In our conversations with brides, we are frequently asked this question. Many brides seem to feel that receiving lines are out of date and awkward.
In our more casual society, many people see receiving lines as being "too formal" and a throwback to days when "rules" governed how people behaved. They think that they will informally greet every one of their guests at some time during the reception. And if it is a small wedding/reception - they just might achieve that by "making the rounds".
However, we urge our brides to rethink their view of receiving lines. Until someone comes up with a substitute that will allow all guests to be greeted on arrival and departure, a receiving line should be included.
Your reception is a huge party given by your family to celebrate this significant milestone in your life. You have invited guests to help you celebrate. The least you can do is to greet them as they arrive. One alternative is to hold a receiving line at the end of the ceremony and greet your guests and thank them for coming at that point. Included in the receiving line should be both sets of parents (or at the very least - both mothers) and the bride and groom. Other members of the wedding party can be optional.
No matter where the receiving line is held - after the ceremony or at the beginning of the reception, it is a nice touch to acknowledge your guests by toasting them. The bride and the groom should both offer a toast to their guests who have come together to help them celebrate this very important day. You may offer the toast as a couple or each of you may offer a few words. You may give this toast during the meal (usually best) or just before you cut the cake.