You can decide to have a receiving line at the ceremony site, at the reception or not at all. It is your decision to make. A receiving line is an effective way for you and your parents to accept the good wishes of friends who wish to express them.

The receiving line precedes the reception. If you are not going directly to the reception, set up the line at the ceremony site. If the reception follows the ceremony shortly, set it up there.

The wedding hosts (i.e. the bride’s parents) head the line. The bride’s mother greets guests first, followed by the bride’s father, the groom’s mother, the groom’s father, the bride, the groom, the maid of honor, and the bridesmaids. You may decide not to include fathers and/or attendants in the line.

If the reception is hosted by persons other than the brides parents, those hosts, whoever they are, should head the line.


During the first hour of the reception cocktails and hors d’oeuvres may be served to the guests. You may decide to have musicians (i.e. a string ensemble) play while the guests mingle.


After about one hour dinner is announced and guests are asked to take their seats. Seating may be assigned or open for guests with reserved seating for the bridal party and families.

You may choose to have the bridal couple or the entire bridal party introduced. A blessing or a welcome toast may be given.

Dinner music may be played while the guests line up for the buffet or sit for table service. The wedding party is served first.


As dinner finishes, champagne is passed and the best man toasts the bride and groom.


Attendants and guests gather around the wedding cake. The bridal couple cuts a slice of the cake and feeds each other a piece.


The bride and groom dance the first dance together, while the catering staff cuts the cake and serves the guests.


The bride and her father share the second dance.


You may wish to have a bridal party and/or a special family dance.


After the special dances are finished, all the guests will be asked to join in dancing.


Later in the evening the single women gather for the bride to toss her bouquet to them. The bride’s garter may also be tossed by the groom to a group of bachelors.


The bridal couple may choose to change and make a formal departure before the party is over. As they run to their car they may be showered with rose petals or bubbles.