Receiving lines are a chance for the hosts to greet everybody arriving at the wedding reception. Nowadays, however, many couples prefer to spend the time circulating among their guests rather formally greeting them. It is an entirely personal choice.
- An average receiving line will take up to 45 minutes of the reception drinks time; this can put some couples off the idea.
- They are often necessary for large weddings or when the reception is very short - for example champagne and canapés for only a couple of hours.
- Receiving lines provide an opportunity for the bride and groom to speak to and meet all the guests at the wedding.
- If there is no receiving line, then the couple must actively circulate at the drinks and visit every table at the reception meal.
Who is in a receiving line?
Traditionally, both sets of parents, the bride and groom, the best man and the chief bridesmaid receive the guests. Alternatively, a receiving line can consist of just the bride, groom and both sets of parents. More modern receiving lines may consist of just the bride and groom, keeping proceedings brief and informal.
Time and Efficiency
It is advisable for the wedding party to stand opposite each other or in an informal group, rather than in a single line. This ensures that people keep moving along and encourages natural conversation. It also avoids the stiff formality of guests having to repeat their name to each member of the wedding party as they move along the line.
The ushers should point guests in the right direction towards the receiving line on arrival at the reception drinks. The caterers must be briefed to give guests a drink while they are waiting and provide top-ups if the line is slow.