How to plan the perfect first dance in 5 easy steps
A guest article by Jon Beck at RedLine DJs and Entertainment
Photo credit: York Place Studios
You’ve said your vows, the wine’s flowing and the speeches have been a success… step up the all-important first dance. At Redline DJs and Entertainment I spend a lot of time talking to couples about their first dance, and have seen everything from choreographed three-song extravaganzas to no first dance at all. Neither are right or wrong – a wedding is a highly personal thing, no part more so than your first dance as husband and wife.
Some couples have a song that they consider ‘theirs’ but a lot don’t –and that’s OK! Either way, this isn’t something you should be nervous about. The below steps will help you plan the perfect first dance… one that you genuinely enjoy.
1. Brainstorm (without each other)
When people ask me for first dance recommendations I can always give them a list of suggested songs, but first I recommend that they have a think about it, away from each other. It sounds silly, as this is something so personal to you as a couple, but if you have an independent sit down, it will trigger songs that perhaps you hadn’t previously considered.
The obvious first piece of advice is to of course think about songs that have soundtracked a significant or immediately memorable part in your relationship. However, also try and dig deep and think about tunes that have played a less glaringly obvious but perhaps more poignant role. For example, think about the first concert you went to together. Would a song by that artist work? Is there a car journey that you have taken, where one song was turned up ultra-loud to sing along to? Was there a particular song that was number one when you went on your first holiday, or maybe there’s a song you heard on the day of the proposal? If you independently make a list you’ll have much a broader scope of songs to choose from, and ones that mean something to you.
2. Pitch (or chat!)
Come back together and talk about your choices song by song, explaining why that song is on your list. The chances are it will make your partner remember a moment of your relationship that at the time had seemed insignificant, but was actually really lovely. I see couples get wrapped up in the lyrics of first dances a lot and I think that can be a mistake – take the couple who chose Toto’s Africa as their first dance, because this is where they were on holiday when they realised they were really serious about each other. The lyrics have no reference to love, but it was a significant song for them (not to mention a big crowd pleaser, too). That’s another aspect of choosing your first dance –don’t be afraid to go for big, fun tunes. They don’t have to all be slow, romantic love songs so try not to feel like you’re constrained by pace, energy or genre.
3. Think… about the kind of dance you want to do
Your first dance can be whatever you want it to be. It can be anything from a highly stylised choreographed dance through to a low-key slow-dance with some memorable one-on-one time or even a collaborative affair that involves more than just you and your partner. But before you decide on anything, really think – ahead of time – about what you feel comfortable with, and what your dancing abilities are (be honest!). Is it a case of hands in the air at the other side of the dance floor to each other, or a well-rehearsed fox trot? If you and your partner aren’t comfortable dancing alone for the entire length of the song, ask your DJ to invite your wedding guests to join you on the dancefloor after a minute or so and enjoy sharing the experience with your nearest and dearest.
Practicing your first dance doesn’t mean your dance is choreographed, it just means that you’re better placed to handle any nerves you might have when you step onto the dancefloor. A lot of people say they feel awkward just thinking about a first dance and many grooms find the first dance even more nerve-wracking than giving their speech (or having to endure their best man’s). This is your day’s second major ‘all eyes on the couple moment’ and that can be very daunting – but if you have a little bit of practice up your sleeve it will feel a whole lot more natural, and you’ll feel comfortable, confident and happy. Which all leaves you in a much better place to successfully carry out the final step…
Yes you might be a bit nervous, or feel a little awkward, but following the steps I’ve laid out above should alleviate the worst of the nerves and ensure that you approach the dancefloor feeling relaxed and happy. Be sure to remember that ultimately everyone is there to celebrate you –they are excited to be part of your day and will love whatever you decide to do, whether you go for a big routine or simply sway along to a song that means a lot to you. Have fun – you only get one first dance, so make it count.
Jon is founder and DJ at RedLine DJs and Entertainment, a company that specialises in personalised music for every kind of wedding.