Authored by: Rinette Emerson
October 28, 2010

The receiving line gives the bridal couple and their parents the opportunity to great each guest individually and thank them for coming to your wedding and gives the guests the opportunity to hug and congratulate you on your new Facebook status.

If the ceremony and reception take place at the same location, consider having the receiving line shortly after the ceremony. However, if the ceremony and the reception are at different venues, have the receiving line at the reception. The church is the ideal location to hold your receiving line – time permitting – especially if all guests are not invited to the reception.

The parents of the bride and groom and the bride and groom are the essential members of the receiving line. The maid of honour and the bridesmaids are usually part of the receiving line but not essential members. It is not mandatory for the best man and groomsmen to be in the line as it may be more beneficial to have them usher your guests to their seats. It’s also acceptable not to include the Fathers, and instead have them circulate amongst your guests. If parents are remarried, Step-parents can be included if you wish. As a general rule of thumb, only include the essential members – so that your guests do not face a long and tedious wait to greet the honoured couple.

Speak to your photographer/videographer about taking impromptu photos of your guests during the receiving line to help pass time and to record this part of your special day. You also may consider serving refreshments and appetizers to your guests while they wait.

Some couples decide to eliminate the receiving line altogether, choosing instead to “make the rounds” greeting their guests during the reception. If you choose to eliminate the receiving line, you have the responsibility of greeting each guest over the course of the evening. If you’re uncomfortable with greeting your guests individually, remember that they have come to your wedding to honour you, and saying hello to each of them is the least you can do.

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About the Author: Rinette Emerson

Prior to Enduring Promises, Rinette worked with clients on strategic communications, online development programs, corporate branding and helping clients “get found” online. After officiating her first wedding, many years ago, Rinette was hooked – and now she is a sought after wedding Officiant. A little-known fact about Rinette…she is an amazing artist! You can follow her on LinkedIn.


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