The first dance at a wedding is a huge moment. Whether your wedding is small and simple or big and elaborate, this symbolic first step into married life is a wedding day essential. Because it carries so much symbolic weight, you want to be comfortable and at ease. Couples want to focus on each other, but at the same time, knowing that you’re the center of attention can be a little nerve-wracking. These days, first dances range from sweet and sentimental to funny or over the top, from classic and elegant to theatrical. Whatever you choose, your first dance shows off your personality as a couple and sets the tone for your reception. Whether you pick a simple slow dance or choreographed ballroom dance, a little practice and even a few professional lessons never hurt.
Why Is The First Dance So Important at Weddings?
There are good reasons the first dance has stayed popular over the centuries. First, it’s a lovely tradition that has hundreds of years of history behind it. The idea of hosts opening the dance floor with a first dance dates back to 17th Century balls and has evolved over the decades from minuets, waltzes, and quadrilles to more modern ballroom dances and popular grooves. The first dance is also a symbolic moment introducing the new couple to friends and family. It’s at once a tender, intimate moment and an event that everyone in the room is watching.
Finally, the first dance helps make the transition from the ceremony to the party. Once the traditional dances between bride and groom and then new spouses with their parents take place, the dance floor is open for an evening of fun.
How Can We Choose the Perfect Song for Our First Dance?
Choosing a song is the first step in making that first dance magical. Picking your song is a chance to let your personality shine and express yourself, but you also want to look good on the dance floor. Find a song that’s meaningful to you and your fiance in terms of lyrics and melody. But remember, it should be easy to dance to. Not every romantic or meaningful song makes for a great dance. Find something you and your fiance can move to and get comfortable with. Almost any type of music can work, from contemporary ballads to country favorites to jazz standards and even show tunes. Just make sure it feels good when you try it out together.
What Types of Dances Work Best for Bride and Groom?
First dances can range from a basic slow dance to more polished ballroom moves. Here are a few of the dance types that work best:
- A slow dance or sway doesn’t take too much prep and works well with most slow, romantic songs.
- Waltz: the box steps and turns in a waltz take just a little practice. And you don’t have to use the Blue Danube; waltzes work surprisingly well with contemporary ballads.
- Foxtrot: Lots of couples are choosing to learn to foxtrot for their wedding. This smooth style features steps similar to a waltz but with a faster rhythm. It works well with both classic and contemporary songs and lends itself well to adding fun dance moves.
- Latin dance styles like rhumba or mambo or even hip-hop can work well for brides and grooms. You’ll definitely want a few lessons since these moves take plenty of practice and just the right song to make it work.
What About Those Other “Kickoff” Dances?
Next to the bride and groom’s first dance, the traditional father/daughter and mother/son “kickoff” dances can also provide sweet memories and usher friends and family onto the dance floor. These dances tend to get a little sentimental and often involve traditional choices. Natalie Cole’s “Unforgettable” or Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” are sweet favorites, along with charming songs by old-school crooners and their contemporary counterparts like Harry Connick Jr. or Michael Buble. An easy slow dance is often the right choice for a dance with mom or dad. But learning the waltz or some simple swing dance steps can be lots of fun. Your folks may already know them, but a few lessons and a little practice together go a long way and offer pre-wedding bonding moments you’ll cherish.
The Wedding Dance: Practice Makes Perfect
While your first dance is an unforgettable moment between you and your new spouse, it’s also a moment when all eyes are on you. That’s why it’s essential to make time to plan and practice.
A few professional lessons can help you feel less clumsy and can make the experience more enjoyable and relaxed for you and your spouse. At Arthur Murray Dance Studio, our wedding services run the gamut from helping couples plan a choreographed routine a year in advance to working with couples for six or eight lessons to get the basics and take the edge off. Whatever your needs, professional dance instruction is an investment that will likely pay off throughout your marriage at other events and friends’ weddings. And it’s a delightful activity you can do together. So many couples come in for help with that first dance and come back just for the fun of it.