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The Receiving Line - Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

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Like every wedding tradition, the receiving line comes with it's own list of pros and cons. The first and most obvious pro - you get to individually greet and thank each guest for coming. However, there are many reasons why this traditional set up may not be possible. And depending on how long your guest list is, there simply may not be enough time. So what's a bride to do?

Follow our guide below for our best pros, cons and alternative options to the classic receiving line.

receiving line

Receiving Line Pros

Individual Face Time with Guests

This is the most popular reason couples choose to have a receiving line following the ceremony. You get to personally greet and thank each of your guests for coming. This is also great if you have a lot of guests who you don't know well or haven't met in person before. You'll get a formal introduction with your new spouse and get to put a face to the name on the RSVP card.

Some People Won't Stay All Night

The guest list at the end of the evening is always shorter than when the ceremony starts. So a receiving line is the perfect opportunity to meet and greet those guests who are not up to an all night party. You'll make sure you get some time with them before they sneak out after dinner.

Receiving Line Cons

Not Enough Time

On average, you'll want to spend about 20 seconds with each guest. And this adds up fast, especially if you're having a large wedding. A handy tip to speed this along is to keep the receiving line to just you and your new partner. This will keep things moving and prevent those still waiting in line from getting too bored. Then your bridal party and parents can mingle with guests throughout the rest of the evening.

Feels Less Personal

Because your time is limited to a few seconds, sometimes the receiving line can feel more perfunctory than personal. Just be aware of this fact, and make sure you're giving each guest genuine attention and not just rushing them down the line.

Receiving Line Alternatives

So you've read the pros, you've read the cons, and you're searching for balance. Not to worry! These receiving line alternatives offer you the same one on one time with your guests, without the time constraints. Choose one or a few of these ideas to make all of your guests feel welcome, included and seen.

Throw an Engagement Party or Welcome Dinner

The more chances your guests have to interact with you the better. So make the party last! The best way to get to spend the most time with your guests, is to do just that. Plan an engagement party or welcome dinner that includes the entire guest list. The laid back atmosphere will give you plenty of time to mingle and will help make sure you get time with everyone. This is also a great way for those long distance people to meet and make friends before the big day.

Dismiss Your Ceremony in Rows

If you're still missing the tradition of the receiving line, consider this compromise. Instead of leading your guests out of the ceremony space, dismiss them yourself! Do this by rows, so you don't get overwhelmed or take up too much time. You'll be able to give everyone a quick hug and thank them for coming, without anybody trying to jostle for position.

Host a Cocktail Hour Following the Ceremony

Many couples are opting for a first look and portraits prior to the ceremony so they have more time with guests. So if you host a cocktail hour before dinner, you'll have plenty of time to unwind and mingle. This is also a great option if you know some of your guests won't be staying late into the evening.

signature cocktail hour wedding planning

Visit Each Table During Dinner

Or, consider doing the rounds with your new partner during dinner. Your guests will be seated instead of mingling or dancing, so you should be able to get face time with each of them. Just make sure you don't favor one table over the other. Give yourself 5 minutes at each one and then move to the next. The downside of this is that you may not get to eat, so be sure you set aside time for yourself too.

Invite Everyone to the First Dance

Your first dance is always a special moment. Make it even more memorable by inviting all of your guests to form a circle around you on the dance floor. Then after a few sweet moments with your groom, start pulling random guests onto the floor with you! It's a fun, lighthearted way to start the party and get everyone involved.

first dance sparkler send off

Did you have a traditional wedding receiving line? Or did you do something totally unique? Share it with us on Instagram! We love to feature our gorgeous Marrygrams Brides.