Saturday, November 21, 2015

Tips for Visiting Guests at Your Reception

Almost all of our clients, brides and grooms, share with us early in the planning process that one of their concerns is a slow moving reception.  They tell us they've been guests at other wedding receptions and they've experienced confusion about what's happening next, boredom, and a general - when will this party start - anxiety.  They don't want a slow moving, disjointed flow, or lack of flow, to their own reception.

One thing that often slows down the flow of the reception is when the bride and groom attempts to visit each table of guests, typically during dinner or toward the end of dinner.  Ironically, they are sometimes the reason for the very slowdown that they didn't want to happen in the first place. This is because most people do not know how to "butterfly" around a room.  If you've ever noticed a butterfly in a garden, you'll see that it quickly bounces from one flower to the next, not staying in any one place for very long.  For us humans, this is a learned skill that only priests and politicians have mastered.  It's precisely because their main goal when floating through a room is to say hello, be noticed, welcome guests and then move on.  It's not to engage in any type of drawn out reminiscing or storytelling.  It's not that they don't enjoy reminiscing or storytelling, it's just that they know this isn't the right time for it, if they want to honor and acknowledge all guests.

Brides and grooms, let's do a little math.  If you have 200 guests in a room and they are sitting at 25 tables of eight guests per table - how long will it take you to visit all tables if you spend just 3 minutes at each table?  The answer, a whopping one hour and 15 minutes!  What's happening during this time?  The DJ or band can't get the dancefloor going because traditionally, the first dance belongs to the bride and the groom.  I can tell you that this is one of the most frustrating points in the evening for DJs.  We often feel stuck because we know guests are getting antsy for the dancing to begin, yet we need
Two minutes at each table!
to wait for the bride and groom to finish their butterflying.

This blog article is not meant to talk you out of butterflying, although there are other options that we can cover in another post.  The purpose of this article is to give you a few easy tips to be an awesome butterfly!

1) Understand your goal is to thank and welcome guests, not to engage in storytelling.  Storytelling takes time and you can't control the duration of the story if you're not the one telling the story.  Many of your guests know that you're on a schedule but some have no idea about your reception timeline and will immediately begin to share a story about their recent vacation to Alaska.

2) Keep moving.  It's difficult to pin you down if you're physically moving.  Do the slow walk but don't stop for very long.  If you do stop, make it for just a few seconds to give someone a hug or shake hands.  Move on.

3) Stay together.  Have you ever heard the saying, divide and conquer?  This is true with couples who butterfly a room.  If you get separated, you'll never be able to visit all tables as a couple and you'll literally lose each other at your own reception.  Hold hands while you visit each table.

4) Blame the DJ.  I give my clients permission to use me as an excuse for moving on to the next table.  If you feel caught in the grips of a storyteller, simply say John, I want to hear more but our DJ has us on a tight schedule.  Or, Jenny let's get together to talk more, our DJ needs us soon to cut our cake, have our first dance, or whatever is next.  They'll understand and you won't seem rude about leaving on your own accord.

5) Two minutes or less.  Trust me, you will lose all sense of time on your wedding day.  So, try to keep under 90 seconds to two minutes or less at each table.  That will keep you to about 45 minutes, which is manageable and won't kill the flow of your reception.

Some clients suggest that they will eat their dinner quickly, knowing they'll be first served.  That will give them time to visit guests while guests are eating and thus not impede the timing of the reception.  This can certainly work as a time strategy but if you stop to think about it, do you really want to rush your dinner on your wedding day?  After a long day, you'll be hungry and need a brief rest.  Think about your dinner as half-time for your wedding day.  I think it's better to relax for a bit, enjoy your dinner and be an effective butterfly later.

I hope these butterfly tips help you to keep a fun exciting flow to your wedding reception.  If you have other strategies, please share them with us and our readers in the comment section.  Best wishes!

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4 comments:

Black Tie Events said...

Your post is really good providing good information. Its very helpful for everyone who are seeking this information. Thanks!!!


Gianni Harber said...

Wow ! Its very nice to read the blog. You have posted so much important blog related to tips for visiting guests at your reception. Thank you so much and please keep posting this kind of blog.

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zerry ht said...

These are quite great tips for visiting guests at wedding. Couple of months ago, I arranged my brother’s wedding reception at one of exquisite NYC wedding venues. Invited all my family and friends and had good time.

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