Planning the First Dance for a Wedding


One of the loveliest of traditions related to a wedding is the first dance. The new couple takes the floor and initiates the dance which appears to become a metaphor for the balance and rhythm required of two people if they are to start a life together. But symbolism apart, a perfect first dance requires a good deal of advance preparation. So if you are planning the first dance for your own wedding, here are a few tips and advice.

A little bit of background

The first dance of the bride and groom is actually intended to open the dancing and larger festivities of a wedding feast or reception. As the guests of honor of the evening, the bride and groom are invited to be the first to take the floor and signal the start of the wedding festivities. For this reason too, the first dance is appropriate only for wedding receptions where dancing is planned for all the guests. Even though the romantic element of the first dance expresses the bond between the new couple, its significance extends beyond the personal and well into the social. Thus the first dance is not so much a choreographed duet performed by the couple for the benefit of spectators but part of larger wedding celebrations which includes family, friends and other guests.

Decide which suits you best

Traditionally, the first dance at weddings would be a waltz. This dance form is a beautiful fusion of both the romantic and social elements of a wedding – the partners not only dance close to each other but their graceful movements and formal bearing are a perfect expression of the social significance of the occasion. If you decide that this is how you want your first dance to be, it may be a good idea to prepare yourself well. Since ballroom dancing is not a widely-learnt skill in these times, consider signing up with a dance studio or a dance instructor to practice your first dance. On the other hand if you want something romantic without the formality of a waltz, you can opt for simple slow dancing instead. This will help you to feel close to your partner without bothering too much about steps and movements. These days couples are increasingly choosing dance styles which make a definitive statement about their relationship which is why you can also consider something upbeat and rocking. So while choosing your first dance, try to find the tempo and mood that is right for you – in the process you both will not only feel more comfortable on the dance floor but also be saying something special about your relationship.

Go back in time

Now that you have decided on the kind of dance with which you would like to open your wedding festivities, the next step is choosing the song. One of the best ways to choose a first dance song is to go back to all the experiences you have shared as a couple. Think about movies and TV shows you have watched together, music concerts that you have attended with each other and even songs you may have heard in a bar or another wedding and were moved by it. The whole idea is to pick out a number which evokes special memories of romance and togetherness and thus makes for an ideal way to celebrate your new relationship. The song could be a timeless favorite like Etta James’ “At Last” if you are going for slow dancing or a hipper number like “Crash” by the David Matthews Band. At the same time if you feel that a definitive rock sound best expresses your togetherness, then by all means look into hits like "All of my love" by Led Zeppelin, "Feels so right" by Alabama, "I don't want to live without you" by Foreigner and others for the perfect first dance song.  Similarly you can explore various genres like country music "All I need to know" by Kenny Chesney or "Darling' companion" by Johnny cash & Emmylou Harris and jazz like "All the way" by frank Sinatra, “Giving you the best that I’ve got" by Anita baker or “Time after time" by Tony Bennett.

Consider covers of old classics

Yet another way of making your first dance special is see if a cool cover version exists of a song your parents or grandparents danced to at their own wedding. This will not only help your first dance song appeal to different age groups but also lend the number a fresh and contemporary feel.

Practical details

One of the major aspects of planning wedding music is choosing between a band and a DJ. Each has its own advantages so select one depending on what the kind of ambience you would like for your wedding celebrations.  For instance if it is  groovy funk that you want for your wedding music, a DJ may be a better idea while for the sounds of a subdued string quartet, you will need a band. Then again the choice will also depend upon your budget. DJs generally cost less as compared to a 12-piece band, since in case of the latter there are more people to pay.  There are always exceptions though - celebrity DJs can be just as expensive as live bands. And prices vary depending on equipment requests and whether it's a weekday or a weekend. Band prices likewise vary by the number of musicians, the amount of time you want them to play for, day of the week, and what time of year it is. Then there is the matter of space also since live bands require much more space to perform as compared to a single DJ. Ideally whatever you decide on, ensure that some variety in music and dance genres is catered for. Also you may want to see a DJ or band in action before you commit so that you can gauge firsthand the way they work the crowd. If this is not possible, then you could ask for a playlist, a CD or hear them play songs you know and love. Finally decide whether you and your partner want to be prepared for the first dance. While presenting the song as a surprise is a romantic idea, some amount of rehearsals beforehand would go a long way in ensuring that you both are in harmony, which is after all what a marriage is all about.