Today we’re talking about another rule you can break when planning your big day, and it’s all about the receiving line. Yep, the receiving line is still a thing, and there are still some couples who feel obligated to have one. We’re here today to explain why you don’t need one, and how you can still make sure you welcome each guest who comes to your wedding even without that old tradition in place.
The old fashioned receiving line is a tried and true way for a couple to welcome each guest individually. At the close of a ceremony, the couple kisses, is pronounced man and wife, then dashes down the aisle! When a receiving line is in order, the couple then stops in their tracks at the doors to the church or at the end of the outdoor aisle to say a short hello to each and every guest as they exit. Typically, the couple’s parents will also stand at the exit to shake hands and say hello to each and every guest. We’re going to be honest… this is just no fun. There’s nothing “quick” about it. Your guests will have to stand in a long line just to get out of the church and they can’t do so without disrupting the flow of the receiving line. In fact, if you have a larger guest count, most guests will just have to remain in their seats until there’s room even to stand in the aisle. We’ve never seen a receiving line take less than 30 minutes to complete, but usually they’re longer. In fact we’ve seen one receiving line last close to 90 minutes. Yikes!
But don’t get us wrong, we understand the “why” behind this old fashioned tradition. Making sure to welcome each and every guest who comes to your big wedding celebration is a kind and loving gesture. But doing so in this manner seems so forced and “because you have to” not because you want to. So we’re here to tell you that this old school tradition your Mother and Grandmother think you just have to do is in fact not necessary. If you want to skip this step (and we strongly encourage you to skip it) here’s how to still make sure you welcome each guest:
1. Do a First Look – There’s never going to be a time when doing a First Look is a bad idea. It’s always going to enhance a wedding day on so many levels. But in regard to your receiving line aversion, a first look allows you extra time after the ceremony ends. Get the vast majority of your portraits (family too!) out of the way before you even walk down the aisle, and you’ll be able to attend your own cocktail hour! Hooray!
2. GO TO YOUR COCKTAIL HOUR – Sometimes, even couples who choose to do a First Look will hide away for an hour as guests mingle at cocktail hour as to not be seen before the big entrance. To that way say, who cares! NOW is the time to mingle with your guests! THIS is essentially your receiving line time. So when the ceremony is over, since you won’t need to be busy taking photos (remember, we did those earlier in the day), you can instead sip champagne and start welcoming all the guests who have come to celebrate with you.
3. Divide and conquer – When you use the cocktail hour to start saying hello to each individual who is in attendance, you don’t have to mingle as a unit. Let the Bride make her rounds, getting to all of her college buddies, work colleagues, and friends who really want to gush over her. Let the Groom do the same, and you will spend your cocktail time wisely. Then, when it’s time to start making your rounds together, saying hello and hugging with closer relatives, find one another and welcome those guests as a couple. Doing this will help you cut down on the amount of time necessary to get through the guest list.
4. Keep the conversations short – In fact, you probably don’t want any of your “hello’s” to turn into full blown conversations. This is a time for you to officially welcome guests to your wedding, thank them for coming, and glow in their congratulations. Your guests should understand you are not available for a long, sit down talk to discuss the political landscape in 2016. Keep it sweet, simple and to the point with everyone. When it’s hard to move onto the next guest, simply say (and don’t feel bad about doing so) “There’s so many people here! We’re just so grateful everyone came out, I better make sure I say hello to _______ but I’ll see you on the dance floor!”
5. Don’t panic – If you don’t get to say hello to everyone during cocktail hour (and you probably won’t) you still have 3 or 4 hours of a reception to do so. Usually the Bride and Groom are served dinner first. That means typically, by the time you’ve finished your dinner many guests haven’t even been served yet. Now’s the perfect time to walk from table to table making sure to say hello to anyone you didn’t get a chance to during cocktail hour. The bonus to this part of the evening, is everyone is sitting down so you can keep track of who’s where and which table you need to go to next.
So for those of you who think you need to include an old school receiving line into your wedding day… you really don’t. And trust us, you don’t want to anyway. This little plan has been done by so many of our couples and we’ve always seen it work out to be a much more natural and easy way to spend time with everyone who attends your wedding.