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.

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