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Should You Do a Receiving Line?


Receiving lines are a traditional, often expected part of a wedding reception. It's a formal opportunity to greet and thank your guests.  With all the excitement going on, the receiving line may be your only chance to catch up with a few of them!  Most of today's weddings still include this greeting tradition, but a number of modern couples are questioning its usefulness for their own ceremonies.  What about you - will you do a receiving line?

Receiving Line Basics

As guests arrive at the wedding reception, they usually begin by making their way through the receiving line.  The line usually starts with your parents, then your new in-laws.  You and her husband should be next, followed by the maid of honor and best man and the remaining attendants.  Greet and thank each guest, make any necessary introductions, and remember to smile!

To Receive or Not to Receive

Receiving lines have their advantages, as well as their disadvantages.  The important thing is to make sure your guests are recognized and that they're comfortable - if a formal receiving line will realistically be the only way you can ensure every guest gets a personal thank you, then you should include it.

The good:

  • Your guests are guaranteed the opportunity to speak with you and your new husband without waiting or interrupting.

  • After the wedding, you don't have to wonder if you forgot to thank anyone.

  • You can enjoy your reception instead of spending time searching for guests you haven't greeted.

The bad:

  • Large guest lists and big bridal parties can make for very long and time consuming receiving lines.

  • Greeting guests you see on a daily basis can become redundant in this formal setting.

  • Receiving lines can be completely exhausting for the entire wedding party.

Receiving Line Alternatives

Big weddings with more than 150 guests usually require a receiving line.  It may seem time-consuming to shake so many hands, but think about how much harder it would be to search for each guest to deliver a personal thank you before the end of the event!

If you're planning a smaller wedding or an informal reception, you may be able to greet each guest without the formality of a receiving line.  A casual cocktail hour is an option that allows plenty of time for mingling with your guests or you could incorporate personal greetings into the closing of your wedding ceremony.

Remember that many of your guests will actually look forward to the receiving line. They'll have the chance to personally speak to you and your new husband and exchange introductions with anyone they've never met - unless you're planning an alternative way to give your guests that opportunity, you should have a receiving line.

Last Updated: December 15, 2008 at 10:02 am
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