(Closed) Receiving lines

posted 6 years ago in Etiquette
  • poll: Receiving line?
    Yes : (25 votes)
    27 %
    No : (33 votes)
    36 %
    Go table to table to greet and just not eat : (33 votes)
    36 %
  • Post # 3
    12886 posts
    Honey Beekeeper
    • Wedding: November 1999

    Do you have the opportunity to take photos ahead of time?  We’re doing our last final pictures during the cocktail hour, getting announced, our first dance, and then the receiving line. 

    So my basic timeline is:
    Last Photos / Cocktail hour
    First Dance
    Receiving line into ballroom for dinner (dancing is in a separate room than the dinner for us)
    Cake Cutting
    Open Dancing

    Post # 4
    8738 posts
    Bumble Beekeeper
    • Wedding: September 2011

    @MrsKeAloha:  How many guests do you have?

    We were able to eat our dinner (we got served while everyone else went to the buffet) and then able to visit all the tables while everyone else was eating.

    However, we only had 10 tables (about 100 guests) so it was a manageable group.

    Post # 5
    114 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: September 2011

    I voted no, but I have an alternative to offer. We had a huge time crunch and didn’t want our entire cocktail hour to be taken up with a receiving line — we paid good money for those little bites and drinks, and we’d like everyone to enjoy them! Instead of a receiving line, we released the rows following the ceremony. Bascially we walked down the aisle and then walked around and back up front, greating each guest quickly as we let them go. We made an effort to get around to the tables, but didn’t catch everyone. I thought it was a great happy medium!

    Post # 6
    5075 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: October 2012

    @hosannac:   I just saw this for the first time on Four Weddings.  I thought it was a lovely idea

    Post # 7
    526 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: October 2013

    I really don’t like receiving lines.  You spend a lot of time waiting, especially if you’re at the end of the line, and you might not really know some of the people you’re waiting to talk to that well, so it can be awkward- for example, if you’re a friend of the bride and get held up in front of the groom’s mother.  Also, I feel pressured to say everything I want to say to the couple very quickly, and it doesn’t feel very personal or special, and I feel like they JUST heard “Congratulations” and “You look beautiful” from everyone else, so it doesn’t mean as much to say it again.

    BUT, that’s just my opinion, and I know that a lot of people love them.  My mom is appalled that we don’t want one because it’s one of her favorite parts of a wedding.  She doesn’t mind waiting in line because she just chats with whoever else is waiting with her.  She also said that it was one of her favorite parts of her own wedding because she got to really see everyone who loves and supports her and didn’t have to worry about not getting a moment with anyone, or rushing to talk to people who might leave early.

    Post # 8
    5273 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: October 2009

    Well I voted for your last option, but didn’t realize you said “don’t eat.”

    First question, are you serving your food buffet style? If so, then this suggestion applies.

    Instead of having your guests go to the buffet table by either a) having the DJ announce it, or b) having guests go when they want. Keep it more organized & kill two birds with one stone.

    What we did, was have the DJ ask everyone to take a seat as we entered the room, and then walked straight to the first table, chatted for a few mins, then invited them to help themselves to the buffet. While table 1 was at the buffet line, we moved to table 2, chatted, then once table 1 was seated, invited them to the buffet table. This allowed us to visit each table, talk to everyone for a few mins, and kept the buffet line from filling up. Also, by the time we got to the last table, all guests were still eating, so this allowed us the time to eat ourselves.  

    Post # 10
    12886 posts
    Honey Beekeeper
    • Wedding: November 1999

    @MissBananaBread:  We are doing one for a couple of reasons.  (1) I’m super traditional, and this fits right in.  (2) We have a 200 person wedding, so we basically wouldn’t get to eat at all during the wedding, and Fiance says that’s not an option.  We’ll be shuffling people along, who will go instead and get thei escort cards and find their seats while the line finishes.  I understand why some people don’t like them, there just aren’t always better alternatives.

    Post # 12
    915 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: December 2012

    We are doing a receiving line into the ballroom but we aren’t doing a cocktail hour. As people leave the ceremony we will have butler passed champagne handed to our guests waiting in line. It will be just us and with 100 people we are hoping it takes about 20 min, then later we will go around to some tables but won’t feel bad if we don’t get to everyone. 

    Post # 13
    1252 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: November 2011

    We ate quickly and then visited the tables, you don’t have to skip eating.

    Post # 15
    1696 posts
    Bumble bee

    Polite hostesses, say traditional good manners, greet their guests when they arrive, regardless of whether the event is formal or informal; and polite guests make a point of greeting their hostess as soon as they arrive. If you have eight to thirty guests, you can do this just by being in the room and noticing who arrives. If you have more guests then the most gracious way to fulfill your responsibility is to stand by the door and receive them as they arrive.

    Polite guests know to move along through the line, but if they show a tendency to linger you can move them along by introducing them to the person next to you in line, who murmurs “How do you do” and in turn introduces them to the next person. At the end of the line you need a circulating flock of society mavens — the Aunt Brigade is ideal, but if your college girlfriends are more plentiful than your aunts and are socially sophisticated, they can fill in. They pick up each person as they exit the line and introduce them into a conversation circle of other guests, stay to chat two or three sentences, and then circle back. The Aunt Brigade should also be on the watch to intervene with particularly loquacious guests who are slowing down the line, and discretely extract them with an “Oh, there is someone I so much want you to meet”, and drag them out of the way of the line they are impeding.

    Completing the receiving line doesn’t relieve the polite hostess of all her obligations. She still must circulate through the room to actually receive all those congratulations, gushing hugs, and childhood reminiscences, and the Aunt Brigade (or Girlfriend Cadre) need to be on duty too, rescuing the bride from overbearing relatives and introducing wall-flower guests to one another. You do this during the cocktail hour and subsequently during the dancing, not during dinner unless it is a buffet or stand-up cocktail affair. Formal etiquette does not allow people to wander around during a seated dinner (not even to get drinks or to, er, wash your hands. Go before you sit down.) But during dancing, it’s the hostess’s duty once she has opened the floor, to introduce gentlemen to ladies who have no partner for the next dance, and to dance with as many of her gentlemen guests as possible.

    Frankly, I have trouble understanding why so many brides want to bew hostess at their own wedding: they take on a great many duties that were handled with so many fewer conflicts back in the day when mothers hosted and brides were guests of honour. But the responsibilities come with the privileges of being hostess, and claiming the perqs without undertaking the duties would leave a bad taste in my mouth.

    Post # 16
    637 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: July 2014


    I don’t think we will have receiving line.  I hate to see people getting in line waiting.  And you never know how long some people will talk to us. 


    We try to keep the flow going, so we probably will take pictures with guests as soon as the ceremony is done.  Then go to cocktail hour and finish the photos.  Hopefully it won’t take too long. 

    But we will make sure to make time to go over every table during reception to greet everyone.  So none of them will get missed. 

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