Lisa Mirza Grotts
Etiquette Expert, Author
Posted: October 17, 2010 10:07 PM

A receiving line is the perfect opportunity for guests and hosts to meet one another at a large event. They are only essential for groups of fifty or more, when it’s otherwise impossible for the hosts to greet everyone individually. They range from the most formal (for a high-ranking official such as a head of state) to the less formal and most common (honoring a visiting official or in celebration of an event). The event is more formal, lasts for a prescribed time, and always has a receiving line.
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receiving line
A line of people formed to greet arriving guests individually, as at a formal gathering.


How to Receive Guests in the Receiving Line @ weddings
Take the time to thank each guest for sharing this momentous occasion with you. At a particularly large wedding, this may be the only chance you’ll have.
1 Set up the line outside the ceremony site doors or near the reception area.
2 Begin greeting guests after the ceremony but before the reception.
3 Place the bride’s parents at the head of the line (father on the left), followed by the groom’s parents (again, father on the left). Next in line is the bride, with the groom on her left, followed by the honor attendant and bridesmaids, if you choose to include them.
4 Have each person in line introduce the next person in the receiving line before greeting the next guest. This is also an opportunity for the bride to introduce her husband to friends and for his friends to meet her.
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Attending Official Receptions: The Art of the Receiving Line
Packed with Protocol: When the US Entertains at Home and Abroad
The information contained herein is quoted from Social Usage and Protocol Handbook: A Guide for Personnel of the U.S. Navy (OPNAVINST 1710.7 dated 17 JUL 1979). Here is the suggestions that form the basis of official US Protocol.

President Ford Host White House Event for Queen Elizabeth
Receptions are the most popular form of official entertainment for they allow wide variance in the number of guests invited and in the formality of the occasion. They range from the very formal, which might be a reception after 8:00 p.m. hosted by an ambassador in honor of his visiting chief of state, to the less formal, perhaps that hosted by a military attache from 8 to 10 o’clock in the evening in celebration of Armed Forces Day. The most common and least formal affair is held from approximately 6 to 8 o’clock, frequently in honor of a visiting official or in celebration of some event.

Characteristically, receptions differ from the simple cocktail party in that they are intended to honor individuals or a specific occasion, the atmosphere is somewhat more formal, their duration is prescribed, and there is always a receiving line.

The thoughtful host/hostess who plans a reception in honor of a high-ranking official will consult with the latter regarding a mutually agreeable date and time before ordering invitations. As indicated in Invitations, the person or the occasion being feted may be indicated on the invitation in one of several ways.

Guests should arrive before the receiving line disbands, normally within the first 35 minutes of the reception. The order of persons in the receiving line may vary with the type of occasion and desires of the hosting official.
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A receiving line:

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