If you have ever been closely involved with a wedding, whether as a bridesmaid, as a bride, or as a family member of someone getting married, you’ll say a big “AMEN” to these statements:
On a wedding day, time is valuable. It goes by fast. And at some points, it’s a little scarce.
Can you relate? On our wedding day and on the wedding days we shoot, we have seen how time goes by at a lightning speed. It blows us away every wedding day… one minute, we’re photographing details and the bridesmaids getting ready. The next, we’re off to the reception location. It’s absolutely crazy! That being said, it’s essential to save time and be wise with how you allocate it every chance you get.
One of the areas of a wedding day timeline that has the potential to become a huge time sucker is the way you choose to dismiss wedding guests after your ceremony. Of course, your goal as a bride is to talk to every guest who has made it a point to be there for your big day. You want to thank them, catch up with them, and meet guests your new husband knows. Here are 3 ways to go about this. You could dismiss wedding guests by row after the ceremony go around to each table at the reception, or have a receiving line! Let’s chat about each of those ways below!
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1) Dismiss your guests by row
Let’s be honest… this option takes a very long time. If you have a small wedding, yes… it will take less time, but it still takes a lot of time! Not only does this route take up a lot of valuable time, but it also forces the people who are seated in the very back of your ceremony location to wait a long time to stand up, see you and be dismissed to your cocktail hour! We have seen this lead to some disgruntled wedding guests, and no one wants that! ???? For these reasons, dismissing your guests by row is not our first recommendation.
2) Visit guests at tables during your reception
Choosing to wait until your reception to greet your guests is a definite challenge. Not only does it take up your time during your reception, but often, a few guests are unable to stay for your reception. Thus, you will not be able to see and thank everyone who attended your wedding. We wholeheartedly recommend that our couples opt not to save anything necessary for their reception, whether that be extended family photos, greeting guests, finalizing the reception timeline, or setting up decorations. Doing so adds unnecessary stress, and our #1 goal is for our couples to relax and focus on each other during the reception.
So… how do we recommend that you greet and dismiss wedding guests?
The truth is, any way you decide to greet and dismiss wedding guests is going to take time. And we actually believe it should! It’s important to take a few minutes to visit with each of your guests, see family you rarely otherwise see and thank your friends for being a part of your day.
For the sake of keeping your guests happy and comfortable and saving time on your big day, we most often recommend…
3) A receiving line with the help of a wedding coordinator
A wedding coordinator is the key here! Receiving lines have the potential to take a HUGE amount of time without someone coordinating it, particularly if you have a lot of guests. However, this option is unlike the option of dismissing guests by row from your ceremony because it allows your guests to get up freely and move around. Quite frankly, if they would rather come see you at the reception, they can bypass the receiving line and head to your reception location! That’s up to them.
We recommend that our couple is the only ones in the receiving line, rather than including the maid of honor, best man and both sets of parents. This is an easy way to keep the receiving line moving more quickly, it also allows your family to greet guests, and it frees your bridal party to leave for the reception.
We also never recommend that our couples do a receiving line without the help fo a coordinator. You need someone, be it your ceremony coordinator, wedding planner, or just a bossy Maid of Honor (ha!) to keep that line moving! For example, at our wedding, our incredible coordinator moved everyone through our receiving line at a good (and quick!) pace without coming across as harsh or rushing everyone. Just having someone there to move things along is key. Doing a receiving line allows you to greet every guest who was present at your ceremony meaningfully and briefly, it allows your guests to get up while they wait to see you, and it opens up your time at your reception. What could be better?!
How are you planning to greet and dismiss wedding guests? We want to hear your thoughts on a receiving line versus other ways to dismiss wedding guests in the comments below!