Wedding reception receiving lines are extremely popular in Latter Day Saint culture, especially in Utah. Our couple’s parents, grandparents, cousins, and maybe even some of their siblings have had a receiving line to greet guests and community members from their church as they arrive at their reception. It seems like it’s almost an expectation for temple weddings, but at what cost? After more than half a decade photographing weddings we’ve observed the power of what “could be” during temple wedding receptions and the benefits behind it. We can now say with confidence that not having a receiving line can strengthen your marriage long term.
Let’s look at what a typical wedding reception with a receiving line looks like. After getting married in the temple earlier that morning, and a few hours following a luncheon in their honor, couples arrive at the venue they’ve chosen for their reception. As guests start to drift into the venue, the couple and sometimes their parents will line up along a wall to greet each guest individually to thank them for coming and for their support. The line of guests will continue to grow as more guests arrive and wait for their turn to greet the newly married couple. After greeting the bride and groom, guests will drop off their gift if they haven’t already, and make their way to the dessert table to grab a treat. After grabbing a treat guests will usually either find a table to sit down and chat with someone they might know, or they will stand around for a few minutes not knowing what exactly to do with themselves, before leaving a few minutes later.
One thing that most couples today want out of their wedding day is an experience. An incredible experience for themselves, for their family and friends, and for their guests. Does a receiving line create that kind of memorable experience that they are looking for, or does it distract from it? Does it help guests have a great time at a wedding, or even the couple themselves for that matter?
So now we come to the part you’ve been waiting for, it’s easier to imagine how skipping a receiving line would make the reception more enjoyable for everyone, but how in the world could not having a receiving line strengthen your marriage years down the road?
Your story as a couple is built upon moments. Each of these moments whether positive or negative affects how your story is built. When you have a receiving line for one or even two hours during your wedding reception, you are blocking the potential for moments and experiences to be created on one of the most defining days of your life together. Instead of having a reception where your guests are expected to show up with a gift and just say hi before they leave, why not create an experience for you that you are excited to share with others? Traditional weddings get this one right. Following the ceremony during a traditional wedding, guests will be seated for dinner and the couple will make their grand entrance into the dinner venue. After the couple makes their entrance, the party begins! Eating, toasts, dancing, cake cutting, performances, games, and so many more fun experiences take place and memories are created.
Each year on our couple’s anniversary date, before they leave to celebrate with a night out, we want them to sit down together and open up their wedding album to once again experience their wedding day. To remember how they felt, and to reminisce about each story that was created that day. Looking through your album together will have a significant impact on your marriage and relationship. When you spend an hour or more during your wedding reception standing in a line greeting your guests who then leave after saying hi to you, you are missing out on so much and so many memories that could have been created and photographed! What “could have been” will be something that impacts how you see your wedding day years down the road.
Instead, why not do something similar to what our couple Megan and Tyler did for their wedding reception after they were sealed in the temple. Instead of an open house and inviting the entire community, they invited a set number of people that they wanted to be there. On their invitations they told their guests to arrive for dinner at their venue at a certain time and to expect events to follow, and after spending 20-30 minutes greeting them as they walked in the door, dinner was served and the events began. Instead of a formality, their reception became an experience that they will remember without regret for their rest of their lives.
Your wedding day should be one of the biggest days of your life. It should be filled with moments that will start a lifetime of happiness. In our experience, receiving lines just don’t help you do this. Our advice is to plan your wedding to create experiences rather than just following expectations. Do everything you can to make it yours, and you will create memories and photos that you’ll cherish and that will strengthen your marriage!
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