Receiving Lines

Imagine a party in your home. When the door bell rings, do the guests just come in, grab a beer from the fridge, and plop down on the couch? Hardly. Usually, as a good host, you answer the door and invite the guests into your abode, tell them thanks for coming, and send them to mingle with the others, grab a drink, and enjoy themselves. The same is true for a wedding. The receiving line works the same way and functions as a highly organized ice breaker, usually needed for large and/or formal weddings. It's a way to introduce your parents to your friends, and vice versa, in-laws to their new family, and old friends to your new spouse. By meeting and greeting all your guests from the get go, everyone has the chance to get acquainted. Plus, it also gives you the time to say thank you for coming, thanks for the wedding gift, etc. Finally, another benefit of having a receiving line is that it allows you and your spouse to enjoy the reception without having to "make the rounds" during or after the reception -- something that can take a big chunk out of your time.

The Basics

If you want to have a receiving line, there are some things to know. Here are the basics. * The receiving line should move quickly and be as short as possible. If you have 200 guests, factor in a minimum of 45 minutes to an hour at most to hold the receiving line. Make sure to factor this into your wedding day. If you are having an afternoon wedding this might cut into your reception time. This might also cause a problem with your reception site if they have another wedding scheduled directly after yours. * The receiving line needs to be located somewhere that is easy for people to move through. A narrow hallway will only cause congestion and create problems. Choose a wide open space, either outside the ceremony location or at the entrance to the reception site. * It is optional to have the receiving line take place during the cocktail reception so that the guests can mingle, wine, and dine while the bride and groom greet their guests. * If you are having a small or informal wedding, it is acceptable to simply mingle with guests during the reception or after the meal. Some couples even opt for greeting guests within a house of worship as they are exiting. * The "right" receiving line all depends on how you want to handle it. Just make sure that you get the chance to meet and greet each and every one of your guests at some point during the wedding.

How to Arrange the Line

* '''Traditional''' ** Mother of the Bride ** Mother of the Groom ** Bride ** Groom ** Maid of Honor ** All of the Bridesmaids * '''Traditionally Jewish''' ** Mother of the Bride ** Father of the Bride ** Bride ** Groom ** Father of the Groom ** Mother of the Groom * '''Long Receiving Line or One for Those with Divorced Parents''' ** Mother of the Bride ** Father of the Groom ** Mother of the Groom ** Father of the Bride ** Bride ** Groom ** Maid of Honor ** Best Man * '''A Quick Receiving Line''' ** Mother of the Bride ** Father of the Groom ** Bride ** Groom * '''Other Arrangement Pointers''' ** You may choose to group the parents of the bride and groom together if they are more comfortable this way. ** If you have divorced parents, it's usually best to keep them separated in the receiving line, and accompanied by their new spouse if they have one. ** The bridal party need only stand in the receiving line if you are having a very formal wedding. Otherwise, it is most acceptable for the bridesmaids and groomsmen to mingle with guests who are waiting to go through the line or with those who have already finished.