Your First Dance – How to Make it Not Suck

Oct 15, 2016 | Advice

Halflight have witnessed hundreds of first dances over the years and we’ve formulated some thoughts that you might find helpful to make yours a success. 

The first dance is that thing you suddenly remember you still have to do even after the speeches have finished. It often strikes a certain amount of fear into couples and it certainly provides its fair share of anxiety and stress during the wedding prep. It’s the last formal wedding tradition of the day before you can finally relax. But how can you make it special and not an exercise in self humiliation?

The Sidestep Shuffle

There are those couples who err on the side of caution and just do a bit of awkward swaying and shuffling and those who go all out and get dance lessons and choreograph the whole lot. The former is often boring to watch and awkward to do. It does indeed play it safe as little can go wrong, but why even bother with something just to tick a box? It’s your wedding day – if you don’t want to do a first dance you don’t have to. On the other hand, even a sidestep shuffle can be a beautiful thing if you’re both wrapped up in eachother and the moment – onlookers will sense that and it will be touching. Or, simply sidestep convention and do something different…

Alternative First Dance

If the idea of a solo first dance turns you off, try these ideas:

  • Get your whole wedding party in on it and do a group dance – zombies, Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, Baby Got Back! Whatever you can dream up. Safety in numbers and a guaranteed hoot!
  • Bandaoke – if you’re having a band, (or even just a DJ – just kidding, DJs), have a nice wail into a mic and get everyone to join in. You can arrange a song with the band or DJ in advance and get the lyrics ready on a tablet.
  • Just dance the first verse of a song and then get your groomsmen and bridesmaids to get everyone on the dance floor. Minimise that spotlight time!
  • Have some kind of wedding conga. Yes, it’s cheesy, but everyone will probably be drunk anyway, and it’s fun.

Use your imagination! It’s great to see that people are starting to think outside the box when it comes to wedding traditions. It can make for a really memorable part of the evening.

Choreography and Dance Lessons

With the popularity of ‘Strictly’, it’s easier than ever to find a dance teacher. Particularly one that will teach you privately specifically for weddings.

Whilst this can be a great option for some, there are pros and cons. If you both have a reasonable amount of co-ordination and ability, lessons can pay off and if you’re confident, it could be a storming success. If even one of you is less born to it, it might not have the impact it does in your head. The difficulty often comes when one of you (usually the bride) is a good mover and really wants to do a beautiful choreographed dance, and the other has two left feet and can think of nothing worse. You’ve got to use that ‘c’ word. Some kind of compromise needs to be struck. We’ll talk about that in a sec.

We often think that choreographed dances succeed or fail based on the attitude that you come to the dance floor with. By this I mean: “we know we can’t dance but we’re gonna bloody do it anyway”, or just having a mindset that it’s fun and it doesn’t even matter if you’re crap or mess it up – everyone will be rooting for you anyway! We’ve seen far more dances like that that worked because of the spirit in which they were performed. If you’re a little too desperate to get it right, it sort of shows, and can be awkward to watch.

Another reason to avoid a choreographed dance might be that you’re so hung up on getting it right, that you actually fail to enjoy it and be present with your new husband/wife in the moment, which is arguably more important than ‘getting it right’.

Winging It

A good compromise between the awkward-but-safe shuffle and the choreographed dance spectacular, is to get lessons that teach you a few moves that you can string together ad-lib. If the groom is taught to lead and knows a few basic steps and twirls etc, you can just string something together on the dancefloor that has a few ‘wow’ moments. Providing you’re not a nervous wreck, this can be a great way to produce something more natural on the dancefloor and your guests will feel that too and relax on your behalf.

Check out this post from Wedding Lovely for some DIY wedding dance tips.

The song is often one of the hardest things to choose. Check out these posts for some first dance song inspiration

First Dance Ideas

More First Dance Ideas

Have fun.


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