Wedding Reception Dance Tips

Your wedding reception dance will be picture-perfect if you follow these easy steps

child couple line art
You're probably more familiar with the Macarena and the Slide than with most wedding dances. And you're not alone. Today, few young couples cut a rug to the Lindy or the Mambo, and even fewer can waltz without mishap.

But, don't worry -- traditional wedding reception dances are easier to master than you might think. Here are a few tips to keep your two left feet in line:

Take a Class
If you're uncertain where to start, find a class designed specifically for wedding dances. A typical wedding reception dance class may include:
  • Waltz
  • Tango
  • Fox Trot
  • Slow Dance (traditional)
  • Lindy
  • Swing
Dance classes can be economical if you do your homework. Thumb through the Yellow Pages or look online for classes in your area, or ask a couple who has recently been married. Chances are they took a class as well.

Learn from Experience
Another option is to ask Dad or Aunt Ida for a few hours of instruction. They'll be flattered--and you'll have a pleasant experience that's easy on your wallet as well. Be sure to only ask a family member who is easy to get along with; those first shaky steps may be frustrating, and you'll want a gentle and knowledgeable coach, not a know-it-all. Afterwards, take your instructor out to dinner as a thank-you, or buy a special gift to show how much his or her time meant to you.

Jazzy Tunes
If you've already hired a band or a disc jockey, ask whether certain songs are on their play list. If not, ask if the songs can be added. You'll have a better idea of what songs you want once you get the feel for which wedding reception dances come easiest to you.

Also be sure to get a hold of a recording of your and your finance's first dance song. The all-important and very memorable first dance will go much more smoothly if the two of you have practiced beforehand.

Dance Etiquette
The band or disc jockey will probably lead you during the reception by inviting various family members onto the dance floor, but it helps to know a little wedding reception dance etiquette in advance.

The bride and groom always have the first dance, which typically takes place after the initial announcements and speeches. Your DJ will invite you to the floor. The father of the bride will cut into the dance at some point, probably after a number of guests have snapped pictures of this very sweet moment. The groom graciously places the bride's hand into her father's hand; then the groom asks the bride's mother for a dance.

Many couples stop here, allowing all guests to get on the floor from this point forward. However, if you dream of a truly traditional wedding, you'll observe the following in order, which can be a dance in itself:
  • The groom's father cuts in to dance with the bride.
  • The bride's father cuts in on the groom to dance with his own wife.
  • The groom dances with his own mother.
  • The parents exchange dances.
  • The wedding party comes onto the dance floor. The best man and bride dance; the groom and matron of honor dance; all other wedding party members enter the floor; and then other guests join the dance.
Note that in all cases, it is the man inviting the woman to dance. This is tradition, but if you have any qualms, let your parents and your spouse-to-be know of your intentions so there is no awkwardness on the dance floor.

Not every couple is so particular, however. Decide what's best for you...and then dance the night away!

Written by: Melanie Henson