It should be the most romantic experience of your life. The moment you fantasise about when you’re 15, picturing an absurdly handsome man gazing into your eyes as you waltz around the room to the perfect song, your guests bursting into spontaneous applause at the drama and beauty of it all.
But the reality, well, that can turn out a little differently. From grooms shuffling awkwardly across the dance floor with a stricken expression on their face to brides with wardrobe malfunctions, it is all too easy to turn from blushing bride to blushing with embarrassment.
DO be realistic about your dancing ability
If you’ve always been the life and soul of the dance floor, skip this point and plan an extravagant dance routine. It’ll be fabulous. But if your style is more along the lines of awkward shuffle, then keep it simple. “Remember, the idea is not to entertain your guests. It is to share a private moment between the two of you,” says Herman Lam of Herman Lam Dance Studio. If you’re really embarrassed, we also suggest a shot of vodka and asking your maid of honour, the best man and your parents to join in halfway through.
DO think about timing
Traditionally, the first dance kicks off the dancing portion of the reception and most couples save it until after the meal, illustrating to guests that it’s time for them to get out of their seats and ramp up their flirting on the dance floor.
However, couples are growing increasingly fond of a grand entrance, which means arriving at the reception after all the guests are in place and launching straight into the first dance. The advantage is that it creates a fantastic energy from the get-go, but it can make it more difficult to drag your guests away from dinner.
DON’T pick a song that actually means “it’s over”
The most popular first-dance song of the last 20 years is I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston, but while the title is perfect, the verses and chorus are not exactly ideal. “Bittersweet memories, That is all I’m taking with me. So goodbye. Please don’t cry: We both know I’m not what you, you need.”
Hmm. Okay, so firstly don’t break up on the dance floor, but also pick a song that means something to you. “You can dance to any song in the world, that’s our promise, so pick one you love,” says Katie Bridges of Ceroc Hong Kong. “We love it when couples choose something that is meaningful and special to them. It’s then our challenge to choreograph something unique to fit their personality, dance skills and desired style.”
DO take celebrity inspiration
If you’re drawing a real blank in terms of song choice, why not do what the famous do? The Obamas went for You and I by Stevie Wonder. Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux picked Chandelier by Sia, the Clooneys had Why Shouldn’t I? by Cole Porter, while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge opted for Elton John’s Your Song performed by Ellie Goulding.
DON’T have a wardrobe malfunction
When you buy your dress, practise dancing around the boutique with your best friend and if you find you can’t move properly, get it altered. “The style of dress does dictate the moves,” says Bridges. “We will always ask our clients about their dress choice in the first lesson, even if that means sending the fiancé out the room. Do tuck long trains into a bustle where possible, or add a hook onto your finger. We’ve even had dress rehearsals with blindfolded grooms to ensure everything goes according to plan.”
DO have some lessons
“It’s like giving a best man’s speech off the cuff,” says Bridges. “Yes, you can talk and you probably know your subject well, but without practice, you could fall flat on your face (literally). Couples generally find dance lessons rewarding because they give them the confidence to feel good on the day—and in particular, men say they enjoyed the process much more than they expected to. It’s great for bonding.”
(Text: Melissa Twigg)