Dancing Designation: Proper order of dances at a reception

by epi on November 21, 2012

Q: After the bride and groom have their first dance – does the father of the bride cut in? If so, who does the groom dance with next? And so on and so forth.

A: Traditionally, the bride and groom dance the first dance, while guests watch and applaud.  When the second song begins, the bride’s father-in-law asks the bride for the second dance, and the bride’s father cuts in.  The groom, meanwhile, dances with his mother-in-law and then with his mother.  Next the bride’s father may ask the groom’s mother to dance, and the groom’s father asks the bride’s mother.  As the groom dances with the maid of honor and the ushers with the bridesmaids, guests may begin dancing.  When the family makeup is such that it complicates the order of dances—more than one father and mother, stepparents—then everyone is free to dance as soon as the newlyweds have danced the first dance.  The bridal party joins the bride and groom on the dance floor, a signal to guests that everyone else may join in.  The bride and groom should make a point to dance with all of their parents during the reception.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Danielle November 21, 2012 at 2:25 pm

This is way more specific than I’ve ever heard rules for this before. IMHO, I hate having “showcased” parent dances. It kills the flow of the whole night. You should definitely make a point to dance with parents at the reception, but why not make sure to do that when the rest of your guests are already up and dancing. That will keep guests from feeling bored. Just make sure your DJ knows how you want it to work out, and your photog knows to look for you to do photos during specific songs.


skeptic April 25, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Since YOU haven’t heard of wedding dance etiquette, it must not exist. This is just something a stuffy old woman made up for this article. You definitely wouldn’t want to spend a few minutes honoring your parents – especially if they’re paying for wedding – if it means your little friends might get BORED. Oh the horror.


barb November 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm

At any wedding I have been to, there was a specific “Father-daughter” dance. Not a cut-in.

I was kind of surprised at one I went to, where the bride asked her sister to do the father-daughter dance as she (the bride) was busy with something else.


Carol January 9, 2013 at 11:03 pm

My son is planning to be married in another state next fall. He would like to have an event here in his home state for friends and family this summer. What would this be called? A “celebration”, “shower?” Not a reception as they won’t be married yet. It just seems awkward to me, but that is what they want.


Elizabeth January 10, 2013 at 9:26 am

It could be either an engagement party or a shower, but one does not typically invite people to these kind of events unless they are to be invited to the wedding itself. People do occasionally hold receptions after their weddings in other locales, but people have varying takes on the propriety of such things. I think you are right – it is awkward (and potentially rude/offensive) to hold a pre-wedding reception for those that didn’t make the cut to the real wedding. Perhaps another conversation with your son is in order. What is the purpose of the event he has in mind? If it is gifts, you must object strongly. If it is to be more inclusive, he should simply invite more people to the wedding.


Winifred Rosenburg January 10, 2013 at 10:10 am

You could call it a party “in honor of the soon-to-be newlyweds” or you could avoid naming it at all and more casually tell people that it’s a party because your son and his fiancee are in town.


Alicia January 10, 2013 at 10:54 am

You only invite people to a prewedding event if they are invited to the wedding.
Perhaps a generic party not related to the wedding this summer?


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