20 Feb Wedding Receiving Lines and Alternatives

Recently, I received a Facebook message from a mother of the bride asking about the importance of receiving lines and if there are are any alternatives I could suggest. I bet there’s probably a lot of folks out there who could use some different ideas, thus today’s topic.

Here’s her message…
“Hi Rachael, I have a question for you. My daughter is getting married in March. She is marrying in a Latter Day Saints (LDS) temple and therefore very few people will actually be part of the wedding ceremony.  A typical LDS wedding reception has a “line” where the guests come through and meet and greet the wedding party.  Here’s our dilemma – none of us want to stand in a line, or have our guests stand in line.  It doesn’t sound very fun for anyone and we want our guests to have FUN! Do you have any suggestions or alternatives that you use to avoid guests standing in line? We’ve told several people that we “aren’t having a line” and they all have said the same thing, which is “your guests will force you into a line” because people inevitably will want to say hello and they will form a line around you.  Any thoughts? Thank your for your time!”


Wedding Receiving Line

Traditionally, receiving lines have been a part of weddings for a long time and for a very good reason. It gives the newly married couple and their families an opportunity to personally greet and thank each guest for coming to celebrate with them. But even old wedding traditions can use some freshening up to bring them more in line with the thinking and planning from today’s bride. So here are some suggestions to consider incorporating in your event.

Receiving Line at The Church
After the ceremony, since the bride and groom are the first to leave the sanctuary, they can, along with the rest of the wedding party, line up outside the church to greet the guests as they come out. Afterwards, this allows the bride and groom to exit with all the guests lined up to send them off.

Another alternative is to have the parents greet the guests as they arrive at the church and then just the bride and groom to express their gratitude to them after the ceremony.

Receiving Line Alternatives at The Reception
My personal favorite is to have the bride and groom walk around during the reception to each of the tables and personally thank each of their guests for coming. They may even take that time to personally hand each guest a wedding favor. Enlist the help of one of the wedding party to assist in carrying the favors for you.

Another option is to have guests stand in two lines. The bride and groom then walk up the middle, alternating and shaking hands with guests on both sides of them.

If you aren’t concerned about the “big intro”, then consider joining your guests during the cocktails portion of your reception. You could even hold it in a separate lounge area away from the main reception hall. Have your parents and wedding party members split up and mingle among the guests, but you and your new hubby need to stay by each other’s side. Remember, your guests want to congratulate you both!

Keep Your Guests Entertained While They Wait
If you are having it at the reception, ask your serving staff to offer beverages and hors d’ oeuvres to your guests. Everyone loves to feel catered to with refreshments!

Position your guest book, or whatever you want guests to sign commemorating their attendance to your big day, next to your receiving area. This way everyone will have an opportunity to leave you their well wishes. Check out my post on guestbook alternatives.

Photo: Wes Roberts Photography

Setup photo displays of your engagement or other fun photos of you, your hubby and family members for your guests to enjoy while waiting. Get creative with these displays… your guests will love it!


Have your videographer and master of ceremonies go down the line together to talk with your guests and capture their well wishes and thoughts on your special day.

If your wedding is outdoors and during a warm day, make sure you prepare to have the receiving line in a well-shaded area. We all know how it feels standing in line and baking.

Those are just a few of my thoughts on receiving lines and alternatives. Anyone have any other great suggestions they’d like to share?

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