Admit it: you are just a little worried about
the first dance. Between the two of you you’ve got four left feet. Or maybe
you’re just haunted by memories of watching other people’s bad wedding
dances. Whatever the case, we’re here to help with some advice.
If you have never danced together and neither
of you knows how to dance, you will need some form of instruction. This can be
as formal as private lessons at a ballroom studio or as casual as asking a
friend who dances to show you a few moves. Just don’t assume that you will
magically figure it out on the big day without ever having done it before.
Sadly, achieving wedded bliss doesn’t confer immediate Fred and Ginger status
on you (if only it did!).
You should also be aware that dance styles
(by which I mean waltz, foxtrot, salsa, swing, et cetera) are dictated by music.
You may not need to learn waltz for your first dance; maybe your song choice is
a Sinatra ballad to which you would actually dance foxtrot. This is the kind of
information that a professional dance teacher or a good instructional videotape
can give you. If you don’t really have a song that’s “our song,” you can
check out the suggestions on this website.
To dance together comfortably and without
stepping on each other’s toes, you will need to understand lead and follow.
Typically the gentleman leads and the lady follows, although it’s not
absolutely necessary that you do that. But remember, leading involves steering.
It’s like driving a car: even if both of you know how, only one of you can
drive at a time!
Lead and follow requires that you line up
your feet properly (parallel to and facing each other, lady slightly on the
gentleman’s right side, right foot pointing between each other’s feet) and
that you hold each other and use your arms in such a way that the gentleman can
steer and the lady can feel the steering. It’s a little difficult to explain
these concepts in print. Once again, an instructor, a dancing friend, or a good
instructional tape can help you.
Once you’ve picked a song and identified
the dance style to do to it, don’t feel obligated to dance the entire song.
You may not realize it, but professional dance numbers usually run no more than
3 minutes, tops, and for good reason. Your DJ or your band can easily edit or
condense your song, or can simply fade it at a pre-determined moment. Make sure
that whoever is going to play the song knows what you expect, particularly in
terms of tempo (how fast the song should be played) and duration (how long the
song should be played).
To avoid unpleasant surprises on the big day,
practice in advance. That means, try dancing together to the song in clothing
that approximates your wedding attire. Ladies: wear your shoes and a skirt
that’s like that of your gown. If you are concerned about smudging your shoes,
put a pair of your fiancé’s old athletic socks on over them.) This will not
only make you more comfortable during the dance, but during the entire wedding,
since it’s a great way to break in your shoes. Gentlemen: wear dress shoes and
a jacket, so that you become accustomed to the slight constraint through your
arms. Also try to dance in a space comparable to the dance floor at your
reception site. Dance at public events whenever possible – a friend’s
wedding, a bar mitzvah, the office Christmas party. Just get used to moving with
each other and you’ll automatically get better at it.
Finally, take all this advice – but not too
seriously. After all, your first dance is NOT the most important thing that will
happen on your wedding day. And who knows, it might even be fun!