With the right guidelines and strategies, calculating the correct square footage for a tented event can be more science than art.
Accurately calculating the amount of space a tented event requires is a critical component of the service that tent and event professionals provide. A too-small structure will result in an overcrowded event, impeding flow and leaving guests irritated. On the other hand, an excessively roomy tent can make the event seem poorly attended and leave the client wondering if he or she spent more money than necessary.
To avoid either fate, many companies rely on standard guidelines for determining the size of tent needed, although these formulas vary depending on the company, the type of event and the jurisdiction. Some start out with 10 square feet per person for banquet seating; others prefer 15 square feet per person. In some cases square footage is dictated by state or municipal requirements, which is why Steve Kohn, president of CADmyevent.com, advises to check with local code officials prior to any event.
Some components of tented events that contribute to square footage are obvious and are seldom overlooked. Gary Feuerborn, vice president of All Seasons Event Rental and All Seasons Tent Sales, a Kansas City, Kan.-based full-service event planning, catering and rental company, names some of the more common ones: a dance floor (3 square feet per person); a four-piece band (200 square feet); a DJ (80 square feet); bars (around 100 square feet per set-up); and buffet tables (about 80 square feet each).
But other elements are often overlooked, such as how people are going to move smoothly and freely about the tent. Michelle Hope, co-owner and lead event designer for Social Butterflies, a Memphis, Tenn.-based wedding and event planning company specializing in luxury events and destination weddings, considers this element essential. Although visual appeal is important, spaces must be highly functional, she says. Where will guests line up at food stations and bars? How will wait staff and guests maneuver around tables? How will placement of various components affect movement?
A couple other factors that impact the size or style of tent are the need for covered areas for food preparation and vendor setup and inclement or seasonal weather affecting HVAC or sidewall requirements, says Vernon Greene, senior event coordinator with All Seasons Event Rental.
CAD drawings help to make planning and decision-making easier and involve clients in process. These visual images of the event can be manipulated based on client desires and budgets. Once the plan has been finalized, the layouts also assist the on-site team in setting up the event, says Feuerborn, clarifying questions and making things go much more smoothly for the crew, the company and the client.