As a dance professional I see wedding couples and help them to put their first dance together. More often than not couples don’t have a clear idea of what they are looking for in a first dance or the words to use to communicate it. In my experience, I’ve learned the questions to ask to help steer the process. So, I have put together a list of musts to create the best and most memorable first dance ever. Assuming you’ve already decided on professional dance instruction of course…
1. Gush about the details
DO tell your instructor all about your big day! It’s not only fun to dish the details to someone but it will help them to tailor the dance to your specific needs. Details that you may think are completely irrelevant could have a very important impact on how your instructor creates your choreography. For example: the size of the dance floor, the cut of your dress, where guests are being seated, will it be indoors or out, the entrance you will be using. If the dress is a big one, we need to know all about the length, cut, fullness, straps, train etc. Give as many details as you can think of, and if you have pictures even better! Still looking for the perfect dress? Here are some great ideas.
2. Just get him in the door
So often I hear “I don’t know if my fiancé is going to be into this”. My response every time is, just get him in the door. I will take care of keeping him engaged in the process. My job is to make learning dance easy and fun. In fact, quite a few of my wedding couples enjoy it so much they come back after the wedding to keep doing something fun and productive together. It’s the first step in the door that’s intimidating; once you both see how energetic the studio environment actually is, you’ll both love it.
3. Be clear about what you want your first dance to look like
A good instructor does not expect you to come in speaking dance language, but do give them some layman’s terms to get them on the right track. Some great words to use to describe what you want are simple, elegant, high energy, romantic, crazy, lots of twirls, dip, I want to learn every step of Thriller etc. Everyone has a different idea of what they want their big day to look like, including the first dance. Some want something simple and elegant and some want triple lutzs and backflips. I’ve also had a few people who literally told me they “just don’t want to fall on their face”. Let them know your overall goal and then feel confident to let them fill in the details.
4. Ask for help picking a song
If you want to know if “Thinking Out Loud” is horrendously overused this season in people’s weddings, your dance instructor is a great person to ask. You can also check out some lists online. Your instructor can also help out with different versions of songs, narrowing down your selection, making recommendations, and cutting music. Most audiences will last between 2.5 and 3 min before they start to space out. We know what makes a good “show” and we can help you to make an informed decision s all along the way.
5. Start your lessons earlier rather than later
Nothing is worse than starting something like a wedding dance a week before the big day. First, your body will never, and I repeat never have a chance to do anything with ease in that amount of time. Dancing is like learning a new language it takes practice to get your mouth to form new words, it takes practice to move in new ways and make it look good. I’ve never had a bride come to me and say she doesn’t mind looking uncomfortable. So do yourself a favor and give yourself 3-6 months. You don’t have to take lessons that whole time but you can take what you’ve learned and practice together. If you’re really gonna go for it give me 9 months. I care about what you look like on your wedding day and I want to do the best job possible for you. And when everyone is impressed, you’ll have lots of referrals to send my way
6. Take advantage of the groups and parties
Any Fred Astaire Dance Studio has Groups and Parties along with the Private Lessons you’ll need. Most will be included in the pricing. DO take advantage of these extra classes. If you need the extra practice, if you want to learn some other dances to use at your reception, or if you want something fun to do together on a Friday night, the Groups and Parties are a valuable part of any students learning. A wedding dance is no different.
7. Do a rehearsal at the studio
I always ask my brides to be to set aside a night to come in during a party or after a lesson to do a run through at the studio. It is a great opportunity to put on a similar cut dress and dance in front of real live people! Nothing gets the wedding day jitters out like a rehearsal. Even though you’ve been coming in for your lessons, you and the other students using the floor at that time are completely consumed in your own lessons. When you’re the only one on the floor it’s a little bit different and it’s much better to test that out at the studio rather than on your wedding day. I also recommend doing a warm up (if you can) the day of, before everyone arrives for the reception.
8. Refer your friends
Nothing will put a bigger smile on your instructors face than receiving a referral from you. Word of mouth is the best advertising and if you had a great time learning from me I know you’ll tell your friends. Plus, when I hear from your guest how beautiful you looked in your gown and how graceful the dance was, it makes my job that much more amazing. Often the most valuable moments in life are when we are allowed the honor of touching someone else’s. So, thank you in advance for allowing me to be a part of the most memorable day of your life.
Mother, Wife and Fred Astaire Dance Studio Owner
“I want to share dancing with everyone; we need these rare moments of beauty. We’re making the world a better place, one dance at a time.”