Freaking Out Over Your First Dance? We're Here to Help

Etiquette

It's one of the most romantic moments of any wedding reception: The bride and groom take to the dance floor and sway to their favorite song. But what if they can't dance? How do they pick a tune? The first dance presents some specific quandaries that are important to address before the band or DJ begins to play. We picked some need-to-know questions and answers that will help all brides and grooms get ready for their moment in the spotlight.

At what point during the reception should we do our first dance?
Talk to your bandleader or DJ. Traditionally, the first dance kicks off the dancing portion of the reception. So, most couples save the first dance until after the meal has been completed. This way, the dining portion of the evening has a more leisurely, relaxed pace; then, once everyone is done eating, you hit the dance floor for your first dance, which instantly shifts the mood into a higher gear. This also signals to your guests that it's time for them to get out of their seats and celebrate with you on the dance floor.

However, more couples these days prefer to introduce themselves as a couple at the start of the reception (this moment is sometimes called the "grand entrance") and then head straight to the dance floor for their first dance. What's nice about this option is that the grand entrance creates a great energy and buzz in the room, and that momentum is sustained throughout the first dance. The only caveat with having the first dance at the start of the reception is that you take away that signal to guests that the evening is segueing from dinner to dancing. However, an easy solution is to use the father-daughter and/or mother-son dances to kick off the dancing portion of the night. The parent dances will help focus attention onto the dance floor and get the party started.

My groom and I hate to dance. Can we avoid the first dance altogether?
Plenty of wedding celebrations — usually for religious reasons or space limitations — do without dancing. But if you want a lively party, plan on a first dance before you sit out the rest. "Traditionally, no one takes a spin around the dance floor until the bride and groom have their first dance," says Laurie Davis, a wedding planner and owner of Five Star Weddings and Events in Laguna Niguel, California. "So have your master of ceremonies invite the wedding party and family to join you on the dance floor about 30 seconds into your first dance. This takes the focus off the couple but still gives the photographer time to get a few shots."

Do we have to dance to a love song?
It's a romantic moment, but you don't have to pick a classically romantic song, says Daisy O'Dell, a Los Angeles-based DJ. "Choose something that has meaning to you, even if it's the Charlie Brown theme," recommends O'Dell. "My first dance was 'If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out,' by Cat Stevens. It's from one of our favorite films, Harold and Maude, so it felt special."

Need first-dance song ideas? Listen to our Spotify playlist of tunes suggested by Twitter!

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