Post # 1
I’d love your (gentle – I’m a bit of an anxious bride!) advice on this, as I’ve been obsessing about it a little!
My fiance and I have planned a wedding that has a mix of ‘formal’ (in the venue and style) but with an ‘informal’ vibe, which we’re hoping will be fun and relaxed. We’re expecting 80 guests or a bit below, but I’m stressing a bit about saying hello to everyone and thanking them for coming. We really, really don’t want to do a receiving line or table visits (my fiance REALLY doesn’t want to do that, even between courses), mainly because we don’t want to force the formality that that would entail and personally, for us, we don’t really see it working without it just being quite awkward and interrupting the relaxed flow of the day. We’d also love to just enjoy the day in a natural way that doesn’t require people to line up or stop their conversations because we’ve come over.
Most people around me keep assuring me that we’ll get through everyone naturally, because we’re greeting people off our wedding bus (but that won’t be a formal line, it will just be seeing everyone off the bus and hugging a few people etc before we go off for photos), we have a half hour slot at our drinks reception (that’s the time when we won’t be taking photos) and an hour and a half after the wedding breakfast to chat to people before the dancing commences (and we can chat to people in the evening too). We’ll also be having one or two ceilidh dances at the beginning of the evening where people can mix. I’ve been told that people will be coming up to us as well and it doesn’t matter ALL that much if we don’t get through absolutely every person, they’ll understand. But what if they don’t?
At all the weddings me and my fiance have been to, there has never been table visits or a formal receiving line. I don’t know if it makes a difference that we’re from the UK? Is it less customary here?
The last thing I want is for anyone to feel like their presence wasn’t appreciated, but equally I do completely understand where my fiance is coming from and to be honest, I’d much prefer not to do a formal greeting – I don’t even know where we would find the time to do it, without totally missing our wedding breakfast/eating (as an aside, I’m also one of those people who needs to eat or I start feeling faint!)
With a wedding of about our size, did any of you manage to get through everyone naturally without doing a formal greeting? Have you been offended that you weren’t greeted at a wedding? Generally, are you able to say a quick hi and thank you to about 80 people throughout the day? I just have no idea!
Thanks so much, any reply is appreciated!
Post # 2
I’ve never gone to a wedding expecting any attention from the bride and groom! I will try to go up and say hello if I can catch them in a lull, but I think everyone understands what a busy day it is. FWIW none of the weddings I’ve been to have had a formal receiving line and it was fine. I don’t think you need to worry about this!
Post # 3
- Wedding: February 2018 - UK
I’ve only ever been to one wedding that had a receiving line (I’m in the U.K. too), and I found it odd. We all queued to be greeted, and the bride and groom were struggling to find different ways to say hi and thank you…
At our wedding, I think I managed to get through everyone at some point during the day. Some were between the ceremony and meal, others were in the evening reception. I found I was naturally circulating the room anyway, and people I hadn’t yet spoken to were coming over to say hi.
Honestly, I wouldn’t overthink it too much. Most people know the bride and groom are busy all day, and I’m sure nobody would feel slighted that they didn’t get to speak to you. Im sure you’ll be fine and will get to speak to as many people as possible just in the natural course of the day.
Post # 4
We had a pretty casual wedding in a garden with about 85 people, but we still did table visits. A lot of our guests traveled and we thought it would be really rude not to specifically find and talk to each person who showed up and got us something. Plus our wedding was small enough that we knew everyone well so it wouldn’t be awkward and forced conversation. It didn’t make our wedding more formal at all. We just did this while everyone was eating their salads and then between visits at the buffet.
I wouldn’t necessarily be mad not to speak to the bride or groom depending on the size of the wedding but in my circles it would be strange not to even make an effort and take a little bit of the day to seek out people that may not be directly involved in the festivities.
Post # 5
We greeted everyone quickly after our ceremony and at our reception we went around to each table and spent about 10 to 15 minutes with each table.
Post # 6
We greeted guests before the ceremony, just casually walking talking to our guests before we had to leave to get ready for the ceremony.
We then went to each table throughout the wedding when everyone was eating, taking pictures and talking to guests.
We had 200 guests.
Post # 7
I’m personally kind of anti receiving line and pro table visits. Receiving lines are kinda awkward, and I don’t really feel like they’re a quality interaction – the “wait in line” aspect of it isn’t great for either the receiver or the receivee. If you absolutely need to ensure you check a box next to everyone, there you go. Table visits feel more natural, and with 80 guests shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish.
What we did was table visits for all the tables of “adults” – i.e. the tables with our aunts and uncles, older cousins, any of our parents friends/coworkers, etc. I felt totally confident I would see all our peer guests on the dance floor and at the after party (and many of them I had seen at the bar the night before!), but I think the older people appreciated the extra time we took and it really made sure we spent a few minutes with them. If I had 80 guests I assume that’s like 8 tables – I would have just visited all of them. I had >200 guests and visiting the 22 tables we ended up with just wasn’t feasible
Post # 8
I hated the idea of having to formally greet people, and I don’t expect it at weddings. I explicitely told my in-laws that if they were going to insist on inviting a bunch of people I had never met and my husband was not close to (which they did) my strong condition was that I not have to interact with those people at all day of (not that I would run away from them or anything, just that there wouldn’t be any expectation I got out of my way and thus cut-down on time with the people who matter to me.)
I saw for at least a minute most of my close friends and family (but we also did a 2.5 days wedding to try to catch people– we had a pizza dinner the night before, a lunch and dinner the day of, and a brunch the day after). We didn’t do anything like table visits–we just walked around and chatted with people wherever we found them.
Post # 9
It is properly your responsibility to at minimum greet each guest, people who have taken the time and effort to attend your wedding. You may not like table visits or receiving lines and it doesn’t have to be so formal with just 80 people, but with larger weddings they can be a practical way of ensuring you get around to everyone. This is probably the #1 thing bar none that I have heard other wedding guests complain and be really offended about.
I’d never in a million years do this, but I know someone who said they tear up checks and rewrite them on this basis. Yes, gross, I know! Personally, I’d probably just think a little less of hosts who couldn’t be bothered to greet their own guests. Would you do that at a party at your own home? Same difference, just a larger party.
To answer your Q, my wedding was about double the size of yours and we easily got around to everyone, most people more than once if you include the portion of the cocktail hour we attended and general conversation.
Post # 10
Thanks so much for all your replies so far, they’re all really helpful and are helping me relax a bit about it!
I probably should have said, but I have absolutely no intention of not making an effort to get round everyone – even at family gatherings I always try to make sure I’ve said hello to everyone so at the wedding, I do intend to do the same and make a real, active effort to get round everyone and say hello and thank you, in fact it’s going to be the main drive for interacting with people that day! I guess my question was whether it’s possible to do this, making a big effort, without HAVING to do a receiving line or table visits, or if it’s basically an impossibility and someone’s always left out. But I think everyone answered that question too so far, so thank you 🙂
Post # 11
Thanks so much for your reply – please can I ask if you had a receiving line/table visits at your wedding, or do you mean that you were able to greet all your guests without having to have those? 🙂
Post # 12
I definitely wouldn’t stress about this! If you don’t get the chance to formally greet every guest at your wedding, it’s really not a big deal. As a wedding guest, I’ve certainly never felt entitled to the bride and groom’s time, and most people don’t. The vast, vast majority of reasonable adults understand that you’re having a busy and hectic day and aren’t going to be offended if they aren’t personally greeted on your wedding day. And if someone IS snobby enough to be offended by that, then that’s their problem, not yours.
Post # 13
We actually did all three. I wasn’t a big fan of a formal receiving line either but it really wasn’t oppressive. With a medium sized wedding I would have been concerned about missing someone. With a wedding your size I’d still go around to tables.
Post # 14
We weren’t going to have a receiving line but somehow when people were leaving the ceremony before heading to cocktails (like 20ft away) everyone started lining up and we hugged, said hello, took a quick picture and then they moved on. It was actually really nice to get a photo with everyone and I knew that we got to greet everyone. We didnt do table visits.
I’m a little put off by people saying you don’t need to greet everyone, IMO that’s your responsibility as a host, especially when people are giving you money and gifts! I really don’t think that makes anyone “snobby”!
Post # 15
Barrow the Jewish custom of Yechud, and have a little time alone with your spouse after the ceremony to connect and EAT. Then do table visits. I made it to all the tables during our wedding but my spouse did not and he felt really guilty afterwards. We had twice the number of people as you. There is plenty of time to do it. 3 min at each table, it doesn’t have to be a long conversation.