Got the first dance fear? Read this!

Photo by Air Image

First dances can strike fear into the hearts of even the most confident couple. Is it time to rethink (or just remix) this part of the celebrations?

Words by Sarah Gillespie

If you’re anything like me, watching a sweet couple of 70-year-olds take to the floor for a slow dance always makes me totes emosh. They’re probably doing exactly what they did the day they first met, when politely asking someone for a dance was the line that launched a thousand romances, as opposed to the ‘I really fancy you, so how about it?’ of the present day. I’m not sure I’d trade Google and Dominos Two For Tuesdays to go back to past times, but twerking really can’t compete with the swept-away romance of a nice waltz.
And it’s not just our love stories that suffer. The generational dance de-skilling is giving engaged couples the fear when it comes to their first dance. You and your partner may very well be in this position. But stop for a minute: who exactly is forcing you to shuffle around the floor to Frank Sinatra? You have free rein on song choice, and even whether to have a first dance at all: there are other options, you know.

Playlist it cool

“Your first dance doesn’t have be slow and slushy to be romantic,” says Chloe Mullen, client liaison at entertainment agency Freak Music. “An uplifting song can be just as tender. God Only Knows by The Beach Boys is a great slow-dance alternative, for example.”
Your wedding should represent you as a couple, so picking a song you’d ordinarily hound the DJ for on a night out will give you heaps more confidence compared to opting for something you feel is ‘wedding appropriate’. There might even be a cover or live version of your fave song that makes it a little bit more suited to the occasion. For example, did you know there’s a jazz cover of Rage Against The Machine’s Killing in the Name Of?
Lots of popular dance songs have slow-tempo versions, and lots of Scottish musicians already have popular club tracks in their repertoire, while others may be willing to learn your favourite. Check out Alex Graham or Andy Lucas, two pianists that have a whole host of different genres of contemporary music in their repertoire (Faithless on piano? Yas!).

Get over it

Photo by Christopher Currie

With your cherished tune lined up, you should be feeling much more equipped to take to the floor. “If you don’t feel confident, you won’t look confident,” points out Felicity Drever, who, as founder of Learn 2 Wedding Dance, is well practised at ridding couples of their jive-jitters. “I like to spend a bit of time with the bride and groom to see what sort of style and steps will suit them and then look effortless.” Popping down to group lessons, or booking a private session where you can film your dance for at-home practice, is certainly one way to banish any trepidation before the big day.

Funny footsteps

For some people, it’s the seriousness of the first dance that turns them off. If you and your future hubby or wife are the jokers in your pack, your guests might be secretly hoping for something a little bit more ‘you’ when the music starts. While some wedding video trends come and go, the ‘comedy first dance’ clips are still getting millions of hits on YouTube – over 90 million views on the most watched video – eight years after the first clip of a sombre first dance switching into a perfectly executed routine to Baby Got Back by Sir Mix A Lot went viral. “All aspects of your wedding day should be a representation of you, sharing your special day with your loved ones,” says Chloe. If this involves breaking into Thriller mid-song, we’re sure your family and friends will love it.

Safety in numbers

One way to take the heat off when you’re on the dancefloor is by getting other members of your bridal squad to take part.
Traditionally, they’ll enter the floor towards the end/after the first dance, but who says they can’t join in at the start? Chloe agrees: “Personally, I think it’s great to share the dancefloor with the rest of the wedding party. It takes the pressure off you, and also reminds your guests that they’re a special part of the day too.” So why wait until the last gasp for a big family rendition of Loch Lomond?

Photo by Neil Thomas Douglas

Ditch the dancefloor

Show me the section in the wedding rule book where it says there has to be a first dance at all. You can’t? That’s because there is no ‘wedding rule book’. Conventions are getting trashed left, right and centre: mums are making speeches, brides are giving themselves away and ceremony seating encourages you to ‘pick a seat, not a side’. Releasing lanterns or an impressive firework display will be just as poignant, with the added benefit of more privacy, as all eyes won’t be on the two of you. Your wedding is a celebration, and it comes with enough stress without tempo tantrums and dancefloor meltdowns. Do what makes you both happy and your guests will enjoy it as much as you do.