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.
Traditions 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 This outdated tradition eats into your special day leaving less time for “real conversations” with your guests.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My advice: Skip the receiving line, since it usually feels outdated, old fashion and takes time away from photos.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.
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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