Welcome to Getting It Right — Tips for a Perfect Wedding Day. This week, we’re looking at “Just Say No to the Impromptu Receiving Line.”
Here’s how this often goes: The bride has planned her day perfectly. She’s confirmed her timeline with the venue manager and the limo service. Brenda has looked it over (she’s a timeline troubleshooting expert) and pronounced it perfect — there is plenty of time to get everything done without rushing. The bride has decided not to have a receiving line at the church — instead, she and her groom will go table to table and greet guests in the reception hall.
Now, fast forward ahead to to the ceremony. It’s beautiful. You’re beautiful. And then it’s over. You walk back down the aisle and are having a moment hugging and kissing at the back of the church. Then your family and friends arrive and it happens. Someone asks you innocently, “are you doing a receiving line?” You and the groom look at each other, and shake your heads. “No, we’re not.”
“Oh, you HAVE to do one — it would just be impolite and disrespectful to run out of here without greeting all these people who have come to your wedding.”
And ZAP — it happens. The impromptu receiving line. You shrug and figure, why not? If it’ll make people happy. . . . . what can it hurt?
Without knowing it, you have just thrown a major monkey wrench into your wedding day. That receiving line could easily suck up half an hour of time. Half an hour when you are SUPPOSED to be getting your beautiful pictures taken, and then riding to the reception hall.
Suddenly the time that was set aside for photography is looking short — the 45 minutes has shrunk to less than 15 minutes. Finally, the receiving line is over, and you tell the photographer you’re ready to begin the formal pictures. But wait! What happened to grandma and grandpa? They left for the reception hall. And your brother has left too. The photographer rushes through the photos as best he can– everybody is a little tense because the 15 minutes that are left for photography is stretching to 30 minutes, and a lot of the people who were supposed to be in pictures are gone. And the priest is geting impatient because Mass starts in 15 minutes, and he wants you out of his church.
By the time you get to the reception hall, you’re 45 minutes late. The venue manager grabs the photographer as he walks in and angrily tells him that he has messed up the entire schedule. The food is going to be overcooked, and the bride and groom will only get to spend a couple of minutes at their cocktail hour. The manager is angry at the bride too, but tries to conceal it.
I could go on, but you get the point — all that careful planning, and one casual decision made under pressure from somebody you love can turn a relaxed event into a pressured one. Worse, the pictures you planned to treasure for decades will LOOK rushed, because the camera doesn’t lie — it shows the stress and tension everybody was under trying to get the photos taken in an impossibly short time, and all the artistic ideas you talked about before the wedding go out the window as the photographer struggles to just get it done in time.
We see this scenario play out several times a year — sometimes we get the chance to remind the couple that the receiving line will impact their schedule — other times it happens before we can say anything.
Don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing wrong with a receiving line — as long as you plan it from the beginning and allocate time for it. But don’t fall victim to the innocent-looking “impromptu receiving line” that can have a major impact on your photography and reception.
Next week’s Getting it Right topic: Why every bride should have professional makeup for her wedding.