Do’s and Don’ts of Long Island Wedding Reception Etiquette
As stressful as you may think planning a wedding is, it pales to worrying about how everyone is going to behave. Is Uncle Charlie going to have more to drink than usual, how will your Greek house friends act around your other friends, or will your divorced parents be friendly to each other, if not at least civil? Trying to organize the reception etiquette — or attending someone else’s wedding — calls for a strict list of protocols. And while the nuances may change from wedding to wedding, there are still certain behaviors we here at Windows on the Lake believe carry across the board.
The Seating Plan
Where everyone sits is one of the most fundamental parts of any wedding reception in Long Island, NY, even if you think people are smart enough to figure it out for themselves. You may have the most brilliant guests at your wedding, but leaving them to their own devices — and risking your shyer guests feeling awkward and alone — is a recipe for disaster.
Do: Take the time to make an organized, formal seating chart, even if you’ve opted to go with a buffet reception. It saves everyone the trouble of having to tramp around and find what they think is the best seat.
Don’t: Let anyone change your mind, no matter how good of a relationship you have with your Great Aunt Mildred. It’s you and your future spouse’s wedding, so the say belongs with only you two.
The receiving line got started as a way for the married couple to personally thank their guests for attending, and is a great way to ensure they don’t miss anyone. It’s typically held at the ceremony site or wedding reception hall for your Long Island, NY wedding, so the choice is yours.
Do: Let the person who’s hosting stand first, and make sure everyone in the receiving line uses the guest’s name. And if you’re hosting it at the reception, have a waiter circulate with beverages to those in line, making sure there’s a table close to the front where they can set down their drinks.
Don’t: Sweat not having a receiving line if you’re having a small wedding, such as fewer than 50 guests. You and your spouse can easily mingle at each table during the reception itself, and thank guests that way.
Or lunch, or buffet, or snacks — whatever food you’re serving at your wedding. There’s strict protocol about when the guests get to eat, mostly for practical reasons.
Do: Have a cocktail hour for an evening wedding (this gives you and your guests ample time for the receiving line), and then have dinner served after the first dance.
Don’t: Allow for more than half an hour to pass between the time the guests enter the main reception space (i.e. apart and after the receiving line) and when dinner is served. As happy as your guests are for you, they’ve gone a few hours now without food.
There are exceptions to serving alcohol at your reception, of course, such as for religious reasons or to follow the regulations of the Long Island banquet hall. But if you do serve alcohol, remember to keep these points in mind.
Do: Serve alcohol only if you’re comfortable about it, and offer non-alcoholic beverages for guests who don’t drink.
Don’t: Offer a cash bar. It’s tacky, and gives the message to your guests that either you ran out of room with your budget, or are too cheap to spring for everything (which is technically the responsibility of those getting married).