Event Planning | The Best Seating Arrangement For Your Event

Depending on the type of event you are hosting and the venue you have chosen, there will be a number of different seating options available. Choosing the right one can make all the difference logistically, stylistically, as well as energetically for your guests and the event.

Event Planning | The Best Seating Arrangement For Your Event (Indianapolis)

Let’s start with important questions to ask when determining the best seating arrangement for your event:

Different Types of Seating Arrangements


​Theater seating has the chairs all facing in the same direction, usually facing a stage for a presentation. The seats are placed in rows with aisles. This is a popular seating style for wedding ceremonies, corporate meetings, large group presentations or performances. This style seating is best for events that have a main focal point for their guests, need maximum seating capacity, and have little to no catering or note taking needs.


In classroom seating, all the seats are facing a main focal area like theater seating, except the seats include tables or individual pull-out tray tables for note taking. Much like the word “classroom” implies, this type of seating is best where there is a learning aspect for the guests. Trainings, meetings, and conferences are all examples of types of events that may choose a classroom seating arrangement.


​The U-Shape setup arranges long tables in a horseshoe design. It is popular for training, conferences, workshops, and board meetings with presentations. Similar to the classroom style, except this configuration allows for more engagement with the presenter and guests since they are facing each other. This is a great setup for smaller interactive meetings that include a working lunch, but can be not the most efficient use of space for larger groups.


When you are thinking about a wedding or large dinner gala, banquet style seating 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 and works well for both social and corporate events. Banquet seating can be open or assigned, and optimizes the opportunity for guests to interact. However, it is important to remember that since the interaction is focused on the table, if the event includes a presentation or speakers, some guests will need to turn around to see.    


The Cabaret style is similar to banquet seating except that one side of the table doesn’t have chairs. 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 award presentations. Having less seating per table does reduce overall capacity so be sure to work with your venue to maximize the space as needed.


The Cocktail style arrangement utilizes cocktail tables, which are standing height with smaller round tops and typically no chairs. This is what is often offered during the cocktail hour portion of a wedding reception. It is also great for large company holiday parties and networking events. This setup is the most efficient use of floor space and easily allows for socialization of guests. Cocktail style works best with a lighter menu instead of a full meal and one needs to be cognizant of any guests that may still require a seating option.


The Lounge style is a popular trend in events as it offers creative opportunities with layout and décor. Utilizing different types of furniture like couches, accent chairs, and coffee tables, a lounge set-up creates a sense of space within a large venue and gives the guests a more comfortable, informal place to mingle and relax. Some venues, like The Crane Bay, have 

furniture options in addition to standard tables and chairs, but if your venue does not offer these amenities in-house, renting from another company may be an option if budget allows.

Family Style 

​Family-style seating generally refers to a layout with one long rectangular table or several rows of longer tables. With the increasingly popular rustic, vintage decor trend for weddings in particular, family style arrangements have also been on the rise. Family style optimizes the space and creates a dining table atmosphere on a large scale. It is important when using this seating style to work with your venue and be conscientious of allowing aisle space for people to move in and out.

Mix and Match

Mix and match utilizes 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. As always, it is important to work with your venue on what their inventory offers, as an outside vendor may be needed for rentals to have enough options. It’s also important for the event to still feel cohesive, despite mixing and matching, and so using your venue’s event planning and execution team will be important.

No matter which style you consider, be sure to work with your venue as they are the experts of the space and will be able to lead you in the right direction. With three distinctive venues offering unique decor and arrangement options and an expert team of event planners, Crystal Signature Events is here to help with all aspects of your event planning needs.