Also, it's a party! Hopefully a good party.
So after the wedding proper was done, we segued immediately into the reception. There was no recessional, since it was all happening right there, so instead we made a big announcement about what would happen when, since we were sufficiently off-script that it would be foolish to expect the guests to operate on their default assumptions.
We started off with group photos. Neither of us wanted to hire a photographer to take an unending series of glamour shots of all possible permutations of the bridal party, but it's nice to get pictures of various family groups when they're all in one place (and TEPs always self-organize a big "family photo" at weddings anyway), so we decided that we'd do a small number of big group photos of the different branches of our friends and family, and that way we'd get pictures of all our wedding guests, too! So one for TEPs & other MIT folks, one for all the bears, one for each side of our families, and so on. We gave Kevin the grooman task of organizing the photos, but he also brought his camera and took a bunch of pictures, too, which was terribly kind. He very sensibly suggested that we bring a ladder, since it's easier to get big group pictures from a little bit of a height.
The sensible time to do pictures is right after the ceremony, because that's when everyone is already there and still looking their best, but we also didn't want to bore people with waiting, so we had the event services folks start serving snacks and beverages right away.
Speaking of refreshments, we were really impressed with the spread that the Event Services people put out. Our input was actually pretty limited; Nancy gave us a number of options to pick from, and we just said "we want the smoked salmon platter, of course," (because that's a thing they regularly do at receptions, and it's very nice) "and then how about the cheese platter, the veggie crudites, and something with pickles and olives and stuff like that." That's literally as detailed as it got. And what we actually got was, like, manchego with fig jam and capocolla with whole grain mustard and sliced pork terrine and marinated mushrooms all kinds of amazing things like that. So that was pretty nice.
As for drinks, we got water and lemonade and iced tea as part of the catering, and then Jerry went to the liquor store at the bottom of the hill and ordered a bunch of wine and beer and cider based on their recommendations. (Per the venue rules, we weren't allowed to serve hard liquor or mixed drinks, so we didn't spend a bajillion moneys on that, oh darn.) We got enough for everybody to have like 3 or 4 drinks over the course of the afternoon, and we ended up returning about a third of it unopened for a refund. Score!
So anyway, after lots of yelling loudly to get different groups of people to all come scrunch together for pictures, we did a receiving line. Traditionally, you have a receiving line because you have a bunch of guests going from the church where the wedding was to some other location where the reception is being held, and a big line forms as the hosts of the event (the bride's family) welcome all the guests individually, because that's the polite thing to do. This is one of the areas where we went off-script and the default setup didn't really make sense, because we hosted it ourselves, and there was no arriving. But we decided to have a receiving line anyway, because from a practical standpoint, the other advantage of the receiving line is that it's the only guaranteed point when the guests are guaranteed to be able to say hello to the happy couple.
So what we did was picked a spot (standing on the grass, in the shade) to stand for about an hour and a half and told people this was when they got to come say hello to us. That might seem like a long time, but 200 adult guests x 30 seconds each = an hour and 40 minutes. So yeah. But, since we wanted our guests to have more of a good time than standing in a line for an hour, we told them to have at the refreshments while they were waiting and to head over whenever the line was short and just to enjoy themselves otherwise. This worked brilliantly. The two of us spent the time saying "omigod it's so good to see you we're so glad you were able to come!" over and over, but everybody else got to mingle and catch up with friends. Hooray! We tasked Jason H. with bringing us some smoked salmon and nibbly things and with keeping us continually supplied with water, which was another piece of Very Good Advice we were given. We would have died of dehydration otherwise.
Many many hugs and greetings later, we threw flowers. And by "threw" I mean "launched from a catapult"...