Wedding Receiving Lines
“We want a wedding receiving line before dinner. Can you photograph this?"
This is something that I am quite often asked, and my answer is always the same – “Please don't!” I'll tell you why...
It could be argued that I am being selfish and that it has nothing to do with your wedding photographer, but consider this:
100 guests in a receiving line before dinner and everybody is already hungry. The first guests through will have to sit at their table and wait. The last guests through will have to wait at the end of a queue, stood up, bored and eager to sit down. No matter how fast you think it will go, people will still want to get a few minutes with you, and even if 100 people only take 30 seconds each that is still 50 minutes. During this time you and your family will be stood up talking to every single guest.
As a wedding photographer I will only take a few shots of the start of the receiving line because I am not going to be able to photograph everybody that comes through.
All in all it's a wasted 50 minutes of time that could in my opinion be far better utilised. The 20 minutes it takes for your guests to funnel in and get seated is often a good opportunity for you to hit the bathroom and freshen up, or even head out for some photographs.
If, as is often the case, you feel that a receiving line is the only way to make sure your guests actually get to see you, I have another suggestion for you.
Allow your guests to go straight to dinner and start the wedding breakfast. You will always be served your food first, so during the break between each of your courses, make sure you both get up and visit each table for a few minutes to say hello to everybody. Either go together or, if there are a lot of tables, do a tag-team split and cover half and half.
This is something I have advised many of my couples to do and it works really well. Everybody is relaxed, they all have a glass of wine and some food and nobody has to stand around for ages. It's far less formal and far more fun.
Of course you may wholeheartedly disagree. You may like the formality of a receiving line and feel that your guests will be fine during that hour. If this is the case your wedding photographer could always spend some time photographing what's going on at the tables as people meet their dinner companions.
Article by Surrey Wedding Photographer Matt Pereira
Image from Flickr by Olly247
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