How To: Pull Off Your First Dance

Do your legs turn to jelly at the mere thought of your first dance? Nix the jitters with these tips that'll have you sashaying like you were born to do it. 

  • Story by Anya Truong-George
  • Photography by Shutterstock

1. Consider lessons

The extra expense might put you off at first, but if you're feeling particularly anxious, private lessons might provide a welcome shot of courage – plus, it's a great bonding activity to enjoy with your partner (not to mention an excellent fitness booster). Julie Bell from Viva Dance Studios suggests starting your lessons at least six weeks before the wedding, and booking between three and five one-hour lessons. This way, you will have ample time to put together something you are both excited about.

Top tip : Bring along the shoes you will be wearing on the day so you can get used to dancing with them. Also, don't forget to keep the length and style of your dress in mind.

2. Choose a meaningful song

Dancing to a song you both love is sure to make you feel more at ease come dance time. Bring your song of choice to your lessons and from here, your dance instructor can choreograph or choose a dance style that best suits the rhythm. And don't forget to practise between lessons, suggest Elly-Anne Pritchard from The Dance Company . "It eliminates the need to count, look down at your feet and any little things that could make you look unconfident."

3. When's show time?

A high-energy audience will help take your dance to new heights, so while there's no set rule for when you should perform your first dance, the two most common times are either the beginning of the reception – after your intro as newlyweds  or after the first meal to help kick off the party portion of the evening.

4. Don't doubt yourself

Unless you're a professional, none of your guests are expecting a Dirty Dancing -worthy routine, so don't sell yourself short if you fear you have two left feet. "Usually couples come away from the lessons amazed at what they've achieved," says Julie. "A wedding dance lesson is all about giving the couple the best experience possible so they can enjoy their moment on the big day." As cheesy as it sounds, the most important performance enhancer is genuine enjoyment. Even if you don't fo down the professional route, hit up YouTube and choreography a jumble of your favourite moves. "I attended a wedding where the bridal couple dance a high-energy mash-up of steps – some copied from YouTube, some completely made up, to their shared favourite rock song. They finished the dance beaming, puffing and red-faced. It wasn't expertly choreographed, but it was the best first dance I've ever seen," recalled Frances Olsen.

5. Still not feeling it?

If you and your partner really feel like the first dance is just not you, why not skip it? Try thinking of a 'first' you can do together instead; you might have a favourite hobby or activity you enjoy. Or, play the 'shoe game', where you sit back-to-back and answer a series of humourous questions about each other.

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