Are you looking to tie the knot in the near future? To say planning a wedding from scratch is a lot of work would be an understatement. You must find a venue, negotiate deals with vendors, select decorations and more. But you’ll also need to familiarize yourself with some of the traditions, including the receiving line.

Receiving Line: the Basics

In case this is your first time hearing about a receiving line, let me give you a brief overview of this popular wedding tradition. Basically, the receiving line is a tradition during which the bride, groom and their respective parents personally thank each guest, one by one, for attending their wedding.

It lives up to its namesake by featuring a literal line that guests wait in to talk with the couple. Even if the bride and groom have already spoken to some of their guests, a receiving line allows them to greet and thank everyone who attended their wedding.

Is a Receiving Line Necessary?

There’s no rule stating that you must have a receiving line at your wedding. As explained by TheKnot, however, it’s proper etiquette to have one if 50 or more guests attend your wedding. Medium-to-large-sized weddings will certainly benefit from a receiving line, as it allows the couple to thank everyone for attending. With that said, feel free to plan your wedding the way YOU want, either including a receiving line or omitting it from your big day.

Receiving Line Tips for Brides and Grooms:

  • Plan your receiving line in a convenient location where guests can access beverages. This is particularly helpful for large weddings, as it can take a while for couples to greet every guest.
  • While there are always exceptions to this rule, most receiving lines are held between the ceremony and reception.
  • Set up small tables near the receiving line so guests aren’t forced to hold their drinks the entire time.
  • Keep your greetings and “thank you’s” short and sweet. Assuming 100 guests attend your wedding, spending just 30 seconds greeting everyone would take 50 minutes.
  • Don’t feel bad if you can’t remember everyone’s name. There’s bound to be a long-lost cousin or family friend whom you can’t remember their name.
  • Most importantly, relax and enjoy the receiving line. Weddings can be hectic and even chaotic at times, but the receiving line allows the bride and groom to unwind while conversing amongst friends and family.

Photo credit: Andrea Dunlap