One of the first dances at traditional American weddings is the dance between father and daughter. This ritual symbolizes the shift in guardianship of the bride from father to groom. However, the father of the bride is not always present at the wedding for a variety of reasons, whether he is deceased or otherwise not involved in his daughter's life. Even if he is present, the tone of the wedding can be such that the father and daughter dance is not fitting for the occasion. Fortunately, several creative alternatives exist.
Godfather and Goddaughter
When a child is born or adopted, often parents will designate close friends or other family members to be the godparents. The role of the godparent is to stand in for the adoptive or birth parents in the event that they cannot be there or have passed away. The bride's godfather is an excellent substitute for the father in the father-daughter dance.
Mother and Daughter
Another alternative to the father-daughter dance is the mother-daughter dance. This is an option for families with alternative lifestyles. For example, the daughter of a lesbian couple, rather than having a mother and a father, has two mothers. The bride can dance with one or both of her mothers as an alternative to a wedding tradition that might not resonate with the female-headed family.
Brides whose fathers have passed away could chose to replace the father-daughter dance with a segment honoring the memory of her father. During this time, his favorite song can be played while slides of the happy times shared between them can be projected on a screen. Or, a candle can be lit and flowers can be placed by his photo by the bride, commemorating his memory while mourning his absence.
Uncle and Neice
If the father of the bride had a brother, commonly he will step into the fatherly role for the father-daughter dance. A creative twist on this more popular alternative dance is possible if the father of the bride had more than one brother, each brother can dance with the bride for part of the song.
- "A Member of the Wedding?;" Journal of Social and Personal Relationships; Ramona Faith Oswald; June 2000
Catherine M. Lafuente's writing was first published in 2002 in the "Sarah Lawrence Quarterly." Her work has also appeared in "The Santa Barbara Independent," "XOJane Magazine" and "The Poughkeepsie Beat." Currently she is an editorial assistant at Praeger Publishing, an Imprint of ABC-CLIO.