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Etiquette

Receiving Lines

Hey everyone,

I’m getting married in September with about 150 guests. My mother insists on having a receiving line, even though my fiancé & I are very awkward when it comes to having strangers randomly hug us or shake our hands. My fiancé & I have told her that we plan on greeting guests at the table & striking a conversation with them during the reception. We feel that it’s more relaxed & more personable if we go table to table rather than spend 15-45 minutes shaking everyone’s hands. What are the pros & cons of one? If you had one at your wedding, would you recommend one? Thanks!
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Re: Receiving Lines

  • As long as you individually greet all of your guests individually at some point, you're within etiquette. Is your mother paying or are you? Accepting money from someone for your wedding does tend to mean that person gets leverage over planning.
    image
    short+sassyInLoveInQueensSP29
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited March 7
    The etiquette for receiving lines is very established.  The guests line up and greet the couple with "Congratulations and best wishes for your future."  Couple says "Thank you for coming to our wedding. We will see you at the reception!"  Shaking hands is OK.  You may wear gloves.  The ceremony repeats with the next guests.
    This doesn't take as much time as table visits, and you can certainly do table visits at the reception.  I have seen one of the bridesmaids tasked with a gentle, "You need to move on to the reception,"  and a shoulder tap if a guest doesn't get it.  Easy.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    SP29
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut mod
    Moderator Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    The receiving line is the quickest way of greeting most of your guests. Introduce your guest to your new spouse, shake hands and say thank you for coming to our wedding or it's nice to meet you. Both sets of parents can be in the receiving line to help with the introductions and keep the guests moving. Easy.

    Table visits are acceptable in lieu of a receiving line, but you will have to make the rounds as soon as you finish your meal to greet the guests while they are at their tables. Table visits can take longer and require more effort on your part to keep track of guests and the time. 
     

    Either way, plan on handshakes and hugs.
                
    short+sassySP29
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    You need to do either a receiving line or table visits in order to greet your guests. That's one of the few things that's mandatory for the couple at their wedding reception.

    That said, while you don't actually need to touch other people, you do need to expect that your guests will shake your hand or try to hug or kiss you and come up with a strategy to deal with it.
  • edited March 8
    Do you have a lot of strangers attending your wedding or.....? 

    Recieving lines are quicker as there’s more pressure to move things along. Table visits can also mean skipping dinner or shoveling food to ensure you make it to all the tables while people are eating.
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    SP29
  • We had a receiving line for about the same number of guests as you'll have, and the whole thing really took very little time. Most people who have been to a wedding before get the idea that you take a quick minute to congratulate the bride and groom and move on. Our receiving line was right before dinner (ceremony rolled right into reception) so if someone was taking too long we'd tell them to go grab a drink or get in line for the buffet.

    The only "strangers" at our wedding were family members or friends of the other person we hadn't met yet, plus like two guests neither of us knew. But everyone at the wedding will be the friend or family member of one of you, or someone close to a person you care about.

    The few times I experienced table visits, it seemed like they took a little longer and had to be more coordinated. It would be easier to miss people if they were at the bar or the bathroom and you'll need someone to keep track and make sure you don't skip a table.
    MairePoppyshort+sassyCMGragainSP29
  • I have a question - 

    Are receiving lines common for Jewish weddings / non church weddings? I don't think I've ever seen one, but the majority of weddings I've been to have been Jewish weddings and most have been in the NY/NJ area, where weddings are just a little extra in general. There's a lot of things on theknot that I've never seen before (a cash bar, a dry wedding, a cake and punch reception, a beer and wine only bar, a wedding without enough food, self catering, I've only been to 1 wedding with a buffet, etc.) I've only ever seen table visits. I think I'd feel kind of shafted if I didn't get like an individualized visit during the reception and just got a quick hug in a line. Just curious if this is just a "my family and friends" thing or a cultural/regional thing.

    Not to derail but is this just me?
  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    @kahluakoala I've never been to a Jewish wedding and hardly any non-church weddings so I really can't speak to those. I think table visits have been a more recent thing. I never heard of them until the last 20 years or so. Even receiving lines have changed. They use to be the entire wedding party plus the parents of the bride and groom. Now they are usually just the bride, groom and their parents. At our wedding it was just H and me.
  • I have a question - 

    Are receiving lines common for Jewish weddings / non church weddings? I don't think I've ever seen one, but the majority of weddings I've been to have been Jewish weddings and most have been in the NY/NJ area, where weddings are just a little extra in general. There's a lot of things on theknot that I've never seen before (a cash bar, a dry wedding, a cake and punch reception, a beer and wine only bar, a wedding without enough food, self catering, I've only been to 1 wedding with a buffet, etc.) I've only ever seen table visits. I think I'd feel kind of shafted if I didn't get like an individualized visit during the reception and just got a quick hug in a line. Just curious if this is just a "my family and friends" thing or a cultural/regional thing.

    Not to derail but is this just me?
    I haven’t seen them at Jewish weddings. I think in part because traditionally couples are going into a bit of seclusion immediately post ceremony so a receiving line wouldn’t necessarily fit. 
  • @kahluakoala I've never been to a Jewish wedding and hardly any non-church weddings so I really can't speak to those. I think table visits have been a more recent thing. I never heard of them until the last 20 years or so. Even receiving lines have changed. They use to be the entire wedding party plus the parents of the bride and groom. Now they are usually just the bride, groom and their parents. At our wedding it was just H and me.
    I've noticed this too. It's kind of nice as a guest to not have to greet the whole wedding party. Like, if you don't know the WP, it's weird to hug and congratulate them, but it's also weird to stand there in front of them while you wait to congratulate the bride and groom lol. I like bride, groom & parents. Our receiving line was just H and me as well.
    charlotte989875
  • @kahluakoala, I've been to one wedding where the groom was Jewish.  But, overall, the ceremony was more secular.  Not in a temple, officiant not related to a religion.  It was a small, intimate wedding and the couple only did table visits.

    The other weddings I've been to have either been Christian-based or secular.  I feel like, when the ceremony has been in a church, there is a receiving line.  Because it just kind of makes sense.  When it isn't, there are table visits.  But that is a big generalization.

    Personally, if a wedding is large enough to possibly "miss" people while doing table visits, I'd do a receiving line to make sure all my guests are acknowledged.  And then also try to briefly visit with everyone during the reception.  Whether that's at their table, on the dance floor, at the bar, etc.

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    MairePoppy
  • I have a question - 

    Are receiving lines common for Jewish weddings / non church weddings? I don't think I've ever seen one, but the majority of weddings I've been to have been Jewish weddings and most have been in the NY/NJ area, where weddings are just a little extra in general. There's a lot of things on theknot that I've never seen before (a cash bar, a dry wedding, a cake and punch reception, a beer and wine only bar, a wedding without enough food, self catering, I've only been to 1 wedding with a buffet, etc.) I've only ever seen table visits. I think I'd feel kind of shafted if I didn't get like an individualized visit during the reception and just got a quick hug in a line. Just curious if this is just a "my family and friends" thing or a cultural/regional thing.

    Not to derail but is this just me?
    You're not wrong, Jewish weddings don't do receiving lines. I'd never been to a non-Jewish wedding until recently so I'd never heard of them either.
  • I have a question - 

    Are receiving lines common for Jewish weddings / non church weddings? I don't think I've ever seen one, but the majority of weddings I've been to have been Jewish weddings and most have been in the NY/NJ area, where weddings are just a little extra in general. There's a lot of things on theknot that I've never seen before (a cash bar, a dry wedding, a cake and punch reception, a beer and wine only bar, a wedding without enough food, self catering, I've only been to 1 wedding with a buffet, etc.) I've only ever seen table visits. I think I'd feel kind of shafted if I didn't get like an individualized visit during the reception and just got a quick hug in a line. Just curious if this is just a "my family and friends" thing or a cultural/regional thing.

    Not to derail but is this just me?
    I've been to a few non-church weddings and they've had receiving lines. They typically just stood near the front of the reception doors or the back of the area they got married in and did it then.
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  • Receiving line vs table talk

    This might be an old school vs new school situation. We had a few older relatives ask about receiving lines, and we just explained that we would visit each table.

    Try to explain to your mother that you want to give guests a more personal chit-chat instead of the receiving line, since "it seems rushed" {legit words I used}


    About the strangers - I had some of my H's family that I'd never met but he knew come. To me they were strangers, so that might be where OP is coming from?
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  • Visiting each table is fine.   Just know that it's more time consuming.
    holyguacamole79
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited March 8
    @kahluakoala I've never been to a Jewish wedding and hardly any non-church weddings so I really can't speak to those. I think table visits have been a more recent thing. I never heard of them until the last 20 years or so. Even receiving lines have changed. They use to be the entire wedding party plus the parents of the bride and groom. Now they are usually just the bride, groom and their parents. At our wedding it was just H and me.
    Traditionally, it was the hosts (usually the bride's parents) and the newly married couple.  Attendants were not expected to stand in the receiving line.  POG did not usually do this, either, though it was optional.  This changed some years ago when weddings got bigger.  IMHO, smaller is better for receiving lines, but you can do which ever you want to do.
    I belong to several women's organizations that still do receiving lines, especially if there is a VIP guest being honored.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    It's not against any rules for Jewish couples to do receiving lines, but they generally do table visits instead.
  • ernursejernursej member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I hate receiving lines. IMHO they feel rushed and impersonal. I prefer table visits when im a guest at a wedding and we did table visits at my own wedding. It was one of my favourite parts of my day. I loved sitting down and have chats with everyone. We only had 50 guests so it was easy to allot enough time. I think in the end we actually visited each table twice. 
    holyguacamole79short+sassy
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I'm not a receiving line fan either. I understand why they're used at larger receptions with more guests, but I get stiff while standing on lines waiting for them to move and there are always guests who get too chatty and long-winded, either with each other or when it's their turn to greet the couple.
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut mod
    Moderator Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    You aren't required to go through the receiving if there is one. We skip the long ones because some people are oblivious to the line of guests behind them. We make it a point to congratulate the couple and thank the host for inviting us before we leave the reception. 

                
    CMGragainshort+sassy
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited March 9
    I'm also in team table visits. 

    I've actually never been to a wedding with a receiving line. (Most of the weddings I've been to have been in the south, mostly catholic or secular weddings). TBH, I would find it kind of weird to wait in line to say hi to someone. It's just not my experience. Having the couple circulate during dinner seems much more natural to me.

    We did table visits during dinner. We had about 100, so 12ish tables. It took about 30 minutes total. I had a DOC who signaled me or H at 5 minutes per table to keep it moving. 
    sparklepants41
  • Jen4948 said:
    I'm not a receiving line fan either. I understand why they're used at larger receptions with more guests, but I get stiff while standing on lines waiting for them to move and there are always guests who get too chatty and long-winded, either with each other or when it's their turn to greet the couple.
    How rude of the guests who do this!
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I'm team receiving line, though we did do both. Receiving lines are faster and the B&G are in one spot, where as with a table visit, you could miss a guest who gets up to go to the bar or bathroom. I also feel a bit awkward as a guest sitting at a table with my mouth full when the B&G come by.

    We had a receiving line right after the ceremony. We had our ceremony and reception at the same location, same room, so we had our receiving line during the 15min room change over. Our receiving line was just DH and I, so it went pretty quick with the "Congratulations! You look great!... Thank you for coming!".

    I am big into eating, so I wanted to make sure we had time to sit down and enjoy our dinner. However, we still had time in between courses to do additional table visits and chat with guests.
    charlotte989875
  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    The church where we got married needed us out shortly after the ceremony, so a receiving line would not have been feasible, so we did table visits at the reception.

    We had our day-of-coordinator join us on table visits, which was really helpful.  She made sure we visited each table and kept an eye on her watch.  After 2 minutes, she graciously excused us.



    Anniversary
  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    The church where we got married needed us out shortly after the ceremony, so a receiving line would not have been feasible, so we did table visits at the reception.

    We had our day-of-coordinator join us on table visits, which was really helpful.  She made sure we visited each table and kept an eye on her watch.  After 2 minutes, she graciously excused us.
    This was the case with DD's church. As a matter of fact, they didn't allow receiving lines. DD and SIL did table visits in between courses during the reception. They were always served first so that they could eat a bit then go do some visits. I honestly can't remember if the planner accompanied them or not. They also attended part of their cocktail hour so I know they spoke to some guests there.
  • I don't like receiving lines. The idea of standing in line to talk to someone at a social gathering just screams awkward to me. I've never not felt extremely socially awkward in a receiving line. 

    Table visits are another story. It seems natural to me to get up at a party and circulate among the guests--it's easier to simply say a nice "hello, thanks for coming" to the person you barely know and "OMG your dress is amazing, is this your new boyfriend, he's so cute" to your friend from college without feeling like someone's waiting in line to talk to you next, or as a guest, I don't feel forced to come up with more small talk until the person ahead of me is done. 

    I don't know where people get the idea that the bride and groom have to scarf down their dinners if they're doing table visits. It wasn't like that at all for my wedding. We were served first, and had plenty of time to eat before getting up to do the table visits between courses. Like any wedding (or dinner out at a nice restaurant) the courses don't come out rapid-fire where you're expected to be eating 100% of the time from start of the first course until the end of the last course; you just do the table visits between. 

    Table visits definitely do take more time than a receiving line, but they just seem so much more natural/less awkward to me. 
  • MandyMost said:
    I don't like receiving lines. The idea of standing in line to talk to someone at a social gathering just screams awkward to me. I've never not felt extremely socially awkward in a receiving line. 

    Table visits are another story. It seems natural to me to get up at a party and circulate among the guests--it's easier to simply say a nice "hello, thanks for coming" to the person you barely know and "OMG your dress is amazing, is this your new boyfriend, he's so cute" to your friend from college without feeling like someone's waiting in line to talk to you next, or as a guest, I don't feel forced to come up with more small talk until the person ahead of me is done. 

    I don't know where people get the idea that the bride and groom have to scarf down their dinners if they're doing table visits. It wasn't like that at all for my wedding. We were served first, and had plenty of time to eat before getting up to do the table visits between courses. Like any wedding (or dinner out at a nice restaurant) the courses don't come out rapid-fire where you're expected to be eating 100% of the time from start of the first course until the end of the last course; you just do the table visits between. 

    Table visits definitely do take more time than a receiving line, but they just seem so much more natural/less awkward to me. 
    At lots of weddings in between courses there’s dancing, which changes the time frame on this. 
    MRDCle
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