Author Topic: Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...  (Read 2317 times)

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lellah

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Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...
« on: September 18, 2013, 12:39:54 PM »
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. 

Arila

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Re: Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2013, 02:08:24 PM »
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...

Twik

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Re: Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2013, 02:13:43 PM »
*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.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

lellah

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Re: Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2013, 02:16:45 PM »
If just blood relatives go in the line, should we split them up.  They're sort of clenched teeth amicable.

Lynn2000

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Re: Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2013, 03:14:24 PM »
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.
~Lynn2000

lowspark

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Re: Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2013, 03:15:10 PM »
I think arila pointed out the problem with a receiving line at a party where all the guests are arriving at different times. Regardless of whether you have the recieving line or not, at this kind of party, being the guests of honor, you will naturally spend a good deal of the party introducing people to each other. So I don't think you need to have the line in order to make that your main focus.

Of couse, at some point, you're going to have to mingle, again, regardless of whether you have the line or not.

If you have the line with just blood relatives, how will you present that to the mates of the parents? What are they supposed to be doing for the length of time that their spouse is receiving? And how will they answer the inevitable "why weren't you included in the receiving line?" And every time the blood relative greets someone in line, they won't have the opportunity to introduce them to their SO unless they want to point across the room and say, "my partner is over there in the dark blue suit" or some such.

And lastly, as a guest, I really don't like receiving lines. I don't like waiting in line for anything. It's just so much more natural (to me) and comfortable to just address the hosts and meet their family as a part of the mingling. That way, if they're busy talking to someone else, I can get a drink or a tidbit of food or talk to someone else while I'm waiting for them to be available instead of standing in line.

But regardless of all I've said, it's your party so if you want to do a receiving line, you should. Just be aware of some of the issues with them.

TurtleDove

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Re: Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2013, 03:23:03 PM »
This isn't exactly the same, but for an engagement party (where there isn't an event that people are exiting from or entering where a receiving line makes logistical sense) you could try nametags that each guest fills out with their name and relationship to whomever.  My sister did this for her 40th birthday party and for her husband's 40th birthday party and it really got people talking, especially because some of the people were really creative.  For example, some people just wrote, "My name is Sue - I am Stacy's Aunt."  Others wrote, "My name is Tom - I'm Stacy's Olympic Diving Coach." 

I guess I am not sure if you want just the family to be introduced or if you want people to more mix and mingle and get comfortable with each other?

Hmmmmm

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Re: Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2013, 03:23:21 PM »
I would line them up like this

Your mom
Your dad
You
FiancÚ dad's
FiancÚ's dad's partner
FiancÚ
Fiance's mom
fiancÚs mom's partner

I put the mom on the end only to keep from grouping all the women to the front of the line.

Another option is to have the moms stand in the line with you and you fiancÚ only. I know it is ok for the dads to circulate amongst guests and not participate in the line.

But I think the reason receiving lines have fallen out of favor is the logistics others have outlined. Either guests all arrive at the same time and end up standing in a long line waiting or they trickle in and those in line spends lots of time visiting amongst themselves.

I think instead I'd have you, your mom, and your fiancÚ stay close to the entrance during the first half hour to make sure at least one of you greet the arrivals and then circulate later.


amylouky

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Re: Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2013, 03:48:04 PM »
To be honest, I would find it strange to see a receiving line at an engagement party. Maybe it's regional, but I've only ever seen receiving lines at weddings (and only at the more formal ones, at that). I find them awkward, and if the point of this party is for people to get to know your future in-laws, I don't think that a hurried exchange is going to accomplish that anyway.

Maybe you could find another "get to know each other" activity? Toasts, maybe, where the key players introduce themselves and state their relationship to you and your SO?

Twik

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Re: Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2013, 04:22:18 PM »
Oops, I missed that this was for an engagement party, not a wedding.

In this case, I'd skip the whole idea of a receiving line, as comfortable as you may find them. Unless you're having several hundred people for the party, you will likely still have to mingle and chat with them all night.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

Hmmmmm

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Re: Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2013, 04:28:10 PM »
lellah, another reason you might want to skip it is this part of your post.
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.

If your an introvert and have already done the "Hi, thanks so much for coming, your dress is lovely, let me introduce you to Jack." during the receiving line, what are you going to chat about to the guests during the rest of the evening as you and your fiance are mingling?

EllenS

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Re: Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2013, 04:40:51 PM »
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.

I like this system, and it will likely be more logisically feasible.  When my introvertiness is playing up, it really helps me to have a specific job to do. That way, you don't actually have to make the small talk, just the introductions, and it "burns up" lots of the party for you, while being quite correct in terms of hospitality.

lowspark

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Re: Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2013, 04:47:08 PM »
I'm having an engagement party to introduce my fiancÚ and his family to my extremely large extended family and hometown friends

It makes sense to me that if you're at a wedding where you hardly know anyone, or in a situation where you want to greet the bride & groom & family/wedding party but feel awkward about it, a recieving line can be your saving grace.

But this is your party with your family and friends. It seems to me that the people who are going to be in a bit of an uncomfortable "I don't know anyone" spot are your fiancÚ and his parents and their respective partners. Everyone else there, including you, will have a fairly large base of people with whom they are already acquainted.

So, if you do the receiving line with just the blood relatives, aren't you putting them and their partners in an even more uncomfortable situation?

I guess I'm sort of unclear about whom you are trying to accommodate with the receiving line.

sweetonsno

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Re: Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2013, 12:42:49 AM »
For an engagement party, a receiving line seems unduly rigid. I think it would seem quite awkward to me (either as a guest or a member of the receiving line), as for a party, there isn't really any logical time or place for it to happen. (With a wedding or funeral, the family members usually stand at the exit of the place and shake hands as everyone leaves.)

I think a meet-and-mingle is much better. I like Lynn's idea of a guided introduction "tour" of the other guests.

Bluenomi

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Re: Receiving Lines? How and whether to have one...
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2013, 01:19:06 AM »
I agree a mingle kind of meet is better for an engagment party. Between courses wander around all the tables and do introductions.

We actually had a departing line at our wedding. After the ceremony we exited the venue then greeted everyone as they exited the venue. Meant we didn't have to try and set it up at the reception.