The Guest’s Guide to the Receiving Line

Wondering why there’s looooong line of guests waiting to leave the ceremony or enter the reception? Yup, you’ve just encountered your first receiving line. Don’t panic. It’s easy to navigate, and we’re here to answer all your questions.

guest guide, receiving line, wedding receiving line
Photo by Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography on Grey Likes Weddings 

What exactly is a receiving line?
A receiving line is simply a way for the newlyweds and the hosts (usually their parents) to greet their guests. Guests line up to take their turn saying hello to the VIPs.

Who’s in the receiving line?
Traditionally, you’ll find the newlyweds and their parents in the receiving line. But these days, couples are customizing who’s in the line. You might find grandparents or other family members. They might choose to include their wedding party, too.

What do I say?
The good news is that you don’t have to formulate a whole speech in your head—your receiving line convo will be short at sweet! Here’s what you should cover:

– Say hello! This is your chance to congratulate the new couple and their families. They’ll be busy all night, so you might not have another chance.
– Introduce yourself (and your date). If you’ve never met the newlyweds’ parents or other family members, introduce yourself and your date and explain how you know the couple.
– Pay a compliment. Something simple and short like, “That was such a beautiful ceremony” will be much appreciated.
– Say thanks. Offer a quick thanks for the invitation: “Thanks so much for inviting us—it’s going to be a wonderful night!”

That’s it! Seriously—these lines get long, and you don’t want to be the person holding it up. This is not the time for a heart-to-heart!

What comes next?
After the receiving line, the party (or at least the cocktail hour) begins. Grab yourself a snack and a drink from the bar, and mix and mingle. Have fun!

Find more guest advice on Loverly:

6 Outdated Wedding Guest Rules You Do NOT Have to Follow

A Beginner’s Guide to Attending Your Very First Wedding

6 Guest-Approved Ways to Survive This Wedding Attending Season

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