Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG

Sunday, August 17, 2014

No More “Receiving Lines!”

Filed under: Receiving Line,Wedding Tips — Larry James @ 8:30 am
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A mistake that brides and grooms often make: Not taking the time to greet each guest personally at the reception.

A receiving line is the best opportunity to greet each guest individually and thank him or her for coming to your wedding. And if you’re having more than 50 guests, it’s considered proper etiquette. The line also guarantees your guests a minute of face-to-face time with you, a chance to hug, kiss, and congratulate you both, and to say things like “The ceremony was lovely. Larry James was terrific!” (Wink, wink) 😉 However, receiving lines are an old tradition that have pretty much gone out of fashion.

NOreceivingLinesTraditions can be great, but not all wedding traditions are necessary, or even meaningful, in today’s weddings. With more than 50 guests, it can take time away from taking photos after the ceremony. I say, “Don’t ever make your guests stand in a line at your wedding if you can avoid it, and NEVER do it unless it is for food or a drink.” This outdated tradition eats into your special day leaving less time for “real conversations” with your guests.

Since I am the last person to exit after the ceremony, I often will make a brief announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, the bride and groom request that you offer your congratulations at the reception so photos of the bride and groom can stay on schedule. In the meantime, please enjoy hors d’ oeuvres and something cold to drink at the cocktail hour. Please allow the parents to go before me (that way the parents get to be the first to say congratulations). Let the celebration begin!”

Have an usher escort guests from the ceremony area to the cocktail hour. One couple had the guests go by the guest book table. This way everyone was sure to sign and they will have something to do while waiting for the reception to begin.

More and more couples plan to visit each table during the reception instead of a receiving line. What you don’t know is that most couples never make it around to every table – they often get sidetracked when their favorite song comes on or when their uncle drags them off to the bar for celebratory drinks, and before you know it, it’s time to cut the cake and do the last dance. Some couples walk around the reception with a basket of wedding favors and personally hand them to each guest instead of leaving them on the table.

My advice: Skip the receiving line, since it usually feels outdated, old fashion and takes time away from photos. Although it may not be the perfect situation, when you visit every table every guest will have gotten a greeting and a thank-you, and no one will leave angry that they traveled a long distance and never got to meet the bride and groom. It’s also important to have a “plan” to visit each table to greet guests after they finish their meal.

Have the DJ or Master of Ceremonies make an announcement that the bride and groom will visit each table, personally thank and acknowledge the guests and pose for photos. It’s also very important for the bride and groom to visit each table “staying by each other’s side” because guests will want photos with both. You may also incorporate having your photographer (or someone else) take photos of you with each table. The only downside could be that guests had moved to different tables to mingle or they’d moved on to the dance floor and they miss the appearance of the bride and groom.

More and more couples are choosing to see each other before the wedding for a “first look” or “reveal moment” photo session and take lots of other photos before the wedding so they can meet and greet with your guests during the cocktail hour in a separate area away from the main reception hall.

BONUS Articles: Wedding Receiving Lines
The Receiving Line – “NOT!”
To See… or Not to See? That is the Question!

CelebrateIntimateWeddings

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Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. This information is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website and Wedding Blog. Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Check Larry’s availability.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

The Receiving Line – “NOT!”

Filed under: Receiving Line,Receptions — Larry James @ 8:00 am

The receiving line is an outdated tradition that has generally fallen by the wayside in favor of having the bride and groom visit each table, visiting with guests and posing for photos after they have had your meal at the reception. The bride and groom always get served first, so they should have lots of time for table-hopping and a quick hello after they have enjoyed the culinary delights of your wedding dinner. Have the photographer take photos of you with each table.

TIP: Do your table-hopping as a couple – together! Stay by each others side. This is a time when guests will want to take photos of the newly weds. Remember that ultimately the goal is to make guests traveling from afar feel personally welcomed by both of you.

vintageweddingreceivinglineThe purpose behind the tradition of the receiving line is to allow the hostess – usually the Mother of the Bride, regardless of who is paying for the wedding – to personally welcome the guests into the reception. Traditionally, the bride’s parents – as hosts – head the receiving line and are first to greet guests, followed by the bride and groom and then the groom’s parents. Many lines we’ve seen also include the entire bridal party (if there’s room), and sometimes even grandparents. The couple may wish to stand alone.

Large guest lists and big bridal parties can make for very long and time consuming receiving lines. The receiving line is still used by some where the guest list is very small – no more than 25. Most of my weddings are at resorts and are outside and are usually near sunset. Standing in line and waiting for 100 or more guests to offer their congratulations takes time. If you will be having your photographer take some photos featuring the beautiful Arizona sunset, dump the formality of the receiving line.

When there is no receiving line I usually make this brief announcement immediately following the ceremony after the bride, groom and bridal party walk out:

“Ladies and Gentlemen. The bride and groom request that you offer your congratulations at the reception so pictures of the wedding party can stay on schedule. In the meantime, please help yourself to hors d’oeuvres and something cold to drink. Please allow the parents to go before me. Let the celebration begin!”

bridegetshugAllowing the parents to exit before I do has them follow the bride and groom and the wedding party and not get caught up in the crowd as the guests exit. That way they can be the first to congratulate the bride and groom and remain close for photos after the wedding.

Speaking from a guest’s perspective, there’s nothing more awkward than waiting in line to say some forced greeting to the bride and groom. Since people do not usually enjoy standing in line for a long period of time, if you have a large wedding and anticipate a significant wait in line for the guests, consideration should be given to the comfort of your wedding guests – especially if your wedding is outdoors in the Greater Phoenix area.

Some brides and grooms are choosing to see each other before the wedding so that can take the majority of their photos before the wedding so they can join their guests at the cocktail hour for a meet-and-greet opportunity instead of a formal receiving line.

There is a cool Chinese custom that has the bride and groom go from table to table at the reception to have a toast with every table. You could have an assistant standby to pour the champagne or apple cider for non-drinkers.

Here is another alternative: A Receiving Photo. At the reception the bride and groom take center stage on the dance floor. The MC calls each table up, telling them to bring their empty champagne glasses with them. The men are instructed to stand on Grooms side, women on Brides side. When in place, 1/2 turn, raise glass, smile and offer “Cheers” to Bride and Groom as the photographer takes the photo. You will have a keepsake photo of all the guests. The first table may take a couple of minutes to get in place, however the subsequent tables will see how it’s done and this should not take too long at all.

Another alternative for a receiving line is to have the bride and groom walk around the reception with a basket of wedding favors and personally hand them to each guest. Be sure to assign someone to carry the favors for the bride and groom.

Photo Credits: Upper Left:June and Art (A charming blog for vintage romantics documenting a courtship in the 40s/early 50s)
Right: Christophe Wedding Photo

Copyright © 2012 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s “romantic” Wedding Website. Larry James is an award winning, non-denominational wedding officiant and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. Pre-maritial relationship coaching is available and not required. You will find more than 470 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Something NEW about weddings is posted every 4th day on this Wedding BLOG. Check Larry’s availability.

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles, “LoveNotes” and wedding tips listed in this Wedding BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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