Dancing traditions at weddings of different cultures

first dance lessonsA wedding is a special event in anyone’s life. Different types of traditions, activities, clothing and especially dances make the event stand out.

Everyone knows about the first dance tradition, the father-daughter dance or the mother-son dance. But do other dance traditions exist out there? How do people around the world dance at weddings?

Many countries have borrowed the tradition of the “Money dance” or “Dollar dance”, which is a gesture through which people help the couple start a life together. Traditionally, it involves guests having to symbolically pay with cash in exchange for a dance with the bride and groom. In Poland, in exchange for a dance guests pin money on a purpose-made apron that the bride places over her dress. In Greece it is part of the kalamatiano dance for the guests to throw money at the newlywed couple. In Nigeria this dancing tradition is known as the “money spray”.

In some cultures dance plays an important part in wedding celebrations. In Jewish weddings, for example, the guests entertain the newly weds by dancing in front of them. Some of the customary dances involve:

  • The parents of the groom or the bride dancing together when their last child is wed (the Mizinki dance)
  • The bride’s mother being crowned with a wreath of flowers while her daughters are dancing around her (the Krenzl dance)
  • Rabbis and family members dancing in front of the bride before dancing with the groom and, afterwards, the groom and bride dancing together (the Mitzvah Tanz)
  • The guests dancing around the bride with banners, signs, confetti, costumes (the gladdening of the bride dance)

In a Scottish wedding there are various other traditions which are always kept, such as:

  • The party usually starts when the bride and groom dance a traditional reel.
  • During the second dance the bride dances with the person of the highest rank amongst the guests.
  • The third wedding dance is called “Shiam Srping”. During this dance the bride dances with the best man, the bridegroom and the bridesmaids on a song of her choice.
  • The last dance is usually a “sword dance” at the end of which guests gather in a circle and sing Auld Lang Syne.

Irish couples choose a specific traditional set dance known as Ceilidh. While some of the dances of this type are named after a location (Siege of Ennis), others are waltz tunes (Home to Mayo).

A popular dance at Romanian weddings is called hora. On the alert rhythm of traditional songs guests hold hands and dance counterclockwise in circle spins with each person following a sequence of three steps forward and one step back, usually at a fast pace. In some variations of the dance the bride and the groom pair up with guests in the middle of the hora.

Depending on the cultural heritage of the couple and the location where the wedding is held, many dancing customs can be performed at a wedding. Be it a waltz, a tango, a dollar dance or a group dance similar to “Follow the Leader”, it is important for everyone to enjoy themselves.