Options for Receiving Line

posted 2 years ago in Etiquette
  • poll: Receiving Line at the Beginning of the Reception or Before Late Lunch?
    As guests arrive they meet everyone including the Bride and Groom and give their gift. : (1 votes)
    20 %
    After dinner/dance and before the late lunch, guests meet everyone and then give their gift. : (4 votes)
    80 %
  • Post # 2
    9595 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: September 2015

    We had a receiving line on the way into the reception, after cocktail hour. I liked it because people had a drink in hand and had a snack already so the hold up hopefully wasn’t too painful. I don’t think there’s any reason to include the whole bridal party, that would take forever. Just the bride, groom and their parents. I am a fan of the receiving line because I wanted to sit and eat and enjoy my reception and not be on duty for table visits during dinner.

    i don’t really understand your dinner and then late lunch after dinner? I would just put the line somewhere people will have to move from point a to b anyway, and you just greet them at the door.

    Post # 3
    9595 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: September 2015


    melissaa1000 :  also, we didn’t receive gifts then. It would feel awkward for me to do that in front of everyone. We had a card box guests could visit at their convenience.

    Post # 4
    1963 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: September 2017 - Pearson Convention Centre

    We had our receiving line during cocktail hour

    Post # 5
    866 posts
    Busy bee

    We had our receiving line as people exited the church. It was just me and my husband so it went quick.

    Post # 6
    271 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: October 2018

    I’ve only attended one wedding with a “receiving line”. The couple stood at the back of the church and greeted and thanked everyone on their way out. It was just them. No parents or bridal party. While this one wasn’t awkward because they were good friends, in general I feel receiving lines are kind of awkward and forced. I’m also not sure why you would need the whole bridal party to join in? Being an introvert, that would make me think twice about being a bridesmaid. At the weddings I’ve usually attended, the bride and groom will make a point to go around and greet everyone at their table or while they are socializing. It seems a bit more natural than lining people up. I’m curious as to why this has become a hot topic? 

    Post # 7
    1303 posts
    Bumble bee

    We got married at a church and had our reception in the private room of a restaurant.  We had our receiving line of just us and our parents right outside the private room.  There was a long hall that led to the room so it worked out well.  Inside the room itself is where we had the table assignment numbers and a box for cards.  We had a little over 100 guests so it wasn’t like we were standing out there the whole cocktail hour.  Most of our guests went to the church so we greeted the majority at once.  For those we didn’t, I either made a point to see them or they came up to us.

    I think you’re overthinking the “grand entrance” thing.  I’ve never felt that any kind of entrance is grand, no matter what wedding I’ve been to.

    Post # 8
    1631 posts
    Bumble bee

    I’ve mostly seen:

    –Parents greet guests as they leave the ceremony while bride + groom + wedding party rush off to do pictures during cocktail hour. 

    –Then couple and wedding party does a grand entrance into reception. 

    –Couple goes around to each guest at dinner time when people are seated. 

    –Most physical gifts are mailed ahead of time to couples home, but usually there is a gift table at the reception that guests drop off at at their convenience. 

    Post # 9
    212 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: July 2018

    I’ve never attended a wedding with a receiving line. Usually the couple just makes the rounds during dinner or cocktail hour. Is there a reason you must do a receiving line at all? It seems very old fashioned.

    I’ve also never been to a wedding where anyone brought a box gift. I’ve just seen card boxes by the guestbook. Usually the guest book is placed in a table near the front of the reception area. 

    Post # 10
    133 posts
    Blushing bee

    I haven’t been to a wedding with a receiving line since I was a kid. I didn’t even know people did them anymore. I thought they went out of style with the chicken dance. 

    I prefer there being a table/card box when you walk into the reception and then the couple walking around to mingle during the reception. I usually see the couple stopping at tables to thank people for coming. My husband and I weren’t super formal about it, but we made sure to stop by each table to say hi and thank you before the end of the night. 

    Post # 11
    2758 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: June 2017

    Our ceremony and reception were in the same place, so I presume our guests dropped off their gifts on the table as they came in. We had the receiving line (just me and Darling Husband, no bridal party or parents) right after the ceremony exit, and then guests made their way to the cocktail hour patio. We went off for photos and then still had our “grand entrance” for the reception. It worked perfectly! I have never seen guests give the bride and groom their gifts/cards during the receiving line, that sounds really awkward. Like.. have they been holding onto it for the entire ceremony? Also I hate when the parents and bridal parties etc. are in the line as well.. what do you even say to them if you have never met them?

    Post # 12
    6443 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: February 1997

    Maybe they’re old fashioned, but a receiving line (in the traditional sense) takes care of thanking everyone for coming without the bride and groom missing part of dinner or cocktail hour or anything else. We stood with our parents as people left the ceremony and greeted and thanked everyone, and then there was a table at the reception with a card box. Those who brought cards could deposit them in the box, and anyone who brought a boxed gift could leave it on the table. It would seem awkward to me to have the gift table right next to a receiving line entering the reception, and completely impractical to try to have a receiving line of any sort later on.

    Post # 13
    1695 posts
    Bumble bee

    The most “proper” choice is to follow the prevailing norms in the social circle where you move. If you happen to move in a circle where “standard” formal etiquette is practiced, then the norms are:

    • At any formal social event where more than a dozen guests are expected, wedding or not, the hostess greets her guests at the door and introduces them to her guests of honour. At a wedding the traditional standard is for the hostess to be the bride’s mother, and the newlywed couple to be the guests of honour.
    • Boxes and packages are never carried to a formal social event. Wedding gifts are sent to the bride’s home prior to the wedding. Any gifts that are brought to the reception by guests who may not know of that nicety, are quickly whisked out of sight by staff or by the hostess’s assistants, to avoid giving the event a tawdry or commercial tone.
    • Grand entrances are for royalty entering their court, or the court of another monarch.

    If you remember “grand entrances” from your childhood, and “late lunches” are a norm that your guests understand, then it’s likely you come from a community with some ethnic heritage other than upper-class W.A.S.P.  You can always follow standard (upper-class W.A.S.P.) etiquette if you choose to. But your family members and close community members may be disappointed. In some communities that have the kind of pre-late-lunch receiving line that you have described, this is referred to as “Presentation” and you put it on your invitation as such: “Presentation at eleven o’clock followed by late lunch”. The “presentation” here means the guests being presented to the couple. But traditionally it is also when guests make a presentation of their gift of money (although no-one should be so gauche as to mention money.) Have your best man standing around behind your groom, so that the groom can pass any envelopes to him and he can tuck them away discreetly.

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