History Of Wedding Traditions: Father-Daughter and Mother-Son Dances

Father-Daughter and Mother-Son Dances
Wedding History dance

Dubsdread Catering Event Specialist Peighton Ballant shares the history behind the wedding tradition of the Father-Daughter and Mother-Son Dance.Peighton Ballant headshot

Weddings are full of dancing, whether it be your friends and family breaking down on the dance floor, or everyone calming down for a nice slow dance. Though the first dance as a newly married couple is the of course the most memorable of the event, but the second most memorable dances are the Father-Daughter and Mother-Son Dance, which often are just as full of love and can leave everyone crying and, or, laughing a little. Whether you decide to go the traditional route or choose to create some fun choreography, these dances are a staple at weddings. And when planning for these dances, you might also have a lot of questions – What song do we choose? How long should the dance last? Where did it come from? No worries, we are here with some Pro Tips to answer your questions as well as give a bit of history of these dances.


The origins of the Father-Daughter Dance are hard to trace, but it does stem from a time when arranged marriages were more common. The Father and Daughter would join in dance together, and then midway through the song the bride would be handed off to her new husband. This transition symbolized the father’s trust and acceptance of his new son-in-law, as well as the husband now being the most important man in the daughter’s life. Nowadays, the dances are in a different order with the Father-Daughter Dance happening right after the First Dance.

The Mother-Son Dance history is a little less meaningful in its origin, but no less enjoyed. A much more recent tradition, the Mother-Son Dance was introduced in modern receptions because of the inclusion of the Father-Daughter Dance becoming more standard. Since the Father and Daughter get that special moment, it was thought that the Mother and Son should have it as well and it was added to more and more events.


But now that you know the history, how do you go about planning these dances?

How do I pick a song?

For either dance, have a discussion with your Father, or Mother, and figure out if there is a song that is meaningful to the both of you. It can be nice and slow or more upbeat. It is nice to use a song that can bring you both back to a moment, or simply something that you both recognize. Or, if you do not even want to stress about picking a song, no worries! There are plenty of instrumental songs that can just act as background music while the two of you are dancing.

When should the dances happen?

Typically, the Father-Daughter Dance occurs right after the First Dance, with the Mother-Son Dance following that. However, if you do not want it happening right after the first dance, you can also do it after the toasts.

How long should it last?

Normally the dance will last as long as the song. A recent trend is to either find a shorter version of the song or go with an edited version as guests’ attention span starts to shorten after the first minute or so of dancing and you need to incorporate the two dances into your overall timing and schedule.

What are some alternatives?

No wedding tradition is a one-size-fits-all, and it is good to know your other options. It is important to acknowledge that some brides and grooms may not have a relationship with their parents, or they may sadly no longer have them in their lives. The bride can choose to dance with a father-figure such as an uncle or brother, or even her mother. While the son can also choose to dance with a mother-figure such as an aunt, grandma, or sister. Or don’t even include the tradition at all, it is your night to create your own traditions.

At the end of the day, do what works best for you and your partner. Our Dubsdread Catering team is here to assist you along the way and make sure that your big day is everything you had hoped for and more.

Photos courtesy of: Anna So Photography; Brooke Womack Photography; Live Happy Studios; Adam Lara; Lindsey Cassidy Photography.

Peighton Ballant is an Event Specialist with the Dubsdread Catering Team and is currently working on her Event Management degree at UCF. Peighton enjoys working with prospective couples to discover what they are most interested in bringing to their special day, and how to make those ideas come to life. Contact her today at events@historicdubsdread.comWedding History Dance 3Wedding History Dance 5

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