In centuries past, married couples used pageants and skits to entertain their guests, but in modern times, dancing has replaced those diversions. Typically, dancing begins after the wedding party and guests partake of the reception meal and the wait staff has cleared the tables. In less formal settings, however, the dancing starts when the couple takes the floor.
Irrespective of when the dancing commences, the sequence of dances usually proceeds according to tradition: first, the bride and groom, then the bride and her father. During the father-daughter dance, the best man, the bride’s father-in-law, and/or step-father may cut in, while the groom dances with his mother and mother-in-law. Typically, the bridegrooms also dance with the bride and all of the bridesmaids.
Since the United States is a melting pot of diverse cultures and traditions, some couples pay homage to their ancestral heritage. For example, in Hungary, the “Bridal Dance”(“A Menyasszonytánc”) is performed in unison with each guest, not separately with different people. During the dance, guests offer their wedding gifts. In Italy, the widely known “Tarantella” is performed. In Poland, the “Money Dance” takes place, in which male guests pay to dance with the bride and at times, female guests do the same to dance with the groom. In Romania and Israel, the “hora” (“circle” or “chain” dance) is popular, and in Greece, guests engage in the twelve-step “Kalamatiano.”
Although many couples adhere to convention, modern newlyweds sometimes break with tradition and hire professional entertainers to dance at their wedding. Occasionally, brides and grooms go so far as to prepare for their first dance as a couple, while even more avant-garde partners surprise one another with feats of dancing prowess, to the complete amazement of the entire wedding party and guests.
No matter how you choose to enliven the festivities, make every step count, have fun, and enjoy the dance!