Well, it's when the bride and groom, and possibly the bride and groom's parents, best man and chief bridesmaid form a line outside the wedding reception so that all the guests can stop and say hello.
It's an old tradition at a wedding and something you probably should stop and think about having yourself - even if you think you're planning a really informal day. Why? Well, we've listed the pros and cons below so you can consider what you should do - and added some comments from real brides.
Why Having A Receiving Line Is A Good Idea
- You get to see each guest individually and say thank you for coming to the wedding
- If you've invited more than 50 guests you'll know that you'll get to greet everybody. If you leave it to chance (ie walking around all the individual tables) somebody is almost certain to get left out
- It's a less stressful way of saying hello to everybody and leaves you time to get on and enjoy the party
- It's lovely for your guests because they know they are guaranteed to see you
- Your other half can introduce you personally to people you don't know (and vice versa)
- You'll feel like you're welcoming your guests individually to your wedding and if you're standing at the door to a beautiful venue, it will feel wonderful!
- If you're just walking around the tables, some people may not be sitting down when you're doing the rounds (particularly if they have young children they're having to attend to) and you may miss getting to see them
Some Points Of Receiving Line Etiquette
- Introduce your guests by their names to parents and your spouse if they don't know them
- Guests should introduce themselves to people they don't know
- If your parents are divorced you may not want them to stand side by side, put the best man or chief bridesmaid between them. On the other hand, it may not be an issue
- Include step-parents if you feel you want to, but you don't have to
- If you just want it to be the two of you then that's fine
- Allow at least 30 seconds per guest but try not to talk too long!
- Have your receiving line outside the front door of your venue or marquee if the weather is good. If not, standing in the hallway is the best - inside so your guests aren't outside in the rain
- Make sure your receiving line isn't blocking the entrance to the reception doorway as people won't be able to get past
What do you think? Receiving line or visiting each table? Or is the whole thing an outdated formality?