Thursday, December 3, 2009

Receiving Line Etiquette

The receiving line is a lovely tradition. It gives the couple, their parents and wedding party the opportunity to great all guests. In a large wedding, this may be the only opportunity for guests to offer their congratulations to the newlyweds. The receiving line traditionally takes place at the reception, but can also take place at in the Church vestibule or on the stairs right outside - time permitting. A church is the ideal location to hold your receiving line, if all guests are not invited to the reception. Participants of the receiving line are as follows:

Who you include in your receiving line is up to you. I often suggest that you eliminate wedding party members (Bridesmaids and Maid/Matron of Honor) to save time – which may be a limiting factor. It’s totally acceptable not to include Fathers, and instead they can circulate amongst the crowed. If Mothers are remarried, Stepfathers can be included if you wish.

Just as some line tips.

1. As stated above, only include the essential members - so that your guests do not face a long and tedious wait.

2. Serve refreshments to your guests while they wait.

3. Conversation should be brief but pleasant.

4. The Bride (and Bridesmaids if included) should keep the bouquet in their left hands, or place it to the side while in the line.

5. Any accessories worn during the ceremony should be worn in the receiving line (hats, gloves, etc).

6. The Bride can kiss those guests which she knows well; otherwise a handshake is appropriate.

Some couples elect to eliminate the receiving line, instead, circulating with their guests throughout the reception. If you choose to eliminate the receiving line, you have the responsibility of greeting each and every guest at the reception.

As an alternative to the receiving line at the Church, the Bride and Groom can re-enter after the processional to greet guests as they exit the church - which eliminates awkwardness if the parents are divorced or do not wish to participate in a formal receiving line.

Regardless of your plans, it’s imperative that you make sure to introduce your new husband in the proper manner. There is a simple rule of thumb: When making an introduction, present the lower “ranking” person to the higher “ranking” person. Here is how to determine status:

  1. An older person outranks a younger person
  2. Someone senior or more important at work outranks someone less senior/less important at work
  3. An out of town guest outranks a local guest of equal status
  4. A person serving religious ministry outranks a lay person

So, when you are introducing your new hubby to your aunt (who is 20 years older), you would say “Auntie Charlie, may I present my husband, Bryant Nelson. Bryant, this is my Aunt, Miss Charlene Powell.

This indicates that your new husband would call your Aunt “Miss Powell”, until it is indicated that he can call her by a more informal name. It’s a good rule of thumb to use the formal name of a senior person.

Happy planning!

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