Wedding Receiving Line

Receiving Line at Church or Not?

Whether you do a receiving line after your Ceremony at church depends on how much time you have.  If you have 200 or more guests, a receiving line can take more than half an hour.  There are a number of ways to greet guests after the ceremony at church.  Some couples choose to do a “release by pew” at the church.  They go down the aisle in the recessional, then come back up and start with the family pew, acknowledging each person for about ONLY 3 seconds, then move across the aisle, then to the next pew.  So, except for people who don’t come to the church but only go to the reception, they have “talked to” each person.  With 200 guests, that should take about 20 minutes, but you really need to keep moving.  A traditional receiving line at church is another option.  Just stand near the door or outside and quickly greet each guest on their way out of church.  With 200 guests, it’s probably 20 plus minutes.  It moves quicker if it’s just the parents and bride and groom and not the whole wedding party.  The key is to keep it brief and move people along.


Some couples who don’t have time for a receiving line at church choose to show up at the reception about 15 minutes into the cocktail hour without an introduction and work the room to get a lot of the greeting out of the way.  Then when the guests are asked to sit for dinner, the wedding party is lined up outside and the wedding party is announced into the reception.  Even though everyone has already seen and talked with the bride and groom, the big announce into the reception still works.  Then, if there’s still anyone they haven’t talked with, they will have time when they finish dinner (and their cake).  Since the head table is served first, the bride and groom are usually up and going to tables of guests they haven’t spoken to yet while guests are finishing dinner.  That gets it out of the way before the dancing starts.  What you really want to avoid is still greeting guests once the dancing starts, keeping you from the party.

And, naturally throughout the night, any guests who want to personally speak to the bride and groom and haven’t will come to them.  Plan on talking to as many guests as possible … even if it’s just in passing, a nod, eye contact.