Most couples are skipping past a receiving line nowadays. When I ask couples if they are considering a receiving line about 9 out of 10 ask me what it is.
A receiving line immediately follows the wedding ceremony and is for greeting each guest and thanking each one of them for coming to the wedding. It gives each one of your guests an opportunity to give their personal congratulations to the bride, groom, bridal party, mother of the bride, father of the bride, etc. The line also guarantees your guests a minute of face-to-face time with you, a chance to hug, kiss, and congratulate you both, and to say things like “We wish you the best,” etc. Generally the receiving line is formed immediately following the ceremony. Traditions like the receiving line are ultimately open to interpretation. Greeting the guests is a necessary part of your evening and should never be eliminated, however, depending upon the size of your guest list, you may opt to greet guests in other ways.
However… most brides and grooms think a receiving line is a time waster. Modern weddings mean modern approaches to traditional rules. A number of modern couples are questioning its usefulness for their own ceremonies. Large guest lists and big bridal parties can make for very long and time consuming receiving lines. Greeting guests you see on a daily basis can become redundant in this formal setting.
More and more brides and grooms choose to skip the receiving line, take a few moments for themselves (sneak away for a few moments and take a brief stroll to let what just happened sink in – have the caterer serve you an appetizer and a glass of champagne) and then hurry off with the photographer to take photos. Here’s another however… more and more brides and grooms are opting for a “First Look.” A first look allows the bride and groom to take some very special photos together BEFORE the wedding ceremony. Read more about that here. When you do the first look, this allows the bride and groom to do a “meet ‘n greet” and mingle with your guests during the cocktail hour. Because most couples rush to take photos after the ceremony, they miss the cocktail hour.
SideNote: Scheduling a brief time to take photos after the ceremony is okay… an hour us usually acceptable, however one bride and groom took an hour and forty minutes yo take photos after the ceremony. Many of the guests were having way too much to drink at the one hour and forty minute cocktail hour and a handful of couples became annoyed and left. Have a photo booth or something that serves to entertain those who do not drink at the cocktail hour.
Guests know that offering their congratulations to every single person in a receiving line immediately after the wedding ceremony is no fun for you. So here is my suggestion… nix the receiving line. Instead, after your finish your meal – you are served first – do “table visits” at the reception instead. Greet each of your guests in turn and thank them for joining you on this joyful occasion.
Important: Do table visits “together.” Remember, your guests want to congratulate you both! The idea of table visits is a very cool Chinese custom. Have your partner hold your hand or have an arm around your waist as you walk through the reception area chatting with guests as they eat. Some guests tend to be super chatty, so move along accordingly. Many guests want to meet both of you and will often want to snap a photo of you as a couple. This could also be a time when you have the photographer take snapshots of you and your guests.
Everyone wants to kiss and hug the bride and groom but no one wants to wait in line, so be considerate of your guests needs and choose the options for greeting your guests that will work best for your wedding.
BONUS Article: The Receiving Line – “NOT!”
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