For a couple who wants to include the money dance in their wedding celebration, this fun tradition—which spans across multiple cultures—can be a memorable way to unite two families.
What Is the Money Dance?
The money dance is a cultural tradition at many wedding receptions in where guests offer the newlyweds money to dance with them, or they shower the couple with money. The custom—which you'll find variations of in Poland, Greece, Nigeria, Philippines, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Portugal, Cuba, Latin America, Mexico, Eastern Europe, the United States, and more—is meant to help establish the couple in their new life together or to show how much they are loved and appreciated.
“Couples put a lot of consideration into incorporating cultural traditions like the money dance into their special day,” says luxury wedding planner Kate Murtaugh. “Because their guests may be unfamiliar with it, [couples can inform guests] ahead of time as to their traditions.”
Meet the Expert
- Kate Murtaugh is a luxury wedding planner.
- Alicia Mae is the founder of ILE Events, a wedding event company.
- Christy Record is the founder of Swank Soiree Weddings and Events.
- Maria Corvallis is the president and creative director of Peter Corvallis Productions.
Ahead, learn more about the history and meaning behind this tradition, as well as an overview of the dance in different cultures.
The History and Meaning of the Money Dance
The money dance is also called the dollar dance, money spray, or apron dance. Performing the money dance varies across the cultures which practice it. There is no definitive source to reference as to when it started or which country or culture was first to initiate it as part of a wedding celebration. Variations of this dance are popular in Poland, Greece, Nigeria, Philippines, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Portugal, Cuba, Latin America, Mexico, Eastern Europe, and other cultures. Naturally, immigrants brought their customs with them to America, so the dance is part of many wedding celebrations in the U.S.
“We’ve planned the money dances for our Nigerian, Filipino, and Polish clients' weddings,” says ILE Events founder Alicia Mae. “It's always a fun part of the night where everyone is cheering, dancing, and celebrating. The difference between the money dances is the way each culture offers the money and why.”
The money usually features the local currency of the country in which the couple resides.
The Money Dance in Different Cultures
Polish Apron Dance
During this tradition, all of the guests line up to dance with the bride and offer money to the newlywed couple, which is collected into a special apron held by the bride's father. The Pani Mloda Polka song is played, and after dancing with the bride, guests receive a drink (usually a shot of spirits).
Nigerian Money Spray
Originated by the Yoruba people in Nigeria’s Southwest, money spraying symbolizes a showering of happiness, good fortune, and the guest's affection for the couple. The bride and groom are ushered in and dance behind the wedding party. Guests encircle the couple on the dance floor and come forward, placing bills on their foreheads, allowing them to “rain down.”
“At a Nigerian wedding reception, the bride and groom are dressed in traditional attire,” says Swank Soiree Weddings and Events founder Christy Record. “For the Yoruba tribe, the bride wears Iro and Buba and the groom wears an Agbada. As the money is sprayed, 'collectors’ take the cash from the floor and place it in bags for the couple.”
Filipino Money Dance
In this version of the money dance, male guests line up in front of the bride to pin money on her dress while the women pin money on the groom. The pinning can get creative with bills pinned together as garlands, made into crowns, or streaming down their clothing. Keep in mind that this decoration process can take a bit of time if there are a lot of dancers, and guests take turns dancing with the bride and groom.
Portuguese Money Dance
Historically, this dance involved male guests lining up and dancing with the bride. Today, bridesmaids and female guests also dance with the groom. The bride's father usually begins by dancing with his daughter while the groom's mother dances with her son. The bride takes off her shoes and puts them in the middle of the dance floor, where guests take them to pass around collecting money for the dance.
Greek Money Shower
In the smaller villages in Greece, there is an old tradition of pinning money to the bride's dress at the reception during a special dance. In America, this tradition is more of a money shower. When the couple dances near, the guests will toss a whole wad of bills to help them get established in their new life. “The traditional money dance with the pinning of bills is not as widespread in Greek-American communities as it once was, especially here on the west coast,” says Peter Corvallis Productions president and creative director Maria Corvallis. “I have only seen it as a showering of bills as the couple dances near or comes to each table.”
Cajun Money Dance
In Louisiana, a Cajun wedding typically includes the money dance. Traditionally, guests will pin money on the bride’s veil to dance with her. Today, the groom is also pinned for a dance to lively Cajun music.
Modern Money Dance Ideas
If you're planning to include the money dance on your wedding day and want some additional ideas, our experts share their top tips below.
- If pinning the money onto clothing is your custom, consider changing into a second outfit to avoid ruining your gown or tux.
- After playing the traditional money dance song, get a little creative. A DJ can create a song mix with the word “money” during the hook for something fun.
- While the Portuguese tradition is to pass the bride's shoes around the room for contributions, consider a second pair of less expensive shoes for the money collection.
- Couples may prefer to celebrate this tradition by merely dancing together while their loved ones throw money at them in celebration of their new life together.
- If you don't want money as part of your dance, substitute little love notes written by each guest to toss at you when you dance by their table. Have them collected and take them home for when you need inspiration and a little love.