Weddings & Life with Taylor Nicole, a podcast by Denver Wedding Photographer,
Taylor Nicole Photography
Intro: Is it that big of deal to say hi to every guest you invite to your wedding day? When are you supposed to make time to say hi to everyone anyways? Do you want to actually join your guests for your cocktail hour or is it okay to just see them at the reception? What about receiving lines? In this podcast I speak to the larger or more traditional wedding day plans- anywhere from 100-500 people. And yes that is a lot of people to feed, plan for and it’s also a lot to say hi to during your party. There are an abundance of opinions on when the proper time to greet and thank everyone for coming is, but your wedding day is exactly that- your wedding day. So instead of being caught off guard and needing more hours in your day to greet everyone, or wishing you had planned more downtime to actually just be with your guests during your party I am going to share potential windows or times throughout your wedding day timeline that you can greet your guests. How you can prepare and leave enough time to prioritize your guests throughout your day to the extent that you would like.
Update- We are half way through 2022 now. That technically happened last week but still worth noting. I hope you are feeling good about your progress on your new years goals and hopes. I didn’t set very specific goals but I do feel that I’ve had a very busy and fun first half of the year and am hopeful for what the next six months hold. I couldn’t think of much to update you on. So one idea is that I tried matcha for the first time in June. Austin and I had a date day and we went to a coffee shop and I tried a matcha latte. It was so dang good that we went out and bought our own matcha powder a few days later and I can’t for the life of me re-create that original matcha latte goodness which is sad! So if you’re a matcha expert out there maybe drop some advice to me on Instagram.
Other than that I did want to plug the podcast to you. If you have a moment to leave a rating and maybe even a review if you’re listening on apple podcasts that would mean the world to me. Also another perfect way for people to discover this podcast is for you to share an episode with your friends. If you know someone in the thick of wedding planning and you think some of these episodes could be helpful for them then share away! I love writing and recording these and I hope they are a blessing to you and your wedding planning friends out there!
So let’s dive into today’s topic. When do you greet your guests? This episode was inspired by a wedding I was photographing last year, well actually my associate photographer captured it but I was working with the bride on her timeline and her parents told her that they did a receiving line after their ceremony and that she should too. Now we talked about the options and she decided that is the route she wanted to go but that made me think that if you’re one of the first in your family to get married since your parents there might be some differences in opinions about timing and when you greet your guests.
So the receiving line if you haven’t heard of that, is not commonly used today but I have seen it a handful of times. Basically after your ceremony the couple stands outside the chapel or ceremony space and each guest must walk by the couple to go to the cocktail hour/reception so as they pass they congratulate the couple and say a quick hello. The benefit of this is that it does keep interactions shorter because each guest has the pressure of all the other waiting guests standing in line behind them, and people are usually motivated by food to keep moving forward.
I say that like you don’t want to have long conversations with everyone at your wedding, which isn’t true. Hopefully you know the majority of people there and even better you are close to your wedding guests. I think the idea behind the receiving line is to say hello officially to everyone and then you can catch up and have longer conversations with certain or more guests later in the evening.
I am guessing that you haven’t been to a wedding recently where the receiving line was used. Here is basically the alternative to the receiving line- after you enter your reception you and your spouse eat dinner and then quickly get up to start going around to each guest table in the reception space to say hello and thank them for coming.
Or the other alternative which is the least formal is when a couple wants to join their cocktail hour and mingle with all the guests. Then you can say hello to everyone in a relaxed manor.
So here are a few pros and cons of each option as to when to greet your guests-
Pro- You say hi to everyone there, no one leaving early will be missed. This will free your reception up and you won’t need to greet people still when dancing starts ect.
Con- Time consuming and most timelines use the majority or all of the cocktail hour to finish the portraits like family and bridal party. Also you probably can’t have longer or more relaxed conversations here. This might be a pro if you don’t exactly want long times to mingle with each guest. I have literally watched a receiving line take over an hour for a larger church wedding.
Times I’ve seen this method used well- smaller weddings! I repeat smaller weddings. If you use a receiving line with 500 guests better plan an extra multiple hours. I had this sweet Florida couple get married at a historic chapel in the Mountains and then had somewhere around 40-50 guests. After the exited the ceremony everyone walked by and they got to hug each guest and we still had plenty of time for portraits
Reception during dinner-
Pro- You still have your cocktail hour to finish portraits, you can’t mingle too long because people are eating. They can see you walking around and it’s fun to anticipate getting to say hi to the bride and groom.
Con- It’s hard to set aside enough time to actually greet each table before the DJ is ready to start the rest of your events of the night. That could lead to you only greeting half of your tables before it’s time to start toasts ect. This was actually my and my husband’s main regret was rushing this part of our night but in perspective we placed a high priority on the people attending the wedding vs. dancing or anything else. We wish we would have eaten faster to greet people longer.
This is the most common method I see at weddings today.
Pro- You get to enjoy cocktails and apps with your guests! It’s very relaxed/casual, no pressing order. You can have longer conversations. Guests can approach you too. Also a great time to get group photos that aren’t on the family picture list like college friends ect.
Con- Because this is so relaxed you might still miss some of your guests. The main consequence to this is actually how you will fit your portraits into your wedding day while still saving your whole cocktail hour for mingling. This usually will require a first look, wedding party and all family to be photographed before the ceremony so adding multiple hours to your pre ceremony timeline. I can say this does lead to a much more relaxed day!
So those are the three options as to when you might be able to greet all of your guests. I will add that there are some compromises you can make here. If you finish the majority of your portraits before then you can spend half the cocktail hour greeting and then half taking portraits ect. This isn’t a perfect formula on when to greet everyone.
Also it’s important to ask yourselves if you value having time to say hi or have a conversation with each guest or not. If not that’s okay its your day!
I hope this explanation and examples helped as you plan your wedding day. I vote you build your timeline around what you value the most and then just focus on enjoying your day!