Skip to main content

Music and Mayhem: Dancing at Your Wedding

We all know that planning the wedding ceremony is only half of the process. At least there is a set tradition to follow while you and your fiancé are getting married!

A reception, however, gives a couple a lot more leeway to decide what they want to do: a freedom that can both be exciting and daunting. Receptions as they are practiced today certainly don't have a precedent as far back as marriage ceremonies, but there is a little bit of tradition and conventional wisdom to follow when choosing your tunes and showing your moves.

bride and groom dancing while confetti falls from the ceiling

The Music

Trying to instigate dancing at a wedding can be difficult. Many of us feel awkward on the dance floor, and the added reserve of wearing formal or fancy wear that inhibits movement can keep guests sitting down instead of getting down. One of the best ways to help your friends and family get their groove on is by picking the right music.

Hire a DJ with experience. She or he will know more than you do about how the crowd is feeling, what tunes will get them going, when to speed up and when to slow down! Take requests and recommendations from your guests and learn from any previously married couples' experience. Work with the disc jockey to make sure that those favorite songs are there to tempt everyone to the floor and those mistakes are long deleted from your playlist.

Planning it Out

Don't start the evening off with jazzy, upbeat tunes if your guests are eating first. Classy and romantic songs set the atmosphere and make it more relaxing and conversational. When you want to get your guests to dance, begin setting the mood with upbeat contemporary songs that most people know.

As the evening (and the boogie-ing) progresses, alternate between those new well-known songs to older classics, and maybe even a few more obscure or personal songs. Appealing to the masses makes everyone feel included, but taking the time to expand your horizons to specially significant songs, singers and eras will make your guests feel appreciated.

If you and your intended are both proud of your heritage, a musical tribute to each of your ancestral origins will be both enjoyed and appreciated, especially by more traditional relatives.

And never forget to sprinkle in a few of those good old group participation songs: "Cotton Eye Joe," "Electric Slide," "The Hustle," maybe a little "Time Warp"-and what's a wedding without "The Chicken Dance?"

The Dance

For you and your sweetheart, dancing can be all the more frightening when you remember that you two will be on display for everyone to see every trip-up, and toe-trampling and-EEK!

To defray that anxiety, try taking a few active steps to make you feel more confident on the floor. Take a class! Many dance studios recognize the unease of engaged couples and offer classes specifically meant for first dances. A few weeks of basic training will get you and your partner on the same rhythm and more at ease with how to dance as a couple.

If you're feeling a little more adventurous, try choosing your first dance song beforehand and choreographing the dance. This can be impressive and fun, and more entertaining for guests to watch than the usual slow dance. It can, however, be intimidating and nerve-wracking, so remember that you and your partner are there to have fun!

If you're on a tight budget, ask an experienced friend or family member to teach you a few basic steps. They'll appreciate that you thought of them and it will be a nice experience for you all. Remember, practice makes perfect, so whatever you and your fiancé decide to do, rehearse your plans beforehand so you can fix the snags before they occur in front of everyone!

bride and grooms pinky fingers interlocked as they walk down a brick pathway

If you choose, there is a traditional dance etiquette involved in the first few songs. The couple takes to the floor and dances their first dance as newlyweds. The bride's father cuts in to dance with the bride, and the groom goes and asks the bride's mother to dance. Then, the groom's father cuts in to dance with the bride, and the groom asks his own mother to dance. Finally, the groom's father will cut in to dance with his own wife, the newlyweds will join, and all three couples will dance together until the song is over.

This can be a complicated procedure and should be rehearsed beforehand. If either partner feels uncomfortable at the idea, discussing and deciding what to do will save the couple from any awkwardness during the actual ceremony.

From Sambas and waltzes to just plain wiggling, dancing at your wedding doesn't have to be a dreaded experience. As long as you have the right music and just a little bit of preparation, you can wow the crowd with your moves!

« More Wedding Articles