What to Do If You're Nervous About Your First Dance

These expert-approved tips will help you banish any jitters.

grooms dancing

Photo by Logan Cole

Planning and rehearsing for your first dance as a married couple is no easy feat—and it can be all the more intimidating if you or your partner has two left feet. First thing’s first: Know that you’re certainly not alone in your struggles. Even if you aren’t a “bad dancer,” per se, it’s possible you may not enjoy being the center of attention—and that’s perfectly okay, too. After all, just because it’s your wedding day doesn’t mean you have to have all eyes on you, all the time—especially when it comes to your first dance. 

So, we spoke with choreographers Jacqueline Hinton and Lindsey Dinneen to help ease your first dance jitters. Their insight will help ensure your dance floor is flooded with love, laughter, and stress-free memories that’ll last you a lifetime, regardless of if you opt to actually bust a move or not. 

Meet the Expert

Ahead, Hinton and Dinneen share their expertise on how to ace your first dance and offer several alternatives if a formal first dance as a married couple just isn't your speed.

First Dance Tips

Practice Makes Perfect

You’ve heard this saying time and time again since elementary school, but it’s actually true: “The only way to become proficient in a new skill is through practice," Hinton tells Brides. “Practicing frees your mind and body, giving you the freedom to be in the moment and remember how much you love one another.” 

Learn From a Pro 

Dinneen recommends hiring your own wedding dance instructor or taking an online dance course to help you feel “more comfortable with the basics of ballroom dance.” According to Dinneen, this will “instantly give you an edge and be more confident for your first dance.” 

Take Deep Breaths 

As you waltz your way down the dance floor, all eyes will be on you and your partner. This can be quite nerve-wracking, so remember to take deep breaths before you start to get into the groove. “Breathing will help give you a greater sense of mental clarity, so you can be in the moment and remember this special day for years to come,” Dinneen adds.

Wear Suitable Shoes

Comfort is always key when it comes to acing your first dance. She recommends, “Set yourself up for success by choosing shoes that allow you to move easily. If that means that a change of shoes from heels to flats would make you feel more confident, do it!” Besides, nobody enjoys walking (let alone dancing!) in blister-inducing, sky-high stilettos—especially on one of the most important days of their lives!

Play Your Song on Repeat

You may think overplaying your first dance song will “ruin” the tune when it comes time for the big day, but Hinton actually recommends listening to it “many times” beforehand. She shares, “Make sure and listen to your song many times before the big day, so you are familiar with not only the beat but also the length of the song. Songs can seem short when you're just singing along in your car, but once you're in front of an audience, songs can seem to go on for an eternity.”

Have Fun

The most important tip? Have fun—and don’t sweat the small stuff when it comes to memorizing every single movement of your routine. “There are going to be things that don't go according to plan, and that's okay. Laugh it off, and just have the time of your life,” Hinton says.

Enjoy every moment while you can—time flies when you’re having fun on the dance floor!

Alternative First Dance Ideas

Did you and your partner decide that a traditional first dance isn't for you? Here are some alternative ideas you are sure to love—and your guests will never expect!

Let Your Guests DJ

Let your guests take control of the music by having them take turns spinning away at the DJ booth. This also allows your friends, family members, and loved ones to feel like they’re truly a part of the festivities by putting them in control of the tunes. “It sets the night up for amazing energy,” Hinton claims. Plus, she says, “you can really learn a lot about someone by what their music choices are.” 

Host a Giant Dance Party

Invite all of your guests to join you out on the dance floor for a celebratory group dance party, which helps set the scene for a fun-filled evening ahead. What’s more, this will also make your guests feel included in the festivities.

Pick a song that’s upbeat, fun, and rhythmic to encourage everyone to get out of their seats and up on their feet. 

Raise a Glass With a Champagne Toast

Celebrate your brand-new nuptials by raising a glass of champagne with all of your guests out on the dance floor. Prepare a short-and-sweet speech thanking everyone for coming out to celebrate your love before letting loose with your loved ones. Cheers! 

Organize a Flash Mob With Your Wedding Party

Instead of a classic first dance, invite your bridal party to partake in a professionally choreographed flash mob. This fun routine will help take the pressure off of you and your partner. At the same time, it also allows your friends to showcase their skills—and moves—for all to see. Don’t forget to capture it all on video for endless laughs.  

Play a Game 

A (healthy) dose of competition is always a good idea. Instead of a first dance, consider playing a group game, such as the beloved “shoe game,” in which the newlyweds are tasked with answering questions about each other. Think: Who is a better kisser? Who is more romantic? Who is more clumsy? The game will have you and your guests chuckling all night long.  

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