HOW TO: survive your first dance

We reveal all on some common first dance dilemmas and the right way to go about having two left feet

Photo: Aboyne Photographics

When you stop and think about it, a first dance is odd. More than odd, in fact: friends and family circling around you like vultures, a fidgety, shaky other half engulfed in nerves, your underskirt catching on your heel, the signature shuffle with the occasional stiff twirl #awkward

The actual experience, thankfully, is somewhat more magical than this basic breakdown (think heart-stopping closeness and teary guests instead). Nonetheless, you do need to work on your dance a little if you want to avoid that awful feeling of wishing the ground would open up and swallow you once the spotlight hits you. Enter the musicians with all the answers:

Q: We don’t have a song. How do we go about choosing a track that suits us?

A: “Don’t stress too much about it having to be a song from the years you’ve been together or one that sums up your entire relationship,” advises Kim Shepherd, lead singer of Dunfermline band Cut the Cake. “It doesn’t have to be ‘the’ song – it just has to be a song you both enjoy or that’s by an artist you like.” Splendid Gentlemen’s Dee McLaren believes it’s easier than you might imagine to land on something meaningful. “Any song that has importance for you can be turned into a first dance. Maybe it’s a song from when you first met? It doesn’t have to be romantic. Any band worth their salt can slow it down.” Still struggling? Euan Halket of DeVille has another solution. “If you can’t find a track you love and feel comfortable. dancing to, we could compose a song to words provided by you,” he says.

Photo: Julie Lamont Photography

Q: We’ve both got two left feet! Is there any hope for us?

A: Song choice and a bit of an action plan will do wonders if you feel about as elegant as an octopus on the dancefloor. “Pick a nice, slow song so you don’t have to move too much,” says Euan. “Let the band know that you want the rest of the bridal party on quickly, and practise at home beforehand.” Practise, yes, but don’t rehearse obsessively. “Some couples do a run-through or go for lessons, but you can see them counting as they go – they’re not ‘in the moment’ when they’re dancing,” admits Kim. “Even if you barely move at all, the important thing is to enjoy it.”

Q: We do have a song in mind but it doesn’t feel very appropriate. Could it be adapted?

A: As long as the lyrics aren’t screaming about how much you hate each other, there’s scope for any song to be suitable. “Almost everything can be slowed down and made to feel more like a first dance,” Dee assures us. “Hell, Ellie Goulding has made a career out of it! We’ve had successful slow versions of Kings of Leon’s ‘Use Somebody’ and we’ve played a couple of Jess Glynne tracks. We’ve also sung a Chris Cornell number and the chorus was, ‘I can’t wait to never be with you again’! If it has meaning to you, it doesn’t matter what it is.”

Q: Any tips for handling the attention?

A: Nerves can be managed if you have the right perspective. “Try not to focus on everyone watching,” suggests Kim. “Your guests are there to see you happy, not to judge your dancing skills!”

Q: Our day isn’t traditional and we’re ditching a lot of the conventional aspects. Should we make an exception for the first dance?

A: While no one can tell you what’s best for you on your big day, a first dance gives you a photo opportunity you might not want to miss. “If you don’t want one, don’t have one,” asserts Dee. “We’re all about quirky weddings and like to challenge the norm. But pros? Photographs! The first dance shot is a great keepsake and a definite Facebook profile picture, no?” he reckons.

Photo: Pulze Photography

Q: Our venue is quite large. How do we position our guests and use the space so we don’t look lost in it?

A: Being cramped is horrible, but so is feeling like the place is empty – how do you strike a balance? “If you have enough guests to fill the space it’s not a problem,” notes Euan. “But if you’re only filling half of the room, make sure the venue puts tables and chairs around the dancefloor so everything is brought together and a more intimate atmosphere is created.”

Q: We’re aiming for a fun, playful theme so we’d like an upbeat first dance. Can this work as well as a ballad?

A: “It works great!” enthuses Euan. “We have played ‘Crazy in Love’, ‘You Sexy Thing’ and ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ in the past – definitely not ballads.” “If you can look back on your pictures and you’re laughing and smiling in every one,” wraps up Kim, “you’ve nailed it!”