Wedding Receiving Line Etiquette — Greeting Your Guests with Style

Even though it’s a great tradition with a long history, some couples choose not to greet their guests in a receiving line, fearing that this might take too long. Team Wedding, the operators of Top Wedding Questions (one of the top sites onlie for wedding etiquette advice) says that realistically, one should allow 30 minutes for every 100 people in the line. If this time allotment fits within your plans and you’d like to be certain that you personally welcome and thank each of your guests, read on.

Know the Basics

Being familiar with the basics of what a receiving line is all about will immediately help you to feel comfortable with this elegant formality. Exactly when and where the receiving line is formed is really based upon your particular situation. In general, people like to form their line either in the vestibule right after the ceremony or at the entrance to the reception area.

With the exception of the groom, this is really a lady’s affair. Here’s the lineup: first in line is the bride’s mother, followed by the bride, the groom and, next to him, his mother. Dads, groomsmen, bridesmaids, and children in the wedding party generally are not a part of the receiving line. If for some reason you choose to include any of these people, keep in mind that every person you add will cause the line to proceed slower.

Short and Sweet

Once everyone is in position, the rule should be to keep greetings brief yet warm and sincere. This will avoid a bottleneck. If there is time before your wedding day, review your list of guests with the groom and parents. A little homework never hurts.

Since your mother and you are the first in line, it’s expected that relatives and friends of his side of the family will introduce themselves to each of you. As your relatives and friends proceed, you should introduce them to the groom and his mother.

Include the Pleasantries

Consider adding a few pleasantries if your receiving line will not be in a house of worship. This will liven up everyone’s mood, get conversations going, and make waiting in line easier for your guests. For instance, you could:

Include music — Have the band or your dj positioned close enough so that there is music in the background. Plan ahead though. You don’t want to have to take time to make these arrangements at the last moment.

Pass the tray — Ask your caterer to set hors d’oeuvres and champagne on a table nearby or have a waiter offer these on a tray.

Receiving Guests Like a Pro

There are always instances where, for one reason or another, a person’s name is not ready to roll off your tongue. You can handle these moments as if you’ve been in receiving lines all your life by saying something like: “I’m so glad you came. (Groom’s name) and I hope you’ll have a wonderful time.” Or you could say, “It’s great to see you again. Please say hello to my husband, (Groom’s name).” Or “Thank you so much for coming. (Groom’s name) and I feel lucky to be with so many good friends.”

Keeping these simple ideas in mind will help you look and feel like a savvy new bride.