With 200 or more guests invited to your wedding, it may seem like an impossibly daunting task to talk to each and every one of them. But with these expert tips, you'll make the rounds and still have time to relax.
Organize a Receiving Line
Greet your guests one-by-one as they leave your ceremony site, suggests Kelly Heyn, owner of SocialLife Event Planning in New Jersey. "This is a great opportunity to thank them for coming," she says, noting, "the only downside is that a receiving line often can be time-consuming." So if you stick to this tradition, keep on track by "spending no longer than 10 seconds speaking to each person," she says. "That may not seem like a lot of time, but if you have 100 guests, it will take more than 15 minutes to say hello to everyone."
Host a Cocktail Hour
It's common for couples to miss their cocktail hour in favor of taking photos, but "the bride and groom should try and finish all of their photos before the cocktail hour," Heyn says, "so that they can attend it with their guests. This will give them time to mingle with everyone before the reception." Stick together when going from table to table, she says, so you can "speak to more people at once."
Tackle Visits by Each Table
Rather than going from guest to guest, move from table to table during your reception. "Table visits give couples a chance to speak to all their guests," explains Amy Nichols, owner of California-based Amy Nichols Special Events, who recommends visiting each table for somewhere between two and five minutes. "This is a great time to have your photographer follow you around and snap a shot with you with any special guests too."
Get Chatty on the Dance Floor
While you and your new husband get your groove on together, "you should also dance with everyone," suggests Heyn. "Make sure you keep making your way through the crowds and not stick with one group. Even if it's only for a moment, your great aunt or parent's best friend will feel honored that you took a moment to dance with them."
Not into any of these get-'em-all-at-once strategies? Then make your first priority "those guests who have traveled from far away," says Nichols. "Your friends that you see once a week will understand if you don't spend 15 minutes with them." After you've made the rounds with out-of-town guests, focus on "older guests or guests with children first, as they are likely to leave earlier," Nichols says.
Finally, remember: "You only need to say hello and thank you to each of your guests once," says Heyn. "There is no need to spend your entire wedding mingling with everyone. If guests want to speak to you, they will find a way to do it."