Wedding Etiquette Forum

Receiving Line

Hi y'all- this isn't exactly etiquette related (feel free to move if more appropriate elsewhere) but I wasn't sure where else to go- I have a few questions about receiving lines!  And please forgive my ignorance.

FI and I are thinking of doing a receiving line immediately following our ceremony, but we wanted clarification on a few points.

1. Is it just us doing the receiving, or do our parents (who are hosting) stand with us?

2. What is a good estimate for how long a receiving line with 60-80 guests will take?

3. Not sure if y'all can answer this one without knowing our ceremony venue, but where are receiving lines usually done and how do we let people know where we will be receiving them?  

4. Is it customary to do a receiving line AND table visits at the reception or is it more of an either/or thing?  

Obviously I'm kind of clueless about this whole process, so any advice is greatly appreciated!  

Re: Receiving Line

  • 1. I have seen people do receiving lines that are the entiiiiiiire bridal party and parents and everything. Total overkill. I think just you and your husband would be nice.

    2. We had 150ish guests and ours didn't take more than 20 minutes- but we had ourselves stationed on the steps right outside our church doors so people physically could NOT dawdle. I think it really helps to set yourselves up in a way that will keep people moving.

    3. Usually they're done right after the ceremony, but you could do one as people enter the reception to. Up to you.

    4. We did the receiving line to make sure we talked to everyone at least once. We also did table visits, but I know we missed some people.

  • I think usually the hosts and (obviously) the wedding couple are in the line. The rest of your bridal party doesn't have to wait with you, though. 
    I think receiving line/table visits are usually either/or, but I think doing both would be really nice and appreciated by your guests who came to the wedding to see you. 

  • Hi y'all- this isn't exactly etiquette related (feel free to move if more appropriate elsewhere) but I wasn't sure where else to go- I have a few questions about receiving lines!  And please forgive my ignorance. 

    FI and I are thinking of doing a receiving line immediately following our ceremony, but we wanted clarification on a few points.

    1. Is it just us doing the receiving, or do our parents (who are hosting) stand with us? you could do it either way. we did ours with our parents too, which felt right since many of the guests were there because of them. but that was just us.

    2. What is a good estimate for how long a receiving line with 60-80 guests will take? that shouldn't be more than 15 minutes, as long as you keep it moving. no stopping for long conversations.

    3. Not sure if y'all can answer this one without knowing our ceremony venue, but where are receiving lines usually done and how do we let people know where we will be receiving them?  at the exit of the church/ceremony venue. this way, people have to go that way, and they know that they shouldn't be stopping for too long, because everyone behind them needs to exit!

    4. Is it customary to do a receiving line AND table visits at the reception or is it more of an either/or thing?  if you do the receiving line, you don't have to do formal table visits, which is good, because it's hard to catch everyone at their tables at the same time, so you'd be bound to miss people. try to say hi to as many people at the reception too, but you have already greeted your guests.

    Obviously I'm kind of clueless about this whole process, so any advice is greatly appreciated!  

  • Double check with your venue too, especially if it's a church and you want to do your receiving line right after the ceremony. The church my FI and I are getting married at does not allow receiving lines right after weddings. We had no idea about this until a friend hit that snag at her wedding this past summer. It's because the church books weddings 2 hrs apart on Saturdays (noon, 2, and 4), so they need each wedding party to clear out quickly after the ceremony.The wedding coordinator actually waits outside the front doors to grab the bride, groom and wedding party and rushes them to the church's back doors so they can do 20 min of photos before they leave.
  • As a bridesmaid, I remember standing with other members of the bridal party Near the receiving line so that we could say hello to the people we knew.  But I didn't need to speak to the groom's uncles or co-workers since it wasn't my party.  So if you want to make sure the line goes quickly, you can have your parents and bridal party stand nearby so guests will see them as they're exiting.
  • One version of a receiving line I've seen before that  I  loved was where the Bride and Groom released guests from their seats. Everyone stayed seated after the ceremony and the bride and groom "realeased" each pew and greeted everyone as they exited their aisle. It was nice because there was no line to stand in, we got to stay seated, and it moved quickly. I hate standing in lines at weddings. Seems ridiculous when everyone is dressed up!
    After they released us we walked past their parents on the way out of the church, so we said a quick hello to them as well.
    If you'll have enough time and the right set up after the ceremony its worth it to consider this type.
  • afaber24 said:
    One version of a receiving line I've seen before that  I  loved was where the Bride and Groom released guests from their seats. Everyone stayed seated after the ceremony and the bride and groom "realeased" each pew and greeted everyone as they exited their aisle. It was nice because there was no line to stand in, we got to stay seated, and it moved quickly. I hate standing in lines at weddings. Seems ridiculous when everyone is dressed up!
    After they released us we walked past their parents on the way out of the church, so we said a quick hello to them as well.
    If you'll have enough time and the right set up after the ceremony its worth it to consider this type.
    I dunno. I would hate this, similar to "releasing" tables to the buffet. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. 
    Heffalump
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited October 2014
    I am a fan of receiving lines.  They take less time than table visits.  At my daughter;s wedding, I was the hostess, and I only knew about ten people, out of 135 guests.  The receiving line made it easy for me.
    This is the order of the receiving line:  MOB, FOB, MOG, FOG, Bride, Groom, MOH, bridesmaids (optional).  Groomsmen do not stand in the receiving line.  Divorced parents do not stand in the line next to each other.
    It is rude to start a conversation in the receiving line.  You simply say, "Thank you for coming.  I'm so happy you could be here.  See you at the reception" and turn to the next person in line.
    I would estimate ten minutes.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • afaber24 said:
    One version of a receiving line I've seen before that  I  loved was where the Bride and Groom released guests from their seats. Everyone stayed seated after the ceremony and the bride and groom "realeased" each pew and greeted everyone as they exited their aisle. It was nice because there was no line to stand in, we got to stay seated, and it moved quickly. I hate standing in lines at weddings. Seems ridiculous when everyone is dressed up!
    After they released us we walked past their parents on the way out of the church, so we said a quick hello to them as well.
    If you'll have enough time and the right set up after the ceremony its worth it to consider this type.
    I would side-eye this.  A traditional reception line at the back of the church does the job, and is etiquette approved.  Being "dismissed" by the couple sounds weird.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • afaber24 said:
    One version of a receiving line I've seen before that  I  loved was where the Bride and Groom released guests from their seats. Everyone stayed seated after the ceremony and the bride and groom "realeased" each pew and greeted everyone as they exited their aisle. It was nice because there was no line to stand in, we got to stay seated, and it moved quickly. I hate standing in lines at weddings. Seems ridiculous when everyone is dressed up!
    After they released us we walked past their parents on the way out of the church, so we said a quick hello to them as well.
    If you'll have enough time and the right set up after the ceremony its worth it to consider this type.

    SIB

    I like this idea and am still somewhat considering it for my wedding. I like the idea that guests can stay seated rather than standing in a line. However, I think after we have just said our vows, we might prefer to walk off and have a private moment together rather than instantly going into hostess/party mode. Our ceremony is at a golf club and the reception is in a nearby permanent tent structure.

    Has anybody else done it this way? How did it work out?

    OP - thanks for posting these questions I was wondering many of the same things!
    image
  • I have mixed feelings about the B&G releasing people after the ceremony. First off it would depend on the church's/venue's schedule as PPs have mentioned. I have been at weddings where this is done and while I see the appeal, I think it is impractical for larger weddings. By the end of the ceremony (depending on length of course), people might need to stretch their legs, get some air or use the restroom. It also is a bit of a bummer for the people sitting in the back of a nearly empty church, waiting their turn. At a smaller wedding IME it can work as well as any other method.
  • Cookie PusherCookie Pusher Looking over your shoulder member
    Ninth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    We did a receiving line after your ceremony, just outside of the ceremony space. We ended up with the entire wedding party with us since they wanted to stay close by for pictures (once people exited the receiving line, they were basically on a road with huge bushes separating us). We had about 75 guests and it took around 10 minutes for the receiving line.

    Even though we did the receiving line, we did do table visits as well to have a little more time with our guests. Our pictures didn't take long at all - we were done before the half-way point of the cocktail hour. We took a few minutes to just relax and take in the moment together, then went and did table visits for the last half of cocktail hour. After dinner, we separately went to different tables to mingle and get people interested in dancing. Not necessary, but it was nice to have the extra time with our guests since we don't get to see most of them often.
    ~*~*~*~*~

  • One thing to throw into this conversation - is the place where you are getting married indoors? If so, is it air conditioned?

    I ask because, as a guest, I am perfectly happy to wait in line for a receiving line if it's a comfortable temperature when I am sitting/standing as I wait. However, I have been to summer weddings in churches where there was no air conditioning, and I was not at all pleased to be stuck inside an extra 10-15 minutes in sweltering 90 degree + heat with no air moving, standing in line waiting to be able to get outside (and I know on a couple occasions guests were audibly grumpy about this type of thing - yes, probably rude on their part, but understandable IMO). As an additional fun anecdote, I almost fainted twice in these situations and had to be rushed outside past all the waiting people. Not very celebratory, not to mention highly embarrassing.

    So if you're going to be in this type of venue, it would be great to do your guests the courtesy of nixing the receiving line in favor of table visits - or at least moving it a little bit away from the exit so that guests can actually get outside into the fresh air before having to wait in line.
    image
  • Personally, I hate receiving lines.  Yes, they are etiquette approved.  But they can take FOREVER at larger weddings, and they seem completely pointless to me.  You're making guests wait in a line (awkward, boring, and uncomfortable if you're standing for a while in heels), only to make them have a forced, brief, social interaction with people that they may or may not know.  You can't actually have any sort of meaningful conversation in a receiving line, so it just seems very rote and "check the box" to me.  I much prefer table visits--at least you get a little more time with your guests and can check to make sure that they're enjoying the food, atmosphere, etc.

    I don't think my opinion is in the minority either--receiving lines seem to be dying out, at least in my social circle.  Every wedding but one that I've been to over the past three years has done table visits instead of a receiving line, and the one that did a receiving line was SUPER conservative/traditional.
  • melbensomelbenso Hoth, apparently member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments Third Anniversary First Answer
    edited October 2014
    1. Is it just us doing the receiving, or do our parents (who are hosting) stand with us?

    Hosts should stand with you (unless they plan to greet guests at the reception instead), but leave the full bridal party out of it.

    2. What is a good estimate for how long a receiving line with 60-80 guests will take?

    We had about 100 in attendance at our wedding, aside from the bridal party, which didn't go through the receiving line.  Our receiving line took about 10 minutes, I think.  Just keep in mind that the first people through the receiving line will get to the reception X minutes earlier, and plan for the reception to start upon their arrival.

    3. Not sure if y'all can answer this one without knowing our ceremony venue, but where are receiving lines usually done and how do we let people know where we will be receiving them? 

    Our ceremony and reception were at the same venue, but different locations within it.  We had a note on the back of our program that said something to the effect of "After the receiving line, please enjoy cocktails and appetizers in X room."  We also walked/led our wedding guests to the entrance to that room and did the receiving line there.  But that was in large part because it was hotter than we had thought it would be and we had an outdoor ceremony.  We didn't want to make our guests stand around in the heat waiting for us to greet them, so we moved inside to the air conditioning and directed them to the reception if we saw them milling around after greeting them.

    ETA - traditionally, receiving lines are held at the exit of the ceremony venue or just behind the last row of seating for ceremony guests.

    4. Is it customary to do a receiving line AND table visits at the reception or is it more of an either/or thing? 

    Etiquette demands that you do one or the other in order to greet your guests.  But we did both.  Many of our guests traveled a long way to see us, and we wanted to thank them and spend some time with them.  And honestly, the recieving line often feels more like a chance for guests to congratulated the newly married couple than for the couple to thank them for coming.  Table visits seem more personal to me.  But we did both in case there were people who left the reception early, before we got around to their table (which there were).

    Obviously I'm kind of clueless about this whole process, so any advice is greatly appreciated!  

    image
  • Thanks everyone for the replies and different perspectives! It seems like for both good and bad, the receiving line is best suited for a quick hello- which I think is a nice touch right after the ceremony! But I'm hopeful that we'll also be able to do table visits as well and have more substantial conversations with everyone, since we are likely to have just around 60 guests. And it's helpful to be aware of the comfort concern as well- luckily we're getting married in late November, so heat won't be an issue! And with just 60 guests hopefully no one will have to be standing and waiting for too long. Thanks y'all!
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