Is a Receiving Line Necessary?

The short answer is yes and no. Although the traditional receiving line is still done at most weddings, there are alternatives.

The first alternative is unconventional, but very well received. After the bride and groom have been pronounced husband and wife, they walk to the back of the church and the wedding party follows them out. The best man then announces that all guests should remain seated. The newlyweds make their way back to the front of the sanctuary and go row by row greeting their guests as they exit. This is a wonderful way for the bride and groom to personally acknowledge each and every person who witnessed their vows. During this time, the bridal party has the opportunity to gather their belongings and to prepare for any remaining photo sessions in the church. Once the last row of guests have been greeted, the newlyweds can head back to the front of the church for their couple photos. Be sure to inform the photographer of your plans ahead of time.

Traditionally, the receiving line in the foyer of the church has all the attendants. This also leaves room for an alternative. It is perfectly acceptable to have only the newlyweds, their parents and grandparents in line to receive congratulations. Most people, including attendants, feel a bit awkward shaking hands with everyone who comes out of the church.

Some couples opt to form the receiving line at the entrance to the reception hall. They greet guests as they arrive for the reception. This works best when there is some time between the wedding ceremony and reception. If the reception is immediately following the ceremony, often the guests arrive before the wedding party, making it awkward to set up a receiving line. When done at the reception, after all the guests have been seated, the bridal party is announced and enters.

Whether you choose the traditional receiving line, one of the alternatives, or none at all, be sure that you make it a priority to personally greet each and every guest that attends your wedding and reception.

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