The Receiving Line

One wedding tradition that is losing popularity is the receiving line. This custom actually dates back to more superstitious times when it was believed that anyone who touched the bride and groom would be blessed with good luck. It later evolved into the practice we are familiar with, especially for large weddings, as a way of insuring that each guest is greeted. It is a nice custom, but it does have its drawbacks.

Here are some pros and cons to consider when deciding whether you wish to have a receiving line, because, it is not required.

On the negative side the receiving line slows everyone down because it creates a big bottleneck of people leaving the ceremony. After sitting through the ceremony (which I hope was lovely and meaningful) guests would like to get up and move around, and perhaps have a snack or beverage, or get out of the sun.

Other negatives are that the line may take at least a ½ hour, and frankly, sometimes the greetings can be awkward.

Instead, to be sure you see all over your guests make a point to visit each and every their table during the reception, and you will have fulfilled the intended purpose of the receiving line, and perhaps in an even more relaxed and meaningful manner.

I recently read a survey that ranked the receiving line as one of the least favorite things at a wedding. So if you are foregoing the receiving line, you are right ‘in line’ with the latest tends.

The receiving line outside the church.

On the plus side it is still a tried and true way to insure the couple greet each and every one of their guests. It is also an important opportunity for loved ones to express their congratulations and good wishes to the couple.

If you are having an outdoor receiving line in the summer – try to be in the shade and consider having beverages or music or add some element to make it more enjoyable for those waiting in line. Or keep the greeters to only the couple and parents, leaving the bridesmaids and groomsmen free. This will make the line go much faster. By the way – it is completely ok to have the attendants in the line or not in the line – either way is totally acceptable.

If you have decided not to have a receiving line, don’t have an unintended receiving line. By this I mean that after recessing, the bridal party finds themselves standing at the back of the ceremony area. Then, if they are unsure of what to do and where to go – guests begin departing, and, viola! a receiving line begins (albeit an unintended one). So plan where you’re headed after that recessional to avoid the pile up!

Whatever you decide, remember, you always have choices – it’s your wedding!

 Thank you Rob Lettieri for the lovely photo

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