When Should the Parent Dances Take Place During the Wedding Reception?

So many options! Which one's right for your wedding?

wedding dance
Photo: Katherine Rose of Max and Friends

Planning your wedding reception timeline is one of those tasks that makes you realize just how much is really going to happen on your big day. From the details of vendor installation to the timing of dinner, and finally, dancing. So, where do you pencil in time for dancing with your parent or parents? Well, you have a couple of options. Here's the scoop.

The Traditional Timeline

The majority of receptions follow a similar timeline with a ceremony followed by cocktail hour then dinner service followed by dancing. In this case, the first dance between the couple typically kicks off the dancing portion of the evening followed immediately by a dance shared by the bride and her father. Depending on the couples' preference, the groom and his mother may join on the dance floor halfway through this dance or wait until the father-daughter dance ends to have their own dance. Following the mother-son dance, all guests will join on the dance floor and the dance party continues for the rest of the night. The theory behind this setup is that you're able to get all of the formal dances done while you have a captive audience.

Dancing Between Meals

Alternatively, some couples prefer to break up the time spent sitting at dinner tables and dance between meal courses. This nontraditional timeline allows you to break up the formal dances so one kicks off each dancing segment. For example, the first dance between the couple would be after the first course is served, and the guests would join them on the dance floor for the next song. The second course would then be served, with guests returning to their seats, followed by the father-daughter dance and so forth.

Other Non-Traditional Options

For couples who'd prefer to only have eyes on them for their own dance and let their parent dances be more casual, they may choose to schedule only the first dance into the timeline. Then, when the timing feels right to grab a parent on the dance floor, they can do so at their leisure, while guests are also dancing.

After the Cake Cutting

Lastly, if you're doing a formal cake cutting and aren't sure what to do right after, this could be a good time to go into the parent dances. You'll have a captive audience from the cake cutting and it's an easy transition to get guests back to the dance floor, provided you've already done the first dance.

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