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A Receiving Line or Not?

What was once a given, today has become an option – the Receiving Line.  There’s no doubt the receiving line has its place and is still effective in beginning your wedding reception, but there may be a few factors to consider beforehand.

It’s really up to each couple if they would like to have a receiving line following the ceremony or to begin the reception. If you choose not to, you’ll certainly want to spend some time through your wedding reception visiting and thanking each of your guests for sharing in your day.

If the thought of visiting a large number of guests in a less formal atmosphere causes a little fear, than the receiving line is a simple, formal and safe way of welcoming and thanking your guests. Although it may seem long at the time, especially when you have 200 guests, it actually is quicker than a personal visit through the evening with each one.  It been calculated that a traditional receiving line at the wedding reception takes each guest approximately thirty seconds to one minute to go through.

If that seems long (and it is for 200 plus guests), you of course can limit the number of persons in the receiving line.  Traditionally, the receiving line has consisted of the Bride & Groom, each of their parents, and the entire wedding party.  You may want to ease up on the wedding party and perhaps have just the Best Man and Maid of Honour or none at all.  This should cut your time in half.

Is there an order for the receiving line?  Yes & No! The Mother of the Bride is the first person in the receiving line. She may choose to have her husband (the Father of the Groom, or step-father) beside her or she may choose to have the Father of the Groom beside her.  Likewise the end of the receiving line will conclude with the Mother of Groom and her husband or the Father of the Bride.

If you are inviting your wedding attendants to be a part of the receiving line, then following the first couple (Mother of the bride) you may  want to have your Best Man and Maid of Honour next.    Or, if you’d rather…have all your brides maids together at this point led by the Maid of Honour.  Depending on how you arrange your receiving line either the Bridesmaid and Grooms Men would be paired off, similar to the way in which they stood during the wedding ceremony, or all of the Grooms Men in order are situated to stand just before the Mother of the Groom.

No matter who is in your wedding receiving line, the Bride and Groom have the center of attention, standing in the middle of the line.  That’s about it!

Just a couple of notes that may also help in your planning:

Ring Bearers and Flower Girls usually don’t participate in the receiving line.

In the case of divorced parents (and step parents) you may need to work through an appropriate order for standing, especially if they do not feel comfortable standing beside each other.

The receiving line can be fun and useful and so make the best of it on your wedding day!


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