The First Dance: Getting yours Right on the Night!
Updated: May 8
We LOVE a great First Dance, no matter the song or style but how did the tradition even come about? A newly wed couple's First Dance is a massive attraction at any wedding. It's a wonderful way for the couple to to have intimate time together and it's something that many couples don't pay much attention to.
In the days of formal balls, it was usually the people of the highest social standing who were the guest of honour; they would open up the dancing and the other guests would join in later. In the last century it was common for newlyweds to join in after the guests had begun dancing, and to dance with each other for a short period of time before moving on to other partners!
Over time the first dance transformed into a special dance at the start of the function for couples to show their love for each other. Today, while the first dance is still a massive highlight of the night, it's often not the first time that people dance during the night, and it often comes later in the night when everyone has arrived and had a drink.
The first dance is often the first time during the whole day that the couple get a chance to share some exclusive time with each other, even if it is only for a few minutes. There are many different ways of having a first dance and we'd like to discuss a few of the different things you should consider when planning yours:
Selection of Song
It's a bit of a minefield as there are so many great songs over such a huge range of different genres that can be chosen. Some couples go for modern love songs such as Ed Sheeran's Perfect or John Legend's All of Me, whilst others go for the traditional greats such as the Lionel Richie and Diana Ross great Endless Love, or Al Green's Let's Stay Together. Whatever you prefer, try to choose a song that has a special meaning to both of you, and also one that's at a good speed for you both to comfortably dance to.
But Which Version?
Also, bear in mind that there are often many, many different versions of a songs so try to tell your DJ which one you'd like before the day of your function! Giving them a YouTube link to the song is usually a safe bet; that way the DJ knows exactly which song/version you want without ambiguity!
A recent trend we've found is for couple's to ask us to create mashups; perhaps mixing 3 or 4 songs together to create a unique mix of music. We'd had a great variety of mixes requested here, from different tracks by the same artist to totally different songs from different eras. If the songs mean something special to you both then they're brilliant choices!
We worked for many years in the Music Technology field so whatever you want isn't a problem; just let us know in advance what you'd like. We can also create custom lighting program to enhance each of the tracks. Broadly speaking, we find that three types of mashup are most common:
Slow and Smoochy
Here we'll create a mix of romantic songs for the couple to slowly dance to.
Here the couple pick a wide range of tracks that mean something to them from different genres. You might want to perform a dance routine to this so let us know what you'd like in advance!
The Comedy Sketch
A popular choice is to inject some humour into the first dance. One way is for the couple start with a slow song (often a naff one!) before it stops and they go into a completely different (and entertaining) routine. Audience interaction can be great so consider incorporating some of your friends and family into your dance if you're going all out with a dance routine!
We've got a wedding next year where the couple are starting with a really slow, poor-quality country song before falling down (as the record slows down) and getting up to Michael Jackson's Thriller (with their close family joining in as zombies)! Remember, it's YOUR dance and there really are no rules.
When Should We Have It and What Then?
Again a great question; some couples prefer to have their first dance at the start of the night whilst others prefer it later on. We do find that disadvantage of having it at the start of the night include:
(1) Some of your friends and family might not have arrived yet so holding it back for around an hour can ensure that all your guests are present to see it.
(2) guests haven't had the added lubrication of alcohol! While it's certainly not an essential component, there's no denying that a drink (or three!) eases inhibitions for both the couple and their friends and family.
You also need to decide what happens before and after your dance. Most couples have a wedding cake that they'd like to cut, and it often works well if this is done just before the dance. As well as getting the couple onto the dance floor, it's also a brilliant opportunity for the DJ to get friends and family to gather round in anticipation of the first dance!
What Will Our Guests Do?
When it comes to your guests' interaction in your special dance, there are a few different ways in which this can be accomplished. For some couples, it's their dance and they don't want anyone else on the floor throughout their song. In this case we can invite your guests on to the floor to a different track, immediately after your first dance has finished.
Others would like their guests to dance with them throughout the song. In this case we'd welcome all your friends and family onto the floor before starting the dance. As outlined above, cutting the cake first is a great way to get them gathered round and gets them out of their seats!
A great happy medium is where the couple opens the dancing and half-way through, their guests are invited to join them on the floor. This is by far the most popular method; as well as the variety and involvement this creates, it can also greatly helps with getting great pictures of the event. Many Wedding Photographers leave after the first dance so with this method you can get beautiful pictures of you dancing alone as well as with your friends and family The best of both worlds!
Following the dance, it's a definite advantage if the floor stays full with guests kept dancing to great music. You may have given your DJ a playlist but it's a good idea to allow them to have some flexibility here to read the crowd and pick the tracks that will work.
But I (Or We) Can't Dance! Help!!!
A great first dance really doesn't rely on great dancing skills at all so don't panic! As an entertainment company specialising in weddings, we see many, many different types of first dance. Some couples choose dances where they're embracing their partner throughout and slowly moving around the floor. For others they decide to entertain their guests with fancier dances. Others go all out on the comedy value with silly, choreographed routines!
All it takes is to make sure you practise whatever you're going to do to get it right on the night. Whatever kind of dance you choose, make sure it feels right for both of you. After all, it's YOUR special day so have it your special way! We've had several couples who've been nervous/scared before their first dance but in every single case, it's been an absolutely roaring success!
The Boogie Knight