Receiving line etiquette

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Maid of Honor Speech

What's a Maid of Honor Supposed to do in a Receiving Line?

Maid of honor in the receiving line

What is the purpose of the receiving line, and what is the maid of honor supposed to do with a bunch of people she doesn't know?

Typically the wedding receiving line takes place just after the conclusion of the ceremony. The newly married couple processes back down the aisle followed by the maid of honor and best man, bridesmaids, ushers and groomsmen, parents, and usually the wedding officiant. Once this large group exits the ceremony area (which could be outside the church or merely one hundred feet away from the outdoor alter), they form a receiving line.

The purpose of the receiving line is for the bride and groom to guarantee they have the opportunity to greet every single guest and thank them for their attendance (and, without actually mentioning them, the anticipated gifts). Whether or not the maid of honor and rest of the bridal party are involved is up to the bride and groom. At my wedding, only myself (the bride) and the groom "received" the wedding guests. At many of the weddings I have attended, the entire bridal party, both sets of parents, all the ushers, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker are all part of the receiving line.

If you're the maid of honor and find yourself invited to be part of the wedding receiving line, here's an idea of what to do with the newlyweds long lost relatives and friends. You can't go wrong with thanking any and everyone for their attendance at the wedding. Although you're not the one who invited them or even knows who they are, thanking them rarely goes wrong.

As maid of honor, you will often be kissed on the cheek or hugged as a representative of the bride. Expect this, accept it, but don't let anyone get so carried away that you're totally uncomfortable!

Hopefully the bride will put the maid of honor and bridesmaids together. This way you can greet guests in pairs, thus making the whole interaction a bit less awkward. And, at the end of the wedding day, it's really the bride and groom the guests want to talk to. As long as you're polite and smile, the receiving line will be a breeze.