Proper Etiquette for a Traditional Receiving Line

Most newlywed couples prefer to have the receiving line immediately following the ceremony and not at the reception venue.  Most churches and other wedding sites will have an area large enough to accommodate the traditional receiving line.

Based on the custom of the wedding being hosted by the bride’s parents, the traditional order of the receiving line should be as follows:

  1. Mother of the bride
  2. Father of the bride
  3. Mother of the groom
  4. Father of the groom
  5. Bride
  6. Groom
  7. Maid of Honor
  8. Bridesmaids (optional)

The fathers of the bride and groom are not required to stand in the receiving line but it gives them the opportunity to meet and greet all the wedding guests.  If one father stands in the receiving line, it is a general guideline that the other father does so as well.

In the case of divorced or remarried parents, the couple hosting the event is first in the receiving line. If both sets of parents are remarried, the same rule applies.  The order of the receiving line would be as follows:

  1. Bride’s mother
  2. Bride’s stepfather
  3. Groom’s mother
  4. Groom’s stepfather
  5. Bride’s stepmother
  6. Bride’s father
  7. Groom’s stepmother
  8. Groom’s mother
  9. Bride
  10. Groom
  11. Maid of Honor
  12. The bridesmaids (can be omitted due to line length)

There are certainly an unlimited amount of variables in the case of divorced or remarried parents.  It is best that the couple plans early, with their parents, to determine who stands where.  The guideline, that the hosts stand first in the receiving line, will come in handy to diffuse any conflicts or hurt feelings.  Some fathers would rather circulate among the guests and this would simplify matters for everyone.

Whether you have a large or small wedding, you and your family are the hosts.  Every guest should feel welcome and appreciated.  Let them know you are happy that they came to celebrate your big day.

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