So, what is the receiving line and do you need one?

The purpose of a receiving line is to allow the hosts and other members of your bridal party to officially welcome and be introduced to all your guests. Although some couples, and sometimes their parents, eschew the idea of a receiving line because of its formality and the time it takes for the guests to pass along it, a receiving line is the only way to guarantee that everyone is personally welcomed, albeit briefly.
wedding-receiving-line-202x113 The Receiving Line

 

After your wedding ceremony, your guests will make their way to your reception venue, where it usual to provide pre-reception drinks upon arrival. When all your guests are assembled and suitably refreshed, they will pass along your receiving line as they make their way to their tables. Regardless of who is paying for your wedding, the traditional receiving line takes the following form of female alternating with male:

1 The Bride’s Mother
2 The Groom’s Father
3 The Groom’s Mother
4 The Bride’s Father
5 The Bride
6 The Groom
7 The Chief Bridesmaid
8 The Best Man

The advantage of this receiving line is that the first two people are from both families so that your guests are quickly recognised and easily introduced. For example, the bride’s mother can introduce each guest from the bride’s family to the groom’s father and vice versa.

1 The Bride’s Mother
2 The Bride’s Father
3 The Groom’s Mother
4 The Groom’s Father
5 The Bride
6 The Groom
7 The Chief Bridesmaid
8 The Best Man

Although this receiving line appears more logical (the hosts greeting the guests first) it does mean that guests from the groom’s family are not able to be introduced to the bride’s mother and father. However, this problem is overcome if you are using a master of ceremonies who will announce the names of your guests just before they are greeted by the bride’s mother.

A popular variation on the above receiving line (where the bride’s parents as hosts are first in the line), is the traditional Jewish receiving line:

1 The Bride’s Mother
2 The Bride’s Father
3 The Bride
4 The Groom
5 The Groom’s Mother
6 The Groom’s Father

This can, of course, be modified to include the chief bridesmaid and best man at the end of the line

 

If you have many guests, the time taken for all your guests to pass along the receiving line can be quite considerable. Therefore, you may consider having a much shorter receiving line such as the following:

1 The Bride’s Mother
2 The Groom’s Mother
3 The Bride
4 The Groom

In the case of divorced parents, who do not wish to stand next to each other, the following modified version of the traditional receiving line, where the parents alternate, provides a simple solution.

1 The Bride’s Mother
2 The Groom’s Father
3 The Bride’s Father
4 The Groom’s Mother
5 The Bride
6 The Groom
7 The Chief Bridesmaid
8 The Best Man

Where parental relationships are even more complicated, you may wish to just have yourselves form the receiving line, especially if you are hosting, and paying for, your wedding.

It is clear from the above permutations that the receiving line can be very flexible. Indeed, your preferences, your parental relationships and the number of guests you have, will determine the receiving line that you are most comfortable with.