Wedding Dance
Article thanks to Lauren Sargeant Bride Online Columnist

Wedding Dance FAQs

(Courtesy payload96.cargocollective.com)

What is the traditional significance of the first dance?

The first dance is seen as a symbolic act of coming together and gracefully taking your first steps together as a married couple. The Victorian era, in which most wedding traditions were formed, was a time renowned for celebratory dancing. The tradition of the first wedding dance has been passed down since that time, although it has evolved a little.

We can’t decide on just one song. Is there a solution?

You could always employ the help of a DJ or musician to create a medley of a few of your favourite tunes. They might be able to offer some helpful advice on how to best blend the songs together and make that first dance of yours one to remember.

When should the first dance be danced?

This is an individual choice but most couples choose to dance shortly after the main course has been eaten. Some couples prefer to dance after a light salad, but before the main course is served; whilst others choose to dance before dinner altogether.

What order do the various parts of the first dance need to follow?

If you’re a stickler for tradition, the classic series of wedding dances begin with the bride and groom’s dance. After about two minutes, the bridesmaids and groomsmen join the happy couple on the dance floor. The bride then dances with her father and the groom dances with the bride’s mother. The bride’s father then dances with his wife and the groom dances with his own mother. Then the groom’s parents dance together and the bride dances with the best man whilst the groom dances with the maid of honour. The bride then dances with each of the groomsmen and the groom dances with each of the bridesmaids before inviting all of the guests to join them on the dance floor.

Should we include a parents’ dance if the parents are divorced?

Many couples choose not to include the parents’ dance number in the first dance, especially if the parents are divorced or deceased. If they are remarried, you could consider allowing the parents to dance with their new partners but this is completely up to your own discretion.

Can grandparents be included in the first dance?

This depends on how closely you want to stick to tradition. Sometimes a bride will dance with her grandfather if her father has already passed away but this is dependent upon how close she is to her grandfather. You could always come up with a new, personalised tradition, and have a grandparents’ dance after the parents’ dance, if you’d like.

Are all of the dance numbers danced to the same song?

If you choose a particularly long, ballad type song, this could be possibly. However, most of the dances are danced to different songs. Sometimes, the bridal party cuts in during the first song, to join the bride and groom on the dance floor, but more and more couples choose to dance the entirety of their first song alone these days.

We don’t really have a special song. What type of song should be “our song” for our first dance?

Try to find a song which reminds you of a significant moment in your relationship. There may not have been a song playing at the time that you realised you had fallen in love but you can, in all likelihood, find a song that makes you feel that feeling all over again. Besides the emotions attached to the song, it is important to choose a song which has a good dancing tempo and which can be accompanied by a dance style which is appropriate for your, and your groom’s, dancing ability level. A professional dance instructor can offer advice on a suitable song choice, in this regard.

What kind of song should we use for the father-daughter dance?

It can be difficult to find an appropriate song for this dance as there are many beautiful songs that perfectly evoke much of the emotion that daddy and daughter are feeling but a few of the verses are overly romantic. One way to get around this is to ask a DJ or music mixing musician to edit out certain parts for you. On the other hand, some of the best father-daughter songs are ones to which personal daddy-daughter memories are attached. If you have a special song, but it doesn’t quite seem appropriate as a wedding dance song (i.e. a classic rock song), you could ask the band to perform a toned down cover.

Can you suggest an appropriate mother-son song?

There aren’t many parent-child songs out there and mother-son songs seem to be extremely rare. For a completely gushy song that is sure to make the groom’s mum teary, Boys II Men’s ‘A Song for Mama’ is a good choice. Other options include crooner songs that aren’t necessarily about mother-child relationships but will add to the mood of the moment, such as Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’ or the Wizard of Oz’s ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.

I’ve heard of a dollar dance, but what is it?

The 'dollar', 'money' or 'apron' dance originated in Poland and spreak throughout Eastern Europe- predominantly Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Ukraine. There are also similar dances existing in Africa, the Phillipines, the US and Mexico. It iisn’t a mandatory dance, but it can be quite enjoyable for the guests and for the bride and groom. During this dance, the guests line up and each pay $1.00 to dance with the bride or groom. The best man and maid of honour are usually assigned the job of collecting this money. It’s important to keep each of the dances fairly short or else you will find yourselves spending most of your reception time dollar dancing.

We can’t really dance and have decided that we need lessons. When should we start looking for a dance instructor?

Most wedding planners recommend spending 8-10 weeks practicing before your wedding. Keep in mind that you may not ‘click’ with an instructor straight away so you will need to give yourself some extra time to shop around. It’s best to start looking for an instructor at least three months before the wedding date.

What if we sign up for classes and find that we don’t like the dance company?

Before you sign up for lessons, most dance companies offer a complimentary lesson, a run-down of all the different dance styles that they are available to teach as well as an opportunity to meet some of the instructors. This free lesson should give you a good indication of whether or not the company and instructor will be an appropriate choice for you as a couple.

What qualities should we look for in a dance instructor?

It goes without saying that you will need to find an experienced instructor who is proficient in teaching the style of dance that you are interested in. Other important qualities to look for include patience, good communication skills, and a relaxed sense of humour (someone who will laugh with you rather than become frustrated if you don’t quite get the hang of the technique straight away). Choosing a dance instructor is much like choosing any other wedding professional (i.e. photographer, celebrant, etc) – you should choose someone who you and your groom connect with, personality-wise, and who possesses qualities that you value in a friend.

I’m worried about tripping on my dress. Can I change my outfit for our first dance?

If you have your heart set on a particularly energetic dance number, you may need to change your outfit for the first dance. The same goes for your groom, especially if he is hiring his tux – the last thing he wants is to rip his trousers during the first dance and spend the rest of the reception in his boxer shorts. However, if your choreography is made up of fairly simple moves, you shouldn’t need a costume change. You may get away with just bustling your train and slipping on some low-heeled shoes. Do a practice run of the dance, whilst wearing your dress, and see how you feel, before making a decision about changing your outfit.

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