Whether you simply want to feel more confident in your coordination as a couple or you want to bust out some serious moves on the dance floor, it’s a good idea to consider dance lessons before your wedding day so you don’t end up with four left feet in your debut as a duo.
Plus, not only are you practicing this special moment for your wedding by taking lessons, but this dance adventure is something you can enjoy throughout your lives together. You’ll always have a little something to show off as a couple at future events, says choreographer and dance instructor Catherine Edwards.
Meet the Expert
Catherine Edwards, choreographer and instructor for Wedding Dance Houston, specializes in Latin and Swing dance. She also has national certification for all ballroom styles.
To make sure you’ve got all the right steps (the first dance is your premiere moment as a married couple, after all!), Edwards shares everything you need to know about booking wedding dance lessons.
You can expect that a professional dance lesson will cost between $50 and $150 an hour and many studios will offer packages that may provide some savings. But, Edwards says to remember that less is sometimes more. If you have a specific budget or timeline you need to adhere to, make sure you communicate that from the start.
“The instructor’s job is to teach you the best they can in the allotted time frame you have given them,” Edwards shares. “You should feel some sort of progression forward after each lesson. If you want your dance completed in five lessons, you should have most of it done in four lessons.”
Dance lessons should be factored into your wedding budget and you shouldn’t feel pressured to buy the most expensive package. You can always add additional lessons if needed, but you likely can’t get your money back for unused time.
You may also consider a few lessons for the father-daughter and mother-son dances. Some packages will allow you to split up your lessons between all the people who will be participating in the dance segment of your wedding.
When and How to Begin
Keep in mind that depending on your level of experience, you will likely need anywhere between three to nine lessons to feel confident learning the rhythm, timing of the music, the dance steps, how to lead or follow, and more complex moves like spins, dips, and potentially a lift (if you’re feeling daring!).
If your wedding is in three months and you have picked a song that requires an elegant dance such as a waltz, you will want to allow for at least five to seven lessons. Ideally, you would plan for one lesson per week or every other week, so it’s best to start three to five months prior to your wedding date and then give yourselves some buffer time.
Consider factors that can interrupt lessons such as family emergencies, sickness, work trips, and other social engagements. Cutting it too close to the main event could make lessons stressful instead of being an enjoyable part of the wedding day countdown to look forward to each week.
Choose a Dance Style
While some couples prefer to keep it simple, others may want a medley that moves into fun choreography that highlights their humorous sides. Is your relationship a little more romantic? Are you a couple full of jokes? Consider your personalities and be sure to bring them to the dance floor through your style selection.
If you have a specific song and style you want to be choreographed, you’ll want to look into private lessons, and Edwards says it’s important to confirm that you can have a private space and time when others are not taking lessons so you won’t have distractions.
If you’re simply looking to feel a bit more confident moving in unison on the dance floor, you could consider group lessons with others sharing the same floor space and music.
Pick an Instructor
As with any other wedding vendor, Edwards says you should choose a dance instructor who can share your wedding vision. Yes, they are the dance professional, but it’s still your wedding!
When seeking out a studio, Edwards urges the importance of reading reviews about the instructor or dance company, and advises talking to friends who took lessons to find out who they used.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, get on the phone with the instructors. Get a feel for how you connect when they are answering questions about your song choice and what dance style you should pick. Questions to ask include:
- What styles of dance are you experienced in?
- Do you teach on the weekends?
- Will you meet us at our venue to practice prior to the wedding?
- Will lessons be private or will we be sharing space with other dancers?
- Are you well-versed in knowing what dance steps to teach to protect areas of past injury?
What to Wear
When getting ready for lessons, you’ll want to wear comfortable clothes that are easy to move in. Formal attire or skirts are not necessary for lessons, however, if your wedding dress is very full you might consider buying a tulle skirt to practice in so you can get used to moving with a lot of volume.
For shoes, opt for flats or running shoes to start. If you’re wearing high heels on your wedding day, you don’t need to wear them at every lesson, but you certainly will want to practice in your day-of shoes once you’ve got the choreography down.
Dance Lesson Tips
Have a Dress Rehearsal
Always get with your dance instructor ahead of lessons about the expectations of your wedding day outfit—even better if you have a photo to show them so they can visualize what type of choreography will work best.
Edwards says most dance steps require you to move your feet in distances of about 12 inches, so a mermaid-style dress could constrict a lot of traveling steps. If your outfit is strapless, lifts and some turns could lead to wardrobe malfunctions. And some fitted sleeves can impact the ability to spin.
You can also mention the style of dance you’re practicing at your dress fittings and perhaps try to practice spinning or swaying in the outfit so the tailor doesn’t let the skirt hang too low or make the ensemble too snug.
Practice Makes Perfect
The dancing shouldn’t stop after you leave the studio. Edwards advises that to get the most out of every lesson you should schedule time with your significant other to practice at least three times in between lessons for 15 to 30 minutes each session.
Edwards wants couples to remember that the partnership between you and your significant other on the dance floor is built more from the practice you commit to each other in between the lessons than the number of lessons you take.
“Pop open some Champagne or have a beer... and make it a fun date night to practice together,” Edwards suggests. “Try your routine to other songs, too, when you're at home and no one is watching!”