A typical wedding is full of traditions and doing a first dance by the newlyweds is certainly one of them. This blog will address whether or not to incorporate it into your wedding timeline or not, as well as, giving you a few ideas on when and how.
Guests come to a wedding knowing that there will be vows and kissing, but they seem to truly enjoy watching the bride and groom both embrace into a romantic kiss as well as embrace into a romantic dance. It affirms all of the reasons for the wedding in the first place; that there is this bride and groom who are so enamored with each other that there is no other place that they would want to be. What’s not to love when watching two newlyweds dance as if they were the only two in the room? A picture does paint a thousand words but so does the expression on the bride and groom’s face during moments like this.
There are some brides and/or grooms who aren’t very enthusiastic about dancing of any sort, much less dancing in front of everybody’s watchful eyes. Here are some recommendations.
- Practice ahead of time: Practice might not always “make perfect” but it can take you from embarrassing yourself to passing with flying colors.
- Get with the DJ and shorten the length of the song. Five minutes is a long time to do any dance on stage for anybody so cutting it short and even moving right into “2nd and 3rd” dances allows an easy transition from one to the other.
- Move the location and timing of the first dance so that it is a kick-off to your dance time. This means that instead of being on stage (or dancing while all of your guests are seated and watching), you two are engulfed in people surrounding you and this is often less intimidating.
- Avoid the first dance altogether. Weddings a full of traditions and fortunately these last couple of decades has allowed much freedom in which traditions each wedding wants to embrace and which do just avoid. Couples regularly eliminate some traditions (cake cutting, garter toss, even sparkler send off) and often infuse some new ones. Always have a discussion with your fiance’ before you willy-nilly eliminate it as it might be much more important to them than you.
- Just stand, embrace, and sway a bit. First dance doesn’t need to be a Broadway production.
There are actually several different time slots for you to weave the First Dance into your timeline. Obviously, the key is to work it in “before” regular dance time so it can actually be “your first dance.” There are several factors to ponder for the timing of it all.
- Tail End of Appetizer/Cocktail Hour: After the ceremony, you will have either Cocktail or Appetizer/Cocktail Hour which ironically doesn’t always have cocktails, appetizers, or is an hour long. That said, the term implies you will likely at least provide some sort of drink for your guests so that during this interim time of photos, that the guest can be pacified. When you provide food AND drink, you can easily make this time slot longer than shorter. No food or drink, keep it to 15 minutes or so. Typically, though, couples do provide drink, a bar, and some sort of appetizers. Most of the time, family photos are taken and then the bride and groom head off for a few romantic photos. At the tail end of Appetizer/Cocktail Hour which tends to be outside, the bride and groom can get announced back into their crowd and move right into first dances. Afterwards, guest move inside to claim a seat while the bride’s gown is bustled and the bridal party lines up to be announced. Pros: It flows well to come back into your guests and eliminates the wait time before food is available. Pictures can often be more stunning with an outdoor backdrop and lighting. Your guests get to circle up around you. Cons: Any extra insert to the timeline “pre-dinner” delays dinner. The DJ has to make arrangements to supply music outside before rushing inside again. If it is very hot outside, it may be preferred to have the first dance inside within the A/C.
- Pre-Dinner: Some couples get announced back into their crowd, not at Appetizer Hour, but once guests have moved inside and seated at their tables prior to dinner. Being announced in gives a perfect opportunity to walk through your the venue towards your table and move right into the first dance. Guests are all seated so everybody will have a good view. Pros: It flows well. All guests can have a good view. DJ is already set up for dinner background music. The stage gives you plenty of room and photos well. Inside is temperature controlled. Cons: If you have a bridal party table on stage, there is less room and it won’t photo as well with the tables/guests in the photo. Any extra insert to the timeline “pre-dinner” delays dinner. If you have stage-fright, this puts you out in the limelight front and center.
- After Dinner/After Toasts: Some weddings will have speeches and toasts at the tail end of dinner. It is an easy flow to toasts the bride and groom and let them move into their first dance. Once the dance is over with, they can then walk over to the cake and cut the cake. Pros: Flow is good going from one thing to the next without guest having to get up or move to a different location. With the dance after dinner, none of your guests starved with the 15 minute delay. Cons: I can’t think of a one.
- As a kick off to dance time in the dancehall. Saving all of the dancing until dark when dance=time kicks off in the dancehall is a good option too. Pros: If your crowd isn’t a dancing group in general, this is a way to woo your guests into the dancehall so they can watch the first dance. The hope is that while they are in the dance hall, that they will stick around and maybe dance. Pros: It does woo your guests into the dancehall. Music wise, you move from one slow dance into fun dancing. Cons: It may be difficult for everybody to move into the dancehall for the larger weddings and then you have some people who cannot see well in a crowded room.
Nobody which time you do your first dance, there is always the option to run into the dancehall “alone” with your photographer and take a beautiful photo op of you two doing a romantic dance in the dancehall. Doesn’t this look magical?