Depending on your culture and/or geographical location, the wedding money dance is either A) an accepted part of the wedding reception or B) a serious breech of wedding etiquette. At the root of the discourse? The assumption that guests will willingly participate in a public display of monetary gifting.
The money dance—also known as the dollar dance or the apron dance—usually goes something like this: In exchange for a few fun-filled seconds whirling around the dance floor with the bride or groom, guests can either pin cash on the newlywed couple's clothing, toss coins into the bride's shoes, or tuck bills into a dainty satin satchel that the bride wears around her wrist.
The money dance might be frowned upon by those unfamiliar with the custom; however, in many traditions, guests eagerly anticipate the moment, lining up for song after song until they get their intimate moment with the bride or groom. It's not uncommon for guests to wait until this time to present the newlyweds with their wedding gift, slipping them some cash to help build a nest egg for their future dreams. It's equally likely that a guest will pin a $1, $5, or $100 bill on the bride's dress or the groom's tux.
Deciding to have a money dance at your wedding is a matter of personal preference. If your guests are accustomed to the tradition or would be amenable to the idea, then go for it. If, on the other hand, you don't think the ritual would fly over well with your guests, then skip it and consider an alternate (and more discreet) way to ask for cash gifts. For example, you could create an online cash wedding registry, which allows guests to contribute funds toward your honeymoon, down payments for a home, and other non-tangible items.
Here's a quick look at how the wedding dollar dance is celebrated around the world:
In the U.S., the money dance is a regional tradition that is most prevalent throughout the Southern and Midwestern states. American brides from Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma to Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin all report that the money dance is an important part of the local reception rituals. Typically, the dance takes place toward the end of the formal festivities, after the cake-cutting and bouquet toss but before the majority of the guests leave. Other times, it's saved for the last dance, right before the newlyweds leave for their honeymoon.
The best man usually kicks off the festivities by pinning money on the bride's dress while the maid of honor dances with the groom. The best man and maid of honor are also responsible for handing out the pins and sending in new partners every few seconds—just long enough for the guests to offer their congratulations and the bride and groom to thank them for coming.
Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico, the guests remove the capias pins from a doll that is outfitted identical to the bride. After the guests claim their souvenir charms, the doll is placed at the head table as a symbol of good luck for the couple's future children.
Philippines: The wedding money dance, or Saya ng Pera, is almost a requirement at Filipino weddings. To kick off the boisterous peso-pinning party game, which can last for up to three hours in some small villages, a woven lei of money is usually placed around the couple's neck. Although most guests prefer to pin the money to the newlywed couple's garments, it's also common for them to place rolled-up bills or an envelope of cash in the bride's mouth to symbolize good fortune. During the bitor, the newlyweds are showered with money and guests toss bills and coins into a plate in exchange for wine that's served by the bride and groom. The change is gathered into a handkerchief then passed to the groom, who ceremoniously hands it over to his bride.
Samoa and Tonga: Samoans and Tongans view the taualuga as an essential ritual for most ceremonial events, so the blessing custom is almost always included at weddings. Guests lafo by throwing money into the air around the couple as they dance while the bride tries to balance an elaborate headpiece.
In some parts of Mexico, it's the job of the groomsmen to ridicule the groom by dressing him in an apron, placing a veil upon his head and tossing him into the air after the money dance. The bridesmaids and groomsmen are also responsible for presenting the newlyweds with 13 silver or gold arrhae coins.