May I Have This Dance?

The special dances at the wedding reception are sweet moments in time. There is nothing quite like your first dance as husband and wife or sharing a dance with your father.

The First Dance

When do we do the first dance? Traditionally, no one should take the dance floor until the bride and groom have danced their first dance. There are many opportunities to do the first dance earlier in the reception so that your guests can feel free to get up and dance if the mood strikes them. A very popular option is to do the first dance immediately following the grand entrance; as the bride and groom enter the venue, they go directly to the dance floor and right into their dance. It may also be done between courses or as the meal concludes.

My fiancé and I already take dance lessons, but we specialize in salsa dancing. Would a salsa be appropriate for a first dance? The style of your wedding would dictate whether or not a salsa number is appropriate. If you are having a Latin-themed wedding or a more eclectic mix of traditions, a salsa could work as a first dance. For a more formal or traditional reception, a salsa may not be the right choice for a first dance, but that doesn't mean you cannot fit it in somewhere else. Plan to surprise your guests with a salsa dance later in the evening, possibly even slipping into different attire to really set the mood.

Dancing the Night Away

When is the father/daughter dance done? The father/daughter dance is the second dance of the evening, but it doesn't necessarily need to follow the first dance immediately. For example, if the first dance followed the grand entrance, the father/daughter dance can be held after the first course is served or once the meal concludes.


The order for protocol dancing is as follows: first dance, father/daughter, mother/son, bride's/groom's parents, bride with her father in-law, groom with his mother-in-law, and the bridesmaids and ushers dance with each other. Then open dancing begins. Of course, you may exclude some or all of these dances.

My father will not be at my wedding. How do I address the father/daughter dance? You need not make any mention of the dance at all, just pass it by and no one will even notice. As an alternative, you can ask whoever is walking you down the aisle, or a brother, special friend, family member, or even your new father-in-law to dance with you.

I'm close to both my father and stepfather. With whom should I dance the father-daughter dance? This depends entirely upon your relationships with your natural father and stepfather, and you should discuss this with both men prior to making a decision. Consider beginning the dance with your natural father and having your stepfather cut in or doing two separate dances. If you're really in a quandary, you can dispense with the father-daughter dance altogether.

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