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The Dollars and Cents (Sense) of the Money Dance Tradition

Have you ever attended a wedding reception that has included the money dance? If it’s not a wedding tradition you were familiar with, did you wonder why wedding guests were showering money or pinning bills on the newlyweds and lining up to dance with them? If you answered yes, keep reading! 

The money dance is a cultural tradition at many wedding receptions where guests offer the newlyweds money to dance with them, pin money to the clothes of the newlyweds, or they simply shower the couple with money. The purpose of the custom is to help establish the couple in their new life together, or to show them just how much they are loved and appreciated.

Even for a couple whose heritage includes the money dance, it still may be a difficult choice whether to include it or not. They may worry that guests will see it as an overt money grab. But, we feel, if it’s communicated that it’s both a cultural celebration & family tradition, as well as an excellent way for guests to interact with the newlyweds, the couple should go ahead, and have fun with it! And, even if both of you don’t share the same cultural or familial traditions, it can be a fun and memorable way to unite the two families.

The Meaning and History Behind the Money Dance

The money dance also goes by the dollar dance, money spray, or the apron dance. The details of performing the money dance varies quite widely across the many cultures which practice it. So, with it being such a widespread tradition, there is no definitive answer as to when it started or which country or culture was the first to start including it as part of a wedding celebration.

Variations of the money dance are popular in Poland, Greece, Nigeria, Philippines, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Portugal, Cuba, Latin America, Mexico, Eastern Europe, and many other countries. And, naturally, people brought and preserved their cultures when immigrating to America, as such the money dance is part of a great many wedding celebrations in the United States!

Modern Money Dance Ideas

As revered as the tradition of the money dance is, and as nuanced as the details can be for different cultures, here are a few ideas to modernize the tradition and make it fresh.

Borrowing from the Polish tradition; after the guest dances with the newlyweds, a waiter could offer them a small shot of premium alcohol like Crown Royal.

If pinning the money onto clothing is an expected custom, the newlyweds can consider changing into a second outfit to avoid ruining their gown or tux.

After playing whatever the culturally traditional song is expected, the couple are free to be creative. For example: getting the DJ to create a song mix with the word “money” in the hook. But keep it fun and tasteful.

While the Portuguese tradition is to pass the bride’s shoes around the room for contributions, they could consider a second pair of less expensive shoes for the actual money collection.

Alternatively, the game could be changed to substitute little love notes written by the guests, which could also be pinned to newlyweds, or they could simply be collected and taken home for when the couple need inspiration and a little love boost.

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