Wedding reception

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A wedding reception is a party held after the completion of a marriage ceremony. It is held as hospitality for those who have attended the wedding, hence the name reception: the couple receives society, in the form of family and friends, for the first time as a married couple. Hosts provide their choice of food and drink, although a wedding cake is popular. Entertaining guests after a wedding ceremony is traditional in most societies, and can last anywhere from half an hour to many hours or even days.

Before receptions—a social event that is structured around a receiving line, and usually held in the afternoon—became popular, weddings were more typically celebrated with wedding breakfasts (for those whose religious traditions encouraged morning weddings) and balls (for those who were married in the evening). The popularity of receptions, rather than breakfasts, dinners, and balls, during the 20th century led to the name reception being applied to any social event after a wedding, whether it is brunch, tea, dinner, or a dance.


Western society

Receiving line

Technically, to be a reception, instead of some other form of entertainment, guests must be greeted with a receiving line. In a receiving line, the wedding party, including the bridal couple, their parents, and any honor attendants, stand in order of precedence and greet every guest in turn. Each guest greets the first (lowest precedence) person in the line and, if necessary, introduces himself. The first person then introduces the guest to the next person in the line, and turns to the next guest. As each guest properly speaks little more than his name (if necessary) and conventional greetings or congratulations to each person in turn, the line progresses steadily without unnecessary delays.

After formally receiving each guest in this fashion, the members of the bridal party can mingle with guests, eat, and enjoy more extended conversations.


The food served at a wedding reception is determined by the time of the wedding and local custom. Food may range from a single non-alcoholic drink with wedding cake to elaborate, multi-course dinners. The type of food is chosen entirely at the discretion of the hosts.

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