It all hinges around the word reception
It originated with the concept of receiving society. That meant you and your other significant half were obliged to receive your guests or the society you lived in on the day of your wedding. Introducing Mr and Mrs so to speak. Of course it also means Mr and Mr and Mrs and Mrs nowadays.
The receiving line
The wedding reception would involve the receiving line. That is everybody queues up to be received by the new couple. In the olden days that involved a person, the lowest one in the pecking order, would introduce the folk as they arrived at the front of the line. If he didn’t know the person then they would have to introduce themselves. Needless to say it would have been unlikely for a woman to have this job.
The introducer so to speak would then introduce the person to the next in line and then to the new couple. On the whole, traditionally, the party paying for the event would be in the receiving party. In the olden days this would have been the bride’s parents or guardian. Nowadays of course couples very often pay for their own wedding and would not necessarily have their parents in the receiving party.
It is also possible to have both sets of parents in the receiving party. Nowadays there is no longer a hard and fast rule. Mostly because people have no idea why this tradition continues. As with many traditions they have been passed on to the next generation without a major explanation going along for the ride.
The grand entrance
In some parts of the United States. mostly on the West Coast, the bridal party makes a grand entrance while everybody is already seated. A Master of Ceremony or DJ would have the task of announcing the new Mr and Mrs to the waiting party.
Receptions in different cultures
In Asian countries the reception might be dictated by different traditions. The Indian custom will often involve several receptions even before the couple is married. These are reserved for family and the main reception for the general public.
In Vietnam for instance most of the actual traditions are performed amongst immediate family. Work colleagues, not so close friends and general members of the public are only invited to a public reception which tends to be a very strange mix of Western traditions including the bride wearing a white dress, champagne glass towers with dry ice effects and the exchanging of rings on a stage.
One common theme
Amongst all of the traditions and cultures there is one common theme and that is the sharing of food. Whether this is in the form of cakes and a glass of champagne or a full sit down meal, the food and drink sharing is a well entrenched tradition.
In the developing world the feast part tends to be open to many visitors often making the numbers an unknown. In the developed world guest numbers are curtailed mostly. It’s just too expensive to invite the entire village. Except of course in the Meditaeranean Spain for instance where one never knows how many extra aunties and third degree cousins might pitch up.
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