How big a dance floor for wedding

How to Keep the Dance Floor Packed All Night Long

No one wants an empty dance floor at their reception. Here's how to start the party—and keep it going strong.

Pictures by Katie

Here's one wedding nightmare you might not think of until it's too late: an empty dance floor. You've booked the band or DJ, planned your playlist and specifically carved out time for dancing—so why isn't anybody on the dance floor? You don't want to force people to get out there, but, like, seriously, why isn't anybody dancing? Trust us, if you follow our advice, you won't have to deal with this wedding reception dilemma. Your guests will find their way to the dance floor naturally and willingly (and that's an understatement). Here are the 11 best ways to ensure a packed and lively dance floor the entire night. Let the party begin!

1. Set the Mood Early

Cocktail hour is a great time to get the party going. Consider hiring specialty performers. Entertainment like a mariachi band, jazz trio, bluegrass group or barbershop quartet will energize the crowd postceremony and get everyone in the mood to celebrate. Look to your love story when deciding on specialty music: Hire a brass quintet if you met in marching band, an accordion player if you took an unforgettable trip to Paris together, or get a steel drummer in honor of your upcoming Caribbean honeymoon. The main idea is to make sure your guests aren't noshing and drinking in silence.

2. Make Sure There's Enough Space

Small dance floors are too cramped and big ones make people too self-conscious. Here's a good rule of thumb: There should be at least three square feet of dance floor space for every two guests. So, if you have 150 guests, you would need a 15' x 15' dance floor; 200 guests would be about an 18' x 18' area; 400 guests calls for about 25' x 25' of space. Ask your reception site about adding on extra flooring if the standard seems too small. And one more thing—make your dance floor the focal point of the room, not tucked into a corner. By highlighting it, you send guests the message that dancing will be a big part of the evening.

3. Align Your Seating Chart

Seat friends and family who love to dance closest to the dance floor. They'll be more likely to get up and start moving early if they have easy access. And once they're out there, others will follow (some people just need a little encouragement). As for your more elderly guests, do them a favor and keep them away from the speakers. They'll appreciate it. Mind your decibel levels too. You want your friends and family out there dancing, but you also want your nondancing guests to be able to enjoy themselves without having to yell. Talk to your musicians about how they plan to handle volume and accoustics within your reception space.

4. Skip the iPod Idea

You may have the most genius playlist in mind, but there's a reason why DJs and bands are so common at weddings—they're pros at reading and interacting with the crowd, and adjusting to their mood throughout the evening. They're there to ensure everyone is dancing and having an amazing time (so you don't have to). Besides, do you really want a friend or family member getting up to grab the microphone all night to announce your cake cutting and bouquet toss? Didn't think so. If you do your homework, you'll find a band or DJ in your price range who fits your style. Trust us—it's worth the money knowing your guests will be entertained all evening.

5. Don't Limit the Genre

Even if you both truly love indie rock, there's a good percentage of your guests who probably haven't heard of Modest Mouse and won't appreciate it like you will. A playlist made up entirely of '80s dance music, rap or country is the same story. Don't get us wrong, including your favorite genre at your wedding is great, but it's important to include a little mix of everything—that way there's a little something for everyone. Your wedding is a celebration of your relationship—one that probably involves music—but it's also a time to share with your extended family. Keep them in mind when developing your playlist. Throw grandparents a nod with Frank Sinatra and give your aunts and uncles a chance to dance to a little "We Are Family"(unless you're truly averse). Seeing them enjoy the night will be well worth a few minutes of Sister Sledge.


6. Make Music Interactive

Let guests in on the fun by allowing them to request songs via the RSVP card. Or set up a poll on your wedding website and ask everyone to vote on your first dance song or the last song of the evening. You'll have everyone looking forward to the voters' choice song reveal.

7. Create a (Short) Do-Not-Play List

There's no bigger dance floor turnoff than hearing your least favorite song (ahem, "Chicken Dance"). Put together a short list of please-don't-play songs for your DJ or band to avoid. But at the same time, don't micromanage. While your music pro should know which genres you like and dislike, let them figure out the best way to mix the music.

8. Keep Your First Dance Brief

You may have fallen in love listening to "Free Bird," but imagine how long nine minutes and eight seconds will feel alone on the dance floor. (And if it's dragging for you, imagine how your guests will feel.) Pay careful attention to your favorite song's length before committing to it for your first dance. Time your song and practice dancing to it beforehand. Even four minutes can kill you if you're just rocking back and forth. If your heart is set on a certain (long) ballad, try to have it cut down to a reasonable length. Work with your DJ or band to come up with the perfect shortened version. Same goes for your parent dances too.

9. Keep Things Exciting

Surprise your guests with something unexpected, like introducing a never-seen-that-before act. Think live entertainers, like break dancers or flamenco dancers. Time it right so they make their entrance just as the toasts are wrapping up to get all your guests back up and moving on the dance floor and out of their food coma.

10. Serve Dessert (or Snacks) on the Dance Floor

Ready for this genius idea? Instead of breaking up the flow of your dance party, have your traditional cake-cutting moment earlier in the evening, say, right after toasts or your first dance, before the first course is served. That way, guests will already be seated and paying attention, while you'll still be in focused, newlywed mode (not trying to get low during "Shout"). Then, once the party gets going, have your caterer pass perfect bites of cake around the dance floor, instead of serving plated slices at people's seats or way in the back at a designated dessert table.

11. Dance!

Here's the simple truth: The most fun weddings are those at which the newlyweds are having an absolute blast. Set an example for everyone by getting your happy selves out there as soon as possible. Your guests will notice and be more likely to join you when they see how much fun you're having. And when in doubt, enlist your wedding party. Your reception will be a long, busy evening, so let your crew know beforehand how important it is to you that your guests dance, and ask them to lead the movement to the floor. That way, if you do get caught up talking to guests, they'll have your back.

Ready to turn your wedding into a party? Search bands and DJs right here.



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DANCE FLOOR for our wedding or corporate event- How big to go?

When planning a wedding reception, party, or corporate event and hiring a DJ, most clients have visions of a non-stop dance party.

Regardless of what else is on the agenda, the goal inevitably at some point (if not the main focal point) is to get as many guests on the dance floor as possible for as long as possible.

They imagine all they have to do is hire an amazing DJ, and their floor will magically be packed all night!

Yes, we believe it’s crucial to hire an experienced & talented DJ with great room awareness, but even the best DJ can only work so much magic if the logistics of the room are working directly against them.

A common oversight from clients when planning their wedding or corporate event is overestimating how big the dance floor needs to be in the room or event venue in relation to the number of guests.  Another mistake is not renting an actual square dance floor because they venue floor is already made of wood, concrete etc..

If room layout and dance floor size are planned incorrectly,  the dance party can sadly look like this:

At Hey Mister DJ, we specialize in keeping dance floors constantly packed in Los Angeles and the greater Southern California area. 
It’s our specialty, but there are many factors which will help or hinder the our ability to create and maintain dancing.

Room size, lighting levels, guest count, timeline floor, bar & photobooth placement etc.. which all play a crucial role in funneling guests where you want them moment by moment.

For today we are just talking specifically about dance floor SIZE and placement.

In a nutshell…the key points are these:

  • A small floor that is packed and hard to get onto always looks better than a giant floor you can’t quite fill.
  • A dance floor that is too far removed from the dinner area or logistically hard to get to may end up empty.
  • A room that has no dance floor and instead just an open wood/concrete floor is confusing to guests.

Clients always worry about if the floor will be big enough, but if you have guests dancing on the carpet that is a happy problem. In other words, the larger the dance floor the harder it is to keep it full and create the appearance of a rocking party.

Does this look inviting to you?

With these, there is no lighting on the actual floor itself and no perimeter to define where dancing begins or ends it still feels intimidating and uncomfortable to the eye.

Guests need the dance floor area to be clearly defined and separated from the rest of the room so they feel comfortable.  

With this next one, they did a great job lighting the perimeter of the room, but again, the dance floor has no defined beginning or end.  In this situation we’d use pattern & wash lighting to help create a perimeter in lieu of an actual dance floor boarder.

Lighting can help to offset this problem (See our BLOG) “Why dance floor lighting matters” but clearly defining the area you want guests to dance is always a plus and helps draw them in. Human nature dictates that people like clear direction and containment, it’s just how the brain works.
When you have 4 corners it’s easy for the brain to day “I should dance here” but when you have an open space it creates anxiety because the brain can’t map where the space begins or ends.

Now, let’s look at a room that has placed down a dance floor that is the appropriate size in relation to the room and lit it nicely to make it appealing and inviting.  They even used couches for framing and to fill in “dead” space in the room instead of adding more tiles to the floor. Your wedding planner or room designer will usually have ideas on how to utilize furniture, lighting, pipe & drape, and other elements to make a big room feel more cozy and inviting.

Keep in mind that you will maybe have about 40% of your guests dancing at any given time.
Others may be at the bar, conversing, bathroom, photo booth, updating their Instagram, eating dessert, etc.

Our Jewish wedding or Mitzvah clients are usually concerned with doing an amazing HORA (group) dance and want enough space for everyone.  But it’s a critical mistake to build a dance floor that accommodates the entire guest count for only those 10 minutes when we will be struggling the rest of the night to keep it filled.

If during the HORA some guests are on the carpet, it’s totally fine!

One of the most common situations that put clients in this challenging position is when they book a venue that is too large for their guest count.  Once the venue figures out how many tables they need and exact placement, they realize they have too much dead space, so start adding extra tiles to the dance floor to fill in space.  Now you have a HUGE floor that you’ll never be able to fill with enough guests, but the edges of the room don’t look as empty.

It’s ok to have some empty space on the perimeters of the room.  Here’s another great example of a room with a dance floor that is an appropriate size in relation to total room size:

Here is a handy chart to use as a reference based on guest count assuming that roughly 40% of your guests are dancing simultaneously:

#of guests      # of dancers      Size of dance floor

60                        14-20                 10 x 10

100                      32-40                 12 x12

150                     50-70                15 x 15

200                     78-90                18 x 18

The industry standard suggests that each wedding will need 9 sq ft per couple (that’s over 4.5 ft per person).   Example: Let’s assume a party has 200 guests. 40%, or 80 guests, will be dancing at any one time. This means that you would need approximately 360 square feet of dance floor for this party, or about a 16×20 dance floor.

If you figure 40 of 100 guests will dance, then you need about a 200 square foot dance floor. If you double that for 200 guests you would need a 400 square foot dance floor. With 300 guests you need a 600 foot dance floor.  You can see how easily that rule could get out of hand.
(When it comes to choosing your dance floor size, we have found that a 12’x12’ dance floor usually accommodates a small to medium size wedding or event. That’s 144 square feet)

However, you do have to consider other factors like the age of your guests, and how many people you really think will be dancing at one time.

Keep in mind that every event has 3 times of people:

  • Group #1: I will dance for sure no matter what! (The party starters- small in numbers but reliable)
  • Group #2: I most likely will NOT dance (Although with enough alcohol…)
  • Group #3: I am unsure/on the fence but might dance if the situation is ideal (usually the largest # of guests)

This last group is who we should always be thinking about when designing a room/event venue for a wedding, party or corporate event. Group #3 is saying “well, if I feel comfortable enough and the energy is good I will possibly jump on board” so the room must always be setup in a way that maximizes the potential for them to join.

So take this dance party for example:

If you count, there are about 45 people on the floor, and they are clearly having fun.

But because the entire room is a wood floor and there are no corners telling guests where the dance floor ends, they all spread out, and consequently it looks like it’s not a packed floor and thus not as much energy in the room as possible.

Now compare that to this dance party:

Notice that there are only about 20 people on this floor.  Almost HALF less than the previous photo but it appears to have more energy because everyone is grouped together tight because they are on a rental dance floor that has defined edges.

There is also much better lighting in this room which helps add additional energy visually.

To Recap: Hey Mister DJ always recommends having some type of dance floor for every event…even when the venue has a natural concrete or wood floor.   Again, the reason is that the perimeter creates what we call “defined space” that draws people in and helps ensure more dancing. An open area is “undefined space” and often guests feel uncomfortable dancing in such an area.

Here’s a few venues in Los Angeles area we play often that always get the dance floor size right:  

It’s counter-intuitive but when you have a SMALLER dance floor, you are likely to get MORE people dancing.   Now go out and have the best dance party ever!

Are you searching for an amazing DJ/MC for your wedding?
We service the following areas in Southern California:
Greater Los Angeles, Malibu, Calabasas, Westlake Village, Ventura, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, West side, Valley, Downtown, Santa Barbara, Orange County, Anaheim, Palos Verdes, Pacific Palisades and more.

See a full list of the venues we work with often HERE

How to choose a wedding dance: 5 styles of varying complexity

Choosing a wedding dance to surprise guests is not easy. You can stop at the classic waltz or, for example, try something modern, in the spirit of YouTube. We will dispel your doubts and tell you: what style of dance to choose, music and how difficult it will be to implement.


Let's just say that this is a classical dance that does not require special training. The bride and groom dance in a relaxed (moderately) style to slow romantic music. This is a natural style that will not be difficult to learn - the partner gradually leads the partner around the perimeter of the hall. nine0005

Difficulty : 1/5
Suggested Practice : 1-2
Area : Enough to circle a partner
Songs : At the last James My Skin (Frank Sinatra), L-O-V-E (Nat King Cole), Perfect (Ed Sheeran), A Thousand Tears (Cristiana Perri), For Once In My Life (Stevie wonder)
Ideal Venue : anywhere, from the pub to the palace


We are talking about classical ballroom dancing. It is suitable if you dream of a fairytale wedding - stylish, elegant and with a dress like a princess. This is a traditional waltz, foxtrot and even cha-cha-cha.

Difficulty : 3/5
It is recommended classes : 3
Square : Big dance floor or hall
Songs : Jazz suite Shostakovich No. 2, Last waltz, waltz blue Danube
The ideal venue : a suburban cottage or estate

For the public

If you want to hear enthusiastic exclamations and applause of guests, this option is for you. The best way to do this is to recreate a dance scene from famous movies or music videos. The advantage of this option is that all the movements and special effects have already been invented for you.

Difficulty : 4/5
Suggested activities : 5
Square : for your guests to form a circle around you
Songs : Time of my life (“Dirty Dancing”), Teenage wedding (“Pulp Fiction”), Thinking out Loud (Ed Sheeran), Do you love me (Dirty Dancing)
Ideal Venue : Depending on the movie, this could be a concert hall or an outdoor lawn

Dance Story

This is a medley of songs put together that capture the most significant moments in a couple's love story. The choreographic part consists of several dance styles depending on the music. This dance will make your guests laugh and cry.

Difficulty : 4/5
Recommended lessons : 4-60019 Songs : Hello (Lionel Richie), Dance With Somebody (Whitney Houston), Can't Touch This (MC Hammer), At Last (Etta James), Marry me (Bruno Mars) a place that is especially important for a couple is suitable

YouTube style

It can be a dance or even a flash mob with guests. The whole process can be filmed and really become YouTube stars, or at least make this fun moment memorable. For this style, you can use props and even special costumes. nine0005

Difficulty : 5/5
Suggested Lessons : 6-10
Area : it depends on what you want to create
Songs : Everybody Dance Factory (The Road Now), Everybody Dance Music Factory (The Road Now), Everybody C To Hell (Chris Rea), Moves Like Jagger (Maroon 5), Gangham Style (Gangham style band), Uptown Funk (Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson)
Ideal place : tents, museums, beaches, restaurants - whatever you want

9 ways to make wedding guests dance all evening


Warm up the guests

It is best to start preparing guests for the dance without stopping in advance. As soon as the first cocktail is sipped, you can start "warming up". A light lounge or jazz will do just fine for him. In general, any music can sound. The most important thing is that guests do not chew snacks in complete silence.

2. Make the perfect dance floor

On a cramped and uncomfortable dance floor, few people want to dance; a dance floor that is too spacious will also confuse guests. It is best if each couple can have three square meters of space. Let's say if you have 150 guests, then the dance floor should be 15x15 meters in size. nine0005

A dance floor in the very center of the banquet hall is a great solution. Guests will immediately understand that dancing will be an important part of the program at this celebration.

3. Seating the guests correctly

People who love to dance are best seated very close to the dance floor. Hearing the first groovy rhythms, they will be the first to start dancing. More modest guests, seeing this, will relax and join the dancers. Elderly guests should be placed away from the dance floor. They will surely thank you for it. nine0005

Don't turn the music up too loud. Of course, the guests need to come off to the fullest, but they should also have the opportunity to talk.

4. Trust the professionals

Don't skimp on a professional DJ. This person will not only spin the discs, but also make sure that none of the guests get bored. He will be able to pick up good music that will appeal to everyone. The bride and groom have better things to do than play the role of an entertainer, don't they? nine0005

See also: What is better for a wedding - a DJ or "live music"?

5. Consider the tastes of all

Consider the musical tastes of the guests. Perhaps you yourself love rap, but do your guests share such addictions? The same applies to the hits of the 1980s, as well as hard rock or country. To some, such music will seem like a mournful stream of sounds, and to someone it will be completely annoying. You need to make sure that none of the guests remain offended. Assorted, consisting of popular genres, will completely solve this problem. nine0005

Ask your loved ones (don't forget the older generation) and friends about what kind of music they would like to hear. Let every guest have the opportunity to dance with pleasure.

6. Create a stop list

Do not be lazy and make a so-called stop list for musicians and DJs. It should include compositions that in no case should be played at a banquet. Even one single unloved song can beat off all the desire to dance. However, you shouldn’t be too categorical either: you don’t need to stand over the soul of a DJ while mixing tracks. nine0005

7. Don't delay the first dance

Traditionally, the first dance at the wedding is danced by the young. Even if it is simply delicious, it does not need to be tightened. Pay attention to the duration of the soundtrack to which you will dance. It is better not to turn the invitees into indifferent spectators for a long time. If the composition lasts more than five minutes, in the middle of the dance, draw guests into the circle - so they will not get bored. Your first dance should be remembered by guests as romantic and touching, not lasting forever. nine0005

8. Surprise guests

A surprise dance is a great way to surprise guests and get them on the dance floor. Surprise your guests with something unusual. Invite breakdancers or flamenco dancers, Indian dancers or belly dancers. Such incendiary numbers will help restore the dance mood to the guests when they sit firmly at the table.

9. Set an example

If the newlyweds themselves will be the first to go to the dance floor, then the guests will not be able to sit still. Behave naturally: the invitees should understand that no one competes in the art of dance at your wedding, everyone just relaxes and has fun.

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