These Receiving Line Alternatives Guarantee Face Time With Every Wedding Guest

Hug everyone invited to your wedding, thanks to one of these receiving line variations.
The Knot
Updated Oct 18, 2018

Receiving line, or no receiving line? The pros of including a meet-and-greet moment like a traditional receiving line are undeniable: You get to look each and every wedding guest in the eye, give them a huge hug and thank them for coming. But the classic setup of lining up outside the ceremony exit or reception entrance isn't for everybody. It might not work physically at your specific venue or vibe with the atmosphere you've created for your celebration. So how do you ensure some face time with guests who've come from near and far? Depending on the size of your guest list, you're welcome to greet people in any number of ways. See if any of these iterations of the receiving line sound good to you.

Do a First Look, Then Enjoy Cocktail Hour

If you have a guest list of 100 or smaller, try having a first look and formal portrait session before your ceremony—then use cocktail hour to say hello to your guests. Fresh from your ceremony and giddy with happiness, you'll be so excited to see everyone in person.

Dismiss Guests From the Ceremony

This is probably the most similar to a receiving line, but with a twist. Instead of having ushers dismiss guests from their ceremony seats, you two can do it yourselves, one row at a time. This will work best with a smaller head count, and don't let it take more than 15 to 20 minutes so your guests don't become antsy.

Make the Rounds at the Reception, Table by Table

If you've never been good at staying in your seat anyway, hop from table to table at your reception, taking advantage of the fact that all your guests will be in their designated seats (aka you're less likely to miss someone). The only pitfall of this is you'll miss the opportunity to enjoy a more leisurely first meal with your new spouse. But if you're not worried about it, this option works great. Last tip: Make sure you have a chance to eat something, even if you only get to sit down for 10 minutes.

Host a Welcome Gathering

Finally, we always love the idea of hosting a welcome party of some kind before your wedding day. Host a low-key cocktail party for guests who are already in town, or tell guests to meet you for casual drinks at a local bar where you'll join in after the rehearsal dinner. This is the perfect way to greet everyone and catch up with faraway friends you'd potentially miss at the reception. And anyone you didn't see the night before will be at your reception.

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