A few general quidelines to some of the basics. Just remember each wedding is different, but the following information is a good place to get started.
Receiving lines serve many different purposes. First of all they allow each guest the opportunity to see the bride and groom and offer their best wishes and congratulations. Secondly it is an opportunity for introductions.
Traditionally receiving lines are comprised of the parents of the bride and groom, the bride and groom, the maid of honour and the bridesmaids.
As each guest passes through the line they should be introduced to those in the receiving line with whom they are not acquainted by the person standing adjacent to them.
Flower girls, ring bearers, and ushers are not part of the formal receiving line, but can mingle with the guests.
In the case of divorced parents organize the receiving line such that divorced parents do not have to stand next to each other.
Receiving Line Order
Mother of the Bride
Father of the Bride (optional)
Mother of the Groom
Father of the Groom (optional)
Maid of Honour
Seating arrangements at the church may very depending on the religion and clergy. If you have any questions or concerns about seating arrangements you should address your clergy.
Typically the bride’s family and friends sit on the left hand side and the groom’s on the right. Parents are seated in the first pew, followed by other important guests. Often these pews are differentiated from the rest with special pew markers/bows. Sometimes general guests are seated evenly on both sides, if there is a strong imbalance.
Seating at the Church
Bride’s Grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, godparents, etc.
Other family & friends of the bride
Groom’s Grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, godparents, etc.
Other family & friends of the groom
If your church has two aisles the bride’s family and friends are usually seated on both sides of the left aisle and the grooms on the right. Parents and special guests usually sit next to the appropriate aisle, but in the center section.If the parents of the bride or groom are divorced they are seated in separate pews. For example the mother in the first and father in the second. Alternatively there may be a few rows of family member seated in-between if extra “space” is required. (Each situation is unique and may require some creativity and compromise to find the “right” solution for you.)
Seating at the Head Table
Maid of Honour
Each set of parents are usually seated at their own table with family, (close friends) and clergy.
There are many acceptable variations on the order of toasts and their presentation, however they usually follow this traditional guideline.
Order of Toasts
Toast to the Bride
Toast to the Bride and Groom
The Groom’s Response followed by the toast to the bridesmaids.
The Best Man’s Response on behalf of the bridesmaids.
Toast by the Father of the Bride welcoming the groom to the family and inviting guests to enjoy their evening.