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Wedding Dance Etiquette

Among the list of most wedding musts, between the vows and the cake-cutting, come all the dances. First dance, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, the chicken dance, the money dance...you name it, someone considers it traditional. What's more, today's nebulous family structures can cause confusion: what if you have a dad and a much-loved stepdad? Who dances with the bride first?

Etiquette in modern weddings has become a bit of a conundrum. Take your basic guide from these tips and alter your wedding day to suit your situation.

Traditional First Dance

Your first dance should be your official first dance together as a married couple. Traditionally, couples dance to "their song" or a song that appeals to them. As you are the center of attention for the day, you'll get the dance floor all to yourself. It's a wonderful chance to spend a moment together - and a wonderful photo opportunity.

If you or your partner gets stage fright, however, feel free to cut down your time in the spotlight. Take a turn, then dance with intimate family members and invite others onto the floor.

The Father-Daughter Dance

After the first dance, the bride dances with her father and the groom dances with his mother. It sounds easy, but often parents are deceased, divorced, remarried, unable to dance, or simply unable to attend. This can make it difficult to plan this dance.

In the case of too many partners to choose from, should the groom dance with his stepmother or his grandmother who raised him? In this case, strive for diplomacy. Split the song between partners or choose a dance that allows multiple partners if necessary.

If a close family member is absent, you may also choose honor someone close to you, such as a brother or close personal friend. Alternatively, you may find it easier to forego the formal "parent dances" altogether.

It's your choice whom and in what order to honor your family members. Keep in mind, though, that weddings are fraught with emotion, and this is not a day to play favorites or to pay off grudges. Also keep your guests in mind. Watching too many dances can get boring, especially if it's holding up dinner, cake, or their own dance grooves.

Get Everyone on the Floor

Your friends and family may be the type to jump on the floor as soon as the DJ warms up the speakers. Others might require some coaxing.

Generally, it's best to look at your guest list and choose tunes that will appeal to most of your guests. Older guests - your grandparents, perhaps - are more likely to leave early, so plan an early playlist that allows them to enjoy themselves as opposed to jumping straight into the latest club beats. As the party progresses, the DJ can shift to livelier music for the younger set. At the same time, DJs often have specific songs geared to get everyone on the dance floor, like the chicken dance, the Hokey-Pokey, and others. These tunes are usually fun for young and old alike.

If you despise those kinds of songs, though, you have other options. Ask friends and family to dance with you. No one should refuse the couple of the day! Or, announce more subtle group dances, such as the longest-marriage dance: all the couples dance and are slowly whittled away until the couple married the longest is left.

Some cultures encourage a "dollar dance," effectively charging each guest a dollar to dance with the couple. Note that while this is an accepted gifting practice for some, others may find it offensive.

Let Your Hair Down

Dancing at a wedding should be fun. Don't get so caught up over the traditions and etiquette that you forget to get your groove on. Dance to honor your close friends and family members, dance to have a moment with the important people on the day, and dance to celebrate one of the most memorable days of your life.

Wedding Planning Tips and Ideas

Wedding Anniversary Dance

Anniversary Dance starts with all married couples at the wedding on the dance floor. The MC then asks everyone who has been married less than 12 hours to sit down (obviously the bride & groom). Then you move on to 1 year, 5 years, 10 years etc.. until only the longest married couple remains.

More Wedding dance etiquette Advice

Hiring Wedding DJ
Music For All Generations
How To Hire Wedding Musicians
Selecting Wedding Music Band
All Wedding Music/Dance Ideas

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