Wedding Dances: Too Many Choices!

Your first dance, your father/daughter dance, a mother/son dance.  Which ones should we do?  In what order do we do them?

“What is the proper tradition?” is a question I often hear about all of this. Lucky for you, the answer is that none of this is really traditional at all. The original tradition (I know this because I read Miss Manners) is simply for the couple to open the dance floor because it’s rude to start dancing before they do.


A dance performance is a relatively new concept, so you really can put it together any way you like. If your parents love the idea of a father/daughter/mother/son dance, then by all means, do it. If they are mortified by the idea, either spare them or put their dance at the end, have them dance for a few merciful seconds, then have the DJ invite the crowd to join them.


The one thing I do suggest is unless you and your parents are dancers or are taking lessons, don’t subject your audience (and yourselves) to an interminable dance after dance after dance of rocking slowly back and forth until the song ends. The bridal couple can always make a dance shorter by telling the DJ (or band) to fade out the music when they see you dip. A dramatic dip, by the way, is a must for ending any first dance. If your materiel is small, the dip is what they remember and it gives the impression of a fabulous dance.


You have options for how you organize these dances too. If your parents are dancers, let them show off with as long a dance as they want and let them have the floor to themselves in each dance. If the opposite is true, you can have the father/daughter and mother/son at the same time. If you’ve picked special music, of course, then this option won’t work. The point is, it’s up to you. There is no tradition. Keep in mind that this is a day of joy and celebration. You are honoring your parents in your dances with them, so consider their feelings first.


It’s your wedding and your day. As long as you treat everyone involved with love and respect, remember why you’re there, and keep a spirit of fun in your hearts, you can’t go wrong!

By LaurieAnn Lepoff

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2 replies
  1. Robbie Schlosser
    Robbie Schlosser says:

    Nice little article, Laurieann. Especially the tip about the dip. Oooops, did I say that?

    The matter of “traditions” seems pretty loose and murky, here in groovy California. You see it in the wedding dance. I see it in the wedding music.

    “Whatever feels right” seems to be a popular notion these days, and I wonder if it’s really the best answer. You seem to think so, and I agree. Within reason.

    • laurieann
      laurieann says:

      Thanks for the comment, Robbie. I agree that “within reason” is an important caveat, which is why I encouraged them to remember what the day is all about and to treat their parents with respect. Still, I’ve seen evidence of some disastrous first dances that seemed to be designed that way. I do tell my students to think about why they’re doing the dance in the first place and to question their first impulse if it’s to copy something outrageous that they saw on youtube, or to shock their audience. They do want their dance to express their personalities, but yes, within reason!


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