First dance - a step by step guide

Photo by  Alvin Mahmudov  on  Unsplash

Although you’ll want your wedding to be a unique event that celebrates your particular relationship, tastes, interests and sense of style it is a deeply traditional occasion.  Certain things, like the exchanging of rings and the giving of speeches, are expected.  The same goes for the first dance – the moment when the newly-wed couple step out together and take a few turns of the dancefloor in front of the assembled company.  It’s a part of the proceedings and ritual you can’t really miss out.  In this post we give you some tips on how best to rise to the occasion.

Is it obligatory?

Some couples love dancing, are good at it, and see this as one of the romantic high points of their big day.  For others it’s their worst nightmare.  While the majority probably view it with some trepidation. 

This begs the question – do we have to?

Yes.  Partly because the guests will be disappointed if you deprive them of this most romantic spectacle.  Equally important the first dance marks the end of the meal and the start of the party.  Finally, it’s a moment that’s heavily photographed and videoed.  For all these reasons you really have to make a it a feature of the celebrations.

However, if one of you has two left feet and no sense of rhythm then the whole idea is going to fill you with dread.  There’s nothing worse than feeling anxious or apprehensive on your big day – so here’s what you do.  Just ask a few other couples to join you (and organise this ahead of time, so you don’t take them by surprise).  That way you don’t miss out on the romantic moment but nor are you alone in the spotlight. 

Bear in mind that your guests won’t be too judgemental if you do little more than sway from side to side for a few minutes  – which is what most first dances end up being!

Order of dances

Strictly speaking, if you want to follow tradition closely, after the first dance the bride should dance with her father and the groom with the bride’s mother.  Then the groom asks his mother to take the next dance, followed by the groom’s parents dancing with each other.  After this each of the groomsmen, starting with the best man, may dance with the bride, and the groom may dance with the bridesmaids. These dances can be for entire or partial songs, depending on the length of the reception.

If you decide to follow this traditional schedule of dances then make sure everyone is properly prepared otherwise it could be chaos!  If, on the other hand, this is too complicated and long drawn out for you, just make up your own list of dances – the only essential one is that first dance with the happy couple.

Photo by  Skye Studios  on  Unsplash

Photo by Skye Studios on Unsplash

Your chance to dance creative

In recent years, partly driven by the growing popularity of social media, couples are using the wedding dance to have a lot of fun.  If this is a bit ambitious for you then not to worry – but here are a few ideas.

The bride and groom may opt for a carefully choreographed ballroom dance that is clearly well rehearsed and the result of many hours of dance lessons and preparation. 

Another trend is for a dance that starts off slow and romantic but then halts.  The bride and groom look at each other in mock surprise and then go into a lively routine that has guests looking on in amazement or rolling about with laughter. 

If you really want to wow people get the bridesmaids and groomsmen to join you in dance lessons and put on an “impromptu” dance that looks like a major stage production.

General Wedding Dance Tips

  • For that all important first dance choose a song that you both love and which you feel sums up your special relationship
  • Practice dancing to the song before the wedding. If either of you has little or no experience on the dance floor, take a lesson from a professional. A few ballroom dance lessons can make a big difference between feeling clumsy and having confidence to dance in front of others.
  • If your wedding dress is long or has a train, bustle it so you don't trip over it.
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable for dancing. If you aren't used to high heels, wear lower heels or flats. 
  • Try to get in a practice session at your wedding venue if you can, so you can understand how much space you actually have to dance in. Try your shoes on your wedding venue dance floor to make sure they’re not too slippery.
  • Make time on the wedding day if it’s at all possible to quickly go through your dance routine so it’s fresh in your mind. Maybe you could run through it whilst you’re off having your pictures taken?
  • Whilst you’re eating your meal, run through the steps in your head so you’re sure of them.
  • No one will be looking at your feet as you dance – the focus is on your upper body so hold your back straight and keep smiling!
Photo by  Allef Vinicius  on  Unsplash

What song to pick?

Of course it’s totally up to you to decide what song best sums up your love.  However, if you’d like a little inspiration Spotify has recently revealed the top 10 most popular wedding and first dance songs of 2018 from playlists across the globe:

  1. Ed Sheeran, "Perfect"
  2. Ed Sheeran, "Thinking Out Loud"
  3. Etta James, "At Last"
  4. John Legend, "All of Me"
  5. Elvis Presley, "Can’t Help Falling in Love"
  6. Christina Perri, "A Thousand Years"
  7. Ray LaMontagne, "You Are the Best Thing"
  8. Jason Mraz, "I Won’t Give Up"
  9. Ellie Goulding, "How Long Will I Love You"
  10. Ed Sheeran, "Perfect Duet" (Ed Sheeran & Beyoncé)

Music to your ears

Whatever you have in mind regarding your first dance, or indeed to music for your wedding as a whole, our expert team are here to help.  You can ask them any questions you may have, pick their brains about great local DJs or bands or arrange to come and try out the dancefloor for yourselves!