Receiving lines. It’s a pretty out of fashion tradition where guests line up to greet the bride, groom, and their parents, traditionally sometime after the ceremony and before the reception. As couples have moved away from the more formal approach to a receiving line, they’ve started opting for making rounds during dinner, stopping at each table to greet their guests. For us, the receiving line ended up being the best possible way to welcome our guests, so here’s why we loved it, and a few tips to make it successful!
We loved our receiving line because:
1. It reinforced the feeling of community. Having our families (siblings, spouses, and parents!) in line with us made it fun to chat with them and get excited about the day. There were lots of happy tears, jokes, stories, hugs and so much love in that line.
2. Everyone was on a high! The receiving line took place right after the ceremony–the highest energy time for all the guests. The formality of the vows are out of the way, guests are hungry, thirsty, full of love and ready to celebrate. This made the greetings so full of energy and love, rather than feeling like we were interrupting their dinners.
3. It helped us get better photos. Almost every single bride/groom you talk to says one thing in common about their wedding: it went by so fast–we hardly had time to dance. I was determined to not let this happen, so we started the wedding much earlier than most. The hiccup this caused was having to start in the blazing hot July sun. We knew pictures afterward would be way too bright, so the receiving line was a chance to break up the afternoon, give time for the sun to go down, and greet our guests during the best time possible!
4. We got to eat! Another thing couples ALWAYS say is that they hardly ate at their wedding. It’s because moments after couples are served their dinner, they are whisked off to start that whole “greeting guests at their tables” thing. So you never actually get to enjoy dinner because you are busy using this time to greet guests! Not only did Bryan and I have a chance to enjoy our delicious dinner, we also had time to sneak out into the vineyards for sunset pics that we would have otherwise been too busy to do because of greeting!
5. We made sure to greet every guest! Making your rounds through guests’ tables during dinner most definitely means you are going to miss a few guests. The greeting line was a sure fire way to make sure everyone was thanked for traveling such a huge distance to make our day so memorable.
So now that you’ve got our reasons for choosing to go with a pretty old school tradition, here are some tips on how to make a receiving line successful:
1. Give guests something to do on both sides of the line. We had an olive station, champagne, and the guest book for guests to busy themselves with while waiting in line. They even had a chance to nab their escort cards on the way through the line. This made “waiting in line” not feel so laborious. Cocktails, appetizers and our photo booth was waiting for them on the other side–which ended up making the line move pretty quickly too. They were excited to see what was in store!
2. Keep it in a shaded place. You, your hubby and whoever else is greeting with you will appreciate being able to stay cool while you hug guests.
3. Get yourself a cocktail or some champagne to sip on while you give hugs! It’ll keep you relaxed and convey to your guests that you are already celebrating!
4. Invite more than just your parents! We had our parents AND siblings join us (and their spouses/kids) which made it a really fun “tunnel” of people to walk through and chat with. Our guests weren’t just awkwardly waiting to talk to us, but had several others to chat with. This also meant that not one person went through the line without knowing someone else, and it allowed everyone to be introduced. Bryan’s parents introduced their long time besties to my parents, and my out-of-town aunts and uncles got to meet Bryan’s parents and sisters before they even made it down to give us huge hugs.