Planning and rehearsing for your first dance as a married couple is no easy feat. First thing first: Know that you’re certainly not alone in your struggles. Even if you aren’t a bad dancer, it’s possible you may not enjoy being the center of attention. 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.
Take Lessons or Hire a Teacher
Leading up to your nuptials, sign up for local lessons or hire a dance instructor. A teacher will customize lessons based on your skill level, so even if you think you’re the world’s worst dancer, you’ll still have some simple, tailor-made moves at your fingertips that you feel comfortable with.
Pick a Song You Connect With
There’s no shortage of sweet, romantic dance songs at your disposal, but it’s important to find a song you connect with. Maybe it’s the pop tune that was playing in the car when you and your partner were driving to your first date or just a rock song you both happen to love. Regardless, you’ll feel a wave of comfort wash over you the moment it comes on, and at that point, you can do no wrong.
Make It Short and Sweet
That said, it’s probably better for you to pick a two-minute anthem rather than a six-minute one when it comes down to it, or just ask your wedding band to simply shorten your song of choice. You might feel time dragging on forever when the spotlight’s on you, and this way, you’re guaranteed to get the awkwardness over with sooner rather than later.
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 we recommend listening to it many times beforehand. 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.
Let the Wedding Band Know Sooner Rather than Later
While you’ve probably got your hands full with wedding to-dos, try not to let your wedding band know at the last minute of your plans because they need to practice and learn the song too! We recommend starting to nail down a song and letting your wedding band know at least 1 month out from your big day so that you and the band are not scrambling to nail the dance routine down a few weeks before.
Stay On Theme
This isn’t the time to get fancy if you’re not fully comfortable on your feet. It’s totally up to you, but we suggest not trying to attempt an intricate salsa, hip-hop, or rumba routine if you’re already nervous to begin with. Go with a simple sway or slow-dance route.
Focus on Your Partner
Most importantly, just focus on the person you’re dancing with. There’s a good chance they’re just as nervous as you, and it’s crucial to remember that this day is about you two. As soon as you look into their eyes, you’ll remember you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
Make a plan for when things go off track
Even those who love dancing can get tripped up in the spotlight. Whether you step on your partner’s feet, miss that dip, or forget what step is supposed to come next, not everything will likely go as planned.
Practice, practice, practice
The more you run through your dance, the more comfortable you will feel performing it at your reception. Even if you aren’t planning to pull out any fancy steps, it will help to get used to dancing together. We suggest making it fun. Get your groove on for a more active take on date night. You can even practice in the park if you have to.
Make it your own
No rule book says you can’t change the tradition. Maybe you only do 30 seconds of the first dance after a grand entrance. Maybe you invite the kids to the reception to dance with you. Heck, maybe you invite everyone to the dance floor so you’re not up there all by yourselves. Or, if neither of you is feeling the dancing vibes, maybe you replace a first dance together with something like a hula hoop contest or a slideshow set to your favorite song.
Focus on each other
Once you’re out there, all you have is whatever your plan was, and each other. Don’t lock eyes with anybody else. Be in your dance bubble together, and stay focused on each other. That’s what people want to see anyway—you dancing with your romance.
Dress for success
If you’re nervous about your big dance and wearing a dress to your big day, sky-high stilettos, a skin-tight mermaid silhouette that you can barely walk in and a ten-foot train probably won’t help. Even if that’s your chosen wedding day look, you can make your wedding’s first dance easier on yourself by exchanging your heels for dancing shoes. Even just one of these changes will make your first dance that much more drama-free. Dress to impress!