 20

For a more complicated example, suppose we have a wedding reception for 150. There will be a buffet, a bar, a 4 person band with dancing and seating for everyone at round tables (8 per table) with a head table with bride, groom and 6 family members. The amount of space would be computed as follows:

Buffet (2 8′ tables & 1 6′ Table) 200
Bar (1 6′ table & 1 backup table) 100
Band 128
Dance Area (30% of people dancing=50) 250
Seating 1200
Head Table 160
Total space necessary 1768 square feet

These numbers allow very little extra space and should be considered a minimum space. For the above event, 2000 square feet would be a comfortable area to party in.