Dollar Dance Decency: Is a ‘money dance’ ever appropriate?

Q: My friend and I are debating the appropriateness of a ‘money dance’ at a wedding. I, (37 years old) feel it is rude because it seems like it is asking for money from people who have already bought you a gift. My friend (23 years old) feels it is tradition and that everyone does it. Is this a generational thing? What is appropriate?

A: Dollar or money dances are not particularly tasteful and do make many guests, who already have given generously, feel that they are just there as a money pot for the bride and groom. It is a custom in some cultures, but it should remain there and not extend to others.


  1. Nonnie Mowse

    Oh my gosh, Amen to that Elizabeth. Back in the stone age, I sang in a Top 40 band and we were hired to do a wedding reception. The bride and groom wanted their Hall & Oates song for the ‘shot glass dance’ as they’re called here. Fine, no problem, except: there were 450 guests at their wedding! We had to improvise more Hall & Oates songs on the spot because the dance took over 90 minutes! To this day, I hear Hall & Oates, and I cringe and in my mind I cover my hears and loudly sing LA LA LA LA…. The bride and groom were happy with us though, and didn’t even care that some of the songs weren’t love songs. They just loved Hall & Oates, period!

  2. Danielle

    It is never appropriate to ask guests to pay for anything related to your wedding (cash bar, coat check, valet parking, potluck, money dance). HOWEVER, there are some Asian cultures where it would be a HUGE faux pas if you didn’t do it. So if it’s a cultural thing, then I can see getting away with it, but if you’re white kids in the midwest, I wouldn’t do it. If either you or your fiance are iffy about it, don’t do it. PLUS you should consider that any dances like this are going to take away from your guests being able to enjoy themselves on the dance floor, and it will kill the energy and flow of your reception.

  3. jordi

    I can’t think of a better way of making your guests angry than to ask them for more money after they have already purchased a gift for the bride and groom.

    I agree that it is a cultural thing and should definitely stay within those circles with participation being voluntary.

  4. Lisa

    I’m getting married and we are not asking for gift. But we would like to have a dollar dance to give us a chance to pay for the wedding and to get a chance to dance with family and friends that may want to dance.

    • Alicia

      You should have the wedding you can afford without charging your guests to dance with you. Guests will give you gifts some of which are cash even if you do not lower yourself worth to being bought at your own wedding. You are the bride you should be dancing with whichever and all the guests you wish to instead of selling your company on your wedding day.

  5. Amanda

    While I understand where many of you are coming from I must politely disagree. The “money dance” is extremely common and really expected in the South. I am from Louisiana and all guests really expect it here. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding that it was not performed! Usually it’s only five or ten dollars, but it allows some guests who did not buy a gift for the wedding, the opportunity to give money in a fun way!

  6. Mandy

    I have been to many weddings, all Southern, and not a single one had a dollar dance. It is distasteful and down right greedy to do this. Guest should never have to pony up cash to while attending a wedding.

  7. Bmlepage

    Wow. I am from Southern California and have been to plenty of weddings here.
    What I have noticed is a trend towards not doing it because the young couples are too afraid to ask their guests for anything goes more.
    But the tradition of the wedding is so your family and friends can help give you a push to help you out. That’s why they give the presents and the money, not because you are “charging” them. But because they want to help you in any way they can.
    You will find that older people will bring cash to a wedding because of tradition, younger people won’t because they are losing touch with it.

  8. B. Marie

    I had a Dollar Dance at my wedding, even though I was pretty uncomfortable with the concept. My mother-in-law said that her family has always has a Dollar Dance. That was really her only request for the reception. She is a total sweetheart who was in no way trying to offend, so I went ahead with it. Not my style, but I believe weddings need to have some compromise.

  9. Amanda

    I have another situation that I am wondering about. In my town, couples actually have fundraisers before the big day. You buy a ticket to an event where you get food and drink then when you attend you’re expected to buy 50/50 tickets, jello shots and tickets for a Chinese auction. I find these fundraisers–called “stag and drags”–extremely distasteful. Fundraisers are to help good, charitable causes–not a wedding, right? Incredibly, people with excellent jobs who come from good families have them the most. A few days ago, a girl at my company came around to our desks selling 50/50 tickets. I literally had to go to the ladies room because I found this wrong on so many levels. Have you ever heard of this sort of event? And do you find it as tacky and unacceptable as I do?

  10. Sarah

    Hi Amanda,
    That is an unusual tradition for my community, but it sounds customary in yours, which makes it relatively acceptable. I think that it is difficult to figure out how certain financial expectations (flying to a wedding, paying for showers and parties, sending engagement gifts, sending wedding gifts) might be considered appropriate. I believe it is astonishing how it’s now acceptable that couples are paying for their weddings so that they might have a celebration to the tune of $30,000 on average. So, is it wrong to offset in advance, rather than recuperate after digging a very big financial hole? Not entirely. I would be surprised, but it makes sense.

    In the end, I would rather spend a third of the wedding gift up front to help with expenses. So, if I normally give $75 for a couple of that relation, I would give a gift of $50 at the wedding, and spend $25 on these “stag and drag” efforts.

  11. Cass

    Ok, it irritates me when people say that guests should not be expected to pay to attend your wedding. Guests are NEVER expected or forced to participate in the dollar dance. It’s a completely optional thing. No one is saying “You have to give me money or you’ll be kicked out.” It’s just a fun way to spend a little more time with each guest who want’s to participate. Even if you have a receiving line or visit each table, some guests still want more time. If you don’t like the dollar dance, don’t do it. It’s that simple. You don’t have to bash others who like the tradition.

    • Carly

      I have been to a few weddings that have done the money dance. I have enjoyed it more than the weddings that have not because I actually had ~ a minute to pay my respect to the bride or groom. It is nice to have that one on one time for just a short period. We will be doing it at our wedding. It is a dollar you are asking for or small bills, it is nothing that is breaking the piggy bank and only about half the people do it anyway. Weird that everyone thinks it is tacky.

      • Alicia

        The Happy Couple can spend time with their guests without begging for money. You can even do a dance with guests without begging for their money.

  12. Alyson

    People that say they only “want a dollar” are bs’ing everyone here on this board. 50 years ago, you would never have seen this tacky form of extortion occurring. Claiming tradition or anything else is just an excuse to be greedy and classless. The only tasteful thing to do is to have a wedding within your budget, pay for all food and drink for your guests and expect nothing but a nice gift. Period.

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