Are you dreading your first dance as Husband and Wife? Let me rephrase that. Are you dreading having to dance almost on your own in front of an audience of possibly hundreds of people?
This is perfectly understandable. There are very few people who feel naturally at ease in these situations. As the leader of a wedding band, I come across couples every week that beg not to be left on the dance floor on their own for too long. Indeed, when I got married, I can’t say I was overly looking forward to it. You assume you are going to fall down, or your dress will catch fire. Perhaps you worry, in a fit of paranoia that your wedding venue have greased the dance floor and that perfect moment that you had in your head (where for some reason and without any training, you and your partner were accomplished ballroom dancers) turns into a nightmare and you end up stumbling off the dance floor, knocking over the bands equipment and landing head first into evening buffet. Let’s face it, the chances of nobody recording this are zero now that everyone has cameras on their phone. Look on the bright side, it might go viral on you tube?
So where does this fear come from? The main reason is that you are asked to do something in public that you have no expertise in. It’s also early in the evening so the courage and confidence that comes after a few drinks isn’t going to help you here.
Here are some crucial things to remember to make sure your first dance is the moment you deserve and will be a cherished memory for the rest of your lives.
1, You don’t have to do it
Just because you have seen this tradition at other weddings, doesn’t mean you have to do it. This is your big day and you are perfectly entitled not to have a first dance. Seriously, more and more couples are choosing this option. Do keep a few things in mind though. It is a lovely photo opportunity for your photographer (or videographer if you are having one). It is also a great way for your band or DJ to get your guests up to the dance floor. Even still, none of this matters, if you and your partner are not comfortable with it and nobody has the right to tell you what you have to do on the biggest day of your lives.
2. Talk to the band or DJ
A professional wedding band or DJ will want to make sure the first dance is exactly as you want it and so it is important to talk with them in advance of your wedding day. Don’t leave it to the day itself. You need to keep a few things in mind. Do you want the band to play the song live or use a recording of the original? (mp3, CD, etc… ). Now you may ask, what is the point of having a live band if they are going to play a recording of the first dance. Well, consider this; A very popular first dance is “we have all the time in the world” by Louis Armstrong. This is a very appropriate choice of song for your first dance but Louis Armstrong has a unique voice. If you want to hear the song exactly as you are used to hearing it, you will need to use the recording. This might not be important to you but it is to some people. Musicians are human beings and none of us have absolutely perfect timing so keep in mind that live musician may play a song slightly faster or slower than you are used to. This can cause problems if you have been practicing at a certain tempo. The band will usually be able to provide a copy of the first dance at no extra charge but do make sure it is the same version as the one you have your mind. For example, another popular first dance is “What a Wonderful World” (coincidentally, also by Louis Armstrong), but there is another version of the same song recorded by Joey Ramone and trust me, you don’t want to get the two versions mixed up. Have a Listen and you’ll know what I mean.
As a band leader myself, I generally advise that the happy couple have the dance floor to themselves for no longer than one minute, (brides and grooms are normally more than happy with this) and we then invite the rest of the bridal party to join us for another minute before we invite all of your guests up to join them. This system has proved very popular and I get great feedback about it.
3. Choose your song carefully
A band or DJ will always be happy to give you advice of songs that are appropriate and work well. We always suggest though that you pick the song yourself. It can be anything you want. I have seen great examples of extravagant first dance performances like “Thriller” by Michael Jackson involving the whole party and “I’ve had the time of my life” from Dirty Dancing complete with the lift at the end. Slower ballads work well and generally three to four minutes is plenty of time.
Currently, popular first dance tunes include;
“Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran
“All of Me” by John Legend
“Songbird” by Eva Cassidy
“The way you look tonight” by Frank Sinatra
While some couples book a series of dancing lessons in the run up to their big day, I have always thought this to be a bit excessive. I’m sure you could have fun with this but if you follow my tip of only being on the floor for a minute or so, those weeks of lessons might turn out to be a waste of time and money. This doesn’t mean that I advise “winging it” on the night. You and your partner should take some time in the days before your wedding to practice dancing along to your chosen song. This will make you feel more comfortable on your wedding night when you are doing it for real. This is particularly aimed at men. You would not believe how many times I see men standing on the wife’s toes and accidentally head-butting the love of their life. To compound this and, as I said earlier, there is no prospect of this not being caught on camera any more.
5. Embrace it
Trust me, when this dance is over, you will wonder what you were so worried about. As you approach the dance floor with your partner for life, take a deep breath, look around you and embrace this wonderful moment. You are both special people who are loved not just by each other but by everyone joining you for this occasion. It is a wonderful feeling and you should cherish it. I hope this article will help you to do just that.