When I began my career, so much about weddings were different. The bride and groom were usually sequestered in a room, not able to be seen until the beginning of the reception. Once in the reception, they just walked around, talked to friends and family, collected envelopes and generally didn’t have much fun. But how times have changed. With the exception of one or two a year, most couples are joining in the fun of their cocktail hour, the purpose of which is to create anticipation of the celebration that is to follow. And if you get to visit with most of your guests during the cocktail hour, you won’t necessarily feel the obligation to visit their tables during the reception. But you need to move through the pre-function room with grace and agility to avoid spending too much time with one person, in order to be able to see everyone equally. During our meetings, I usually advise my brides and grooms to do; what I have humorously named “The Cocktail Hour Tango”
- You must stick together as you greet your guests. If you get divided, then you are conquered, and may tend to spend five or ten minutes with people which eats up your time. A loving tug or head flick will signal the other that it’s time to move on.
- The tango consists of three steps; (kiss-kiss)…(“Thanks for coming”)…(“we’ll talk more later”). Then move on. You can change the middle comment to (“it’s great to see you”), or (“you look great”) or (“please save a dance for me”), but it will allow you to end the conversation quickly and move to the next family member or friend.
- I have observed that people seem to ask the same questions…”Can I see your rings?” / “Where did you get your dress?” / “Were you nervous?” / “Where are you going on your honeymoon?” / “Where are you going to live?” / and the dreaded…”When are you going to have a baby?”. Most people will understand your desire to see everyone and not be put off if you greet them and move on.
- Make no mistake, I am not and never will advocate for being rude to the friends and family that all came to help celebrate your wedding. And there may be some more traditional guests like grandparents or elderly aunts that would expect a table visit during the reception. However through the years I have seen the couples evolve into ones that want to be interactive and be a part of their reception and enjoy it. The time goes so fast and my goal has always been to have my brides and grooms love their wedding and have the fondest memories and the best times.
- You should also make it clear to your maître ‘d about your expectations of service during cocktail hour. If you want to be left alone to visit with your friends and family and let them get drinks and food for you that is fine. But there should be a server assigned to take care of you and can supply you with periodic drinks and plates of food upon request, without being too intrusive.
- The best news is that if you find yourselves making it through the entire guest list, then you will be free to do what you want with the people you choose.
Eat, Drink and be Merry…Your Way!
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If you were a bride or couple who has advice on making sure you see everyone but still enjoy your own reception, for future brides and grooms we’d love to hear from you. Just comment below!