A beautiful first dance is like a gift for your friends and family.
Your First Dance Dream Team
You’ve put time and effort into preparing an amazing first dance that your friends and family will love and that you will remember forever. Maybe you’ve told everyone you know each fabulous detail, or maybe it’s top secret. Either way, make sure you get the most out of it by communicating ahead of time with a few key professionals.
It goes without saying that your wedding planner (or day-of coordinator) will be most effective if they know all the details of your dream wedding, including how you want your first dance to go. A few things to discuss might be:
- How much room are you going to need? Some dances (e.g. waltz) cover a lot of ground, while others (e.g. swing) can be done in a smaller space.
- Where should people be seated or standing to give everyone a good view?
- Are you using any special props (yeah, we do that sometimes), or will other people be involved?
- Will you be changing into a different outfit before the dance?
DJ or Bandleader
Obviously your DJ has a lot to do with how smoothly your first dance goes. They will not only play the music, but announce you beforehand and acknowledge you again when you finish. Since many people do some version of the hang-and-sway, the DJ may be in the habit of killing time by starting the music as the couple walks on the floor and/or fading the music early. Both of these practices can ruin your plans, so let them know that you’re doing something special, and keep the following in mind when you do:
- Make sure they know you are using an edited version of your song.
- Get the final edit to them as soon as possible and make sure that the file name is clear (e.g. Let The Good Times Roll_Suzie & Joe edit) so there’s no mixing it up with the full version.
- Tell them not to fade the song in or out, but to let it play as is.
- Let them know to start the music either when you signal them or when you are in position.
If you have a band or singer, it’s even trickier. Everything above still applies, but you also have the additional step of making sure that the music they play is the same as what you’ve been practicing to. Talk to the band leader as early as possible and see how they like to handle things. This is what we like to do:
- We edit a recorded version of your song to make sense (length, feeling, highlights) for a first dance.
- You send the edited version to the band so they can develop a similar arrangement.
- They record their live version and send it back to you to practice with.
Photographers capture moments. Normally there’s not much going on during a first dance, so they concentrate on details like expressions, the ring, shoes, etc. But your dance isn’t going to be ordinary and you’ll want great shots of every lift, dip, and line. Your photographer can only do that if they know what’s coming. Prepare them by doing these two simple things:
- Discuss with them the types of shots you want.
- Give them a video of you practicing. This is the best way to make sure they know what to expect and are ready for the highlights.
Like photographers, videographers will focus on close shots if there’s no action, so make sure they know that there will be. [If you aren’t using a professional videographer, be sure to share the same information with a trusted friend or relative. And don’t pick someone that is shy, overly polite, or easily distracted. You want someone who’ll be right up there capturing every moment of your amazing first dance.] Again, doing these easy things ahead of time will get you the best results:
- If they’re only using one camera, ask them to set it up to capture the whole area you’ll be dancing in. Zoom-ins and other effects can be added post-production.
- Give them a copy of the same practice video that you provided for the photographer. This will give them an idea of the best placement for the main camera, and where to position themselves for additional footage if a second one is being used.
Of course, all of this also applies to father-daughter and mother-son dances as well. With a little preparation and good communication, these special moments will be a dream come true, and you’ll be able to enjoy reliving them together for years to come.
Check out our earlier post on common first dance snags (Avoid the Oops!) for more tips, and visit The Mid South Wedding Association’s website (We Help Brides) to find some of the best wedding vendors in Memphis.
Special thanks to The Warmth Around You for the lovely first dance photo.