With friends and family travelling from all over to join you for your wedding celebration, it’s important to make time to greet each guest and thank them for coming. This may seem daunting with so many guests attending, but the tried and tested wedding receiving line is a traditional way to welcome guests, and is very practical and efficient if you have large guest numbers.

What is a Receiving Line?

The receiving line is a tradition in which the newly-weds and select family members form a line to greet guests, usually just after the ceremony or at the entrance of the reception venue. It gives each guest a moment of face-to-face time with the bride and groom where they can hug, kiss and congratulate the two of you.

Bride Hugging Guest in Receiving Line at Wedding

Who Should Be in It?

The receiving line is usually made up of the bride’s parents first, as they are traditionally the hosts. The bride and groom stand next in line, followed by the groom’s parents. Sometimes it can also include the bridal party as well as grandparents. As more couples now pay for their own wedding, the order of the receiving line has adapted to what suits them best.

Receiving Line Tips

If you choose to have a receiving line, these are my top tips to ensure it runs smoothly and doesn’t becoming too time consuming (or boring!)…

Enlist the Help of an MC or the Best Man

The biggest challenge of the receiving line is the amount of time it can take out of the drinks reception. Assuming you have 100 guests at your wedding and you allow 20-30 seconds per guest to say hello, it could take approximately 30-50 minutes. I would strongly advise using a Master of Ceremonies or the best man to politely help move guests along to keep the running order of the day on track. No one wants to miss out on the drinks reception, let alone have cold food for dinner, because the receiving line took too long.

Make Sure There’s Enough Room

Make sure you choose an area with plenty of space for your receiving line. Guests should be able to comfortably move in an orderly procession past the bride and groom, their families and bridal party members.

Don’t Leave Guests Waiting Too Long

It’s likely your guests will be standing in the receiving line for quite some time, especially if they are at the back of the queue, so be mindful not to take too long when greeting each guest. You could also offer canapés and drinks to guests while they wait so that they don’t get bored, hungry or thirsty.

Put Your Seating Plan in View

Set up your table seating plan somewhere along the receiving line so that guests can find out where they are sitting during dinner as they wait to congratulate you. This will also mean guests can find their table faster when called through to dinner.

Just the Two of You…

If you feel a receiving line is a bit dated for your liking, you could consider just having the two of you greet guests. This will also speed up the process!

…or No One at All!

Alternatively, you may wish to ditch the receiving line altogether and instead visit each table during dinner to say hello. Just keep in mind that this can still be quite time consuming and tends to work better for a smaller guest list. Also remember that it’s important as newly-weds that you don’t miss out on eating and enjoying your own dinner.

Ultimately, while a wedding receiving line isn’t necessary, it’s good to set the goal of taking the time to speak with every one of your guests.

Guest post by Liesl Lamare of Lamare London

Image by Sayher Heffernan