First Dance Etiquette

by Claire Valenty on January 13, 2011

in Wedding Etiquette

wedding dance etiquette

The first dance at a wedding represents just that: the newly married couple’s first dance – shocker!   Although boring to some guests at a wedding, who might be lulled off to sleep by the slow music combined with the open bar, it is tradition and something that cannot be skipped.

The first dance is a sweet moment at the reception, generally only truly appreciated by the older folks in attendance who remember the good ol’ days when people used to dance the waltz and the foxtrot, instead of just grinding up against each other like we do now.  As with most traditions, we continue to do them to keep the elders happy.  Once they die off and the meaning of the first dance fades, I predict it will eventually twirl off into oblivion.  In the meantime, here are some tips for doing it properly:

  • Be prepared. Just don’t think you can go up there and sway back and forth for a couple of minutes.  Learn a real dance, either by attending a dance school or watching a DVD.  It’s not that hard!
  • Your wedding – your song choice. Fast, slow, or somewhere in between.  There are no rules!  The jury is still out, though, on whether the dances that start out slow and romantic but turn into a hilarious performance by the bride and groom are entertaining or cheapen the event just a little.
  • Figure out who is dancing with whom. Obviously, the bride and groom will start the dance together, but, from there, it can go a few different ways, depending on your choice:
    • The bride and groom can dance the entire song alone.
    • The bridal party can stand up and bring their partners onto the dance floor part way through the song.
    • The father of the bride can cut in to dance with his daughter, while the groom then brings his mother up to dance.  Then the father of the groom cuts in to dance with the bride, leaving the father of the bride to cut in on the groom, who then asks his mother in law to dance.  Then everyone ends up with whomever they are married to at the end of the song.   It can get complicated with step families!
  • The first dance usually takes place right after the cutting of the cake. The MC should announce the first dance so the guests know to clear the dance floor.
  • Stay in your seat! As a wedding guest, unless you are specifically asked to join the couple on the dance floor by the MC, you should keep your butt on your chair.  There will be plenty of time for you to bust a move after the formalities are completed!

Further Reading:

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