Recently, I have noticed that brides are being more attentive to their guests' comfort levels. This can be as simple as providing an alternative to dancing, a welcome bag for out of town guests, or flip flops at a beach ceremony. It's these thoughtful touches that really make an event special and memorable. Thus, I've decided to author a weekly editorial here on the blog called "Be Our Guest" where I'll share some of my favorite ideas on how to make a wedding more approachable for your guests.
One difficulty that brides often overlook when planning their wedding, is how they will make time for EVERY ONE of their 300 guests. While being the center of attention can be flattering, it is also a little overwhelming. After an 8 hour plane ride, two nights in a hotel, a $50 wedding gift, and an hour long wedding mass... your guests are going to be more than anxious to chat with the happy couple. Enter the difficulty. Somewhere between the avande garde photoshoot after the ceremony, seated five course dinner, rigorously scheduled reception, and sparkler exit... there just doesn't seem to be a whole heck of a lot of room to spend a quality minute or two with each guest. What is a bride to to?
In the past, this was the reasoning for a receiving line after the ceremony. It gave the bride, groom, and their parents time to formally receive each guest and make them feel acknowledged and appreciated. However, these can be rather time-consuming and will eat a huge chunk of your 4 hour reception. And, truth be told, it can feel a little awkward to have a quality conversation while 150 guests are behind you waiting their turn... thus I come bearing a few modern alternatives to the receiving line:
1. See Eachother Before the Ceremony
I know, I know. You've pictured that intimate moment where the doors to the chapel fling open and you are there looking at your groom from afar. His eyes well with tears of pride and happiness and it is all captured on film forever. But, and hear me out, imagine this same senerio a couple of hours before the ceremony - in a secluded, picture perfect spot. You can eliminate post-wedding photo taking by having ALL formal photos done before the wedding begins. This leaves the cocktail hour open to mingle with guests one on one.
2. Eenie Meenie Miney Mo
If you are having a buffet, consider going from table to table as your Master of Ceremonies dismisses them. It will give you time to say hello to guests as they are waiting for their table to be called... and timing it just right with your dj will mean that your conversation will end just as they are invited to the buffet. (Have a member of the catering staff make you a plate as you are nearing the last table being called. This will also ensure that everyone is done eatting by the time the toasts and dancing begin.)
3. Musical Chairs
If you are opting for a seated dinner, consider having two additional place settings at each table (i/e seat 8 guests and have 2 extra chairs making 10). Start at one side of the room and set your watch. Every 7 minutes or so, pick up your plates and move on. This relieves the need for a "head table" and makes every single guest feel like a VIP.
Here's what Kristen, a recent bride had to say about her expierience:
"...the wedding day, she had the idea of my husband and I talking to all the guests at their tables, avoiding the typically line at the Bride & Groom's table. We went to our guests tables while each table was being dismissed to the buffet. This was the number one thing that we received feedback on from our guests. Most guests said they had never been to a wedding where the bride & groom did not start eating FIRST and then talked to a few guests. "