An Inquiry Into Queue Lengths At Wedding Receptions

So last night once again I was at a wedding reception where there was a long queue for getting on stage, wishing the couple, giving gift and getting photo taken. In fact, last night, the queue literally extended to outside the hall (maybe the non-standard orientation of the hall – more breadth than length – contributed to this) – probably the first time I was seeing such a thing. Thankfully the wedding hall entrance was deep inside the building compound, else there might have been the unsavoury sight of the queue extending all the way on to the road.

This has been a problem that has been bugging me for a long time now – regarding queue length at wedding receptions. Apart from a handful, most wedding receptions that I’ve attended in the last 3-4 years have had this issue. You get to the hall and finding a long queue to get on stage, immediately go and plonk yourself at the end of it. By the time you get to the stage and do your business, you are hungry so off you go to the dining hall to probably stand in another queue. And before you know it, the reception is over and all the networking opportunity that you had been thinking of is now lost.

Udupa has a simple solution to this – introduce a token system like they have at commercial banks. Upon entry, you get a token with a number on it and you go take your seat or go around networking. And when your number gets flashed on a screen close to the stage, you go join what will be a very short queue, and you have done your business without really wasting much time. I’m told that this is the system that they had introduced at Tirupati in order to prevent time wastage at queues. However, it is doubtful if such a solution is practicable for the wedding case – people might get offended, people might get too busy to see their token number flashing, and all such.

A while back, I had raised this issue with my mom, and had casually mentioned to her about Udupa’s solution. She said that the whole problem lay with girls’ fascination for make-up nowadays, and that 99% of the problem would get solved if the reception were to start on time. This was never a problem during her time, she mentioned, when makeup was lesser and girls took less time to dress. And she also mentioned that the number of guests hasn’t gone up as significantly as one might expect.

Another solution that my mom suggested was to get the couple to stand at floor level, thus reducing the “distance” between them and the crowd, and making them more accessible. Apparently, she and my dad did that at their wedding – abandoned the stage in favour of the musicians and stood on one side at floor level, and this, she says, made crowds move faster. In fact, even at Katsa’s wedding last weekend, the couple were not at a great height off ground level, and this made them more accessible, and somehow prevented a queue from building up.

Next, we will need to look at the various processes that go into the “proceedings”. So you meet the couple. One of the couple introduces you to the spouse. You make small talk for a couple of minutes. You handover the gift. Then, you stand with the couple and wait for the photographer to make sure everything is ready, and then get your snap taken. And then put exit and head for the grub. So we need to figure out which part of this whole process needs to be reduced, or even done away with.

Gift-giving takes minimal time, so it stays. Introduction is the reason you are there at the wedding, so that also stays. Yesterday’s wedding, they took photos side-on while we were putting small talk. And that still did nothing for queue length. But still, I think that’s a good start – too much time is wasted anyways in organizing gumbals for photos. And the closer gumbals can wait for beyond grubtime.

Small talk? Is there any way that can be reduced? Two weddings recently, the couple has promised to put small talk post-reception but reception has carried on for too long making us put NED before the talk. People kept streaming in even after 10pm. Will the couple abruptly getting off stage at the closing time help? People who come later can seek out the couple wherever they are, and in the meantime they can put the small talk. And this promise means that they don’t have to put small talk when there aer 100 people waiting in the queue?

Any other bright ideas? This is a common problem. Only thing is no one party will pay you enough to come up with a brilliant solution for this – benefits of this are far too distributed. Anyways, your thoughts on this, please.

11 thoughts on “An Inquiry Into Queue Lengths At Wedding Receptions”

  1. One tactic that could be tried is to have Eating & Greeting done in Parallel.

    When about one-half of guests are in the queue, a couple of smooth-talking family members could usher in a few guests to the dining hall instead of piling on to the queue. This would likely trigger a chain-reaction down the queue and cause more people to head for dinner.

    Once people see that it cuts everybody’s wait time in half, they are likely to embrace the idea that “it is ok to eat before greeting”, especially when confronted with long wait times.

    1. that happened at my cousin’s wedding. cousin and cousin-in-law arrived an hour behind schedule. immediately 2 queues were formed that went all the way to the door – one starting at the stage, and the other at the grub counter.

      it’s regular in bangalore receptions now – eating before greeting.

  2. 3-pronged solution
    a) Take photos in studio of close family and people who you would want to see snaps of in the coming years
    b) Throw a party later for the friends to whom the intros need to be made
    c) All other random junta – get the couple to circulate the hall than stand on stage. Photographer/videographer can follow as they greet people, will probably create less queues and “rush”

    My ideal solution (which I suggested to my parents but go vetoed) was that the couple stand at the entrance of the hall. That way they will meet every person coming in, people will not linger and they can head straight to the food/gossip/networking inside – whichever was the actual motivation of coming to the reception!

    1. problem is even if you don’t wnat to socialize with most of the guests, they’lll want to socialize with you and get pics taken. and they’ll want pics to be taken on stage and all that.

      couple standing at entrance is a good idea, i think. only thing is if people start putting too much CP, there will be a queue on the road 😛

  3. Couple standing at the entrance is inefficient because you are moving closer to the arrival point which can be bursty (hence less scope for smoothening). Eating before greeting is a good solution; changing people’s mindset to adapt it is the issue.

  4. I don’t think there ought to be a dias (regardless of its height) for the married couple. They should just mingle with the rest of the guests on the floor and hand over the gifts to some kid who can be expected to tag along with them.

    The current practice of making an exhibition of oneself on a dias is rather disgusting…makes the couple seem so self-important

  5. I had a reception in Bangalore where a lot of bureaucrats (PSU officials) attended. There was no way they could stand in long queues. Hurt egos,breaking lines etc. might have happened. Hence we decided to seat everyone and serve snacks etc. to them on their seat. We kept walking around meeting ppl and taking snaps – with a roving cameraman and one friend/ cousin for each of us to collect gifts etc. While the lighting etc. for individual snaps was a compromise, we still managed to meet everyone and it worked OK.
    Downsides – too tiring for the couple, slightly unconventional – so ppl will end up walking to you and giving gift etc. But this can be managed if the overall crowd is civil in nature.

    1. as someone put fundaes on facebook, you don’t even need to serve light snakes. basically, if you can have both couple and grub in same hall, it’s peace. people can time themselves better, etc. (you might remember this at Katsa’s wedding)

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