The first dance is one of the most important yet overlooked details at a wedding. Since it is the first time a couple hold each other in their arms as husband and wife, the first dance should be unique and memorable to the couple and their guests. Below are a few frequently asked questions from engaged couples.
1. When should we start learning to dance?
You should start as soon as you can since learning to dance is similar to learning any other skill that takes time and effort. Imagine learning a new language, before you can carry a full conversation, you must first know enough vocabulary and grammar to form sentences. And moreover, dancing in front of your guests is similar to giving a speech, which can be stressful if you aren't prepared! Therefore, I recommend beginning dance lessons at least 4 months before your wedding day. This will ensure you have enough time to absorb the skills you learn and feel confident dancing at your wedding.
2. How many dance lessons do we need and how often should we take lessons?
Since every couple has different needs and expectations, the number of lessons you need depends on a few factors, such as how good you want to become, how often you are available to take lessons, how fast you learn and etc. Generally, it is recommended to start taking lessons at least 4 months before your wedding day to ensure you have ample time to learn the skills you need to feel confident and look good dancing at the wedding. Many couples take multiple lessons per week to help them retain information and speed up the learning progress, but a minimum of one lesson per week is recommended.
3. How do we choose a first dance song?
Whether or not you have a special song that you both enjoy, it is important to make sure you choose a "danceable" song and the lyrics are appropriate for your wedding. A danceable song should have a clear and consistent beat. The tempo of the song should not be too slow or too fast and the length of the song or your dance should not exceed 3 minutes. For first dance song recommendations, check out some of my favorite first dance songs of 2012 and my top ten classic first dance songs!
4. What style of dance should we learn?
The style of dance you should learn depends on your first dance song and your vision for your dance. If you have chosen a song for your first dance, your instructor will be able to listen to it and tell you what styles of dance are suitable. If you haven't chosen a song, you can start with learning the basics of various dance styles and choose a style that fits your vision and personalities.
5. What if we waited until the last minute?
Even though it is not ideal to cram for an exam, it is still a good idea to get in as many dance lessons as possible if you have less than a month before your wedding. At most dance studios, lessons range between 45 minutes to an hour long. Longer sessions will be appropriate when you have limited time. Also, taking dance lessons frequently will help you retain information and speed up your learning progress.
I hope you find this information helpful. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have regarding first dance preparation. I'd love to help!
Szewai (C-Y) Lee is the founder of Duet Dance Studio, a Chicago dance studio that offers Latin and ballroom dance lessons, wedding dance instruction, and BYOB dance parties. Besides dancing, Szewai enjoys discovering hidden gems in the city, finding great music and making short videos about people and things that inspire her.