Your Guide to Wedding Reception Dances

a couple on their wedding day dancing

Studio Firma/Stocksy

Like any great party, a wedding reception centers around delicious food, good company, and, of course, dancing. But before the guests can cut a rug, there are a few ceremonial dances that need to take place—that is, if the newlyweds are following tradition with regards to their reception's timeline. In addition to the first dance, the parents and wedding party also get a special moment on the dance floor with the bride and groom. We compiled a quick rundown of traditional wedding reception dances and the order they should follow to help you prep for your big day.

Traditional Order of Wedding Dances

  • Newlyweds
  • Parents
  • Wedding party
  • Guests

If you want to keep your wedding reception as close to tradition as possible, it's typical that the newlyweds share their first dance first. This is followed by a dance with the parents, another round where the wedding party joins in, and then all guests are free to hit the dance floor. During these dances, all eyes—and ears—will be on you and your wedding party. That said, give some thought to the songs that will provide the soundtrack to these special moments. Don't leave things to chance by allowing the DJ to choose on your behalf.

First Dance

Following the introduction of the wedding party and the newlyweds, the just-married couple shares their first dance. Whether it's a simple, swaying slow dance or a choreographed routine, the dance remains one of the most anticipated moments of the reception.

Parent Dances

Traditionally, the bride dances with her father immediately after the first dance, although some couples choose to wait and hold their dances between meal courses. With the ever-changing face of families, a bride might also invite a grandfather, step-father, uncle, or father-in-law to join her. The groom can dance with his mother at the same time, or immediately after the father-daughter dance. Parents and grandparents on both sides of the family should be invited to the dance floor next. This is also the perfect time for the groom to share a few moments with his new mother-in-law.

Wedding Party Dances

Typically the next round of dances is reserved for the wedding party, including the ushers, flower girl, and ring bearer. The groomsmen should pair up with the bridesmaids, while the best man dances with the bride and the maid of honor dances with the groom. Finally, the DJ invites the rest of the guests to join the festivities.

Anniversary Dance

A fun way to honor the longest-married guests at your wedding, this dance invites all married couples to the dance floor. As the songs progress, the DJ asks the couples who've been married the least amount of time to leave the dance floor until, after time, one couple is left standing.

Money Dance

Also known as the dollar dance or the apron dance, the money dance is typically reserved for the end of the reception. In exchange for a few dollars, every guest gets the opportunity to privately congratulate the happy couple, while also contributing to the newlyweds' future.

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