I believe that every wedding should be fun and unique; that couples shouldn’t feel compelled to incorporate wedding traditions that don’t resonate. Your wedding day should reflect what you value. You want to walk down the aisle together? You want to have ice cream sundaes instead of cake? You don’t want to get married in a church? You don’t want to spend money on boutonnieres? More power to you!
That said, though, there is one wedding tradition that I DO encourage couples to incorporate: The First Dance. Because aside from being one of the few times of the day when you two can bask in the fact that you’re newly married, it’s a great photo op!
I know that not every couple is excited about the first dance – everyone is watching you out there on the dance floor and it’s nerve wracking. But fear not. I have tips for making the First Dance awesome – for enjoying it AND getting great, one-of-a-kind photos of your first dance that you’ll treasure.
1. Keep it simple. Remember slow songs at middle school dances when you found a partner and just swayed to the music? DO THAT! Hold and sway and turn slowly in a circle. No complicated dance moves required! I recommend that you simply wrap your arms around each other, sway to the music, and make a slow rotation every once in awhile so that I can photograph both of your faces. The dance doesn’t have to be complicated or impressive, it is about the moment and the memories.
2. Let me in on the plan. Of course if you ARE going to attempt a complicated, choreographed dance with dips and twists, let me know so that I am prepared with the right lights and in the right location. Surprise your parents, but don’t surprise your photographer!
3. Practice. Even if you’re just holding and swaying, which I highly recommend, it is good to practice a few times so that you are comfortable on the dance floor.
4. Don’t look at your feet. Please, I beg of you. Look into each other’s eyes! Look at the room full of your friends and family who are happy to see you in love! Close your eyes and feel your partner’s hands around you. But for goodness sake, don’t look at the floor. Show me your lovely faces.
5. Stop talking. It’s true that the first dance is a time when you two can finally talk to each other without a hundred people wanting attention. But when you talk, your mouth is open, you make funny expressions, you furrow your eyebrows, and you turn a great photo op a mediocre photo op. Keep your mouth closed, smile, laugh, and enjoy the moment.
6. Stay close to each other. Don’t leave a big space between your torsos like at a middle school dance – I don’t want to see Uncle Bob in the background. Get in close, tummy to tummy, chest to chest, and hold on tight. You just got married! Squeeze each other!
7. Make it what you want it to be. My preaching aside, there is no rule that you have to dance, that you have to dance to an entire song, that you have to do it alone, or that it has to be a slow song. You don’t even have to have music at your wedding! You are the bosses of your own wedding. So if you plan one at all, plan a first dance that feels right for you.