Whether your first dance is laid back or a fully choreographed number, taking time to think through your time on the dance floor will pay off--for you and your wedding guests.
Formal wedding dances -- the first dance, mother-son dance, and father-daughter dance -- are staples at most American wedding receptions. If you want to get down and do the Cupid Shuffle or Dougie with all your guests, more likely than not, you have to get through the formal dances first.
But these don’t have to be something you get through. With a little planning, these dances can be a highlight for you and your guests.
Here are a few tips to make your formal dances memorable, entertaining, and most importantly, fun!
BE ALL IN
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of people staring at me, especially if I’m dancing under a spotlight for all to see. It can get a little, well, awkward. Wedding dances are no different.
If I can give one piece of advice to make your first dance or parent dances memorable, it would be this: be all in.
If you feel uncomfortable, zone in on the person you’re dancing with. Smile at your dad. Kiss your new husband. Talk and laugh with your mom. Spend those moments soaking each other up, and let the guests fade into the background.
We know it’s easier said than done, but making an effort to be fully present with your dance partner makes the moment unique, sweet, and anything but awkward.
LET PARENTS PICK THEIR MUSIC
Here’s the thing about father-daughter and mother-son dances. They’re either super sweet or super awkward. There’s not a lot of in-between.
Jarrett (owner here at First and Foremost Productions), distinctly remembers his mom feeling uncomfortable during their mother-son dance. The culprit? Choosing a song his mom didn’t know.
He thought the song was sweet, but his mom had no connection to it. Looking back, he wishes he would have talked with her to help pick a song, or at least picked a song he knew she loved.
“It’s cheesy, but my mom loves ‘Wind Beneath My Wings,’ and she would have loved dancing with me to that. I wish I would have asked her, I just didn’t think of it,” he said.
For my wedding, my dad specifically requested “My Girl” by The Temptations for our dance, and I swear his grin never left his face the whole time we were out there. It felt special, it felt real, and most importantly, it felt memorable. What more can you ask for?
MAKE IT FUN
Is swaying back and forth to a love song not your style? Make your first dance or parent dance fun!
There’s nothing a wedding reception crowd loves more than seeing a duo break out in an unexpected dance routine. Seriously, they go W-I-L-D!
If it feels right, pick a fun song and dance like a goof. Or put together a little choreographed number that gets you laughing, signaling to your guests that the party is definitely starting. You’ll laugh and smile and laugh some more, and you’ll create an incredible memory with your dance partner. And aren’t memories what weddings are all about?
KNOW WHEN TO CUT YOUR WEDDING DANCE SHORT
Wedding dances don’t have to be awkward, or uncomfortable, or -- get this-- even super long.
If you found the perfect song and you’re all in with your dance partner, enjoy it for as long as you’d like. Maybe that’s the full song. Maybe you only make it to the bridge.
There’s no hard and fast rule that you have to dance until the song ends. Feel free to cut the song short if you think it’s dragging on. Or if you get the feeling your mom or dad is ready to sit down, give a little wave to the DJ so he can wrap it up.
Dancing for an amount of time that feels right to you has its perks. You’ll enjoy your dance more, and you’ll save your guests from looking at their phones wondering how long Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” really is.
Formal wedding dances don’t always get a lot of credit, but they’re a pretty cool wedding tradition. They allow one-on-one time with the most important people in your life -- the ones who gave you life, and the one with whom you’re starting a new one.
There’s something to be said about giving your first dance and parent dances a little thought. You’re taking care to enjoy the moment, and you never know how much you’ll treasure those memories down the road.
Now go out there, plan those wedding dances, and dominate that reception dance floor!