A receiving line is a wedding tradition where guests line up to greet the newlyweds and (sometimes) their parents. It typically takes place between the ceremony and the reception. Some couples think that it is too time-consuming and old fashioned, while others consider it the best way to welcome and thank their guests. If you belong to the latter category, check out our tips for handling your receiving line.
Tip #1. Decide if the receiving line is really necessary. If you have fewer than 50 guests, you can easily do without it, because you will be able to talk to each of them during the reception. But if you've invited quite a lot of people, a formal receiving line probably is the best way to greet everyone. Just make sure there is enough space for the guests to stand in line and they don't have to suffer through hot sun, strong wind, rain, lack of AC, etc.
Tip #2. Think of something that will keep your guests busy while waiting. Most people find waiting in line boring, so you should give your guests something to busy themselves with on both sides of the line. They can write something in your guestbook while waiting and treat themselves to cocktails and appetizers one they've reached the end of the line.
Tip #3. Decide who will be in your receiving line. Traditionally, a receiving line consists of the bride and groom, both sets of parents, and sometimes also honor attendants (the best man and the maid of honor). However, you don't have to stick to tradition if you don' want to. Sometimes receiving lines consist of just the bride and groom, and sometimes couples decide to include their siblings, children from a previous marriage, or other nearest and dearest.
Tip #4. Make introductions if necessary. If your receiving line includes your relatives who don't know all the guests, it is important that you make the introductions between your family and your guests. Ideally, guests will state their first name and how they know you themselves, but if they don't, you need to make sure they are formally introduced.
Tip #5. Keep it short. A receiving line should take no more than 45 minutes for every 100 guests, so you won't have much time for each guest. A brief but warm greeting is all that is expected from you. If a guest is attempting to have a long conversation with you, let them know you'll catch up during the reception, don't let them hold the line. You should keep the line moving, both verbally and physically.
Tip #6. Relax and enjoy. Weddings are often hectic, and greeting so many people in a row can be quite stressful, but you should try to be relaxed because your guests will be able to tell when your smile is forced and you'd rather be anywhere but here. Have a glass of champagne if it helps you feel more at ease and enjoy the compliments your guests will inevitably shower you with.
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