Dancing Queen

by Jen

So among all the other stress gnats that are buzzing around your head right now, the First Dance one is one of the most insidious.

That’s because it’s got a loooong orbit. It can be out of your range of vision for weeks at a time while you worry about finding a dress that fits your budget and cake toppers that have paddles, not oars, and oh, my god, you don’t have to get shots for the Caribbean, do you? You forget all about it and then suddenly at 3 a.m. one night it zooms around again, making you sit bolt upright in bed and wonder if you should just fake a broken leg or what. Here are some survival – and maybe more than just survival – tips.

No one has a gun pointed at your feet.
If you and your groom can’t stand the idea of a first dance, don’t do it. Just prep your DJ, emcee, or band to get everyone dancing right off the bat. They won’t notice for more than a second, and then the right funky tunes will chase their cares away.

Alternately, you can do a really, really short first dance. Get out there and sway just enough to hit the mark, and then make sure whoever has the microphone gets on and encourages everyone to join you at a designated (very early) point in the song. You’ll look generously considerate of your guests’ good time.

No one expects you to be professional dancers.
Well, unless you are professional dancers, in which case you’d better hop to. But other than that, there really is no pressure here. Your guests don’t expect anything out of you two but to sway back and forth for a couple of minutes while they get all misty over you. They don’t even really expect you to sway in rhythm. The ability to keep time is gravy.

If you really want to do it up, try dancing lessons.
Definitely sound your groom out on his comfort level on this one. You may want to lower his resistance by watching movies in which guys look very cool and sexy while dancing before you bring up the idea of classes. Good choices include Strictly Ballroom, Footloose, Saturday Night Fever, and Step Up. Breakin’ is hilariously dated, but your guy will secretly love it.

If he’s dead-set against tripping the light fantastic, let it go and resign yourself to the fact that nobody will be getting served at your wedding. But if your groom is open, give a couple of local dance studios a call. You won’t even necessarily have to take generalized lessons. Many studios understand the first wedding dance jitters, and will allow you to take lessons for just one style, or even just one song. You can do just enough to get your confidence up. Or you can take some time and try something more elaborate.

Consider blowing the roof off the joint.
If everyone’s watching you (and you both agree that this would be fun), why not go for broke like this couple?

These two are geniuses of the surprise wedding dance for some important reasons:
1) They sell it. They really commit to both halves of the dance. They look awkward and nervous during the first part, making the guests think that this will be sweet to watch, but that’s about it. Then when the venerable Sir Mix-a-Lot kicks in, they commit there too. It can be tempting to pull back on a silly dance, but it always looks best if you go all in.
2) They practiced. They definitely put some work into this – there’s no hesitation and they’re completely comfortable with their moves. Knowing your dance cold will give you that much less to worry about, and thus you can devote that much more of your brain to fun.
3) They aren’t trying to look cool. Admit it: if these two launched into a different song with a serious “Look at how awesome we are at dancing!” vibe, you’d either be embarrassed for them or a little annoyed. The fact that they are being playful and silly makes them irresistibly charming.
4) They are enjoying themselves and each other. These two are having a fantastic time together and it shows. It’s fun to watch and it sets the perfect tone for the rest of the reception.

If you’d like more examples of great first dances, check out the evolution of wedding dance.

...And the truly magnificent Clay family.

Even if you have no interest in putting on a choreographed number, all of these couples offer great a great example: They really get a charge out of each other and they aren’t afraid to show it. Pretty good advice for a first dance or for a marriage as a whole.