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Wedding Wednesday – The Minimal Expectation of Good Bridal Hospitality

I’ve attended 4 weddings in the past 12 months. All were extremely expensive affairs.

Now, my own daughter got married a few years ago, and I informed her of the behavior I expected during the reception – namely, that she attempt to visit every table and speak to every guest. Not only that, but my DH and I also visited and spoke to as many guest as possible – including those we did not know.

Am I in the wrong – because at none of these 4 weddings did I witness any of this. At each of these weddings I was never approached by the bride, groom or the hosts. In some cases I did go to the bride and groom and offer my greetings, but in others there was never a good time to approach them as they were dancing or socializing with the wedding party.

This last wedding took the cake. It was an outdoor wedding. Temperature at time of wedding was over 90 degrees, and only seemed to get hotter as the night went on. As soon as the ceremony was over and the cake cut, special dances and speeches over – the bride and her bridesmaids disappeared into the air-conditioned facility (where no guests were allowed) and I did not seen them again.

The groom did circulate some, but the parents of the bride did not.

I used to love weddings, but now they just really upset me with this type of behavior. I’m sure brides and groom will say – there were too many people, we couldn’t possibly speak to all!! Well, my answer to that is to have a smaller wedding.

Am I unrealistic in my expectations?  0806-18

No, you are not unrealistic in your expectations of how hosts and guests of honor have an obligation to , at minimum, greet their guests and thank them for coming.   Receiving lines used to be the standard way in which this was accomplished but the practice has fallen by the wayside as too formal and time consuming.

But, honestly, what do you expect when the wedding industry pushes the idea that this is the bride’s day, family and friends must cater to her every whim, and huge guest lists go hand in hand with invitations that clearly state a preference for money?  Guests are simply a means of acquiring more assets and once that exchange has occurred, the guests’   usefulness has been fulfilled.

{ 77 comments }
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  • at work August 15, 2018, 5:27 am

    Holy cats, disappearing into an air-conditioned facility while the guests battle heatstroke seems very unfeeling. “The guests came, gifts received, now abandon them!” Ugh. I did not realize, but now know that I need to know, what the duties of the mother of the bride are. Are the duties different if the bride and groom are paying for the reception? We gave our daughter and future SIL a cash gift to use as they see fit — for all I know they are putting it in savings because there is no way I would ask how they are using it, and they don’t really need it to pay for the wedding and reception because each earns a high salary — so are they hosts of their own wedding? If so, do I as mother of the bride have any duties, particularly at the reception? So far I have been a tag-along who happily goes where she’s told and answers questions as she’s asked and dabs at her eyes a lot. Though bride and groom are footing their own bill, do my spouse and I act as hosts? I tried to google this but quickly got lost in all the information.

    • GEna August 15, 2018, 8:14 am

      At any event that I’m at, I try to talk to people that I don’t necessarily know and at least make small talk while standing in line at the bar, etc. I’m sur that as the MOB, you know a lot of the guests and I would think it only natural that you would speak to them, as well as try to introduce yourself to some of the grooms family.

    • Leigh August 15, 2018, 11:27 am

      I think the hosts are stated on the invitation, so if it’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith invite you to celebrate the wedding of their beloved daughter Pethany to Grob Jones” then the parents are the hosts. If it states, “Pethany and Grob invite you to celebrate our wedding” or something along those lines, the happy couple is hosting the event.

      But I didn’t write an etiquette book, so I could be way off base here, and would love for someone to correct me.

    • MzLiz August 15, 2018, 1:52 pm

      It sounds like you’re doing an awesome job so far! I bet there’s a lot of brides/grooms out there that would appreciate a mother as chill & supportive as you seem to be.

      There’s people on this site that are way more knowledgeable that I am but I reckon that as the MOB, your job on the day is to wear something lovely, smile, be happy, have a good time, say hello to people & thank them when they congratulate you. Best wishes!

      • at work August 15, 2018, 2:52 pm

        I — I can handle this.

      • Babs August 15, 2018, 3:30 pm

        Perfect answer!

    • Tracy W August 16, 2018, 1:49 pm

      It’s nice to mingle with the other guests, thank them for any compliments and rescue wallflowers and introduce them to other guests, particularly ones with good social skills.

      When I got married we asked my aunts to do this before the ceremony when the wedding party and my parents were all busy. (Not a church wedding obviously.)

      • at work August 18, 2018, 10:18 am

        Rescuing wallflowers will be my mission. This really strikes a chord with me.

  • Kathryn August 15, 2018, 5:27 am

    I’m guilty of not greeting everyone. We tried and made it halfway around the room before speeches, and then everyone was up and mingling afterwards and we didn’t get to greet the other half. I’m really not sure how I could have accomplished this task. As for reducing the guest list, this was only 70 guests and 80% family!

    I’m honoured to be invited to a wedding reception and included in the party celebrations!

    • Jazzgirl205 August 15, 2018, 5:03 pm

      We had the good old fashioned receiving line when I married back in the 80s. I was so glad I did. There were many people I didn’t expect would come (elderly, far flung friends etc…) and was so excited to see them. I was so nervous, anxious, happy that I don’t think I had the presence of mind to make sure I greeted everyone during the course of the reception.

      I think the problem with a lot of weddings is that people don’t entertain anymore. I grew up in a large house with parents who entertained often. Welcoming over 100 people into her home was not a big deal for my mother. She knew what to do and how to make the guests feel special. Weddings are the only time many people host a large gathering. There are bound to be some mistakes. While I don’t entertain on the scale that my parents did, I’ve been on organization committees for large fundraising events. I have an idea of food, space, and the logistics of large events.

      And, yes, Admin is right about the problem with telling the bride that it is “her day.” A wedding reception is a thank you to all your friends and relatives for being a part of your life thus far. It is not a gift grab nor is it the bride’s “worship me.”

      • gramma dishes August 16, 2018, 11:59 am

        “A wedding reception is a thank you to all your friends and relatives for being a part of your life thus far.”
        I really, really like that line.

    • BMS2000 August 17, 2018, 2:03 pm

      We had a similar problem. We tried, but everyone was up dancing and mingling. I think we got everyone in the receiving line at the church, and we definitely got all the older folks who weren’t dancing. And we just danced with the rest of them. Thank you cards got sent promptly, and a good time was had by all.

  • tessa August 15, 2018, 5:56 am

    At son’s recent wedding, the photographer was being paid for a specific amount of hours and told the bride and groom that having a receiving line or greeting the guests after the ceremony would take up a 1/2 hr at least of the photographer’s time. I suggested that they greet them at the reception then and was told “if they want to say hi, they’ll have to find me on the dance floor”. They did eventually concede to greeting guests as they released each aisle at church. A simple “thanks for coming” goes a long ways.

  • Heather August 15, 2018, 6:58 am

    When my (now ex but still friends) husband and I got married, we deliberately only had a small wedding because not only did we want to greet each guest, we wanted to have a memory of each as well. We ended up with 70. We had absolutely no problem making time to greet and spend a few moments with each. The day is what you decide… this is what should be meant by, “It’s my day”. I was even a little worried beforehand about certain groups mixing (it being unavoidable in such a small crowd), but realized early on that I needn’t have been concerned – everyone was mixing just fine. There were a few hiccups – but they are things we laughed about and that I remember fondly to this day (one car leaving that had my makeup bag in it and me and some guests trying to run after it and then laughing hysterically in the street when that didn’t work out — turned out I didn’t need extra makeup, I was too busy having a good night!!). Oh and by the way, some guests gave money, some gave gifts. We hadn’t specified (of course not) and we were happy either way.

  • Outdoor Girl August 15, 2018, 7:32 am

    You’re expectations are not out of line. I just got married a few months ago. We didn’t have a receiving line because it was a fairly large wedding (~130) but we did try to speak to each table during the reception, though perhaps not everyone individually. Some of it, we were split up. DH’s friends commented to him that they were impressed with how many people we managed to talk to over the course of the evening and still manage to dance a few times to songs that had particular meaning for us.

    • Outdoor Girl August 15, 2018, 7:34 am

      Having parents do some of the visiting wasn’t an option for us. Both our fathers are fairly immobile. My Mom has passed and DH’s Mom was looking after his Dad.

  • Jelly_Rose August 15, 2018, 7:40 am

    I do think the bride and groom should thank people for coming, Lots of people traveled far to come celebrate you… least you could do is thank them.

    The worst display I have ever seen of it though was at my ex-best friend’s wedding, I am not sure why she invited me as we hadn’t been all that close before hand and I thought she wanted to mend fences. With my mother and finacee invited too, we sat at a table waiting for the reception to start along with everybody else, bride and groom making their rounds to thank everybody. They got to our table, glanced at us and kept walking. It stung but I just thought maybe another relative got their attention.

    At the actual reception, when they asked people to come up and speak, I did as I had known them both for a long time (the bride was my best friend for 15 years) I said nothing but nice things and wishing them all the best before the bride decided to speak up and humiliate me in front of both families, my mom and my finacee…. We didn’t stay long after that.

    • gramma dishes August 16, 2018, 12:04 pm

      Good grief! What ever possessed her to even invite you if she was going to do that. Hopefully the other guests were just as horrified by what they had just witnessed as you and your family were at being the victims of such nonsense.

      • Jelly_Rose August 16, 2018, 8:47 pm

        I think there was a level of wanting to show off to me, like she got the big fancy wedding before me, she married the first boy I ever kissed (that was the big humiliating reveal) and she had the adoring family celebrating her.

        The family was certainly stunned, you could have heard a pin drop after she spoke. I haven’t spoken to her much since… I tried once on facebook but she didn’t get back to me for three years and acted like nothing had ever happened…. I didn’t try to return the message.

        • JenAnn August 17, 2018, 3:32 pm

          The best revenge is knowing that everyone there got to see her for exactly who she is. It made her look terrible, and I bet no one there will ever forget her awful display.

  • DGS August 15, 2018, 8:21 am

    There is NO excuse for not greeting and thanking every single guest for coming. None, short of the aliens swooped in and kidnapped the bride and groom. The guests have gone through the trouble of coming to celebrate you, you go through the trouble of saying hello and thank you. We had a black tie Saturday evening massive affair for over 200 guests, and my DH and I made the rounds and greeted and thanked every.single.guest, from his 97-year-old Stepgrandmother and to our friends and colleagues and our parents’ co-workers. And we thanked and tipped the wedding planner and the DJ and the caterer and the florist, etc. and thanked the Rabbi before we left. And still managed to take great portraits and enjoy the reception (didn’t get to eat any dinner because we were busy greeting guests, but we got to munch on it afterwards in our honeymoon suite, as my Mom and MIL had thoughtfully had it boxed up for us). The wedding is not just a party; it’s a developmental milestone of the bride and groom setting up their own household and thanking all their nearest and dearest for supporting them. Thank your guests – it’s an obligation.

    • at work August 15, 2018, 8:42 am

      I am totally guilty. I had no idea that we were supposed to go around and greet each guest and thank them for coming. I would have been happy and excited to do this! But I didn’t know. My groom sure as heck didn’t know. It was at least five years after our wedding that I saw a couple doing this and thought “Hey, that’s a neat thing to do!” Another faux pas to take to my grave.

    • CarolynM August 15, 2018, 9:24 am

      I could have written this myself – I agree with every word! At my wedding reception, as they served dinner, my husband and I made the rounds to each table and greeted and thanked everyone. It was not a small wedding – we had 180+ guests! We didn’t have to skimp on pictures or dancing or anything else. Not only can it be done, it should be done – your guests made the effort to show up for you (and likely give you a gift!), a greeting and a thank you is the bare minimum.

  • Queen of Putrescence August 15, 2018, 8:31 am

    You are not wrong in your expectations at all. I’ve been married twenty years and I made my best effort to talk to as many people as possible at the reception. We did have a receiving line at the church, but at the reception I did go as many tables as I could as did my husband. We did stop and take time to eat because I said I was not going to be one of those brides that didn’t get to eat at her own wedding.

    We must have managed to talk to almost everyone because my parents heard back from many guests that they were impressed at how much mingling we managed to do at the reception.

  • JAN August 15, 2018, 8:35 am

    We had around 80 guests and did a receiving line that led straight to the tent with the bar…maybe that sped up our line.

    • staceyizme August 20, 2018, 5:30 pm

      Strategy!

  • Devin August 15, 2018, 8:43 am

    Sounds like it’s time for the OP to start declining wedding invitations if the people who are inviting her aren’t living up to her standards. My thought is that the bride and groom are kind enough to provide you with a very discounted night out with dinner, drinks and dancing (where I live that’s easily a $200 night out so the cost of a nice gift is nothing), if they can’t make it around to everyone you still had an enjoyable evening with your partner, friends, and/or family.
    In the last wedding, that was a very poorly planned wedding since the weather is known to be that hot. As soon as the bride disappeared, why did you stay? You had no further obligation as a guest to sit and be miserable.
    With these very elaborate large weddings, I really doubt the couple is raking in the cash. The average wedding is now over 33k in the United States according to business insider. Average wedding prices in big cities are upwards of 70k and that is the average! Even the most over the top registry is not going to cover what the OP described as extravagant weddings which easily hit over 100k.

    • DGS August 15, 2018, 10:14 am

      I respectfully disagree, for two reasons. Firstly, I do not see a wedding as a social contract of dinner and drinks and dancing in exchange for a gift. The style and extravagance of the wedding is up to the wedding couples’ budget, and they certainly shouldn’t expect that their guests are going to cover their wedding costs – if the wedding couple cannot afford to host a big, expensive party, they shouldn’t, and they should have a smaller reception that does fit their budget. And whether they are raking in cash or not (and you are right, they probably are not if they had a very lavish reception and paid for it themselves), and this is my second point, it is rude to not greet and thank one’s guests. It does not have to be a 10-hour conversation, but a “Hello, Shirley, thank you so much for coming. This is my new husband/wife. We hope you enjoy yourself tonight,” is not terribly time-consuming.

      • belinda stevens September 4, 2018, 9:49 am

        Because the wedding industry is so pervasive we, as a culture, have lost the whole raison d’etre for getting married. We are forming a family (hopefully before having children) because the stable intact family, despite modern cultural practices, continues to be the best predictor of healthy kids and communities. It is a party given by the bride’s parents. As hosts they and the happy couple should see everyone over the evening and graciously thank them for coming. The most gracious people I know let the guest know how happy the hosts are to see him. There is no selfish entitlement of the couple.

    • Vermin8 August 15, 2018, 11:01 am

      “Very discounted night” – when you consider the expected gift, it’s not discounted at all. And if the attendees have to travel a long distance then it’s a very expensive night out.
      As far as how much the couple spends – that’s their choice. Don’t expect attendees to be grateful – most would be happy with less. Most people I know are happy with a casual event that won’t cost anywhere near the prices now quoted as average.

    • Gena August 15, 2018, 11:26 am

      Discounted night? Not if you travel and stay in a hotel.

    • MelEtiquette August 15, 2018, 11:31 am

      I also respectfully disagree. One of the duties as host is to acknowledge the presence of each guest with at least a “hello” and “thank you for coming”. On a smaller scale, if the bride and groom were hosting a small dinner party at their home, they would be seen as rude if they did not at any time during the event acknowledge the presence of a particular guest. In this scenario, simply providing the food and location would not be viewed as fulfilling their duties as host, but the argument is that on the larger scale of a wedding, providing food and entertainment is not only their only obligation as bride and groom but also something for which the guest should be grateful? Meanwhile, that guest likely spent a significant amount of time and money on the appropriate attire, transportation and accommodations for the event, time off from work and/or child care, and at least one but more likely two gifts (one wedding, one shower), all to spend 6-8 hours in the bride’s and groom’s presence, and they can’t take even 30 seconds out of their big, expensive day to acknowledge that guest? It’s rude of the bride and groom, plain and simple, regardless of how many guests they invited or how expensive the wedding is. It suggests that the guests are there merely for decoration or show or to give the event a more crowd-like feel, like extras without speaking parts in a movie, rather than as actual friends and family with whom you want to share your joy and happiness.

    • MzLiz August 15, 2018, 1:35 pm

      Yeah, I’m not a fan of the mindset that providing your guests with refreshments & entertainment is a ‘kindness’. A reception isn’t mandatory, there’s nothing stopping a couple from just having a ceremony but the vast majority of brides & grooms want the party aspect, for themselves as much as their guests. It stands to reason that if you want people to make the effort to come & celebrate with you, it’s your responsibility to arrange an enjoyable event that shows you appreciate their presence & support. I could easily have a fun night out with my husband, of our choice, for much less than it costs to attend the average wedding.

      I’ve been to weddings where the newlyweds made the rounds & I’ve been to ones where they didn’t. Not everyone’s customs include going from table-to-table. But if the bridal party ducked into an air-conditioned room leaving the rest of us outside to swelter in the heat, I’d be looking at that reception in my rear-view mirror, with my gift in-hand if I was feeling extra petty about it. Not greeting every table might be a pet peeve to some but ditching your guests to luxuriate in comfort while they sweat like pigs is rude in any culture.

    • ladyv21454 August 15, 2018, 4:08 pm

      Devin, have you not seen the multiple references on this site to people that expect the value of the gift to EQUAL, if not exceed, the cost of the meal? And the number of people who immediately exchange any non-monetary gifts for cash? Many brides and grooms today absolutely expect the guests to cover the cost of the wedding.

      On top of that, by the time you figure in the cost of a gift (monetary or not), new outfits, babysitting, etc., the night ceases to be “discounted” – and that’s just for local attendees. Anyone who has to travel has air fare, hotel, rental cars, etc. – which FAR exceed what the happy couple has paid for their entertainment. And if you’re actually IN the wedding party – particularly on the bride’s side – you can add several hundred dollars more to the total bill.

      Finally – I agree with DGS that there is no “social contract” involved with a wedding. The point of the reception is supposed to be for the happy couple to thank their guests for attending and share the joy of the day – NOT to get gifts. If a couple chooses to stage a wedding/reception that is far beyond their means, that’s on them – it doesn’t relieve them of the obligation to at least TRY to speak to each of their guests.

    • lf August 15, 2018, 5:40 pm

      Wow and here I thought that couples invited guests to their reception to celebrate their milestone with those they love and enjoy spending time with.

      Did we have more guests than I would have preferred? Yes. Were some of them old friends and distant cousins my mom and grandpa felt compelled to invite out of some weird obligation of ‘they haven’t seen you since you were 2 but you went to their wedding…’? Yes. Did we still greet every table and forgo dinner to make sure that personally interacted with our guests? Yes; because otherwise what was the point of them being there? A wedding is your first opportunity to show hospitality as a new household; the one regret I have because I didn’t think of it until I saw the idea about a year later was that we could have served our guests their cake personally. I think it’s such a sweet gesture.

    • DGS August 16, 2018, 8:13 am

      Also, what happens if some of the invited guests are elderly on a fixed income or going through financial problems? Should they not go celebrate their friends if they cannot afford an expensive monetary gift?

    • Tracy W August 16, 2018, 1:58 pm

      Social etiquette is about at least pretending that you value people for the pleasure of their company, not their monetary contributions. Are you really saying that you think your guests think so lowly of your time and attention to regard merely $200 as an adequate substitute?

  • shoegal August 15, 2018, 9:13 am

    At some weddings where you have an emotional and special attachment to the young couple – you want to be recognized and included somehow in the celebration if only it is a handshake or hug and some kind words. That would be enough. If nothing was said I would feel slighted. At other weddings where you are the plus one or a co worker -where you really have no affiliation with the couple you really don’t care at all and might even want to avoid having a moment with the bride or groom.

    I really don’t understand the bride walking out of her reception and missing out on one of the most special times in her life by sitting in the air conditioning unless she was truly ill. I will admit that despite my best intentions at my wedding I found it very difficult to make it around the room and hard to come up with something to say to everybody and there were only 83 people – which isn’t large. I didn’t anticipate that – I wanted to be the gracious and kind bride. I did have a receiving line so I did speak to everyone who exited the church but the night was running long and the dancing hadn’t begun and people were getting restless so we cut the cake and started the dancing and then everybody left their tables – it was hard to finish the deed.

    • AM August 16, 2018, 1:47 am

      Yeah, I don’t know how you visit all the tables without keeping everyone at them long past the end of the meal, unless you’re just not supposed to eat?
      I made what I felt was a reasonable effort to mingle at my wedding. We mixed things up a bit and started by taking pictures out front (wedding was in my parents’ backyard) so we could greet at least some of the guests as they arrived for a pre-ceremony cocktail hour. Then I circulated for a bit until the ceremony. Then my husband and I ate at a standing- height sweetheart table next to the buffet, so people could stop by and say hello as they headed to their tables. I was on the dance floor the rest of the night after that; it wasn’t hard to find me. If I missed someone, I’m sorry, but perhaps they weren’t all that eager to talk to me anyway.

      • wanda August 16, 2018, 1:44 pm

        That’s exactly right, the couple is not really supposed to eat. The married people we knew repeatedly warned my husband and I that we shouldn’t expect to have much time to eat and that we should eat heartily before the ceremony. My matron of honor, who was married and knew how it was, went out in the morning and bought some bagels that my husband and I could eat quickly in the short limo ride from the ceremony to the reception restaurant.
        My wedding wasn’t that big so I had time to nibble a few of the dishes. (The restaurant, to their credit, facilitated that without me asking by preparing the dishes for the head table in individual portions, while the guest tables were served family-style.) Brides and grooms who have huge weddings generally don’t expect to eat at all.

        • Queen of Putrescence August 16, 2018, 4:21 pm

          Why aren’t the bride and groom allowed to eat? My husband and I managed to eat our meal, cut the cake, have the first few dances and still manage to greet every single one of our 197 guests during the hour before dinner and the hours after dinner. We made sure to go for the older guests that were not relatives right away (thinking they might not stick around for the dance), then the older relatives and then everyone else.

          I was not going through all that effort of planning the meal and dance and not eat some of the food!

          • EchoGirl August 20, 2018, 1:13 am

            I agree. The HC should be kind and courteous, but not to the extent where they’re literally expected to ignore their own needs in order to properly care for their guests. They should be allowed to fully enjoy their own wedding!

  • JD August 15, 2018, 9:22 am

    OP, I’d have been mad, too. Yes, any party, wedding or not — the hosts should greet their guests!

    My daughter and son-in-law had their wedding and reception both in the same room — they left the room after the recessional to step outside for a few pictures, taking less than 1/2 hour – literally — because they took most of their pictures before the wedding. Then they came back and and made the rounds to every single table. Their goal was to greet and welcome each and every one of those 185 comfortable, everyone-has-a-seat, food-is-being-served guests, but didn’t get to do that with four guests. Why? Because even though the ceremony had been only 30 minutes, it was now only 6 in the evening, the open bar, both alcohol and non-alcohol, was available to the guests while the pictures were made, and the wait was truly short between service and reception, four of the guests elected to get up and go on home (an hour’s drive at most), even though all had been informed that the meal would begin as soon as the wedding party re-appeared after a short interlude for pictures. So when the bride and group reached that table, it was empty. The wedding couple was stunned and a little hurt.
    Of course, those four meals went uneaten. And the four guests who left weren’t even angry or anything. They just decided they were ready to go and that they would eat later. I know, because these people were family, and blithely told us this a few days later when we asked if perhaps one of them had taken ill, to make them leave so soon. So rude.

    • Soop August 16, 2018, 9:04 am

      We also did the ceremony and reception in the same room. One thing I always hate about weddings is guests having to hang around for hours while the HC goes off for photos, so we did them ahead. Once everyone cleared the main room, we did a few family photos (with family that hadn’t been at the photo site), while guests were having passed appetizers in the other room. We then had a receiving line back into the main room, but also made an attempt to visit with as many people as possible.

      • Celestia August 16, 2018, 10:15 am

        Love this idea…I’m not a big ceremony person or a big picture person, so I’d love to just have the party plus vows. I imagine guests arriving to a cocktail hour while final preparations are made for the wedding party and any vital pictures are taken, and once everyone’s seated at their tables, fill in the bride, groom, and their table. Vows, kiss, and immediately serve dinner.

    • Mary Sgree August 16, 2018, 7:08 pm

      I don’t believe this to be rude? Some people cant do a long thing, some people have further plans for the evening, some have dietary and medical needs– theres lots of reasons someone would leave. Our family once left a reception because when it finally started( hours after the wedding), the line through the buffet wasn’t moving and we had children with us that were really hungry and crying. We tried to stay, but finally went across the street for a burger. 🙂

      • JD August 17, 2018, 9:00 am

        The wedding started at 5. These people left at six. They were four adults, children all grown, no one dying of hunger, the buffet line had just started and was moving quite well. They just decided they’d seen the wedding, well, now, let’s go on home. They are the type to do what they want and to heck with the rest of the world. But, as I said, they are family, so of course they were invited. We just never thought they would do this.

      • MzLiz August 17, 2018, 2:05 pm

        It took less time to go across the street for a burger than for the buffet line to move???

        I think most people would find guests leaving before the meal extremely rude and even be forced presume it was some kind of passive-aggressive statement, unless there was a good, unforeseen excuse…like, “Oops, my arm just fell off!” You’ve essentially wasted money, food & reception seats that could have gone to people who really wanted to be there. If you have another commitment that day or can’t be out for long periods of time, decline the invite or make arrangements to only attend the ceremony. If you have serious allergies or dietary needs, inform your hosts prior to the occasion. Have snacks on-hand for your kid (and maybe you too) because food service can be delayed for all sorts of reasons, including reasons that aren’t in the host’s control.

        Don’t snub people at their own wedding. I sympathize with JD’s daughter & SIL; I’d be fuming.

  • Girlie August 15, 2018, 9:30 am

    At my wedding, I chose to have a seated, plated dinner. I asked the photographer to put down his camera and join our guests to dine. Then my husband and I ate, and in between dinner and the cake cutting, we spent time going to each and every table to greet everyone.

    It really CAN be done if you plan it well enough. All it takes is setting your priorities and keeping them.

  • VickyJoJo August 15, 2018, 9:35 am

    We were able to make the rounds at our wedding. It was a given that we would. We chose to have a relatively small wedding – 80 guests – so getting around wasn’t an issue. It wasn’t an obligation either. We wanted to talk to our guests.

    I do expect the B&G to at least talk to me for a minute to thank me for my attendance and sharing the day with them. It is annoying that the wedding industry focuses on the fact this is the bride’s day. It isn’t. it is the celebration of the union of two people. You invite people to share in that moment and if you are not interested in acknowledging that, then perhaps you should elope. While it is true that we will have fun mingling with other guests and relatives and enjoy a nice meal, we are there because of the couple.

  • Kelly S August 15, 2018, 9:53 am

    We had our wedding on a river boat where there was no good way for a receiving line nor did want to cut cake.
    We had the baker make nice cupcakes and the boat had a rolling cart. My husband and I served the cupcakes so we were able to talk to everyone who came.

    • admin August 15, 2018, 2:16 pm

      What a neat idea!

    • Queen of Putrescence August 15, 2018, 6:15 pm

      I absolutely love that you passed out the cupcakes yourself! Fabulous idea!

    • at work August 16, 2018, 5:06 am

      My daughter and her future husband have decided to have pie at their reception, so I am going to suggest they distribute it on a rolling cart. What a great idea and thank you for sharing it!

    • Soop August 16, 2018, 9:05 am

      Great idea! We had little boxes of chocolates for each guest that we passed out, so used that as the way to get around to everyone.

  • Ai August 15, 2018, 10:57 am

    I’m sure I was not the epitome of bridal perfection on my wedding day but I do remember making sure to greet our guests along with my husband. It was a small (46 people, including the bridal party), daytime wedding (10:15 am to approx. 4 pm) and while at times it felt a bit tight of schedule, I remember talking to so many people and hugging them, much more than just our parents and bridal party. I even remember making sure to take as many photos as possible with family that came all the way from Texas and New York as well as dragging my husband to be with me in them. Also, during the lunch, the space was a bit too tight to walk around, so instead we had a open mic for toasts and my husband and I made sure to thank everyone for coming during that time as well.

    My cousin had a much bigger wedding but instead of having a separate table for them and the bridal party, they had a couples table. It was admittedly a little odd but it made sense since they had their young toddler son with them and it allowed all three of them to eat dinner. And even with that set up, they still made time to dance, talk with family and friends and give hugs so we all felt welcomed.

    I guess I don’t understand treating guests like wallets. Our family is SO spread out that I really cannot fathom making things harder on them. They came all this way for, lets’ face it, ONE DAY. An important day, sure. A day that we hope is beautiful and lovely for the couple but also fun for everyone else. The least guests and bridal party deserve after driving/flying, paying car rental, hotel fee, etc is a good tasty meal, delicious cake, refreshments (of the alcoholic kind if your belief-system allows) and a hearty thank you with fun activities.

    Also…no. I don’t believe that guests need to get a gift or give a check that equals the cost of meal and drinks. I…I don’t get that and I never will.

    • ann campbell August 15, 2018, 5:17 pm

      “Also…no. I don’t believe that guests need to get a gift or give a check that equals the cost of meal and drinks. I…I don’t get that and I never will.”

      I agree. My gift is what I can afford to give. If they have a big fancy wedding or a bbq in the backyard, the gift is the same. I give cash in an amount I can afford. The only wedding when my gift was a bit overboard was when the person who drove me to work got married. He refused to let me chip in for gas. Since both he and his bride were good friends, I “paid him back” in the form of his wedding gift.

  • staceyizme August 15, 2018, 11:06 am

    I will never understand why guess who are uncomfortable feel compelled to endure unreasonable conditions at any event. There isn’t anything improper about making an early escape when common sense, concerns for health, or even compassion for oneself indicate the advisability of doing so. I propose that guests liberate themselves by: waiting no more than 20 minutes for tardy honorees, declining to purchase from registries, declining to attend virtual showers, second showers and destination events that require multiple days away from family and other responsibilities, declining to stay anywhere that employs some sort of class system of access to amenities or hospitality, declining to endure excessive heat or cold, hunger, thirst or inclement weather or any behavior by hosts or other guests that is rude, ill-considered or dangerous without removing themselves at once. Perhaps when guests start to expect that their hosts are really happy pleased to extend hospitality and further expect that reasonable care has been taken in arranging said hospitality, we will see fewer sad tales of abuse of the good nature and patience of those that some hosts and honorees profess to love and esteem.

    • staceyizme August 15, 2018, 11:07 am

      “guests”, not “guess”, sorry.

  • AS August 15, 2018, 11:11 am

    We made sure to visit all the tables at our wedding, and talking to everyone. We had an outdoor wedding, and an indoor reception, and he guests were asked to wait inside, in the AC room just before the ceremony was about to start. But I’d say that what really helped was that out venue came with a coordinator (she was technically the sales representative, but did the whole coordinating), and we had two very smart and efficient ushers who talked to the staff, and did the seating of guests quickly. We might have visited the tables anyway, but the staff were very efficient about getting the plates of food set for us, and we could eat while the tables were being called to the buffet. Also, for keeping people indoors, or setting up a bunch of water bottles at the ceremony – all we had to do was just tell the staff, and it was done.

    My point is that having help (either reliable designated family members, or paid staff) is really useful.

  • ann campbell August 15, 2018, 12:51 pm

    I don’t know what kind of weddings the OP has attended, but I can’t remember a single one where bride and groom (and sometimes the parents) didn’t make an effort to speak a few words to all the guests. Sometimes they might have skipped a few when people were up and about when they visited their tables, but they always seem to make their rounds.

  • Anonymous August 15, 2018, 5:18 pm

    I see this as an offshoot of “plan the gathering you can afford,” because that expression doesn’t necessarily have to be just about money. Most people have a finite amount of money to budget for an event, and that money has to cover the venue, the staff if you’re hiring a caterer, photographer, officiant, et cetera, the decorations, your own dress or whatever outfit, and whatever other expenses, but more importantly, it also has to stretch to provide reasonable and equitable hospitality for everyone–no fair inviting the A-list guests for dinner, and the B-list guests only for dessert, for example. So, this might mean doing a cake and punch reception, which necessarily means that it can’t be during a typical meal time. Most people know that, but here’s where my analogy comes in. Like I said, most people have a finite amount of money to spend on their wedding/birthday party/whatever event, the event is also going to last for a finite amount of time, and most people also have a finite amount of energy for socializing. So, while you don’t have to spend exactly the same amount of time with each guest, it’s not polite to invite people and ignore them all evening, so it’s ideal to spend *some* time with everyone. I’m an introvert myself–when I go to parties, et cetera, I don’t interact with everyone there, unless it’s a small gathering, so if I was planning something, I’d want to keep it small. Of course, that’s easier said than done, because I don’t have a huge extended family who’d be offended if they weren’t all invited, but it’s something to be aware of. I know there have been stories here of people who’ve gone to weddings and other gatherings, and reported that the food was bad or whatever, and some people have said that the food and other party accoutrements don’t matter as much as the company, so people who express disappointment over not getting to see the guest(s) of honour, are clearly valuing the company over the material things, so I don’t think that’s wrong.

  • kgg August 15, 2018, 6:13 pm

    My mother has a habit of bringing a blank check to weddings and if the bride and groom are jerks, it changes how much she and her husband give. She definitely doesn’t expect to be catered to, but she has been to some weddings where the couples have been terrors.

    • staceyizme August 16, 2018, 5:41 pm

      This seems about as bad as the whole “cover your plate” mentality. It’s strikingly equivalent. If she’s so doubtful of the civility of the happy couple or of their efforts to offer reasonable hospitality, perhaps she could just save herself the aggravation and send her regrets.

      • kgg August 17, 2018, 10:58 am

        Where we live, if you don’t cover your plate, you are persona non grata. I know it’s awful, but that is how it has come to be. And, oftentimes, you can’t nope out of certain weddings. So this is what she does. From what she tells me, she either does the whole cover the plate thing (which, for herself and her husband is oftentimes about $500), or gives more. She’s definitely not stingy.

        • MzLiz August 17, 2018, 9:39 pm

          Zowie! I’d be persona non-grata then cos I have to keep most of my money for my own luxuries, y’know, like eating & clothing myself & putting a roof over my head & saving a bit so I’m not out on the streets when I’m an old lady. But even if I was Richie McRichpants, I’d be very reluctant to bow to the pressure to pay my own way at a wedding I didn’t have anything to do with organizing. It’s an outrageous proposition – if you need your guests to pay for your wedding, you can’t afford it. End of story. According to my mother, this ‘cover your plate (plus extra)’ business has started to creep into my country & it’s a poopy attitude. She & her friends now view a wedding invite with the same excitement as a jury summons & she usually declines now, which is a shame. But, as I told her; the reason these expectations get ridiculous is because people play the game, but you don’t have to.

          My pal, J, is one of those peeps that really doesn’t give a fig what people think of her or her parenting. She disliked the whole forced ‘goody bag’ thing at kid’s parties so she decided she wasn’t going to give in, just because it’s become expected. When she was asked where the goody bags were, she said, “I think they’re unnecessary, esp when the children have had a fun afternoon. When my kid comes home with a bag after a party, all I can think is, ‘how long do I have to wait to throw this stuff out?’ Then I feel bad cos it’s such a waste. Do you remember getting bags after a friend’s party when you were little? I don’t.” It was like a light-bulb went off with the other mothers & now none of them do those stupid bags anymore. The kids don’t even miss them or care. Sometimes all it takes is a few people refusing to be pushed into a greedy expectation to put an end to them altogether.

          500 bucks?!?!?! Take a HIKE.

          • Ashley August 20, 2018, 11:24 am

            I absolutely agree with you!! Being required to gift back the value of the plate is probably the worst wedding-related thing I’ve ever heard. I give not two figs whether a couple decides to host a backyard BBQ or a 10 course meal at a fancy hotel. I give what I feel like giving regardless of the venue. It’s not up to me to finance the day. And the thing is… how I am supposed to know what the meal costs? I’m certainly not going to siddle up to the bride and groom or whoever is hosting, pull out my chequebook, and ask them what the day has set them back!

        • staceyizme August 20, 2018, 5:43 pm

          No, I completely hear you that it can be expected/ cant “nope” out. But consider the logistical problems inherent in this way of thinking. You’re literally asking your guests to accurately guesstimate the cost of a catered meal and their portion of any special amenities like a full bar or dessert fountain/cookie table/ other extras. WHO has time for that? I think I’d really rather BE persona non grata…, because even if my budget didn’t object and I could squash my abhorrence of cash-for-couples gifting, I’d be annoyed at the prospect of adding up the vendor fees and prorating my “share”. (Did they get a volume discount? Is lobster in season? Is this choice or prime beef? What’s the markup on alcohol in this establishment? Do rental fees/ band fees/ photographer fees/ venue fees count in their view of “cover your plate” or are we just talking the catering? Did a professional make this cake or was it Aunt Linda and her trusty pal Velma? Are we working with a unionized staff or contract for hire?)

          • MzLiz August 21, 2018, 1:25 am

            Right, exactly – You’d need to be a forensic accountant to figure out your cash gift in a ‘cover your plate’ scenario. That sounds like a SUPER fun way to view your guests! I bet those people are never, ever truly happy with anything in their lives. Shame.

            People who expect this need to just quit the pretense & call their wedding a Kickstarter. At least I’d have a smidgen of respect for the honesty when sending my regrets.

    • MzLiz August 17, 2018, 2:38 am

      Your mum’s actions probably won’t get many Thumps Up on EH but I’ll snitch on myself & admit I get why she does that – after what I assume have been some bad wedding experiences.

      If it’s possible, I’ll usually pick being petty (in a stealthy way) over feeling like I’ve been taken advantage of, should the situation arise; it just makes it easier for me to move on & not hold a grudge. I don’t consider a positive trait of mine but I’m self-aware enough to know it’s the better of 2 bad options (for me). What can I say? I’m a flawed human!

      I imagine your mother is private about her ‘Blank-Checking’ & isn’t rubbing the couple’s faces in. Thankfully, I’ve never attended a wedding where the bride & groom were anything less than gracious. But there’s wedding guest stories on this site where I’ll confess that if they happened to me, I’d grab my gift & run & I wouldn’t feel one bit bad about it. It would be the last defense of my hurt feelings, tbh. Like this post – Leaving guests outside in 90 degree heat while you chill in the forbidden-to-everyone-else air conditioned room for the latter part of your own reception? Nah – You already got my time, which was shown zero appreciation. I can’t get that back but you’re not getting my hard-earned money too.

  • Trish August 16, 2018, 10:01 am

    I’m guilty. In my defense, my husbands culture has HUGE weddings and ours had over 700 guests (and was considered small). My portion of the 700 was about 60 and I did speak to all of them and thank them. We have a speech welcoming everyone and thanking them for coming (I learned how to say it in his language too) but there was no way I could get to everyone.

  • Lara August 16, 2018, 7:26 pm

    We did a receiving line at our wedding, immediately following the reception. I wanted people to be able to leave when they wanted to, without feeling obligated to wait around for a chance to speak to us. It was also, however, a very handy way to make sure that we did, in fact, get to talk to everyone. I’m not terribly good at mingling and chit-chat, even at my own wedding, and that definitely made it easier on me.

    • Lara August 17, 2018, 10:59 am

      I meant to say immediately following the ceremony, not the reception. The reception was punch and cake and finger food, but was still at a different location (our church had a very small fellowship hall), so if there was anyone who really would rather just go home after the ceremony, I wanted them to feel free to do that. Having been to a lot of weddings where there was a lot of waiting around to see the bride and groom, or to eat the food, etc, I didn’t want to inflict that on my guests.

  • Hannah August 16, 2018, 8:37 pm

    I work in the wedding industry– more often then not, I see bride and groom at least attempt to make the rounds with guests, so I don’t think this is a generation issue or “no longer the proper etiquette”. I think, OP, you’ve just been caught up in some lousy weddings.

  • cattlekid August 17, 2018, 8:32 am

    In my husband’s culture, weddings tend to be on the enormous side (300 would be tiny, most are 500-ish range and big ones can top out at 1000+). However, it is also tradition that there is a receiving line at the church. As a guest, you can’t leave the church by the main door without standing in line for what can seem like an eternity as the couple, their parents and best man/MOH greet all of the guests. There have been times that I have been sorely tempted to slip out a side door, but I also know that this is the only time that I will probably get face time with the bride and groom.
    With weddings that large, I honestly don’t see how else it could be done.

    We also did the table greeting during dinner – we ate a little bit since we were served first but we spent most of dinner going from table to table to make sure we had a little more time with everyone. That’s not often done, but we had a smaller group so we could make it work.

  • LaedyRose August 18, 2018, 3:56 pm

    I feel bad that I never thought of a receiving line or other organized way of greeting everyone when my husband and I got married. We certainly did our best, as we wanted to connect with everyone there, but I can’t guarantee that we got to everyone. We did send a thank-you card to everyone, whether they gave a gift or not. We wanted the wedding to be a good time for our guests just as much as it was a good time for us.

  • Miss Cathy August 22, 2018, 5:30 am

    In every wedding that I’ve been to, in Australia, after the bride and groom change from their wedding clothes into their “going away” clothes, the guests form one big circle. The bride and groom start together inside the circle, then move around the circle in opposite directions, saying goodbye to each person. There’s often hugs and kisses and a few tears, or at least a laugh and a pat on the shoulder. The couple will pass each other, then complete the circle. When they’ve seen everyone they leave together. But also, outside the church, everyone will come up to the bride and groom and give their congratulations. There’s no line, guests just naturally seem to loosely rank themselves in closeness, so coworkers will wait for family members to have a word. The idea of going to a wedding but not saying a word to the married couple seems very strange.

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