How to look natural for your first dance

Tips for your wedding dance
Couple first dance

You’re getting married and want the perfect wedding. But the first dance. OMG! We can’t move together to save ourselves.

Don’t worry. It’s a thought that has gone through the mind of many before you, and there is a solution.

Is learning to dance hard?

To be honest, learning to dance is easier for some than others. But that’s not to say it’s hard or not achievable. In its simplest form, dance is movement to music. Whether it’s in time or looks natural is another matter. So, before you relegate learning to dance to the too hard basket, don’t set yourself up with unrealistic expectations.

The degree of difficulty will ultimately come down to how complex you want your wedding dance to be, and the effort you are willing to put into learning to dance.

Learning to dance is like learning to walk

Think back to the time when you were a baby and started learning to walk. Actually, that’s probably a little bit too hard. But to put some perspective on things, a baby usually needs 15 months before they’re ready to start walking on their own, albeit not so steadily.

This varies from individual to individual, but there is more to learning to walk than just getting up on those two feet and going for it. A baby starts of by building the strength and learning to hold its own weight. It’s not all about the legs though!

When we’ve developed those other motor skills, we take a chance at our first steps. They’re a bit wonky, but we keep at it and practise repeatedly. Eventually, we are walking with deliberateness and control.

The same can be said for dancing. It is rare that we are going to be able to walk into a studio and dance gracefully straight off the bat. But with a bit of care and practise, this can be achieved relatively easily and quickly.

Like learning to walk, learning to dance involves repetition and is much more than a conceptual conquest, so we’ve got to be willing to do things, even the simplest things over and over again.

Set the right expectations

As we said, its unrealistic to walk into a studio and expect to walk out after the first lesson knowing all of your steps. Take it slowly and enjoy the experience. Be happy with doing things over and over again. This is what is ultimately going to make your dance great on the day.

No one is measuring you. Your progress is measured against you, not anyone else. So don’t feel you need to learn all of your steps in a single lesson or the order. Set the goal of dancing each step well before you tackle a new one.

A good comparison is to think about someone who does not run regularly. They’ve decided they want to run a marathon. Is it realistic to turn up on the day and run the event? Training for the marathon will start out will smaller practice runs that get longer and longer over time.

We approach learning to dance in a similar way. Start with smaller chunks and then build it up to the main event. We’re not saying learning your dance will be like a marathon! It will be a fun, gradual learning experience, where you’ll be reward based on the effort you apply.

It is also great to get inspiration from television and film, but also take into consideration that a lot of preparation and practise goes into these performances. When it comes to shows like Dancing with the Stars, remember one of the dancers in the partnership is a lifetime professional dancer, who has made a career out of executing difficult dance moves. That’s not to say you can’t perform some nice tricks. You just have to be willing to put in the practise to do it successfully and safely.

How will it make us look natural?

Ultimately what is going to make your first dance look natural is not having to think about your steps or how to execute them. Sorry to harp on it, but it just comes down to doing them over and over again. Another thing that will help is keeping it simple. That’s not to say don’t do fancy steps. By all means, we love it when our students can do difficult steps, but just put in the groundwork first. The less you have to consciously think about those foundation steps and components, the greater chance you have of doing the complex moves with ease.

The other key ingredient to a natural looking first dance is genuine lead and follow. Ok, so you might both be dancing to the music, doing exactly the same thing, but your doing your parts as individuals. Without lead and follow its like listening to two singers and one is singing off key. The lead and follow in dance is the harmony in song.

Pro tip

Don’t focus on choreography. Our most successful wedding couples don’t dance a set choreography. They learn a range of steps and learn how to dance them well. On the day they dance to the mood and feeling, and because they have worked on good lead and follow, the rest just falls into place.

The added bonus is you’ll have learnt how to dance your wedding dance style to any music that suits the dance style. You’ve now just so much extra value out of your wedding dance program and made it a lifetime investment, rather than a one off.

Don’t leave it to the last minute

We understand when planning your wedding you have many other things on your to do list, and your dance just isn’t the priority. The worst thing to try and do is learn to dance in a compressed time, especially when your stress is already on the rise due to the wedding planning.

The earlier you start, the more time you will have to practise and ultimately make your dance look natural. And, don’t worry about starting too early and forgetting your steps. You simply won’t forget them. Just plan to have a polishing lesson or two the week before your wedding and watch it come rushing back to you.

On that note, most reputable studios will provide an obligation free first class either for free or for a nominal fee. Get it and take this lesson as early as possible. Even 12 months out is fine. By doing this, you’ll know well in advance how many lessons you’ll need, so you can budget your time leading up to the wedding. Plus, you’ll get a feel for the studio, so you can make sure your comfortable with their teaching method before committing.

Pro tip

Avoid dance studios that require you to pay for your trial/first lesson in full upfront and then offer it as a credit towards your dance package if you sign up. You’ll find they are not very flexible with lesson times and will have onerous cancellation policies.

Start today

The friendly team at William Maslin Dance Studios are ready and willing to assist you achieve a great first dance. If you like to know more about our great wedding dance lessons or to book your trial lesson, get in touch with us today!