Guide to wedding receiving line etiquette


The wedding receiving line is a tradition that is losing favour with couples. While some see it as a lovely way to greet all of your guests in turn, others think it is a little outdated and they’d rather just mingle freely. Check out our guide to wedding receiving line etiquette.

receiving line

How is the receiving line set up?

Wedding receiving line etiquette states that the bride and groom, as well as both sets of parents, the best man, and the chief bridesmaid participate. Nonetheless, the rules are changing and you can have anybody you like in your receiving line. You could also have grandparents or other relatives participate if you are particularly close to them.

Some couples already have children, and the kids can participate in the line if you think they will enjoy this and it will have them feeling more like a part of the occasion. If your parents are no longer married you may decide it is best to exclude them from the line altogether, or you could have them and their new partners if that you are happy with that.

When does a receiving line take place?

When you wish to hold the receiving line depends greatly on the format of your special day. The receiving line was created to welcome your guests to your reception after the marriage ceremony itself but if you are organising an intimate dinner for close family and friends right after the ceremony, followed by an evening reception, you may wish to postpone the receiving line until most of your evening guests are arriving. If this is the case you don’t need to get the guests that have already been to your wedding breakfast to participate in the receiving line, and just organise it for the guests that are arriving later.

If you decide to make an American style entrance to your wedding reception once all your guests are already in place, it might be awkward to incorporate the receiving line. One solution would be to organise the line as your guests are invited to be seated for dinner, especially if this is in a separate room from the initial drinks reception.

receiving line

How should we greet guests?

For those guests that you don’t know so well, maybe the groom’s family or your friends’ partners, you might just thank them for coming and let them know how wonderful it is to see them. As most of your guests will be close family and friends, you most likely won’t have too much of a problem coming up with something to say to them.

Expect quite a few of your guests to tell you how gorgeous you look, so practise taking in the compliment gracefully with a smile and a thank you. Whatever you say make sure to keep it short so the guests at the end of the queue aren’t standing around too long.

Should we have a receiving line?

If the idea of having to come up with a little something to say to all the guest sounds like hard work, you can always just skip the receiving line. As with a number of other wedding traditions, the receiving line is losing popularity among couples, and quite a few are selecting to forgo it in favour of more informal mingling with their guests. Some couples find it strange to hold the wedding receiving line when they have already spent time with, and spoken to, many of their guests during the day


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