Receiving lines . . .
Doing wedding photography in the Cleveland area for over 12 years, my and my team have done over 700 weddings and we have seen enough that I don't mind sharing some things to make your day be that much better.
I'll start with receiving lines,
So you're getting married and yes, you really should try to greet every guest. Receiving lines used to be the go to way of meeting everyone. You know, the ceremony is over and the bridal party and parents line up and all the guests walk past, stop by, say hi, say "I remember you when . . . " , there's hugs, some kisses. As a wedding photographer, it's a great opportunity to catch the bride and groom interacting with, well, everyone actually. Which is great and I never mind them.
However . . . if your ceremony is later in the day, 2pm, 3pm something like that. Or if your ceremony is at the same site as the reception and it's like at 4pm or 5pm . . . then I forecast some trouble.
Unless you are doing a first look with your future Mr. or Mrs. before the ceremony and we are knocking out the formal bridal party pictures then, most couples (75% of our weddings) choose to do do formal pictures after the ceremony and before the reception.
The ceremony ends when it ends. The reception begins when it is scheduled. The photography gets whatever time is in between. And if a receiving line takes 30-45 minutes (yup, that's happened) that is 30-45 minutes less of time your photographer will get to do formal Wedding Photography. If you ceremony is early in the day, no worries, we have plenty of time. But if it is later in the day, well . . . here's what I say to every couple: "I'll do whatever you want, I am yours for the day, but in my experience, finding an alternative to the receiving line after the ceremony makes the day go smoother."
Alternatives . . . Greet your guests. You should. Because 1, you probably like them since you invited them. And 2, hey, they're giving you gifts. Where/how to greet them is what's on the table.
Option 1) Receiving line
Option 2) Get to the reception early enough that you can greet each guest as they come in
Option 3) Walk around to each table after dinner and say hi there.
I usually vote for option 3 if anyone is asking me. Because you finish dinner first (you get served first) you have the time to walk around. Plus there is the added HUGE bonuses of greeting multiple guests at once (ten at a time or so) and you control how long you are at each table. If you are standing in a line letting each guest come up to you, they don't move on until they are ready, and we all know how long Aunt Sally can talk. In fact, if you greet the tables, I tell my brides and grooms to take me (the wedding photographer) with them. I can get a quick pic with each table which is always nice, but I can be the bad guy. If a table is chatting away with you, you can turn to me and say "I'm sorry but our photographer says we have to keep moving."
Ultimately you have a limited time for one of the best days of your lives. The more efficient you can make it, the better you will appreciate it.
It's your day. Love your guests. Get great pictures. Have a big party.