Dollar dash in, ‘Chicken Dance’ out as reception staplesWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
The something old, new, borrowed and blue. The white dress. The vows. The rings. The kiss. Wedding ceremonies are full of tradition, and the reception is no exception.
From the speeches and cake-cutting to the tosses and dances, the after-ceremony celebration offers plenty of elements for couples to include, tweak — or drop altogether.
During his 30 years in the DJ business, Jim Lieber, owner of Sounds of Music in Maumee, said he’s watched many traditions remain while others have fallen out of favor.
The “Chicken Dance” is one tradition in decline, Lieber said.
“I’ve noticed if you play the ‘Chicken Dance,’ you probably won’t make it out of the building,” Lieber said, laughing. “It used to be, years ago, everybody played that; nowadays, you might get shot before you get to the next song.”
Other songs commonly found on couples’ do-not-play lists include”Y.M.C.A.”, the “Hokey Pokey” and the “Macarena”, said Doug Bermick, president of Professional Sounds in Toledo and Temperance, also a 30-year veteran of the DJ business.
“A professional DJ can entertain an audience, if they are good, without those songs,” Bermick said.
Lieber said he always respects the wishes of his clients, but sometimes reminds them songs are classics for a reason.
“Brides and grooms today, I think maybe because they’ve seen it over and over again at weddings, they want to do something different,” Lieber said. “They might be tired of hearing some of the songs, but it’s also my job to tell them more people will dance to something they’re familiar with. Weddings have a wide variety of guests and you’re not going to dance to something you’ve never heard.”
Bouquet, garter toss
The bouquet toss — in which the bride tosses her flowers to a group of single ladies — is still done at a majority of receptions, Lieber said. But letting their grooms remove their garters in front of grandma and the gathered guests is a source of nervousness for many brides.
“I’ve noticed people are getting more conservative, which is weird because you see a lot more on television these days, but they just don’t feel comfortable,” Lieber said. “Sometimes the bride is embarrassed of their leg or just the guy going under her dress.”
The bouquet toss, which today marks the one who catches it as the next to marry, started centuries ago to appease and divert wedding guests who would try and tear off pieces of the bride’s dress for good luck. The garter toss stems from when the groom needed to prove the marriage had been consummated.
Toledoans Justin and Stephanie Longacre were married in 2003. They did the bouquet toss, but not the garter toss.
“We were too embarrassed to do it,” Stephanie said.
Megan Fowler of Toledo, who will be married this fall, said she and her fiancée, Joe Lindsey, are not planning to do either toss.
“Some of our friends are gay and can’t get married, many are already married and others have no intention of ever getting married for whatever reason,” Fowler said. “There are very few who would actually want to catch them. Also, we’re both kind of icked out about the whole garter thing. We’re pretty affectionate people, but that just seems like a gross PDA extreme. It always makes me uncomfortable to see when I’m a guest at weddings.”
Suggested alternatives posted to a message board on popular wedding blog Wedding Bee include splitting the bouquet into individual flowers and handing them out to female guests — or giving them to male guests to hand to their sweethearts.
Other couples give the bouquet to the longest-married guest couple as determined by a relatively recent reception tradition — the anniversary dance, in which married couples leave the floor as milestone anniversaries are announced until the longest-married couple remains, Lieber said.
“That has become very popular,” he said. “Years ago, that wasn’t even on the map.”
The bridal party dance is one now being done less frequently, Lieber said.
“I’ve noticed people have gotten away from that in the last few years,” Lieber said. “I think a lot of the reason is the bridal party has spouses or boyfriends or girlfriends.”
The father/daughter, mother/son and couple’s first dance are other wedding dance traditions. Fowler said the first dance is the wedding tradition she is most excited about.
“Not because we’re into dancing, but it just seems like it will be a nice moment to soak in the whole enormity of the occasion while listening to a song we love and sway-dancing like seventh-graders,” Fowler said.
Dollar dance or dash
The dollar dance, where guests pay a dollar for the opportunity to slow dance with the bride or groom, is popular because it offers one-on-one face time with guests, both DJs said.
“Weddings go by really fast,” Bermick said. “I would suspect some brides like that because they can talk and converse with their guests for a few minutes.”
A more fast-paced variation is the dollar dash. Upbeat music is played while the bride and groom run around the room collecting cash from guests in a competition to see who can get the most.
The song is usually money-themed, said Bermick, who frequently uses “Take the Money and Run” by Steve Miller Band, “If I Had $1,000,000” by Barenaked Ladies, “Money” by Pink Floyd,” or The O’Jays’ “For the Love of Money,” the theme song from “The Apprentice.”
Another option is a 50-50 raffle, where the bride and groom sell raffle tickets, with the couple taking half the pot and the winning guest the other half, Bermick said.
Bermick estimates about 40 percent of couples do the dollar dance, 40 percent do the dollar dash and 20 percent do the raffle.
“It just depends on their family tree and what they think they’re going to like the best,” Bermick said. “The bride and groom know whether they will have a good result with whatever they pick.”
Katie Huffman of Fostoria, who married her husband, Gene, in 2007, said she was hesitant to do a dollar dance, but family and friends encouraged her.
“I thought it was rather tacky, but everyone assured me I was wrong,” Huffman said.
The Longacres decided against any of the cash-collecting options.
“We felt it looked a tad gimme-gimme,” Stephanie said.
Holly Ellerbush of Toledo said she had no qualms — and no regrets — about partaking in all the traditional elements at her wedding to husband, Larry.
“We did every tacky wedding event from the garter to the grand march and we loved every minute of it!” Ellerbush said. “We even did the ‘Chicken Dance’ and the ‘Hokey Pokey’!”
While only the couple can decide what feels right for their event and what they are comfortable with, Lieber said he personally feels some wedding fun is lost by leaving out traditional elements.
“Some of this stuff can be an icebreaker and bring two families together and get group participation involved,” Lieber said. “Some of the brides and grooms are stiffer than they used to be. When I think about it, it’s because we’ve gotten away from the hoedown-type reception. When I first got into this business in 1978, it was very common for people to go to a banquet hall and have kielbasa, a cold sandwich and a keg of beer at the end of the line. People are more relaxed when they’re just building their own sandwiches. Receptions are a lot more elegant than they used to be and elegance can make it a little more stiff.”
To smash or not to smash?
Lieber said fancier receptions might explain why he notices fewer couples smearing cake on each other’s faces during the cake-cutting.
“There was a lot more of that back years ago,” Lieber said. “A lot of times the bride has her makeup. It really depends on the mood. My theory is if it’s a high-class wedding, you’re not going to see that, but if it’s more low-key and casual, you’ll see more of that.”
Huffman said she and her husband were in agreement about the cake feeding.
“One thing that was never up for debate by Gene or I was the smashing of the cake in each other’s face,” Huffman said. “It seemed terrible to spend $1,000 on a cake and smush it on our faces and possibly get it on our clothes.”
Fowler said she isn’t planning on a face full of cake, but is prepared for it anyway.
“Knowing Joe, I’m guessing it will happen,” Fowler said. “I don’t mind, because it’s all in fun.”
How to obtain a marriage license in Lucas County
In Lucas County, both the bride and groom must be present when filling out an application for a marriage license.
A marriage license is valid for 60 days after it has been issued. An ordained or licensed minister of any religion within the state who is licensed with the secretary of state or a judge in municipal or county court may solemnize marriages.
Marriage licenses can be obtained at the Lucas County Probate Court, 700 Adams St., Suite 200, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost of a marriage license is $50 and must be paid in cash.
What you need:
- Government-issued photo ID (driver’s license, state ID, passport or military ID)
- Social Security number (requested but not mandatory)
- Birth certificate for those younger than 21
- Copy of final Decree of Divorce, Dissolution or Annulment for those previously married
- Copy of previous spouse’s death certificate for widows/widowers
Ohio residents must obtain a marriage license in the county where either the bride or groom resides. There is no waiting period on marriage licenses and weddings may take place the same day.
For more information, visit the website www.lucas-co-probate-ct.org.
Source: Lucas County Probate Court