As any new bride will tell you, the wedding day goes by in the blink of an eye. And it can be hard to find the time to talk to each of your guests, even if it’s only for a brief moment. Receiving lines give you a chance to connect with your loved ones, greet your guests and thank everyone for coming and celebrating your special day.

Having a receiving line is traditional if you’re planning on more than 50 guests and guarantees face-to-face time with everyone at your wedding. It’s a very polite thing to do. Your friends and family have come to share this day with you, so the least you can do is plan a chunk of time to meet and greet everyone. This is also the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to guests you may not know yet – like relatives from the other side of your new family. Each encounter should be short and sweet, with each guest offering their congratulations and moving on.

Who stands in it?
The bride and groom are obviously in the receiving line, but who else joins the happy couple? Traditionally, the bride’s parents head the line and are first to greet the guests, followed directly by the bride and groom, then the groom’s parents. If you want, grandparents can even join in. But you don’t have to stick to the classic way of doing things. Some couples opt to stand alone in the receiving line, or just with their parents. These lines are often open to interpretation.

While it’s called a receiving line, there are alternatives to meeting with your guests.

  • Depending on the size of your wedding, you can opt to say hi to guests right after the ceremony and dismiss them row by row. This is perfect if it’s especially chilly outside or the weather is less-than-perfect. However, if you have a larger get-together, this may take up a large chunk of time.
  • If you have fewer than 50 guests, feel free to go with a more informal receiving line. You could turn cocktail hour into an opportunity to talk to each one of your guests. However, the same etiquette applies – greet each of your loved ones and thank them for joining you on this memorable day.
  • Another option would be to go around table by table at your reception to talk to guests as they eat. Walk around with your new spouse and casually talk with each table. Just make sure you have some pre-reception snacks so your stomach isn’t grumbling as you see each guest chowing down.

Are you sticking with a traditional receiving line or one of the alternatives? Share your thoughts with us!