For almost a year now one of the most popular search terms leading to our wedding blog has been "brother sister dance." At first, I thought it was a fluke based on a picture of Jake and Maggie Gyllenhall that we used on a blog post with song ideas for this type of dance. The photo became very popular on Pinterest and I thought that might be driving a lot of traffic to the blog.
But, as I did more research with brides and grooms, as well as wedding bands and DJs, I found that more and more couples are adding Brother/Sister dances to their reception schedules. In most cases the Brother/Sister dance is used in lieu of a Father/Daughter dance when the father is deceased or not involved in the wedding.
For her wedding four years ago, Lainie Gutterman's groom and his sister danced to the theme from "Family Ties," as part of an inside family joke. Lainie and her sister joined them on the dance floor and the picture of the four siblings dancing is one of her favorites. Bride Wendy Grimm's sister-in-law requested a special dance with her brother. The two danced to "Wind Beneath Your Wings," and Grimm found the moment touching (although I recommend that anyone thinking about using that song read the lyrics carefully first, it doesn't mean exactly what you think it does).
The Father/Daughter dance itself is not without its detractors. The idea that the bride is "leaving" her father for her new husband is a little strange, especially when the bride in question is an adult who has been living with her new husband for a few years. But, the dance has come to be an expected and heartwarming tradition and most people don't think too deeply about the implications. However, when you apply the same emotions to a brother and sister it can become less heartwarming and more Flowers in the Attic.
Becca Kaufman of BKO Orchestra in Chicago agrees. Kaufman warns that the dance can become awkward for guests. "Honestly, I advise against it," she says. "Instead of going for the same emotions as a traditional Father/Daughter dance, I recommend choosing an upbeat, fun song for the siblings and inviting everyone to join in."
DJ Nate Long agrees that the key to making the dance successful (and not creepy) is careful song selection. "You want to find a song that represents close ties, but not intimate ones," says Long. Among Long's suggestions are James Taylor's "You've Got a Friend" and Queen's "You're My Best Friend."
Many people love the idea of a brother/sister dance and there are clearly ways to do it without becoming a Lifetime movie of the week, but couples should think carefully about why they're choosing to do it. If you're having a Brother/Sister dance only because you aren't having a Father/Daughter dance then the dance won't be very meaningful. If you're having a Brother/Sister dance because you always liked V.C. Andrews, well, that's a whole different story.
When it comes to your wedding, don't be afraid to not just adapt wedding traditions, but even to ignore them.