What is a Receiving Line and should I have one at my wedding?

Greeting guest in receiving line at wedding

If you are having more than 50 guests, a receiving line could turn out to be a life saver on your special day.

A receiving line sets aside a period of time after the ceremony or just before the reception party for you to greet and chat to guests and thank them for coming. 

It means you can be sure you’ll talk to everyone on your special day and gives you the chance to introduce friends or relatives to your spouse/parents, and the opportunity for each guest to have a couple of minutes to congratulate you both.  

Having a receiving line also means you can avoid being in a whirlwind, table-hopping and cutting conversations short in order to greet guests you haven’t yet spoken to, for most of the reception party. 

Who stands in a Receiving Line?

Traditionally, the order of the receiving line follows the positions of the wedding party and includes both sets of parents, the bride and groom, the best man and the chief bridesmaid.  Whoever is hosting the wedding is typically the first in line and by tradition that would be the bride’s mother followed by her father.

In modern times, you can have whomever you like – you may wish to have just the two of you, or even the whole bridal party in your line – whatever you decide, make sure to allow enough time for everyone to talk to guests.  It might help make things run more smoothly if the best man and chief bridesmaid are instead directing guests to the receiving line.

Where should the receiving line be?

Check with your venue that you will have a roomy, well ventilated site where you and your guests can stand comfortably, somewhere that will allow enough space for guests to move easily up the line.

Such sites commonly used are on the front porch, front steps, lobby, inside the reception room or, ideally, in a location that flows to the reception area where guests are given refreshments while waiting.  In which case, be sure to provide small tables so they can rest their drinks when it’s their turn to greet you. 

Printable wedding seating table chart by Connie & Joan Printable wedding program order of service template 
Printable wedding seating chart template by Connie & Joan Printable wedding program template by Connie & Joan