Hostesses With The Mostest > Entertaining and Hospitality

Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...

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I love receiving lines.  As a big ol' introvert, I love the opportunity to greet my host (or be greeted as the host) in an efficient, slightly formalized way without having to muster a lot of innovative small talk.  "You look so pretty!" has gotten me through oh so many weddings.

I recognize they're kind of on their way out, though.  I can't even find really good advice about how to organize one in a way that recognizes blended families.  So I have two questions: 1) would it be totally weird and 1954 to have one at an upcoming party?  And 2) who should stand in one? 

I'm having an engagement party to introduce my fiancÚ and his family to my extremely large extended family and hometown friends.  My parents and I are cohosting the party.  My fiancÚ's parents are divorced.  His dad has a long-time partner.  They're not married, because their state doesn't recognize same-sex marriages.   His mom has a boyfriend, a relationship's that's a little over a year old.  Given the purpose of the party, it makes total sense that he and some combination of his parents be in the line, right?

Help, please!  I've been moving index cards with names on them around on my dining table all morning, and I'm about to croak. 

I guess I always prefer to be inclusive rather than exclusive. You don't mention any hostility between the divorced couple, so why not include all parents and current partners?

I think the idea of a receiving line is a nice one, but really depends on how steady the in-flow of guests is for the party. I mean, if there's a lul, what are the line participants supposed to do, just stand there ignoring the guests who have already arrived? If they are scattered, are they supposed to double-time it back to the door every time someone new arrives? Who will be hosting the guests after they go through the line and making sure they get settled & introduced to others?

The devil's in the details for your plan. It works for weddings because everyone is there to go through the line all at once, but I just don't see how it would work out for a party...

*IF* they get along well, there's no reason not to have current partners in the receiving line. It shouldn't offend anyone.

If they don't, and the line cannot be arranged to eliminate hostilities, then go with blood relatives only.

If just blood relatives go in the line, should we split them up.  They're sort of clenched teeth amicable.

I second arila's logistical concerns--just picturing the engagement-type parties I've been to, there's been no point in the event when all of the guests trail past the same point in a steady line, such that one could set up a receiving line. If there was such a point, it would probably be when everyone heads to the food table to serve themselves, and they naturally form a line. That seems like an odd time and place for a receiving line to be set up, but I guess there's no reason why not. Maybe the "receiving line people" could actually be the ones moving, walking down the line of people waiting to get food and shaking people's hands, being introduced, etc..

If they are "clenched teeth amicable," then I think they can stand/walk near each other well enough. They don't have to interact with each other if the line of guests is steady--they'll be focused on the person they're being introduced to. I think awkwardness would come in if there were frequent lulls in the line of guests, such that it would be natural to talk to the other people in the receiving line.

Perhaps rather than a line, you and each of your parents could take one "group" of future in-laws--your dad with your DF, your mom with DF's mom and boyfriend, you with DF's dad and partner maybe--and be formally responsible for introducing them to all the other guests by walking them around the room or catching guests near the door. Since the guests are your friends and family, you could prepare in advance something of interest to say about each one: "DFDad, Partner, this is my friend Sue. We were roommates in college and she's a big Yankees fan" (as is DFDad). They would exchange a couple of sentences, then you could move them on to the next guest. Then when you finally turn your future in-laws loose, they could mingle with the guests on their own, without having to start from a base of zero. Think of it more like when the HC walk around to each table of guests at their reception, instead of a receiving line.


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