Out of step with wedding dances, but going with the flow

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If columnist Sue Ontiveros could skip a veil at her long-ago wedding, she asks whether she shouldn’t she be more open-minded about today’s wedding dance performances. | Provided photo

I started this column thinking I was going to find people agreeing with me.

Instead, I discovered something else: I’ve become a bit of a curmudgeon.

See, I wrote this as my beginning:

I’ve got news for the brides and the grooms of America.

We, your wedding guests, are tired of your performances.

Please. Stop. Now.

I thought I was onto something. Then I interviewed etiquette experts, confident they’d back me up.

Not exactly.

Am I really alone on this?


Anyone who’s been to a wedding in the last decade knows what I’m talking about. On YouTube they’re billed as “surprise” wedding dances, but by now we know to expect them. And they’re no longer just dances.

I’ll admit the first one I saw was clever. The guests truly looked surprised. The performance was simple, imaginative and sincere.

But just like too many trends, I thought we could agree now the dances are too much. Too many go on forever, and let’s just say many are downright inappropriate. Jeepers, their grannies are in the room! The looks on some participants’ faces tell me they, too, realize it’s a lot different doing those moves in front of an audience from rehearsals.

“Lighten up, Sue,” Lizzie Post candidly and nicely – says to me. She’s the co-host of The Awesome Etiquette podcast. (We’ve worked together on stories over the years, so she’s allowed such a straightforward reply.)

After all, she says, for the bride and groom this is “a moment for them together” and “it can be anything they want.”

Have I become that grousing old lady?

I’ll agree with Post that the tradition of watching newlyweds dance slowly all by their lonesome was three long minutes for guests. (I’m remembering it wasn’t much fun for the bride and groom, either.)

These new numbers are “far more entertaining,” says Post, who, yes, is a descendant of THE Emily Post (she’s her great-great-granddaughter and co-author of the newly released 19th edition of “Emily Post Etiquette.”)

“They’re fabulous and fun,” agrees Sharon Schweitzer, founder of Protocol and Etiquette Worldwide.

Maybe that’s why brides and grooms decided to shake up tradition.

Schweitzer does allow that “some of these have gotten out of hand,” reminding that planning, practice and timing are crucial.

Do the dance “at the appropriate time, after everyone has eaten,” she says, and before the newlyweds “decide to have their third glass of champagne.”

I am right about something; they aren’t a must. Post cautions “if it’s out of character for you, no, you don’t need to do” some elaborate number.

Schweitzer suggests couples remember someday their grandchildren will be seeing this dance. You don’t want them thinking, “THIS is our heritage?” she says.

Post does remind that “this isn’t [being] with your best friend on a night out,” and when choosing the content, think of the guests. “You need to take their comfort and perspective — within reason — into account.”

That point segues into Post reminding that I am a guest at weddings, and etiquette is a two-way street. If I’m so bothered, maybe I should decline the next wedding invitation.

Well, gee, what’s the fun in that?

So I’m going to remember it’s the couple’s day, the way my senior relatives did when I showed up with not a veil, but flowers in my hair and no bridesmaids.

But could I please just ask that the dances be kept short?

And that I get my cake before they begin.

Email: sueontiveros.cst@gmail.com

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