Greeting Guests Before the Ceremony

My fiance’ and I are hosting an nontraditional wedding. One of the things we want to do is greet our guests before the ceremony. We do not like the idea of a receiving line and would probably have very little time to eat if we visited with all of them during the reception. Ideally guests would come in, sign the book, talk with us for a few minutes, then be seated by the ushers. Do you have any good suggestions on how to transition into the ceremony? I feel that if we just disappeared 5 minutes before the ceremony started then we might miss some of our guests…

Nancy Tucker

Greeting your guests prior to the ceremoney is a great idea in theory, however, it would be so disruptive and would cause disorganization. That impression at the beginning of your ceremony could very well create a lengthy delay. Also the clery may not allow this. What many couples are doing now is greeting and releasing the guests after the ceremony as they leave their seats. This will also require additional time which you should be sure to ask for permission from the clergy and of course, let the photographer know this ahead of time. Enjoy.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

I agree. While there is nothing “etiquette-ly” incorrect with this, it just might be awkward for your guests. Of course, the wedding would have to be very informal as well.

Brandi Hamerstone,

I always appreciate bride and grooms wanting to try to “think outside of the box” on ideas for how to be sure and greet all of their guests, but as you’ve seen in the previous post, it will be awkward and disruptive to your guests. When you try to do something “new” with a large group of people, it will either confuse everyone into wondering if you are having a ceremony, or if you are just going to be hanging out that morning. There is also the issue of timing, in which you would need your guests there, at least an hour, prior to the ceremony in order to properly greet everyone (of course the timing depends on your guests count, my statement is based on 50-80 people).
If you have your heart set on this, then maybe you could include details on the invite that you will have a “meet & greet” before your ceremony and give the time for this event and then a time for the actual ceremony. That way guests knew that by coming at 10am, they wouldn’t be sitting down for a ceremony until 11am. Again, a little different but it could work if you want it to. You’ll also need to consider that people are never on time for any events at a wedding and plan accordingly for that.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

I agree. That is an excellent idea!