Picture it: it’s your wedding day. You’ve spent the last year ironing out every detail to make it the perfect day. Your dress is everything you’ve dreamed of since you were a little girl. The cake is stunning, the decorations are beautiful, and the bridesmaids are beaming. There isn’t a dry eye in the house as the MC announces the first dance of the new couple.
The band starts to play “your” song, and your new husband leads you out on the floor. He takes you in his arms and…sways back and forth, in one spot, for the next three and a half minutes. By the end, your guests are looking disinterested, and frankly, so are you!
What happened? Oh no, you forgot to take dance lessons! Why would anyone spend that much time, energy and money on planning the perfect day, but leave out this one important detail?
I have helped many couples get ready for their first dance at their wedding, and recently planned my own. I’ve assembled some frequently asked questions to help you out, along with some questions you need to ask yourself and your instructor.
How Soon Should We Start Dance Lessons?
This depends on many factors:
* How good you want to be
* How quickly you learn
* Whether you’ve had any dance experience (of any kind) in the past
* How much you want to learn
* Do you just want to learn a few steps and just be able to get around the floor, repeating them over and over without stepping on each other or looking silly?
* Do you want a fully choreographed routine, involving many more steps and maybe some advanced moves?
* Do you want to learn a couple of different types of dances so that you can dance all night long, or just enough to get through the one song?
At a bare minimum, for average learners who only want to learn a few steps, five hours of private lessons are generally sufficient.
Start your lessons about two months before the wedding, so that you can take one per week and have some time left in case you miss a week, decide you need an extra hour or two, or just have too much to do right before the event.
If you want to learn more, consider starting six months to a year before the wedding day. You can start by taking some group lessons, which are economical, and start taking private lessons once you’ve decided what you want to do.
What Dance Should We Learn?
This depends entirely on the song you pick. Pick a song that is meaningful to you, and then decide what dance to do to it with your instructor.
Foxtrot is the most common and can be danced to many different types of music. You may end up picking a song that is difficult to dance to, but your instructor should be able to help you work it out. It is more important that you like the song you picked than it is to have one that is “approved” for ballroom dancing!
I once had a couple who had picked a song that was difficult to dance to, and their previous teacher had told them that they couldn’t use it and to use “Edelweiss” instead! Don’t make any decisions that you will look back on and regret. If your instructor refuses to work with you on this, find another one. Also, don’t be afraid to break from tradition. Some couples will do Swing, Rumba, or even Tango as their first dance!
Is Our Song Too Long?
That, again, depends on you. Do you want to be in the spotlight that long, or does the thought make you uncomfortable? Many people worry that their guests won’t want to watch them dance for that long.
In my opinion, you’re giving them a three or four hour reception. They can watch you have one of the most romantic moments of your life for three to five minutes! Besides, you’re taking dance lessons, so you’ll be fun to watch. If this makes you uncomfortable, consider dancing alone for a couple of minutes, then bringing in the parents, wedding party, or even the guests to join you on the floor. Which brings me to my next point.
Should Our Parents and Wedding Party Learn how to Dance Too?
Why not? If you’re going to have them dance before the other guests, it will look better if they know how. Even if you’re not going to make them dance in front of people, it’s a great thank-you gift!
They’ll love being able to dance all night long at your wedding and looking good while they’re doing it! Talk to your studio about getting a special deal for having the whole group take lessons together. If you can’t afford private lessons for them, group lessons would also be helpful and much cheaper. Of course, you don’t have to pay for them at all, but you can make the suggestion to them to do it on their own!
How Much Should I Pay for Dance Lessons?
How do I choose a studio? How much can you afford? What is the going rate in your area? Be sure to call around. If there are several studios in your area, shop carefully. Make sure the instructor is willing to work with you to give you what you want, has reasonable prices and group rates, and has openings that fit in your schedule.
You don’t need a world champion to teach you a few steps, but you do want someone who is a good teacher. Personal references are the best way to go, do you have any friends that have taken dance lessons? Where did they go, and were they happy with the results?
We Don’t Have a Song, What do you Suggest?
Pick a song that means something to you.
* Was it the first song you ever danced to together?
* Do you remember the song that was playing on the radio during your first kiss?
* Maybe it’s a romantic song by your favorite band.
* Do you want something slow and romantic, or upbeat and fun?
* Do you want one of the old standards, or something more modern?
* Do you like alternative, rock, oldies, or country music?
Try to have something picked by your first lesson so you can get started right away learning to dance to it.
Some Other Questions to ask Yourself:
* Are you having a DJ or a band?
* If a band, will they play your song, or will you use a CD?
* Will you do the whole song by yourselves, or bring other people on partway through?
* Will you be having other special dances, i.e. father/daughter, mother/son, wedding party?
* Decide what you want to do, and your instructor and DJ or MC can help you work out the details.
A Few Suggestions for First Dance Songs:
Foxtrot: (some of these can also be Swing)
* Frank Sinatra: I’ve Got You Under My Skin
* Frank Sinatra: Fly Me to the Moon
* Frank Sinatra: The Best is Yet to Come
* Frank Sinatra: The Way You Look Tonight
* Frank Sinatra: Dancing Cheek to Cheek
* Harry Connick Jr.: It Had to Be You
* Harry Connick Jr.: Love is Here to Stay
* The Beatles: In My Life
* This Business of Love
* They Can’t Take that Away From Me
* Nat King Cole: Fascination
* Ann Murray: May I Have This Dance
* Perry Como: Dance Only With Me
* Dana Glover: It is You (This is fast, consider having it slowed down)
* The Summer of Our Love
Night Club Two Step:
* Shania Twain: From This Moment
* Faith Hill: This Kiss
* Faith Hill: Breathe
* Faith Hill: Still the One
* Savage Garden: I Knew I Loved You
I hope you’ve found this article helpful! If you have more questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Good luck, best wishes, and happy dancing!
Jennifer has been teaching several years and has competed in Ballroom and West Coast Swing. She is an accomplished social dancer and brings the fun of dance to her classes. Jennifer is currently teaching many of the beginning classes at The Ballroom of Sacramento in Northern California and is very knowledgeable in a variety of Ballroom, Latin and Club dances. One of Jennifer’s specialties is preparing the wedding couple for their first dance as man and wife.