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How does a receiving line work at a wedding?


A wedding is a beautiful celebration of love between two individuals. But, it’s not just about the couple, its also an excellent opportunity for families and friends to spend time together. So many people come together to celebrate this special day, and the couple and their families want to make sure they get a chance to speak to everyone. One way to do this is by having a receiving line. It’s a formal procession in which the couple, their parents and often the bridal party greet and receive the congratulations of guests individually. It’s an old-fashioned tradition which has stood the test of time, and it’s still something many couples choose to include in their special day. In this blog, we’ll discuss how receiving lines work and why they are still relevant in today’s weddings.

Who should be included in the receiving line?

Traditionally, the receiving line includes the bride and groom, both sets of parents, and sometimes the bridal party. The order in which people stand is entirely up to the couple, but there is often a set of guidelines to follow. Typically, the line starts with the parents of the bride, the parents of the groom, the bride, and the groom. Bridesmaids and groomsmen could also be included, but it depends on the size of the wedding party. If the wedding is an intimate affair, the couple may choose to skip the receiving line altogether and greet their guests individually throughout the reception.

Where does the receiving line take place?

Most couples choose to have the receiving line immediately following the ceremony. It could take place in the church vestibule, or outside the ceremony site if the weather is appropriate. Alternatively, it could be at the reception venue before the reception officially begins. Couples should make sure to include the location of the receiving line in their wedding invitations or on their wedding website, so guests know what to expect.

How does the receiving line work?

As guests exit the ceremony, ushers or wedding coordinators will direct them to the receiving line. The line needs to move quickly and efficiently to ensure everyone gets a chance to speak with the couple. There is a right and wrong way to approach the receiving line, but that again is determined by the couple or whoever is directing the line. Typically, guests start with the parents of the bride, move down to the parents of the groom, then onto the bride and the groom. Guests should keep their congratulations brief so that each person has a chance to speak with the couple and their families. The receiving line is a great opportunity for the bride and groom to thank their guests for coming and encourage them to join the reception.

Why include a receiving line at a wedding?

The receiving line provides an excellent opportunity for the happy couple to thank their guests for attending their special day. It’s a great way to show appreciation to family members and loved ones who traveled from far away or gave thoughtful gifts. It’s a chance to personally acknowledge and react to the way guests have helped, supported and shared their joy. A receiving line is a formal way of greeting everyone and ensures no guests slip through the cracks without receiving a personal thank you.

Alternatives to the Receiving Line

While the receiving line is excellent, it can feel a little outdated to some couples. Young couples are all for innovating from the conventional to the modern, and that often means ditching the traditional ways of the past. The receiving line is one of those practices that feels long-winded and unappealing due to advancements in technology such as social media. Some couples opt to include a welcome speech, where the bride and groom can acknowledge their guests on the dance floor before the reception begins. Others would rather use a receiving table where they remain seated, and their guests approach them for a greeting. This common alternative is set up outside the reception hall with cocktails or hors d’oeuvres passing around. It is the option for a large and abrupt group of guests. There’s no right or wrong way to greet your guests; you choose what works best for you.


The receiving line has been around for centuries and continues to be a popular choice for many modern weddings due to its formal touch. It’s the perfect way for the couple and their families to greet each and every guest and show appreciation for their support on such a significant day. Though many are more open to new trends, still, there’s a place for old customs in modern-day weddings ,and the receiving line is one of those things that can be done differently but the importance remains. So, for your traditional or modern wedding, whether you choose a receiving line or not, remember to prioritize thanking your guests, and you will make lasting memories that they cherish and appreciate.


What is the proper order for a wedding receiving line?

A wedding receiving line is an important part of the wedding celebration, and it provides an opportunity for the newlyweds to greet and thank each guest for sharing in their special day. However, many wedding guests may be unfamiliar with the order of a receiving line and may be unsure of what to expect. To ensure that everything goes smoothly, it is important to understand the proper order for a wedding receiving line.

Traditionally, the wedding receiving line is formed by the bride’s parents, who are the first to greet guests as they enter the reception. Typically, the bride’s mother is the first person guests will see, followed by the bride’s father. The groom’s parents are next in line, followed by the bride and groom themselves. Finally, the maid or matron of honor, and one or two bridesmaids complete the receiving line.

It is important to remember that the order of a receiving line may vary depending on cultural or religious traditions, family dynamics, or personal preferences. Some couples may choose to include grandparents or other family members in the receiving line, while others may opt for a less formal greeting after the ceremony. In some cases, the couple may choose to skip the receiving line altogether and mingle with guests during the reception.

Regardless of the specific order of the receiving line, it is important for the couple and their families to be prepared and organized. This includes assigning roles, providing clear instructions, and establishing a timeline for the reception. The bride and groom should also be mindful of the time and pace of the receiving line and make sure to greet each guest with warmth and enthusiasm. By following these guidelines, the wedding reception can be a memorable and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

What is the purpose of the receiving line at a wedding?

The purpose of the receiving line at a wedding is to provide the bride, groom, and their families with the opportunity to greet and thank every guest individually as they enter the reception space. This is one of the oldest wedding traditions and it involves the newlyweds, their parents, and sometimes even their grandparents standing in line to receive their guests. This tradition is generally followed right after the wedding ceremony and serves as a way for the newlyweds and their families to show their appreciation for the guests taking the time to celebrate their special day.

During this time, the newlyweds and their families can express their gratitude to each guest for attending and sharing in their joy. They can also use this time to introduce family members and close friends who may not have met yet. It is also a time where guests can offer their congratulations and best wishes to the newlyweds.

The receiving line can be a formal or informal affair, and the bride and groom can choose to customize it based on their preferences. Sometimes, the fathers of the bride and groom mingle with guests during the cocktail hour while mothers greet and thank guests as part of the receiving line. Whatever format is chosen, the receiving line provides an opportunity to show gratitude and appreciation, leaving a lasting positive impression on guests.

The purpose of the receiving line at a wedding is to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, which leaves a positive impression on guests and makes them feel appreciated for taking the time to celebrate the newlyweds’ special day.

Do you go straight to reception after a wedding?

The wedding ceremony is a momentous occasion, and once it is over, couples and their guests typically look forward to a fun-filled reception. But the question arises: do you go straight to the reception after a wedding? The answer is that guests expect to go straight from the ceremony site to the reception, with perhaps a slight delay for handshaking and photography. The reception is a time to celebrate, dine, dance, and socialize with family and friends. Therefore, couples should make sure the reception follows soon after the ceremony.

It’s worth noting that if you don’t note the reception time on the invitation card, guests will assume that it follows immediately. Similarly, if the wedding ceremony venue and reception venue are different, make sure to include clear directions or transportation options for your guests. This way, no one is left feeling confused or delayed regarding the reception.

Another aspect to consider is the wedding day timeline. Often, couples and their wedding party will go off-site for photographs, and it’s essential to keep these time constraints in mind when planning the reception. Avoid leaving your guests waiting for hours or leaving them to find their entertainment as this may cause undue stress and discomfort. Additionally, the couple can have their photographers take advantage of the reception’s details to take more photographs.

Guests expect to go straight to the reception after the wedding ceremony, and couples should ensure the reception follows soon after. Timely communication and a comprehensive timeline are key in ensuring everyone has a good time without being left confused or delayed about what’s happening next.