Wedding Wednesday- The Dreaded Receiving Line

by - Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This wedding wednesday will be devoted to the big debates we are having about which traditions to keep, throw out, and rewrite. Some of this is cliche, but I guess maybe looking at our logic on it will help other people make their calls. A lot of these, for whatever reason, are about how things should be timed and what deserves time on your wedding day (and what will keep it fun). One of the things we keep debating is how to handle the receiving line. I know receiving lines are one of those things that are seen as pretty old fashioned now, and the Boy has been lobbying that we just skip it. It's long and boring, you don't get very high quality interaction with people, and it takes up precious time (I think that is his key complain against it). 

When I read up on all the wedding wisdom wells, they seem to say it mostly depends on how many guests you are having (more than 300 you definitely need it, otherwise there are other options). Whether it is "necessary" or not, I do think it is the best way to make sure you say hello and thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with you. In short, it just seems like the polite thing to do and in one form or another we are doing it.

That being said, I have been trying to figure out how we can make this less painful/ maybe more creative. The church does not have air conditioning and the wedding is in August. You should not boil your wedding guests; I am sure there is an etiquette law about that somewhere. So if we are doing it, we need to figure out either a way to keep it moving so people aren't stuck in the church.

Receiving Line Alternatives- I have been poking around on websites looking to see if there was anything else we could do to save time and not potentially trap people in a steaming hot church. Most everywhere gives the same advice, which is to visit all of the tables. Though I get the appeal of this, I think that might actually be more awkward, and I would be super worried I missed someone. I think that is a key issue in some ways- I am always worried I am neglecting someone or hurting their feelings, and I do not want to spend my whole reception covering my bases.

There is also the less radical suggestion that the bride and groom let their guests out of the pews, but then you are sort of greeting everyone while having an audience and people would have to feel super awkward and trapped in their seats. I am also wondering whether they wouldn't rather be up and moving than just sitting there, but I guess this is a contender.

One of the ones I really liked was serving your guests food or dessert (thank you Offbeat Bride); I think if you had a smaller wedding, this would be so perfect. On the other hand, it is late in the night, and you are bound to miss the older people who go home early or people who choose not to come to the reception.

The last suggestion was to just have cocktails with everyone before the wedding. You could also do a breakfast if you were doing a casual thing. The trick there is that it just lengthens the party, but it doesn't exactly guarantee you will see everyone.

So,to me, the receiving line is a necessary and super awkward evil.  So, if we have to do it, how can we streamline the thing. The Boy and I are blessed with minimal social skills, so we can probably move through people quickly, but we have 4 very friendly and social parents. We know that their strength will chip away at the super efficient line moving, so the goal is to just have them mingling with people independent of the line. Because only 2 points are needed for a line, and it will be much faster if they just have to talk to us, as opposed to all of our parents and attendants and so forth.

My Mom had the idea that she and the Boy's Mom could be the ones dismissing people from their pews, and I honestly have no idea whether (or how much) it will effect the speed of the whole event (I know you think I am being a spaz about the time, but this thing can drag on forever and it isn't that nice for the guests either). 

So we have 3 options- The Boy and I let people out of their seats and they get greeted by our parents outside the church, our moms let them out of their seats and the boy and I are a 2 person receiving line (not sure where our dads go in this scenario), or just have the ushers let people out and we have our 2 person receiving line and the parents just mingle outside. So we have to decide between them, but the key concern is just comfort for our guests! We don't want too much character to be built at this wedding.

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  1. I am told that in some parts of the world, the receiving line is for people entering the reception instead of people leaving the church