Preparation for the upcoming wedding is an exciting moment and sometimes could be even a bit stressful. A bit? - you may ask me...Oh, well, maybe not at all, let's just say preparation could be extremely stressful, as all potential guests need to be informed, the venue should be ready and picked wisely, the DJ must be selected, the whole ceremony, the meals and entertainment programed should planned perfectly and the list may go on and on and on.
Among all numerous things there will always be a question of a quality preparation of the first dance! And to help future newlyweds to sort out their FIRST DANCE, I decided to write a post and discuss the most important "headaches" related to the preparation of the wedding dance. Let's begin.
What would be absolutely the best song to use?
It is the general practice to choose the song for your wedding dance because it is a song you both love and feel the lyrics are suitable to yourselves as well as a wedding or because the song has some sentimental value for you. Although it's possible to create a wedding dance to almost any song, some though should be put into the music.
Most styles of dance can be simplified for beginners to learn quickly and we can create a dance to nearly any genre of music including traditional and classic songs, rock and roll, Latin, disco, pop, ballad’s, R’n’B, swing and even heavy metal. But regardless of the style of music, there are a few simple guidelines that if followed, can help you choose your song. If your heart is not set on any one song, bring a couple of choices to your first dance lesson and in a few seconds we can demonstrate which is easiest or most suitable for dancing.
Be aware of the slow music myth. Contrary to popular opinion, very slow music is NOT easy for dancing as it takes more dance skills to express slow music nicely and to make it look interesting. Very fast music may be difficult for the bride to dance in her wedding gown. Fast music requires faster footwork and if you are not nimble on your feet it will take more lessons and more practice to dance comfortably at the fast pace. Choose your music for the mood of the dance, if you want a fun or spirited dance choose lively or fun music, if you want a romantic and intimate dance choose a definite love song.
If you want to have a medley of two or three songs, especially if you’ve chosen them to ‘tell your story’, be prepared to learn a few steps of two or three different dances to suit each song.
And last but not least, the most important thing of all is that you can clearly hear the beat of the music you choose, the beat that you tap your foot to as you listen to the song. To dance ‘in time’ with the music you will need to match your footsteps to that beat and that can be very hard for a beginners with music that does not have a distinctive and easily heard beat. If you really don’t know what song to choose, play it safe and stick to the classics that are proven easy dancing and use your favorites for other parts of the wedding.
How soon should you start learning your wedding dance?
The number of lessons and the period of time needed to learn let's say a basic Bridal Waltz will vary greatly from person to person considering everyone learns at their own pace and everyone has their own perception of what is and what is not ‘basic’ and what is or is not a ‘Waltz’. In terms of learning a dance for a wedding the term Bridal Waltz tends to be used rather loosely, referring to the occasion of the first dance as a newlywed couple at their wedding reception rather than the name of the dance style itself. Traditionally the first dance was the actual Waltz but a contemporary Bridal Waltz can be any dance of an individual’s choice.
The Waltz is actually a formally structured ballroom dance composed of a set pattern of steps that can only be danced to music with a 3/4 time signature. If these steps are not done in the recognized prescribed manner and to the correct music then the dance is not a Waltz but something that may look like a Waltz to the uninitiated.
For the purpose of a wedding dance, we use the term Bridal Waltz to refer to the wedding first dance and not to the dance style itself. It is not necessary to learn an exact structured formal Waltz if you want a traditional style bridal dance, there are many different dances and creative interpretations of them that can look like a traditional Waltz but can be much easier to learn and certainly suit modern music better.
Having said that and assuming that your chosen wedding dance song is relatively suitable for beginners dancing, it is reasonable to expect that beginners should be able to learn a basic dance in anything from 3 to 7 lessons, depending on their capabilities and their interpretation of ‘basic’. Some couples can learn a whole simple dance in three lessons, some get halfway towards what they want and for some it’s just a start.
Where it is certainly possible to learn some elementary steps in three lessons it is more often the case for the vast majority that five lessons are needed to achieve a bridal dance that looks natural and relaxed so that you look like a couple and look like you know what you are doing.
There’s nothing worse than coming out of dance lessons with perfectly remembered steps and choreography but dancing mechanically and looking like tin soldiers.
Whether you feel you need 3 lessons or 10 Bridal Waltz lessons it is wisest to start them earlier rather than later. Plan your sessions leaving time to spare before your wedding date so that you avoid a last minute panic or attack of nerves and to give yourself the option of time for extra lessons if you find you need them or find you are better than you thought and want to jazz up the dance a bit more.
The dancing lessons are a lot of fun and you’ll find them one of the nicest things you do together as a couple in lead up to your wedding day.
Have realistic expectations
Quite often today couples come in with pre-determined idea of what they wait to learn and then they show on the iPhone a YouTube video of a couple dancing a spectacular wedding choreography with lots of cool moves and tricks in it. There is nothing wrong with it and with my experience I can easily match such routine or make it even better. However, usually such project would require more then 2-3 lessons to accomplish it. Here, I would recommend students to have realistic expectations and to allow far more hours to establish a sophisticated routine.
My general advise here would be is that if a couple has a limited budget, will It is far far better to dance only a few steps and look great doing them, look like a couple, look smooth and polished, than it is to attempt complex steps and choreography that is beyond your skill level and still look awkward or clumsy even though you are dancing your feet off.
Your wedding dance is not a performance to a critical or paying audience expecting to be entertained, it is a part of your wedding day rituals and celebration that is shared with your guests, your family and closest friends. It is your first dance as husband and wife, it is all about your relationship as a couple, and as such I have always believed that your wedding dance is personal and that you should indeed look like a couple and look like you know what you are doing in as natural and smooth way as possible.