Weddings are joyous occasions, but they can also place individuals into awkward situations or highlight relationship conflicts within families. If the bride is unable or unwilling to have the traditional father-daughter dance, the couple must then decide whether or not to have a mother-son dance. In regards to etiquette, there is not one right way to handle this situation. It all depends on family dynamics, personal preference and determining what will help the wedding run most smoothly.
Consider the Situation
In determining whether or not a mother-son dance should occur, it is very important to establish why a father-daughter dance is not in the cards. If the bride's father is deceased, absent or unable to dance for medical reasons, it may be acceptable to have a mother-son dance. Most guests will probably be aware when such circumstances exist, which will prevent any awkward questions or hurt feelings. On the other hand, if the the bride does not wish to dance with her father due to a disagreement or because she is nervous about having her dancing showcased, a mother-son dance may pose complications.
Think about who's feelings could be hurt if there were a mother-son dance but not a father-daughter dance. If the bride is unable to have a father-daughter dance for any reason, a mother-son dance may cause her to feel isolated or left out. On the other hand, perhaps she is unwilling to have a father-daughter dance. If her father will be present, this could cause him or other family members to to feel hurt. A mother-son dance may only rub this in their faces further. While the couple does not need to make everyone happy, they do need to seriously consider whether or not they want to deal with the emotional and relational consequences this situation could pose.
If having one parent-child dance but not the other will ruffle some feathers, if may be best for the bride and groom to come to a compromise before the wedding. For example, if the groom can't imagine not having a mother-son dance but his bride is a little nervous about taking the dance floor, she might want to give in and have a dance with her father. Doing this can prevent a lot of arguments and hurt feelings. On the other hand, the bride may have a difficult relationship with her father that would make it very uncomfortable for her to dance with him. If this is the case, the groom may have to give up his mother-son dance for the sake of his bride and her family's feelings. In general, the couple should compromise in favor of the person that feels the most strongly about the issue.
If a father-daughter dance is not a possibility, consider alternatives that are parallel to the mother-son dace. For example, the bride could dance with a brother, uncle or a father figure. If this happens, the bride and groom may refer to each dance as a "family dance" rather than a father-daughter or mother-son dance. Have the DJ announce that the bride and groom will be dancing with a special family member and then specify the exact relationship. For example: "The groom will now dance with a family member who is very special to him. Jane, go ahead and dance with your son." Or: "The bride will now dance with a family member who is very special to her. John, the bride wants to thank you for being a wonderful uncle."
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