Many of today’s wedding customs are rooted in past traditions. For example, brides used to toss bouquets of herbs to scare off evil spirits… or to reduce human odor at a time when people didn’t bathe frequently. Dancing continues to be the main event at a wedding reception, and special dances are part of these same long-held traditions. In today’s multi-cultural, extended-family situations, wedding traditions are no longer one-size-fits all, and the bride and groom are free to make the wedding reception reflect who they are.
The First Dance
Dating back to the Victorian era balls, a first dance was used to open a ball by the guest(s) of honor to kick off the festivities. In the days of kings and queens, the first dance would be performed by the royal couple, usually dancing a waltz. Afterward, the ball would begin, and all the guests would join the couple on the dance floor. For today’s weddings, the bride and groom are the “royal couple,” and they begin the celebration with their first dance. Most couples still opt for the simple, swaying slow dance such as a waltz or foxtrot as their first dance. But it is not unusual for the couple to quickly move into or even replace that opening dance with more energetic dances such as salsa and hip-hop.
Choices of the song for the first dance usually have a special meaning for the happy couple. Maybe it was the music playing in the background… at the time of their first kiss… at a favorite restaurant… during the proposal… or on a special date or occasion. The choice of song often guides the dance routine for the “first dance.” In today’s world with so many options, couples often decide to take dance lessons to surprise their guests and to feel more comfortable on the dance floor when the spotlight is on them.
Brides and grooms have added a number of special dances that follow the first dance. A relatively modern practice, brides usually dance with their fathers or fathers-in-law, and grooms usually dance with their mothers or mothers-in-law. Some couples even choose to honor other family members or parent figures with special dances.
One of the hottest trends in dancing today is the “surprise dance.” The bride and groom along with a group of people train to include an unexpected dance routine to the surprise of their guests. The “surprise dance” is one of the events that add to the festivities and leave guests talking for days. It also is not unusual to have the dances recorded and replayed on sites such as YouTube for the enjoyment of a much larger audience.