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How to Calculate Socially Distanced Capacity for Wedding Venues

How to Calculate Socially Distanced Capacity for Wedding Venues


Alison Hargreaves Updated:
8th of March 2023

This blog was last updated in August 2021 and is no longer being updated. Please see our coronavirus news article for the most up to date information or visit your government’s website.

Depending on where you are based in the UK, wedding numbers may be dictated by socially distanced capacity. Here's what that means and how to work out your numbers.

What is Socially Distanced Capacity?

Quite simply, Socially Distanced Capacity is the maximum number of people who can attend a venue, whilst still respecting social distancing guidelines. It is based on the size and therefore the capacity of an individual venue, rather than an arbitrary number. At the moment this is based on maintaining a 2m distance between guests.

It makes sense to allow more guests to attend a wedding at a venue where there is more space available.

Wedding venue setting for wedding breakfast

Would marquee weddings be subject to SDC?

The proposals put forward are for all weddings in all venues, from registry offices, to event centres, to marquees. The benefit of marquee receptions is that, unlike venues where the numbers will be restricted by the capacity, marquee size can be increased to allow for however many guests are attending.

Can I look up the SDC for my venue online?

Each venue will have their own calculations for SDC. We have noticed that SDC numbers are very similar to the number that can be accommodated for ‘cabaret layouts’. So, if your venue does a lot of conferences, and has cabaret as a room layout option, the numbers shown there may give you a rough guide. 

To have a clear answer, it is always best to speak to your venue directly and understand what their SDC numbers are.

wedding ceremony first kiss

How is Socially Distanced Capacity calculated?

Compliance, and therefore the calculation, will be the responsibility of venues, with local authorities giving additional guidance where needed. Venues would work out their own calculation, in the way they carry out other risk assessments, taking into consideration all available factors. It is a complex calculation and inevitably different venues and different authorities will approach it in different ways, each with the intention of keeping guests safe while allowing for the highest possible numbers of guests to attend.

For normal capacity, factors such as the maximum number of guests for registrars. These numbers will need to be factored into the calculations for a lot of venues. A percentage of the maximum could become the easiest method of calculation.

Although most guests at weddings are there with someone from their household, SDC is calculated on the basis of each guest being socially distant as it is impossible to guess how many are there as a +1.

We have a simple excel formula for our clients based on a room without fixed furniture. It highlights the difference in numbers by using an accurate calculation. You can either download the sheet for Excel, or open it with Google Sheets. Please note, if you open with Google Sheets you will need to make a copy of the sheet in order to edit it.

Socially Distanced Capacity calculator

Will Fire Regulations affect the calculations?

Under ordinary circumstances, fire regulations are usually more concerned with the speed of exiting in the event of a fire. Whilst capacity does have an impact on this, the regulations are more to do with access to fire exits and extinguishers, so we would expect this to be the same when venues are calculating SDC. Again, it will also depend on the authority who has jurisdiction over the calculations.

If your venue would like access to the Excel spreadsheet formula to assist with the basic calculation to give a rough idea of numbers, just get in touch.

Now you know how many guests you can have at your wedding, check out the Guides for Brides venue finder to find your perfect wedding venue.

Alison Hargreaves Guides for Brides Bio

About the author


Alison Hargreaves

Alison has been advising brides, grooms and bridesmaids for more than 25 years. She has an unrivalled knowledge of the British wedding industry and frequently appears on podcasts and expert panels. She regularly attends international wedding conferences to keep the UK at the forefront of wedding planning trends.

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