Do We Need to Do a First Dance?

Do We Need to Do a First Dance?

If you're on the cusp of getting married, you have so many fabulous firsts to look forward to! Have you ever wondered which of those events truly marks the beginning of your marriage?

Many agree that a beautiful love story begins with the first dance.

After the vows and the readings, your first dance is a way to display your love while transcending language. Often, first dance songs remain dear to married couples for their entire lives. While these moments and memories can be beautiful, reticent brides and grooms might feel reluctant to dance alone in front of a crowd.

Are you on the fence about whether to include a first dance at your wedding? We've created this guide to offer couples-to-be a series of first dance ideas to help you decide. We'll answer all your questions about what a first dance should (or could) be, allowing you to plan the perfect romantic moment—or skip it in favour of something uniquely you!

Read on to learn all there is to know about this centuries-old wedding tradition.

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What Is the First Dance at a Wedding?

Your beautiful wedding ceremony has concluded, and your guests have gathered in your reception space. They're all seated, eager for the festivities to begin. Suddenly, a voice booms out over the sound system, introducing the newly married couple.

Music plays, lights illuminate the dance floor, and all eyes are on you and your spouse. The crowd applauds. While you have the crowd's attention, why not make the most of it while putting your love on display?

It's at this point that most couples share a first dance. It's usually part of the evening wedding reception, as your wedding band begins their set. Often, the first dance serves as the official "opening" of the dance floor and is when the party truly begins.

The traditional first dance ending includes an invitation for the guests to join the married couple on the dance floor. This explicit invitation kicks off the festivities and ensures guests feel comfortable getting up to dance.

When Should We Have Our First Dance?

Most couples have their first dance at the beginning of the evening reception before dancing has officially begun. In this way, the married couple can "christen" the dance floor. It's a wonderful way to start the festivities as a live band or DJ begins their set.

Contemporary weddings follow many unique formats, however. Daytime weddings are gaining popularity, and not every couple has a distinct evening reception.

Ultimately, the timing of your first dance is up to you.

Many couples have taken to performing the first dance earlier, such as before the wedding breakfast. Others might perform in the middle of the reception once energy has begun to lull. Consider utilizing your first dance as a transition to get guests on or off the dance floor as you move from one component of the evening to another.

Who Will Accompany Your First Dance?

Your first dance song should say something unique about your love story. You only get one first dance, and your chosen music will remain "your song" forever! Rather than plugging your phone into the sound system and hoping the sound quality holds up, we recommend involving your wedding band or professional DJ.

A live band is an excellent choice if you're feeling a bit nervous about your big moment. Remember, your band consists of people. If you get off-tempo, stumble, need to reset, or get overwhelmed by emotion, they can follow you and make you look good regardless.

Some couples prefer the consistency of recorded music, which always sounds the same. This can be helpful if you've rehearsed a dance and want to be able to anticipate every key change and chorus. A DJ with a professional sound system will ensure your song comes through loud and clear.

Do You Need to Have a First Dance?

First dances for couples have been a wedding tradition since the sixteenth century. The tradition began when the guest of honour at a ball took to the floor to start off the evening's festivities. While many couples love this link to tradition, others have decided it isn't for them.

Ultimately, you do not need to have a first dance at your wedding.

Reasons to skip the first dance might include the following:

  • Lack of confidence in your dance ability
  • Performance anxiety
  • Desire to break with tradition
  • Physical restrictions that make movement challenging
  • Choosing a single "first song" is too stressful
  • More interest in other elements of the wedding
  • Lack of time

Alternatively, you can transform this centuries-old tradition and make it your own. Many couples are "reclaiming" the first dance and replacing it with musical moments that better match their party's theme.

We've included a few alternate first dance suggestions below.

Perform a Choreographed Number

Traditionally, a first dance is a "slow dance." This puts a lot of the onus on the couple. Not only do you have to rely on your inherent musicality (which is a gift that not every spouse will possess), but you need to make swaying and spinning entertaining for an audience.

While you certainly don't owe your guests an entertaining first dance, slow dancing for a crowd can feel awkward. Many couples combat this by performing a choreographed dance on their wedding day. This might be a number you choreograph at home or a number choreographed by a dance teacher or professional choreographer.

It's common for couples to begin taking dance lessons in the weeks leading up to the wedding. Some join group dance classes, while others arrange private instruction. Many dance teachers will even attend the wedding to facilitate a rehearsal once you're dressed in your wedding finery.

Choreographed dances tend to be more interesting for a crowd. They also make the dancers feel more confident, as they have the opportunity to practice in advance. You'll always know what's coming next, which can be a comfort if you're nervous about improvisation.


Looking for first dance song ideas? We've put together a list of over 100 popular first dance songs to get you inspired!

Choose an Upbeat Song

In contrast, you and your future spouse may be confident, competent dancers. It can be challenging to show off during a slow dance, however! This may be a case in which you break with tradition and choose an upbeat, danceable song and turn your first dance into a high-octane performance.

Showcase Your Culture

First dances for weddings can reflect nearly any style or cultural tradition. You can use it to unite both sides by incorporating a dance or song that puts your heritage on display.

This can be particularly effective if spouses come from different backgrounds. Learning another culture's musical traditions can help endear you to your new spouse's family. In this way, your first dance can become a show of solidarity, enabling you to forge new connections.

choreographed first dance

Involve Your Wedding Party

You'll be the centre of attention at your ceremony, but not all couples love the limelight. Attracting more attention during the reception might be a bit much for some shy or introverted couples who prefer to blend into a crowd.

Instead of a couples wedding dance, some couples include their wedding party so they can enjoy the first dance tradition without standing out. Arrange a few rehearsals and come up with a choreographed number that gives everyone a moment in the spotlight. The benefit of this option is that you'll already have a sizable crowd on the dance floor when the emcee invites attendees to get up and move.

You can also choose to go big. Some couples stage their first dance as a flash mob, in which the first dance is a surprise. This is a beautiful way to add whimsy and a sense of play to an otherwise stiff wedding tradition.

Consider a First Song

You might love music, but that doesn't mean you don't have two left feet. Instead of swaying to a love song, why not take up the mic and belt out a romantic duet? This allows you to choose a "first song," even if dancing for a crowd gives you hives.

Many wedding bands will gladly play for you as you perform. Bring up the idea when you reach out to hire your wedding band.

Make the First Dance Count

Ultimately, the decision to have a first dance at your wedding will come down to personal preference. You have many firsts to come as you and your new spouse embark on your life together. A wedding dance is one beautiful, traditional way to ensure your "first first" as a married couple is tender, emotional, and well-documented.

If you choose to have a wedding dance, the music you select will likely become "your wedding song" for the rest of your life. Ensure every note is pitch-perfect by hiring professional musicians who will go above and beyond to make your moment magical. Enquire with Bands For Hire to book your perfect wedding band today.