In a Greek money dance, guests pay to dance with the bride and groom by pinning money on them. In some cases, during the wedding reception, the bride and groom dance while guests throw money at the couple, and often the musicians. While the money dance may seem to be an outdated tradition, it can be a good way to score some extra cash to get your married life off on the right foot.
After the first dance, guests pay to dance with the newlyweds by pinning money on the bride's dress or the groom's tux. The bride and groom do not always have to dance with the gift giver -- it is up to the couple. Usually the music played for the money dance is festive and upbeat. The parents are always the first to pin money, usually giving several large bills. When the parents have finished offering money and dancing, the rest of the guests each have a chance. If no pins are provided, the money should be taped or folded together and hung like garland or necklaces. Clever guests can even fold money into crowns.
With brides spending thousands on a beautiful dress, many are afraid to ruin it by putting a ton of little holes in the fabric. Instead of providing pins, you can have guests throw their money in the air for a variation on the Greek money dance. Very common in Greek-American weddings, this practice allows guests to offer a little something without spoiling the bride's dress or learning how to dance. Tip off your parents and the wedding party so they can start the celebration correctly. It can be for one song or whenever the newlyweds dance. The more guests have had to drink, the more likely they are to throw big bills!
There are several choices of when to perform the money dance. You can choose to keep it casual with the monetary gifts continuing throughout the reception, usually becoming more generous after the guests have had a few drinks. Modern couples who find the custom poor etiquette but who still wish to celebrate Greek traditions, may choose to limit the money dance to one song or a block of songs. In large Greek weddings, the bride or the couple will hold a handkerchief and begin dancing. As long as she is holding the handkerchief, the guests can pin money. Usually, this will continue until all guests have had a chance to dance with the bride and groom.
Sometime after the first dance and before the money dance, Greek grooms will usually perform a "drunk dance." The bride and guests kneel around the groom in a circle, clapping and throwing money. The money is swept off the floor and given to the band. Picking money up off the floor and throwing that is considered stingy and not festive!
If you're a guest at Greek wedding, you don't need to worry about being considered cheap. You can pin (or throw) any amount of money, from one dollar to one hundred. The money can be pinned on one bill at a time or strung together and hung like streamers. If you're pinning bills on one at a time, it always draws a laugh from the crowd if you choose small bills to prolong the fondling of the bride. If you're embarrassed about being too cheap or too generous, simply put your money in a envelope and pin that.
Money as a Present
In Greek tradition, the money given during a money dance is not considered a replacement for gifts. However, if you can't afford both, simply put your money in a card or write on a greeting on the bill, so the newlyweds know you offered something and can send a proper thank you. The money dance provides some cash for the honeymoon or to help start off married life with a bit of pocket money.
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