Planning an event in a tiny venue and don’t know where to start? We’ve gathered these 10 small event space ideas to inspire you and kick the planning process off right!
For this article, we considered any private venue that can accommodate 100 people or fewer to be a small event space. If you’ve never planned an event in a venue this intimate before, the good news is that all of your experience and knowledge will still apply—you just need to scale it down.
With small event spaces, the key is to find a gathering area with the right atmosphere for your event type, since you won’t have much square footage available for decor and furniture.
For example, the small mammal skeleton wing of the natural history museum that fits 30 people at one time might be perfect for a macabre wedding ceremony, but less than ideal for celebrating the members of your top sales team.
Besides that, the options you have for your miniature event venue are (almost) endless. Remember: the only limitations you have in a small event space is your own imagination.
Read on as expert event planners and small event space owners share their wisdom on how they personally make the most out of intimate venues like these!
Explore 10 small event space ideas that guests will adore
The following small event space ideas come to us from professional planners, hours upon hours of small space home decor research, and tools that have changed the game when creating layouts for tricky spaces.
1. Use the element of surprise
Small doesn’t have to mean boring. Shock, delight, or simply wow guests with something visual that will take their breath away when they first walk in. This can be decor, a painted mural, or even a strategically placed live performer.
We spoke to Kevin Luther, founder and CEO of Lucid Winery, about what makes their small tasting room appeal to event planners and hosts alike.
“Here at Lucid Winery located in Sacramento, CA we offer a small event venue in our winery and tasting room for weddings, small parties, or corporate events,” shares Luther.
“We decorated our event space with a library of rare literature and records, and of course—wine barrels—to give our space something you can’t find anywhere else. That added element for guests to be able to browse interesting texts is something that event planners love.”
Combining decor with function is crucial for a small space. By adding in interactive elements, this small event space is able to offer more entertainment for planners without the hassle of pulling it together themselves!
Luther went on to say, “To make the most out of your small venue, we recommend adding a unique surprise element to your space—something they cannot get anywhere else. This could range from complementing the venue with a quality product, a library of rare texts like ours, interactive elements, or adding a one-of-a-kind design element.”
2. BYOM: Bring Your Own Mirrors
One of our favorite small event space ideas is also a handy home decor trick: mirrors.
Mirrors make any space they are added to feel bigger, brighter, and more elegant. Large ones can be placed on the floor while smaller ones can be added to tabletops and shelving. Use temporary poster strips to hold up lightweight mirrors or see if your venue has any they sometimes use for decor.
If you have a large mirror available, place it where it can be seen from the entrance of the small event space so that it gives the illusion of more square footage.
3. Take advantage of ceiling space
Limited floor space? Consider looking up if you need more surfaces for your event decor and lighting to hang from. Ceilings are often underutilized areas of any event space. But if you’re concerned about making the most out of a tiny event venue then this might be the fix you need to complete your vision.
Ask the venue management about what you can and cannot add to the ceiling. If you’re allowed to add nails, you can hang virtually any decor or lighting element you’d like. Some favorites include:
- Paper lanterns or pom poms
- Dried herb and flower bunches
- Christmas ornaments
- Balloon wreaths
- Industrial light bulb clusters
- Draped fabrics
- Fairy lights
Anything that is lightweight enough to safely hang overhead is a good fit for a small event space. If you’re not allowed to put holes in the ceiling, consider removable hooks. Just be sure to test them out ahead of time. And again, check with your venue—the last thing you want is to rip a chunk out of the wall (or your deposit).
You can also use the ceiling as a canvas for projections such as artsy video compilations, colorful lights shows, or elegant spotlights to brighten up the space at night.
4. Choose a single focal point
Small event spaces can quickly feel overwhelming when you pile on different colors, objects, and furniture. Keep the visual lines clean yet interesting with a central focal point. This will be the element that draws the eye into the space.
If the venue itself already has something, use it! You may find that an interesting chandelier in the center of the room is more than enough to create a guiding light for the rest of your decor choices.
If you need to create your own, start by zooming out to the big picture of the space. What features already stand out to you when you look at it with fresh eyes? Use this as inspiration for the location of your focal point.
After, use event diagramming software to plan your layout. Here’s how:
- Start by adding the exact dimensions of your small event space. The collaborative venue diagramming tool can create a photo-realistic replica of your space.
- Add in structural elements and permanent objects. Think elements such as low-hanging wood beams, spiral staircases or doors that swing open into the space. Software like the Cvent Event Diagramming Tool, formerly known as Social Tables, allows you to add customizable measurements for objects too.
- Make note of outlets and tech considerations. If you plan to make, say, a small DJ booth your focal point then you’ll need to make sure it’s near everything they’ll need.
- Try out a few different arrangements. Present them to your clients and event management team.
5. Swap out the furniture
Is there a table taking up precious floor space? Be bold and ask the venue to move it. Swap it for a slimmer fold up table you can push against the wall. Or get rid of tables altogether and make it a standing affair!
Moral of the story: don’t be shy about asking the venue for what you need. Rent furniture for your event that makes sense for your needs if you have to.
6. Get inspo from past events at that venue
The best way to figure out what will work in the future is to see what worked in the past. Grab some photos and a notebook to jot down ideas you love. Pay special attention to how you or other planners have used vertical space in the past. Look for layouts that work for your event goals. If you have planned past events in this space tool, pull some references from your saved plans and use them as a template.
7. Let the space to do the decorating
Chances are your small event space ideas mostly involve adding to what’s already there. However, it’s possible that the event venue itself has more than enough character and charm to meet the majority of your needs.
So lean into what’s already in the space. Working to accentuate its built-in personality will save you space, since you might not need to add more decor or furniture. Even if you’ve planned events in this small venue before, you have to remember that guests are coming in with fresh eyes. They’re not bored of its main characteristics.
8. Scale it all down
Want to add a buffet table? Make it smaller. Curious about a balloon archway? Make it smaller. Going for a disco ball? You’re probably sensing a pattern.
The key to any great design is to take the venue’s proportions into account. Remember to try different arrangements and object sizes by either adding custom measurements of pieces you want to use or finding what works best and adding it to your shopping list.
9. Keep it bright
Light color schemes, extra lamps, and translucent or clear decor all make it easier to create the illusion of more space. Even if you choose a darker color palette for your overall event theme you can mix in bright accents where needed. Adding in little touches like these will make the space seem roomier and more inviting no matter how tiny it is.
10, Lean into airy designs
You can totally create a delightfully moody and intimate atmosphere while keeping your small event space ideas airy enough for guests to have visual breathing room. Try not to clutter walls with decor. Avoid overusing patterns or mixing too many different colors all in the same area. And leave plenty of blank space in between focal points whenever possible.
Final thoughts on small event space ideas
No matter what you choose to do with your limited space, if you focus on creating a great place for people to gather then the rest will fall into place. “There’s a lot of moving parts when it comes to a venue,” says Theatre 42 founder Austin Lugo, “but what’s most important, especially in a small venue, is the community. You must cater to them with high quality acts, beverages, and experiences. Focus not on what will make the most money, but what will best excite the community. If you focus on the community first, everything else will fall into place.”