If you're working on your wedding reception timeline, you might be wondering when you should do your first dance. Should it be later in the evening, like after dinner, or earlier? Talk to your DJ or bandleader to help you decide when to do your first dance. You'll need to consider your crowd, their energy level, the overall flow of the night, and what time you'll need to be out of your venue. Ahead, we go through the options.
After the Meal
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.
At the Start of the Reception
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.
After Cutting the Cake
Follow up the momentum of cutting the cake with your first dance. Most guests will already be gathered around you and your partner, so it's a natural transition. Plus, it's custom to cut the cake after dinner so people will be energized and ready to continue celebrating by hitting the dance floor afterward. Just remember to wipe off your face before the big moment if smashing the wedding cake is your thing.