Happy Friday, friends! We’re ramping up into wedding season–I’m deep in timelines and wedding logistics on my desk. So today, I thought I’d chat about a big choice my couples make during their wedding planning that can effect their whole reception timeline–the receiving line!
High up on many of my couples’ priority lists for their weddings is to make time to greet their guests in a thoughtful, unhurried way. I love this! So many of my clients really value their relationships with their friends and family, and they love to be great hostesses. It’s that kind of selflessness that makes me LOVE my couples!
There are a few ways that you can approach greeting your guests, but the biggest thing is to have a plan and make it clear and natural for your guests. There’s nothing worse than wanting a moment JUST for you and your new spouse right after the wedding, and instead being surrounded by 150 of your friends. Or hoping to have a chance to shake hands with each of your new family members, and instead being so wrapped up in your reception events that your older guests start to leave once the cake is cut. It’s just so important to make the time for what’s important to you! Choosing how to greet your guests and getting it on the timeline will help make that happen!
The Receiving Line
The first, and more traditional way to do this, is with a receiving line. The receiving line is what usually happens right after your ceremony or at the beginning of your reception. You’re newly MARRIED (yay!) and all your friends and family are ready to greet you and congratulate you! You’ll get the best hugs and the wisest wisdom in these moments. It’s also a great time to introduce your new spouse to any relatives they haven’t had a chance to meet yet.
With some structure, this looks like you and your bridal party or parents lined up at the exit of your ceremony. Guests will get a chance to hug you individually as they leave the ceremony. This is great if you especially want a chance to connect individually with each person, and you have a smaller guest list or plenty of time on your timeline for this. Without any structure or planning, this will probably happen naturally if you and your new spouse are hanging out outside your ceremony entrance. A receiving line can take about 20 minutes or more depending on how many guests you have, so plan accordingly on your timeline.
If you’d like to avoid doing a receiving line post-ceremony (because you have bride and groom photos planned, you want to greet guests a different way, or you’d like time alone with your new spouse first), you’ll need to have a game plan! You and your spouse should head somewhere in the opposite direction of where your guests will be headed, and ideally, out of view. If your guests are headed to the parking lot, circle back to the bridal suite and take a moment to soak in being MARRIED! You’ll catch up to your guests at the reception!
One last tip I have for receiving lines is to make sure they’re set up for photography! That means, try to avoid choosing a super tight space to stand in. This allows me to have the best angles to capture both you and your guests as you chat. Near large windows or just outside the ceremony venue is a great option! I loved how Shellie and Kevin stood outside the entrance to their reception at McMenamins Grand Lodge for their receiving line!
Table to Table Greetings
An alternative way to handle greeting your guests is to make a point to visit each table early in the reception. This way, most people are still seated at their tables. Dancing hasn’t started yet and people aren’t in the middle of eating. Nobody wants pictures of them with half-eaten food in front of them! I love when my couples plan this and give me a heads up. I can follow them as they go, often grabbing group pictures with each table! This is an excellent option if you have a tight timeline or a large guest list, because it goes much quicker while still getting photos of everyone together. Vanessa and Spencer chose to do this and it worked out perfectly! My biggest tip for this type of greeting is to make sure that you’ve “disappeared” after the ceremony and that your guests are directed to head to the reception. Then, make sure that you’ve let me know when you plan to do the table to table greetings so that my camera and I can be ready to capture it!
I hope this helps you as you plan your wedding day! I truly believe that the choices you make as you plan effects your whole wedding day experience! Decide what your priorities are and then make intentional choices that reflect those priorities. That’s how you can have a PERFECT wedding day!