June 27, 2022

Alternatives to Traditional Wedding Reception Dances

If you’re like me and grew up with perhaps the best generation of teenage Rom-Com movies (I’m looking at you 10 Things I Hate About You), you already know all about the importance of the father/daughter dance at a wedding reception. What a Girl Wants definitely educated you. And honestly, who wouldn’t want to dance with Colin Firth while Oliver James serenaded you? I get it, Amanda Bynes, I get it. Truly, this is what dreams are made of (see what I did there?). 

But when it comes to planning your actual wedding, when you don’t have Jennifer Lopez at The Wedding Planner, you may find yourself looking for an alternative to the traditional father/daughter, mother/son dances you see at most receptions. 

Father/Daughter Dance Alternatives 


Group Dance / Family Dance 

Who doesn’t love a choreographed dance? Consider having your whole wedding party (including the family) do one large group dance at the start of the reception rather than individual dances. Instead of the whole wedding party, you can also limit the group to just the family. Dancing With the Stars, here you come. 

Money Dance 

I’ve seen this dance at weddings before and it was done along with the other traditional dances. But, some experts say you can swap the father/daughter or mother/son dance out for this money maker. “The money dance is a cultural tradition at many wedding receptions where guests offer the newlyweds money to dance with them, or they shower the couple with money. The custom is to help establish the couple in their new life together, or to show how much they are loved and appreciated” – Brides.com. 

Other Family Members to the Rescue (Uncle, Grandfather, Brother, Father-in-law, etc.) 

Fusion Events shared a video where a bride’s father passed away not long before her wedding. Since she wasn’t able to dance with her dad, her brother organized a group of important men (Grandfather, two brothers, father-in-law) to dance with her throughout the dance while he sang “Butterfly Kisses”. Warning, tissues and waterproof mascara are needed before watching this video. 

Mother/Daughter Dance 

Who says this dance has to be with a male family member? We are past the time when the dance symbolizes the dad giving the bride to the groom, so if mom is the best person to share this special moment with, go for it. 

Mother/Son Dance Alternatives 

A lot of the alternatives for the father/daughter dance work here as well. One other option if you have shy families is to have the DJ play one song and do the father/daughter and mother/son dance at the same time. More people on the dance floor means less attention on one person. 

And recently, our very own Amative couple, Christen & Will, decided to opt for a groom/daughter dance in lieu of the mother/son dance. It was such a special moment. 

Non-Dance Alternatives 

Slideshow Tribute 

Some wedding planners have suggested playing a slideshow video tribute to the newlywed’s families. This may be a great option for couples who aren’t comfortable with dancing but still want to honor their family members. 

Skip it 

Of course, you can skip it altogether if you want. Don’t feel pressured to include a moment in your wedding just because everyone else does. Be unique, be you, be bold. 


If you’re not feeling the traditional dance, consider a special toast to the parents of the bride and or groom. 

First Song

Some musical brides and grooms elect to sing a song to their mom or dad at some point during the reception. One wedding planner even suggests having the band or DJ play a special song you dedicate to your parent during the reception.

If you’re looking for the perfect music for your wedding, be sure to read our “Dance With Me” – First Dance Songs for your Wedding & “It’s Our Song” – Best Wedding Ceremony Songs of All Time blogs. 

We’d love to be part of capturing your reception dances, whatever they are. Connect with us here.

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