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  • What’s The Exact Order of Dances at a Wedding Reception?

There is so much to think about when it comes to planning a wedding. But paying attention to the minor details will make all the difference, ensuring that the day's events go smoothly. One of the most significant events of the wedding day besides the marriage vows themselves is the wedding reception. Although it seems like one big, festive party, it should be planned and scheduled out. This prevents confusion and running out of time before the cake even gets cut!

On the day of the wedding, there will be many mini-events taking place within the reception. This includes a variety of wedding dances. These dances are a critical part of the day, and they have a deeply rooted tradition. Therefore, careful planning must go into making sure that each dance takes place at the right time and in order. So, what is the order of the dances and which ones should you include in your wedding?

How Did Dancing Originate in Weddings? 

The history of dancing at weddings varies by culture and many people choose to keep their traditions alive.

It's not certain how far back first dances go back into history as it relates to weddings. However, in ceremonial balls, it traces back to the 17th century in France and the 18th and 19th century Victorian Era in Britain.

The first dance typically opened a meaningful ceremony and was often started by a royal couple. If the royal couple did not start the dance, then they would appoint someone who would. Eventually, this tradition became popular in American balls and weddings. It began as formal ballroom dancing but has evolved into just about whatever dance any couple wants at their wedding.

Nowadays, wedding dances have become much more spectacular. Not all brides and grooms are settling for romantic ballroom dancing, although this may be a popular option for some. While they may start with a slow routine, they may excite their guests with breakdancing or other forms of dancing. Wedding dances have become such a big deal that people are literally putting routines together. They are even attending dance classes to make sure that they get their moves right.

What Dances Should You Include and In What Order?

The first dance is essential in the wedding reception because it symbolizes the couple's union. However, it's certainly not the only dance. Below are the most common dances in a wedding reception and the order in which they generally come.

A Newlywed's First Dance

This is one of the most special dances of the evening (maybe your life!). It is the opportunity for the couple to show off their smooth moves and add to the ambiance of the festivity. In keeping with tradition, since the newly weds are the honorary couple, they start the dancing for the evening in the same way that royals began the custom long ago. Typically, this first dance should represent something special for the couple.

It could be a very romantic love song representing their bond. Or it could be the couple's favorite rock, country, or hip-hop song that signifies who they are. This dance should set the tone for the rest of the dancing for the evening.

The Parents' Dance

This dance is when the bride and the groom part from each other and dance with their parents. Typically, the bride will dance with her father, and the groom will dance with his mother. However, with so much diversity these days, the dance may not be limited to this dynamic. So choose a path that fits your own family’s dynamics, rather than feeling held to any strict rules.

The Wedding Party's Dance

Usually, first dances consist of the couple and then the parents. Rarely do they also include the bridal party. But there are no rules and they can include additional dances with a special person in their lives or members of the wedding party. The next couple to cut a rug will be members of the wedding party. First, the best man will dance with the bride, and the maid of honor will dance with the groom. Then the bridesmaids will all have a chance to dance with the groom. The fun that the wedding party can usually drum up builds momentum for the next dance segment.

"Work Those Calories" Off Dance

This traditionally is where everyone gets up and heads to the dancefloor. Typically, this dance segment is called "party time" or "the wedding guests" dance. However, since it naturally follows the meal and the cake cutting, this can also be referred to as the "work those calories off" dance. The DJ or band will invite everyone to the floor to have a good time. Even the children and teens will join in and have fun showing off their smooth dance moves.

Married Couple's Dance

This is often called the anniversary dance. Essentially it is a dance in which all married couples get up and dance. This dance segment typically is full of slow dancing to let everyone catch their breath from the last dance and so that older couples can enjoy their moment. Although some married couples may turn this into a fun-filled, entertaining dance, in most instances, it remains something that is romantic. Some DJs may reveal how long each of the couples has been married by encouraging couples to leave after certain songs end. This continues until the couple who has been married the longest remains.

The Toss Dance

After the married couples have had their fair share of fun on the dance floor, now is the time that all single people have been waiting for. This segment of the wedding reception is when the bride tosses her bouquet, and the groom tosses the bride's garter. This can get quite interesting because women tend to turn into football players just to get the luck from catching the bouquet. After the toss, the person who caught the bouquet and the person who caught the garter typically dance together. Some people love this tradition while other couples’ cringe at it. Again, it’s your wedding and your choice about how you want to spend your precious time.

"Get Some Moola" Dance

Commonly referred to as the money dance or the dollar dance, this is the opportunity for the bride and the groom to dance around the dance floor and get some cash. Typically, the person who dances with the bride or the groom will pin money on their clothing. Couples can then use this money to get some of the things they need to start their lives together as a married couple. This is one of those more “throwback” dance traditions that many couples are abandoning, especially as couples marry later and aren’t in need of a few extra dollars. But it can be fun and make for great photo opportunities.

The Final Wedding Dance

The grand finale of the evening is the final dance. For the last dance, the bride and the groom will choose something up-tempo or slow to bring closure to the event. This dance will end the wedding reception but may also be the prelude to more fun and excitement if there will be an after-party, strictly for adults only. The final dance is a nice way to signal to guests that the wedding reception is concluding.

Other Dance Considerations

Some dances are specific to some couples' religious backgrounds. For example, people of the Jewish faith may incorporate a dance called the hora also known as the chair dance, where the couple are lifted in the air while they are seated on chairs. Other types of dances that may be included in a wedding may be associated with specific affiliations. For instance, fraternity or sorority members may perform a dance to celebrate their alliances with the bride or groom at the wedding.

Is It Necessary to Have All The Wedding Dances?

 The dances mentioned above are typical dances in a wedding. However, you don't have to include all of these dances at your wedding. Dancing is a great way to get people to interact and have great laughs, but if your religious convictions don't allow for dancing, you may have to opt for other ways for people to interact with each other. Some include karaoke, casino night, or live entertainment. Ultimately, it is up to you and how you want your guests to spend their time together mingling on your big day.

What Steps Are Crucial When Planning Your Wedding Dances?

One of the most important things to consider when planning your wedding dances is the music for your first dance and your last dance. The bride and groom should choose extra special music meaningful to them both when choosing the music for these critical dances. It would help if you also chose a DJ or band that can play music that will suit your tastes and your guests' tastes

You may want to consider taking dance lessons if you feel that your dancing skills aren't that great. Or, if your dancing skills are superb, but you want to impress your guests, you can get dancing lessons for this reason, too. Not only will this level up your dancing, but it will be a fun way to spend time together and a break from wedding planning. But don’t feel pressured to be perfect. You’re celebrating your union, not auditioning for Dancing with the Stars.

One of the last, most important, things to consider is making sure that everyone who will be part of the traditional dance segments is aware the DJ will call them to dance. This will allow them to work on a routine if necessary. Your DJ will play an important role in the energy of the dancefloor, so be sure to articulate your wants and visions to them.

Your wedding day is a serious next step in you and your romantic partner's life. But you want to make sure that you sprinkle a lot of fun and laughter into the wedding reception ceremony. One way to do this is with dancing. This makes for great memories and amazing photos.

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