When I was younger, I had the opportunity to attend a few weddings. While there, I was introduced to the quaint and curious custom of the “dollar dance” at the reception. For those of you unfamiliar with this tradition, it’s a portion of the reception when guests can, for a dollar or more, dance for a few moments with the bride or groom. It’s only a for a couple songs, so those who don’t want to participate don’t have to. It’s usually done to give the newlyweds a little spending cash for the honeymoon, as well as a chance to say a few words in (relative) privacy. A better explanation and history can be found here.
I’ve recounted this to a few people who hadn’t heard of this before, and they found it tacky and appalling. The idea of handing over cash as a gift at a wedding struck them as gauche in the extreme. Some have even compared it as akin to prostitution.
Personally, I always enjoyed it. It was a great chance to give a few final words to the happy couple, as well as give them one last gift. And the idea of calling it “prostitution” or “taxi dancing” and demeaning to the bride bugs me, in particular because the ones I’ve been to included the groom as well.
I remember one in particular, when I attended the wedding of my college roommate. I paid my dollar and gave the bride a twirl, whispering a few things that got her to giggle and blush prettily.
Then I paid five bucks and grabbed my roommate.
It was a bit awkward at first, as we both tried to lead. But he quickly acquiesced and let me spin him around the floor.
However, I think I nearly gave a couple of his old biddy aunts strokes when I dipped him…
I find the money tree is just as bad…
Who wants to witness the cheap old godger pinning only a dollar bill to the tree? Then there’s the one where they actually pin it to the brides dress (gasp) These traditions, in lieu of the dance, are just as gauche. I’d rather the money be put in an envelope for the couple to open in private.
Still, I would liked to have seen the famous dip Jay.
Are there pictures? Please post!!!
You need to go back and look at the original Godfather movie – it was called a money tree then – guests pinned money on a small tree – again cash for the bride and groom. It is an old world custom.
It really is one of those cultural things… if you’ve never done it, it’s really tacky. If you’ve always done it, it makes all the sense in the world.
I got quite the education when my BIL married into an Italian family – they do HUGE wedding (10s of thousands of dollars), and everyone is expected to give large cash gifts (as $100 or so). You’re considered really rude if you give other gifts. How they’re all not broke, I don’t know – especially when you’re expected to go to every wedding for every cousin… And woe betide the couple that doesn’t have an open bar!
A money dance is a common thing in my husband’s polynesian culture. Usually, however, the bride does a polynesian dance and the people throw money towards her, or stuff it into her dress, belt, etc. Sometimes both the bride and groom dance and get the same treatment. It is not tacky at all to them…it is a symbol of their love for each other, and their best wishes for the couple’s future.
Wifey and I did the dollar dance (coming up on 7 years ago) and it was actually a lot of fun. The generous uncles put in 20’s, our friends a buck. And everyone got a chance to have 15-20 seconds to offer their well-wishes.
The money was really inconsequential to the whole thing. I mean, in the end a couple hundred bucks here or there means what?
Well, different cultures can view different events with disdain. For example, in my own personal culture, if the bride is a hottie I usually give $20 to the groom in exchange for ius primae noctis. If the groom gets offended I’ll up it to $50 and throw in a case of beer. That usually does the trick.
I had never been a part of a dollar dance until my own wedding when my wife’s family and friends initiated the dance. It was a blast. Obviously it wasn’t tacky to me because I was getting the money. And much like you Jay, my male-friends and some family paid to dance with both my wife and me, naturally leading to some of the weirdest wedding photos of the night. I was also a chance for me to express my gratitude for them coming to the wedding.
I would encourage others to do the same at their weddings, you won’t regret it and I don’t think people get that offended at forking over a couple bucks, especially if their drinks are being paid for!
My wife is a wedding videographer and I go with her to all the weddings, in san diego there are a lot of cultures and some do a dollar dance and others don’t, everyone did them in Michigan where I grew up so it was wierd to me to not see them. However after seeing many weddings I suggest if you do one, at your wedding do it early and be organized. If you are in a place where the experience is rare make sure that you have a DJ, or master of ceremonies who understands the concept. Other than that I agree that the money dance can be a good thing and be lots of fun.
My cousin (we’re from west Texas) had over $10,000 stuck in places you can’t imagine after her wedding dance. She didn’t understand what was going on and tried to give the money back. DON’T EVER TRY THAT…her new mother-in-law was furious with her because she said it suggested that my cousin thought she was better than everyone at the reception…this happened in Pennsylvania about 10 years ago.
We made about $1200 in the money dance at our wedding, and the cash paid for our move to NC and the first month of rent and deposit on our apartment before my paychecks started. Completely useful.
One thing that we did (which made it far less tacky than me having to pick $$ out of strange places) was that my maid of honor and his best man collected the cash in envelopes before the folks could dance with us.
Some of the funniest pictures and memories that I have are of my husband dancing with each of his groomsmen….
Just how many people do you think are aware of just what ius primae noctis entails? You are sick and twisted! And I mean that as a compliment.
As for the tradition, we always celebrated is (big lebanese family) but I can see how some may be offended if they have never had exposure to it.
There are more offensive traditions to be upheld.
One of the best (fuzzy) memeories of my best friends wedding was seeing our female friend put a 10 in his pants with her teeth durring the dollar dance.
(un)fortunantly, I was next in line to dance with him, and I have more of a sense of humor (blood alcohol level) than sense of modisty (my wife to be in the bathroom).
I put a 20 in.
Well, it sounded funnier in latin 😉
When I married my first husband, we had a money dance. Of course we did it to ‘Highway To Hell’ and ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’, but hey, it was still a money dance.
We made tons of cash. People were pinning $100 bills to my clevage, including my ex-father-in-law who got a little twitchy with the pin. And my ex-husband made some good money too–mostly dancing with other men.
The best though were the little girls (all under about 10) who lined up with their dollar because they “wanted to dance with the Bride…not the yucky BOY!”
Jay, did you kiss the bride? Did you kiss the GROOM? 😉
So much depends on culture. In Japan, it is expected to give fairly large sums of money as wedding gifts, particularly by the business associates of the wife’s father. My wife is Japanese, and I was appalled at the vast sum of money that mysteriously appeared at our wedding. Then came the downside – the bride’s family is expected to provide gifts for those who donated, which, in our case, consumed just about exactly the amount of money that was gifted. So much for getting rich by marriage …
I would suspect that the dance would more likely happen at weddings where the typical gift is not money.
At Jewish weddings, the couple are usually given money (in multiples of 18) or objects from their registry, in lieu of toasters, waffle irons, etc..
I have never seen that dance at Jewish weddings.
Every wedding I’ve been to except one (all of them in Western Pennsylvania, including my own ill-fated nuptuals) has had the dollar dance. You pay the dollar (or larger denomination), get a shot (usually peach schnapps or Goldschlager), and dance with the bride. The best man holds the tray of shots while the maid of honor holds a small bag for the money.
I’ve only seen the groom dance once. And it wasn’t me.
The only exception was an afternoon luncheon reception with no music or dancing or anything. And that was in Eastern PA.
. . . in what?
I am getting married in Las Vegas and we want to have a money tree, how do we get the word out to let guest know. How would we word it on a card?