Operation Guest Greet

I’m excited for the dress. I’m excited for the beer. But what I’m most excited for are the people. Rooster and I are thrilled that we’ll have all our favorite people in one place, here in the city where we call home.  Our 100 guests will be traveling from near and far to be with us, so we want to make sure we get good face time with everyone and make sure they know how thankful we are to have them celebrate with us.


Mrs. Sword’s receiving line.

There’s more than one way to greet your guests, each with their own degrees of formality and intimacy, but there’s no wrong way to do it. Here are the most common strategies we’ve considered for Operation Guest Greet.

Reception Table Visits

During dinner and the early parts of the reception, the freshly married couple makes their way around to their guests’ tables to say hello and thank them for coming. You might even leave a spot or two open at the table to sit down and enjoy a course with your guests. The biggest problems with this plan are missing out on dinner and feeling rushed to get to every table on a tight schedule. For us, it would never work since we’re having a cocktail-style reception without assigned seatsStatus: Impossible

Formal Receiving Line

I would venture to say this is the traditional way of doing things, and feels right at home for big formal weddings: Upon exiting the ceremony or entering the reception, the couple line up with the wedding hosts (the moms, usually, but you can switch it up) and their attendants (at least the honor attendants) and greet each guest walking in or out. It’s a great way to make sure you see everyone, but has the potential to take a long time (upwards of 30 minutes, so make sure there are refreshments at the ready). Our ceremony and reception are in the same space, so I’m not sure how I’d work out the logistics of this one. Plus a receiving line feels a little too formal for our bash. If we included the parents and the wedding party, that would be 14 people of our 100-person wedding, and that seems a little ridiculous to me. Status: Nope. Not for us.


Like everything else, a formal receiving line looks better on Kate Middleton.

Informal Receiving Line

If we did a receiving line at all, it would look more like this description from Martha Stewart Weddings‘ post on greeting your guests:

“Some couples interpret the receiving line casually by saying hello as guests leave the ceremony, when they pass through the doors of the church or synagogue, or when they move from one room into another if the ceremony and reception are at the same location.”

I like the flexibility of deciding to have a casual receiving line. Put the bride and groom in one high-traffic spot around the event and say a quick hello to each guest as they pass by. I might say that Rooster and I post up on the patio while everybody’s getting dinner and let guests say hello on their way by. This could work for us. Status: Maybe.


Deciding to mingle along with your guests allows you to be spontaneous. The bride and groom work the room just like any other guest, making their way around to say hello to friends and family. Couples with a big guest list, a structured reception timeline or who are skipping on cocktail hour to take photos might run out of time to visit with everyone. But I think this strategy will work great for us and our hundred; our entire reception is basically like a 4-hour cocktail hour, with breaks only for spotlight dances and toasts. Status: That’s a bingo!

Wedding-Cocktail-HourDinofa Photography

Deciding to mingle also leaves more time for stuffing your face.

Give a Toast

Thank everyone for coming in one fell swoop by giving a toast with your new spouse at the reception. It can be done at the same time at the honor attendant speeches, or all by itself earlier or later in the night. If you have a massive guest list, this might be the only way you can address most of your guests and still find time to, you know, enjoy your wedding. But no matter the size of your wedding, I love when a couple gives a toast to say thank you—especially when it comes later in the night after they’ve had a chance to relax and truly enjoy their guests’ company. Status: Let’s do it.

We’ll definitely do a bit of each from columns D and E: Mingling and giving a welcome toast. Knowing the weekend we have planned, our reception style and the close quarters of our intimate venue, I think we’ll get plenty of face time in with our guests spontaneously. Our cocktail reception encourages mingling, and by skipping on wedding events like the bouquet toss and cake cutting, we’ll have fewer interruptions to our night. We’re also having a welcome reception (Our “Meet and Greet”) the night before with all our guests invited, so that gives us two nights of mostly open time to visit with everyone.

I’m on the fence about having an informal receiving line. I suspect we’ll be able to chat with each of our 100 guests without setting up a specific time and place to do it, but I don’t want to miss out on saying hello to anyone. Plus posts by Mrs. Bracelet and Mrs. Sword (she has some awesome receiving line tips) are making me feel like it could be a really fun time!

I’d love to hear experiences from the hive from your own weddings or weddings you’ve been to. What’s a good way to greet your guests and make sure they feel welcomed and appreciated?

29. May 2014 by Taryn
Categories: Guests, Logistics | Leave a comment

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