A few days ago I posted this on my FaceBook status:
I told this random guy the other day that I was a bellydancer and that I performed at a lot of wedding receptions. He immediately looked shocked and said "Why would any bride want a beautiful woman at her wedding reception?" Some folks only see the negative, drama-laden side of things ...
Well, why would a bride choose Middle Eastern Dance as wedding entertainment? In fact why do brides choose any of the things they choose? (For convenience, I'm using the term "brides" because they are usually the ones who organize the wedding, and their wishes are often the most influential. Several others usually help in the decision-making process.)
A bride will select one centerpiece design, one band or DJ, one color scheme, one venue (just to name a few) over several others because she wants to make a certain kind of impression, and to bring her wedding-day vision to life. In this case, all of the various elements that go into the making of that wedding day will be a reflection of her, her feelings, and her circumstances as they stand on that day in time. If those elements--the food, the guests, the entertainment, the decor, and the timing of it all--are wonderful, then she is all the more wonderful, too. The beauty of the setting lends its beauty to everyone by extension. By this rationale, a beautiful, joyous bellydancer can be seen as an embodiment of the joy of the day. The bridal couple and their families are expressing their joy; they want their guests to feel happiness, too.
Yes, that's it!
The bellydancer symbolizes the the joy and beauty of the day. She is a living, breathing representation of the couple's love for each other.
The dancer may be the most beautiful woman available for the gig. However if that dancer lacks the technical skill and experience to deliver that message, or worse yet, isn't a good entertainer and therefore can't convey and embody the happiness she's there to impart, her beauty won't seem so great. Many guests will lose interest early on and use the dancer's show as a good time to get that drink and maybe visit the restroom. On the other hand, a dancer who is a great entertainer makes everyone else feel great too; the guests will be mesmerized and won't want to miss anything.
And that's what it's all about. I sure wish I'd had this answer ready for that guy ....
Happy dancing, everyone ... and keep some snappy answers handy!