Photo: Lynne Brubaker
After the wedding ceremony, your guests will be eager to hug you and congratulate you. A receiving line is an efficient way for you and your parents to receive these good wishes and give a warm welcome to friends and family who have come to share this special day. At large weddings, it might be the only chance you get to speak to each guest! With that in mind, we culled three questions and etiquette expert-approved answers about this tradition so you can do it right.
When does a receiving line take place?
The receiving line should form after the ceremony, but before the reception. If you aren't going directly to the reception site (because you'll be taking pictures, for example), set up the line at the ceremony site. If you'll take bridal-party pictures at the ceremony site, form a receiving line at the reception site.
Who stands in the line?
The wedding hosts head the line. If your parents are hosting, your mother would greet guests first, followed by your father, to her left; the groom's mother, then his father to her left; the bride; the groom; the maid of honor; and the bridesmaids. (It is optional for fathers and attendants to stand in the line; you may prefer that they circulate among guests.)
What should you say?
Thank guests for coming, tell them how happy you are to see them, and introduce them to your groom or other members of the wedding party they may not know. When introducing them, try to share a small fact that will help them remember each other — "Mary was my college roommate," for example. If your groom or another receiving-line participant knows them, on the other hand, he or she can introduce them to you. Keep comments brief; otherwise the line may become too long (you can chat later, during the table visits).