No receiving line – how to tell guests?

posted 3 years ago in Ceremony
Post # 3
2704 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

@MrsAmyBeiber:  My wedding, cocktail hour and dinner were all in the same room, We didn’t do a receiving line (went from table to table) and didn’t tell anyone there wouldn’t be a receiving line. We had about 65 guests. No one seemed to have other expectations

Post # 4
1734 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 1998

Your suggestion is ideal. We had everything at one place, and after the ceremony was over, we just had our officiant explain what was going to happen next. That said, I think your “In lieu of a receiving line…” is unnecessary in print. It’s generally assumed that the bride and groom will be visiting everyone during the reception, and receiving lines are no longer as common as they once were.


Post # 6
115 posts
Blushing bee

The last few weddings I’ve been to had no receiving line, so I wouldn’t stress too much about it. But it is important to communicate to your guests where to head once the ceremony is over. I would utilize both the officiant and the program just to make it clear. I wouldn’t include the line “…in lieu of a receiving line” however, because it seems to emphasize to the guest that something is missing. The officiant only has to tell the guests that they are now asked to make their way to the other side of the terrace where hors d’ouvres are being served, if folks are lingering to the point of interfering with photos you can have your officiant or an usher guide them back to the reception area. Don’t feel guilty! Most wedding guests completely expect that the wedding party is going to be taking photos before dinner, just make sure to say hello to everyone during the reception.

Post # 7
845 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

You’ve got it more than covered witht the program + an officiant announcement. Presumably the officiant will be heading to the cocktail area, so everyone will likely follow him/her.

We didn’t have a receiving line, no program, no announcement and no one acted like they were expecting one. People generally go with the flow! In fact, all of the weddings I’ve attended didn’t have a receiving line!

Post # 8
435 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2010

@MrsAmyBeiber:  Our ceremony was at a different place than the reception and due to the weather, we didn’t have a receiving line. We decided not to last minute, and didn’t tell anyone. Nobody seemed to care.

Post # 9
11668 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I don’t think you need an announcement – since you’re the first people out of the ceremony simply keep on walking to the photo location. If you aren’t around there’s no receiving line. People will get it. Personally ive never been to a wedding with a receiving line ad always assume cocktail hour is up next.

someone from your venue whether it be a day of coordinator or head of catering should be the one ushering guests from ceremony to cocktail hour And then from cocktail hour to reception.

Post # 10
4827 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2013 - Upstate NY

People will be relieved there’s no receiving line.They want to get to cocktail hour!

You just need to immediately get away from people ater the ceremony. We quickly exited to the cocktail hour (we didn’t do photos at this time) and therefore didn’t have anyone lingering.

Post # 11
11614 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I didn’t do a receiving line, and didn’t announce it either.  You could have your officiant announce it, or make a cute sign (“Cocktails this way”), or have a coordinator usher people to the right spot.  

No one likes receiving lines, from what I can tell, so you shouldn’t have any complaints!

Post # 12
1086 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

My groom could not stand long enough for a receiving line, so we decided not to have one. Wrestled with the same question. Ceremony was outside, followed by reception in a nearby building. The bridal party walked away from the ceremony and “disappeared” onto the patio of another building on the grounds. At the same time, our wedding coordinator very quickly made an announcement asking everyone to follow her to the area where the reception was being held. It was important that she clear everyone out of the area, so that we could return and take pictures without anyone else around. This approach seemed to work fine.

Before the wedding, I wondered if I should explain that there would be no receiving line and why. I never got around to telling people, and it did not seem to matter.

It seems okay to have something in the program, but I would not rely on that. I would say you definitely need someone, either the officiant or someone else, to direct or guide people right at that moment.  It would also help if, rather than just walking away from the altar, you walked away somewhere and disappeared for a few minutes.

Post # 14
1248 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

@MrsAmyBeiber:  Are family photos the only ones that are needed immediately after the cermony?  If not, you could “disappear” and do the bridal party/bride & groom shots first, and then return for the family photos.


You (the couple) could also disappear for 5-10 minutes and take a quiet moment to enjoy each other immediately following the ceremony.  This may be the only private/quiet time you’ll have 🙂  When you return, take all the family shots.  Most people will have moved onto cocktails and aps by then.

Your mother and other family members will be able to remain (sitting) during this short break.

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