Many couples say that weddings are so special because they’re a rare opportunity to gather all your loved ones in the same place. But this also means there are a lot of people hoping to get some face time with the newlyweds.
“It’s very important for the bride and groom to greet as many guests as possible,” Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach, told HuffPost. “So many people come from out of town and make a substantial effort to be there. I’ve been to weddings where I’ve traveled very far to get to the event, and I didn’t get any sort of acknowledgement from the couple at all. It feels almost insulting.”
Of course, in most cases, it’s logistically impossible to give every single attendee enough time for a proper catch-up. But there are ways to at least acknowledge or have a brief moment with each of your wedding guests.
Below, etiquette experts share their tips.
Have a receiving line
“The couple should graciously make time for as many guests as possible,” said Thomas Farley, aka Mister Manners. “One of the most efficient ways of doing so is by having a receiving line following the ceremony ― rather than the couple immediately dashing off for photos.”
Receiving lines may seem old-school, but they do give the newlyweds the opportunity to hug and thank every single guest ― and to get the greetings out of the way early so they can focus on simply enjoying the rest of the celebration. If you go this route, aim for short and sweet interactions to keep the line moving efficiently and stay on track with timing.
Do table visits
If you’re having a seated dinner during your wedding, designate some time to visit the guests at their tables.
“Walk by each table for a quick photo opp, or say hello and thank them for coming,” recommended etiquette expert Juliet Mitchell, also known as Ms. J.
Going table by table allows you to get some face time with all your guests while also acknowledging entire groups at once. Just make sure you give yourself an opportunity to eat your meal too.
Split the task
Perhaps both newlyweds won’t get the opportunity to interact with every single guest, but they can divide and conquer to make sure all the attendees feel acknowledged.
“The couple can split the task of kibitzing with their guests, with each member of the couple making the rounds separately at the reception,” Farley said. “Groomsmen and bridesmaids, along with the parents of the bride and groom, can be ambassadors too, tasked with making the rounds and ensuring all guests feel seen, welcomed and appreciated.”
Plan a group dance
The dance floor is another place where you can make memories with your wedding guests. Mitchell suggested having a special group dance moment to encourage everyone to share in the experience with you.
“Welcome anyone who wants to dance on the dance floor, and have a group dance,” she said. “The bride and groom can dance around the floor.”
Do a room sweep
The couple can make their rounds by simply moving throughout the space and greeting people along the way. Try to do this with precision if you want to maximize the number of people you see.
“I would recommend what I call doing a room sweep,” Whitmore said. “You go to one side of the room and make your way to the other side to try to cover as much territory as possible.”
Host a welcome party
If you’re concerned about getting to talk to all of your wedding guests on the big day, you might want to take advantage of other opportunities throughout the weekend.
Hosting a welcome party for all your guests after the more intimate rehearsal dinner is a great way to get more face time with loved ones and spread out the mingling across multiple days. You might also consider attending the cocktail hour between the ceremony and reception, if you don’t need that whole block of time for photos.
Prioritize elderly family and those who traveled far
You might not get a quality moment with everyone at your wedding reception, but you should make sure to spend time with certain “VIPs.”
“Once at the reception, the couple should prioritize elderly family members and anyone who has traveled a great distance,” Farley said. “Not having long conversations with the maid of honor, best man or the rest of the bridal party is likely fine, as by now, the wedding party will have spent much time together.”
Give a speech to thank everyone
Guests who’ve traveled far to a wedding like to feel acknowledged in some way. Even if you don’t get a chance to have a one-on-one conversation with everyone, you can still recognize their efforts in other ways.
“It’s very challenging when you have [a] big wedding to get around to everybody, so consider giving a speech in which you thank everyone for coming,” Whitmore suggested. “Take the opportunity to say, ‘We appreciate everyone’s love and friendship and support. We might not get around to talking to everyone, but please know you’re appreciated and loved and we are so grateful.’”