Are Receiving Lines Necessary?

Receiving lines. You might love them, or you might hate them, but the question often asked is are they necessary?

I don’t think so. I think that they are a very nice touch to greet all of the guests who travelled to attend your wedding, however, they are by no means necessary.

If you’re not a fan however, consider the different options available as they may be more favourable than others.

  1. After the ceremony.
    When the ceremony is completed and you are out of the ceremony room, it is a great opportunity to have the receiving line. This is the first chance you will get to see all of your guests and the first chance they will get to speak to you. The bonus of doing it at this stage is that you will prevent doubling up, as most guests will come over to you to greet you now anyway. The minus is that it will cut into your photo time. If you are going to do it here, make sure you allow enough time before your meal and consider offering canapés with the welcome drinks.
  2. Before the Wedding Breakfast.
    This is the most traditional time to do the receiving line – before you enter the wedding breakfast as guests are making their way to their tables. Bear in mind that at this stage you will have already greeted most of your guests, especially if your ceremony and reception are at the same venue. The downside of doing your receiving line at this stage is that the guests who see you first will be sat at the table for much longer than everyone else, potentially on their own.

A receiving line doesn’t have to be formal, and doesn’t have to take as long as you may thing. A quick greeting and thank you for coming is all it takes and ensures that all of your guests are greeted individually and nobody is left out. You don’t want to leave guests feeling like they haven’t been welcomed.

The receiving line traditionally takes the following order:

1              The Bride’s Mother

2              The Groom’s Father

3              The Groom’s Mother

4              The Bride’s Father

5              The Bride

6              The Groom

7              The Chief Bridesmaid (optional)

8              The Best Man (optional)

Another option is to have the following receiving line, which allows one member from each family in the first two bridal party members. The benefit of this is that guests from either side can be introduced to the different families.

1              The Bride’s Mother

2              The Groom’s Father

3              The Groom’s Mother

4              The Bride’s Father

5              The Bride

6              The Groom

7              The Chief Bridesmaid

8              The Best Man

Depending on how long you wish to spend talking to guests, allow 30-45 minutes for approx. 150 guests. I always recommend closer to 45 as you will always find there will be a few guests that will ‘stick around’ longer than others.

It’s always a good idea to delegate the role of ‘ushering along the receiving line’ to someone. If you don’t have a wedding planner, this is a great role for an usher or best man.

For further advice on planning your wedding, contact Weddings by Rachel.

The Big List

Pretty much as soon as you have gotten engaged and start planning your wedding you need to talk about the guest lists. There are very few brides out there who are lucky enough to write a guest list of absolutely everyone and be able to invite them all, most couples need to whittle down who to invite to save on costs, or to accommodate a dream venue that they’ve found.

Weddings by Rachel have put together some great starting points to help you create your big list of guests.

  • The first to add to your wedding guest list are the immediate family.
  • Next are family members such as Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins who are truly a part of your life.
  • Next are those who are like family to you. Remember, when inviting close friends you should include partners.
  • Now you should look at friends who are a part of your life and are special to you on a day-to-day basis. This could include neighbours, colleagues and old school friends. It is appropriate to invite partners if you know them, however, with guests such as colleagues, it may be suitable to invite a group of colleagues and not invite any partners if you do not know them.

After creating this initial list make a total amount of guests and from there you can see if you can afford to add anyone else to you guest list. This could include anyone from family members that you aren’t so close to, or business contacts that still keep in touch.

It is definitely worth bearing in mind that parents will want to have a say into the guest list, especially if they are paying for some or all of the wedding. They will have friends that they will want to share your wedding day with. It is also reasonable to say no if you don’t have the room or if you don’t know the guests. If you are paying for your wedding day you need to keep a firm grasp on the guest list otherwise things can get out of hand.

If you are feeling the strain with the guest list don’t feel obliged to invite people who you do not have a relationship with or that you never keep in contact with. A Christmas card once a year does not justify a wedding invitation.

Once your guest list is complete now it’s time to consider who you can afford to invite. If there is a need to cut people out start from the end of the list and work your way up.  Set and stick to boundaries. This can be tricky if one set of parents is paying the bill and wants to invite more guests. But when it comes down to it, this is your event. Sometimes it’s just a matter of increasing the size of the guest list, and the parent who goes over their number of invites can pay for the overflow, but sometimes it means that one person inviting extra will affect someone else’s invitations.

All of the immediate family with input should be given the same number of people to invite, regardless of who’s paying. What that means is that if you’re having 200 guests and you and your fiancé take 100 of the invites, his family should get 50 of the remaining invites and your family should get the final 50. If one set of parents are divorced, then each of the parents split the 50 evenly. Of course, if one of you is an only child and the other comes from a family of 20, you can re-evaluate how to split up the numbers.

If you complete your list and realise that it’s far too big, use some of these tips to help you trim it down.

  • If you have never spoken to, met, or heard the name of a particular guest, he gets cut, even if dad swears they’re close
  • Anyone whose bedtime occurs before 9 p.m. will miss the cake cutting, so don’t feel bad about cutting all the under-12-year-olds.
  • Single friends who want to bring a significant other only get an ‘and guest’ if they’ve been in the relationship for a year or more (or live with the person).
  • It’s your party — if you don’t want them there, don’t feel that you have to send an invite, even if you were invited to their wedding or they are friends with lots of people who will be invited.
  • Don’t assume people will say no – always assume that everyone will say yes. You can always have a backup list to make up the numbers, but if you do this make sure that you send the first list out earlier so that you are not sending your backup list invitations too late!

For more wedding planning tips and advice, contact Weddings by Rachel.

Setting a Wedding Budget

Before you can go out and start booking venues and buying dresses, you need to organise your budget. This is very important to do because you don’t want to overspend – this can put a dark cloud over the day if it means going without something really important to you.

You need to establish who is paying for the wedding. Traditionally the bride’s parents take care of the bill with the groom chipping in for the ceremony and the men’s suits and, of course, the honeymoon. However, times are changing and a lot of couples are paying for their weddings themselves.

It may be that one, or both, sets of parents are willing to offer a sum to contribute towards the cost of the wedding. These things should be established before any final budgets are made so you know exactly what you have to work with.

A good place to start is considering what weddings cost. The average wedding costs £15-20,000. This includes approx. 50% of the budget on venue hire, food and drinks. Bear in mind the spending varies from couple to couple and it is important to remember that this is just an average. Lots of couples get married on much less and much more. I recently worked on a fabulous, romantic wedding that had a very small budget.

The best thing to think about is how you’re going to spend your money. What is it that you really want? It is important that you budget for exactly what you want. Do you have a dream venue that you really want to get married in? Is there a perfect dress that you’ve seen? Do you really want a swing band? Make sure you’ve got enough budget if you have something really special in mind.

A great way to approach setting your budget is to firstly consider how much you can afford. If you are paying for the wedding for yourself you must only budget what you can afford to. You don’t want to start married life in debt.

Next consider how many guests you want – don’t do this by guessing, write out a rough guest list as you’d be surprised how many more it will be than you initially thought. This is a great way to set your budget. If you know you have 100 guests and the venue you have your eye on is £50 per head, then consider that 50% of your budget.

Use budget planners online as these are very helpful for keeping a track of everything and figuring out how much to spend. A wedding planner will take care of this for you but you may want to keep an eye on it yourself so these are always handy tools to use.

I also recommend including a 10% contingency budget for that one thing that was forgotten or for something extra that crops up.

For further advice on planning your wedding, contact Weddings by Rachel.