When you are hosting 60 or more people, a receiving line is the most gracious (and fair) way to ensure that guests of honor and invited guests have the chance to properly meet and greet one another. It lends an air of significance to your event and helps prevent the honoree from feeling monopolized, overwhelmed, or isolated.
Receiving lines are also excellent tools for facilitating introductions when the university president is new or is hosting a function for guests he or she may not know.
Here are some guidelines for properly managing a receiving line at an official event:
- Select an appropriate location. The line should form near the event entrance but should not obstruct the doorway or block access to food, the bar, or otherwise create a traffic jam.
- Keep it short. For a business function, keep the number of people who compose the line to a minimum. They should include the guest or guests of honor and the hosts. Regardless of whether the guest of honor or the university officials are male or female, spouses do not need to be included. The exception is when the honored guest is from out of town or from another country. In this case, the spouse can be included, and if so, protocol dictates the spouse of the host must also stand in line. Beyond this, the number of people who compose the line is up to you. Consider adding a few key people who are associated with the occasion such as a dean or vice president. But remember that increasing the number adds to the likelihood that the line will bog down.
If there are multiple hosts and the event is large, it is acceptable to rotate those who stand in the receiving line.