Wedding receiving lines: Do’s and don’ts

Wedding receiving lines: Do’s and don’ts

16 November 2011

Formeel feliciteren
Photo credit: Coretta's Elegant Events

Bridal couples often ask me: “What should we do about the enormously long receiving line? We think it is stiff, formal, uncomfortable, and we would like to do it a little differently.”

Receiving lines have a function. Everyone is given a chance to congratulate the married couple, and you can thank them for coming (and for their present). But of course you don’t have to have one, there are more than enough alternatives!

Bloemen bij ontvangst
Photo credits: het Bruidsmeisje & 2Rings

Alternatives to the Receiving Line

Walk around and make sure you speak to everyone personally. You can do this per table, or just slowly wind through the crowd. If you prefer to do it in a less structured way, it is a good idea to give the guests you have already spoken to something recognizable so that you know you don’t need to approach them again. Consider having the Master of Ceremonies hand over a flower or a balloon as the guests come in, or have him or her pin on a flickering hearts. Of course you as the bridal couple can also give something to the guests you have already spoken to, for example glitter wigs, flashing ice cubes or luminous bracelets (this also has a festive effect)

Herkenbaarheid gasten

Ballonnen bij het Feliciteren
Photo credit: 2Rings

Point of Interest: Make sure the guests can hand over their present or envelope as soon as they come in. Otherwise they will be left holding it for a while and that could be bothersome. Have the Master of Ceremonies put stickers on them with the correct name.

“We Do Want a Receiving Line"

Felicitatierij
Photo credit: Victoria Souza

A receiving line does have its advantages: you are certain you have spoken to everyone, and it is faster than walking around (especially if you have a large number or guests, one hundred or more at the party). But you should stop and consider a few things:

  1. You should realise that the guests will want to leave coats and their gifts somewhere (on the gift table, for example), because standing in line with your coat on and a present in your hands is hot and uncomfortable.
  2. Most guests have probably had to travel for a while and could undoubtedly use a drink. Give your guests a welcome drink first (you could also toast them personally), after which they can join the queue.
  3. Guests find it annoying to have to stand around and wait in an endless row of people. Think of something that will make the waiting fun! You could hire a magician or do something special with the guestbook so they can start with this already.
  4. Plan in a certain time for congratulating, for example from 8:15 to 9 o'clock. Be sure to print this on the invitation so the guests know at what time they should be inside.

An original idea: I also came across this fun idea on my internet search (OffBeatBride) Bride and groom Ali and Phil chose to serve homemade ice cream with sprinkles to their guests, but you could also give them all a piece of wedding cake (beautifully symbolic).

ijsbuffet felicitatierij
Photo credits: OffBeatBride & Cap Classique

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