What Is Proper Wedding Dance Etiquette?

Couple Dancing With Guests Clapping In Background
In a traditional wedding, the bride and groom have the first dance. Neustockimages / Getty Images

Weddings are events that linger in people's minds long after they are over. They're heavily photographed, video recorded, and talked about for years. That's one of the reasons people put so much emphasis on wedding dances.

Commonly Asked Question About the Wedding Dance

Question: What is proper wedding dance etiquette?

Answer: After the introduction of the bride, groom, and the rest of the wedding party, the bride and groom traditionally share the first dance.

For the next dance, the father of the bride dances with the bride, and the groom dances with the bride’s mother. After that, the bride’s father dances with her mother, and the groom asks his mother to dance, and then the groom’s parents dance with each other.

Each of the groomsmen, starting with the best man, may dance with the bride, and the groom may dance with the bridesmaids. These can be for entire or partial songs, depending on the length of the reception. Eventually, all the wedding guests will be on the dance floor.

Remember that all of these traditions are editable. There may be variables that prevent tradition, such as a disabled or deceased parent, so plan according to your personal needs and desires. 

General Wedding Dance Tips

  • For the first dance, choose a song that you love and one that speaks to the relationship between the bride and groom.
  • Practice dancing to the song before the wedding. If either of you has little or no experience on the dance floor, take a lesson from a professional.
  • If your wedding dress is long or has a train, bustle it so you don't trip over it.
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable for dancing. If you aren't used to high heels, wear lower heels or flats.

Timeline After the Traditional Wedding Party Dances

After the bridal couple dances, and all of the traditional dances are satisfied, many couples choose their song list for dancing based on who will be attending and their sensibilities.

Although the wedding and reception should be focused on the bride and groom, it is always good form to show respect for the people who have taken time out of their busy lives to share the experience.

Here are some tips on selecting the song list for dancing:

  • You may not want to subject some of the attendees to hardcore hip-hop music, so start out with music that is milder in content. If your great-aunt and grandparents are there, they will appreciate some music from their era.
  • In a subtle way, you can let the guests know that the music will change as the afternoon or evening wears on, so they can enjoy the earlier part of the night and leave when they sense the transition to something that might make them uncomfortable.
  • Include the parents of the bride and groom in song selection. You don't need to let them choose every song, but giving them some choice shows that you respect and care enough to make them happy.

Fun Wedding Dance Trends

Couples are getting more creative with their wedding dances, and you're likely to see a variety of moves on the dance floor. Here are some of the most common trends:

  • A well choreographed bride and groom ballroom dance that is clearly well rehearsed. This typically takes hours of dance lessons and preparation.
  • A surprise bride and groom dance that has been choreographed to shake up the reception. This typically starts out slow and romantic. Then the music stops, the bride and groom look at each other in mock surprise, and then they bust out some moves that have the guests doubled over laughing. 
  • Wedding party dance that looks like a stage production. What better way to bond with your bridesmaids and groomsmen than spending your evenings leading up to the big day in a dance studio?