Receiving Line Etiquette

February 13, 2015 at 9:53 am Leave a comment

vineyardweddingphotGreet and meet your guests after your wedding ceremony with a receiving line at the reception. The receiving line is a wedding custom where the host, couple and certain members of the wedding party line up to say thank-you and welcome all guests. Although optional, it is not a requirement. Receiving lines create an opportunity to briefly interact and mingle with your guests as you might not have time to visit with everyone during the wedding reception activities. Read onto learn more about receiving line etiquette.

When and Where to Have a Receiving Line

Make a plan in advance of your receiving line logistics. Prime location choices for a receiving line include as guests leave the ceremony or enter the reception. Choose a place that offers easy access for all your wedding guests. Consider the comfort of your guests by offering refreshing beverages as they wait in line.

Traditional Receiving Line

Traditionally, the first person in a wedding receiving line is the individual or individuals hosting the wedding. According to etiquette expert Emily Post, the order goes first with the bride’s mother, bride’s father, groom’s mother, groom’s father, bride, groom, maid-of-honor and bridesmaids. The best man and groomsmen are off the hook for this wedding activity. On a similar note, fathers are not required to participate but if one chooses to stand in the receiving line, etiquette requires they both line up.

Contemporary Receiving Line

In the spirit of love, contemporary receiving lines offer an alternative to the traditional receiving line as a way to greet and thank guests for attending your wedding. In the case of divorced or remarried parents, sensitivity may be applied and the receiving line order may be altered depending on their relationship. Emily Post suggests positioning the bride’s mother first, then the groom’s mother and father followed by the bride’s father.

For an unconventional approach, forgo the receiving line all together and mingle during dinner or write each guest a personal note of thanks placed at each person’s place setting, a great option for smaller weddings. It is your special day, personalize your receiving line as you wish.

What to Say

Keep sentiments short and sweet in your wedding receiving line. Most of your guests will offer ‘congratulations’ and ‘best wishes’. Reply with genuine heartfelt responses and say each guest’s name. If you should not know a guest’s name, be gracious and thank them for coming or create a subtle signal beforehand for your parent to jump in and offer introductions.

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