The receiving line at a wedding – some people expect it, some do not even know what it is. In the past few years I have noticed that a good portion of the Montreal weddings are no longer doing a receiving line.

What is it?

The receiving line is where the newly wedded couple, and typically their parents as well, great each of the guests at the reception. This line is usually formed on the dance floor area or in front of the head table and is done right after the bride and groom have been introduced. Then each table is called up to greet the receiving line. Sometimes couples choose to have the receiving line outside the hall. The line is formed at the doors to the venue or ballroom, and as guests enter the room, they pass through the receiving line. Traditionally, the brides parents are first in line, then the bride and groom, followed by the grooms parents. Or both sets of parents first, then the bride and groom. Sometimes the bridal party will be included in the receiving line as well.

To Receive or Not to Receive

There seems to be a lot of debate on whether to do have a receiving line or not these days… Reasons why couples choose to have the receiving line usually include:

  • It’s a nice tradition
  • You are guaranteed to see each guest
  • Each guest is guaranteed to get some face time with you
  • It allows the guest to personally hand you their gift (usually an envelope)

Reasons why the bride and groom choose not to have a receiving line at their wedding can be:

  • It takes way too long!
  • It can be boring for the guests waiting their turn
  • They feel it’s an outdated tradition
  • The bride and groom would rather go table to table
Tips on Having a Quicker Receiving Line

I personally like the tradition of the receiving line, if you are not sure about doing this or not, after reading the cons here are a few tips that can help keep the receiving line process quick. Obviously, the more guests you have at your wedding, the longer this will take. The other main factor is the more people in the receiving line, the longer it will take. On average, for a 150 person guest list, a receiving line with both parents and the bride and groom should take about 30-45 minutes. For larger wedding receptions (more than 50 people let’s say), to save time you could not include the bridal party in the lineup. For a very small wedding, the receiving line won’t take much time anyway, so including the bridal party is a great idea. The other main factor in how long the receiving line takes is how chatty you’ll be  as the guests greet you. Try to keep it short and sweet to keep the line moving.  You can always go and chat more to them during the meal.

 Going Table to Table Instead

“We’re not doing a receiving line, we’ll see everyone at their tables!” I would like to bring to mind that this is a valid alternative, however, sometimes it can be unrealistic. The bride and groom imagine that since they won’t do the receiving line, they will make sure to visit each table and see all the guests that way. This surely can work in small weddings, but as the guest count starts to rise this can get more and more difficult. What a lot of newly weds forget is that during the meal there can be a lot of other important activities happening. Most of the Montreal weddings we perform at involve entertainment during the meal! It could be some dancing during the courses, some games and interaction, and of course speeches and some of the special dances too. Trying to visit all the tables during the meal before the real dancing begins, depending on how you’ve planned your reception, can start to get very difficult. And don’t forget you want to enjoy your wedding reception, right?! So sometimes having the receiving line even though it does have some drawbacks, can sometimes make a lot of sense and free up time during the meal to have fun!

Over to you! What do you think about the wedding receiving line? In Montreal, have you noticed a lot of weddings choosing to forgo the receiving line? Do you have some other alternative of tips for brides and grooms trying to decide?