Reception Etiquette

Now that you are married, it is time to greet your guests. If the wedding is small, the formal receiving line is a nice tradition. This is a perfect time to see each guest personally.

The reception line is usually near the door. Your parents are at the head of the line, next comes your in-laws, you and your husband, the bridesmaids, and groomsmen, but not the ushers. Guests are greeted briefly and introduced to the next person in the line.  Everyone will see each other and be able to mingle at the reception.
Once you have greeted all the guests, the reception line will disburse and the wedding party will have photographs taken.

If your reception includes a one-hour cocktail party, it will be followed by the wedding meal.

The guests will be waiting at the reception for the newlyweds to appear. As the couple arrives, there will be a big round of applause and the celebration will begin. The couple will be officially toasted with a beverage of your choice. The best man gives the opening toast for the bride and groom; all the guests then raise their glass and offer congratulations and best wishes. Then the meal may be served.

Music and dancing add to the festivities. The new husband and wife have the first dance, and then the couple will dance with each parent. The groom will dance with his mother, the bride with her father. Many other theme dances will be selected by popular demand. You should have previously spoken to the musician to make sure they will play the songs of your choice at the reception.

Prior to the end of the evening, the cake will have been cut by the newlyweds. The bride and groom serve each other a slice of cake, and then offer slices to the guests. Don’t forget pictures at the cake table.

At the close of the reception, toss the bouquet and garter are tossed to friends and relatives.

Common questions concerning the reception and etiquette are:
  • Do the fathers of both bride and groom partake in the receiving line? Yes, usually, but they are not obligated. They may wish to mingle with the guests on their own.
  • Who sits at the parents’ table and where do the spouses sit while the bridesmaids and groomsmen are at the head table? The parents of both bride and groom, the clergyman and his or her spouse and grandparents, according to the amount of space at the table. The fiancées and spouses of attendants are commonly placed at the bridal table where the men and women are alternated. If space does not allow, they may join friends and relatives.



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