It’s a well-known conundrum of weddings: you spend countless thousands of hours planning every tiny detail, only to have the day fly by. Before you know it, you’re in the send-off car or at the honeymoon suite, and you realize that you didn’t taste any of the menu you spent so much time choosing. You didn’t get a chance to fully take in the flower arrangements, or dance to your favorite songs on the dance floor. And worst of all…maybe you didn’t get a chance to visit with all your guests.

Everyone has tips to help you plan your wedding, but what about managing your time during the reception? Not usually covered, and it’s something married friends or relatives forget in the hustle and bustle leading up to the wedding. Therefore, we present to you some tips and ideas that can help you manage time during your wedding.

The Cardinal Rule

There are few things we feel are unalterable, set in stone and absolute must-haves at a wedding. But there is at least one.

You must, absolutely, thank your guests. As many of them as you can, in person. You must look them in the eye, receive hugs or air-kisses, and smile politely through your great aunt’s so-strong-it-could-embalm-someone perfume, and thank them for being at your event.

I cannot stress this enough. Many a family schism has occurred over a failure to thank wedding guests. It’s a blight on a reputation that only years worth of groveling, extra special holiday gifts and strained visits can buff away. Above all, do not fall into this trap.

There is a device, something generally disliked, but ultimately useful for making sure you thank everyone. It’s called, the receiving line.

-The Receiving Line

Think it’s outmoded and overly formal? That’s up to you to decide, but it really is the most time-effective way to make sure you greet everyone. It also makes it easy to introduce any family or friends who may not have actually met your spouse. And because it’s a line, no one will linger too long. Even your windy old uncle, who is just dying to regale everyone (yet again) about that time you got stuck in a too-small inner tube at the family reunion of 1990, will have no choice but to shuffle along after thirty seconds.

Even if you hate the idea, consider it. As those RSVPs start to come back, odds are it will look more and more attractive to you.

-The Cocktail Hour

Cocktail hour is a perfect time to have said receiving line, or to stake out a highly visible and accessible spot and wait for the guests to come to you in a less formal and orderly fashion. Of course, this will only work if you and your wedding party aren’t spending the cocktail hour taking your group photos.

This is also a good time to eat, not just drink! Ask a waiter to make up small plates for you in the kitchen and bring them to you, so you can eat something while chatting with the guests. Let them chase down the guy with the crudites.

-Divide and Conquer

Okay, if you didn’t get a chance to visit with people during the cocktail hour and you didn’t have a receiving line, you can still manage to get to everyone.

Find out ahead of time from your caterer how long they are planning between courses. When you sit down for your salad or soup course, divide the room into thirds. Eat some of your salad, and spend the rest of “salad time” greeting the tables in section 1. Return to your seats for the main course, eat some of that, and spend the rest of “entree time” with the tables at group 2. Repeat with dessert and group 3. This kind of system should let you eat some of everything, visit with everyone, and still be present for the toasts, cake cutting, and first dance.

Try to stick together while you accomplish the cardinal rule. After that, do what you like. Let your groom go enjoy whiskey and cigars with his boys, while you rock out to “Brown Eyed Girl” on the dance floor with your ladies. Use any of the above systems to get around to everyone, and spend the rest of the night knowing you didn’t offend anyone.