Aubrey sings your first dance!The first dance.
I'm guessing that some of you reading this got engaged over the Christmas period.
It's never too soon to start planning your wedding and if you're an old romantic at heart (like me) then you want a song performed at your first dance that will mean something to both of you for the rest of your lives...
Find out more about Aubrey the wedding singer by clicking here!
Whether you are planning an intimate sweep across the dance floor or a choreographed performance that would put Diversity to shame, there is no denying the significance of a couple’s ‘first dance’ as man and wife.
I have been singing at wedding parties for over 25 years and one thing that strikes me is the importance that couples place on their first dance. Lets face it, the first dance will be remembered for the rest of your lives. Fast-forward 30 years down the road, and every time you hear 'that song', it will transport you back to a magical moment during a very magical day - That's the idea anyway!
A quick search of the internet will reveal a number of web sites dedicated to 'First dance choreography classes' and 'Favourite first dance songs' and there are a number of quite famous first dance videos on YouTube. One of the most famous UK based wedding dance videos was filmed at Fonmon Castle, near Cardiff Wales Airport - a venue that I perform at regularly. It shows Julia and James performing a routine from the film 'Dirty Dancing' and has (at the time of writing) received nearly 10 million hits; which in return has led to the couple appearing on a number of TV shows - but you don't have to go that far!
A quick history lesson.
The tradition of the first dance seems to be modern European and American one. I made a quick survey of previous clients and asked them to ask their parents if they'd had a first dance and it turns out that very few of them did. Those that did, performed a quick waltz around the room echoing the origins of the first dance which was usually performed at old-fashioned balls by the guests of honour and signified the commencement of dancing for the evening, and was certainly not a choreographed or surprise routine! In the past most people attending a ball would have been taught how to dance as a matter of etiquette - a skill few of us have these days. Therefore the modern wedding first dance seems to be an additional confirmation of the couples love, and unless the couple have some ball-room dancing skills or they have put a routine together, then it is generally an intimate 'shuffle' around the dance floor.
Nowadays, the trend seems to be that more and more people are opting to have a first dance and they are placing more importance on it. 25 years ago when I first started performing at weddings not many people would bother with a first dance. I offer a bespoke service where I will work with the couple to make sure they get exactly what they need for their all important first dance.
Choosing the right song for the first dance.
As couple, it's worth spending some time choosing a song that means something to both of you. If you are intending to have a first dance (and not everybody does), then make sure that whoever is performing or playing the song has at least a few weeks notice so that they can ensure they have the correct version of the song prepared. There are so many different versions and mixes of songs it's important that you specify exactly which version you want played. Some couples like to have the original version of the song played by the DJ whilst others opt for the song performed live by the band or singer. I favour the later as it adds a little extra to the first dance. I also offer to record the first dance song for the happy couple and I upload the track to a web site so they can download it at their pleasure!
Performing the perfect first dance.
If you are going to choreograph a dance, make sure the band, singer or DJ has exactly the same version that you have. In fact it is always worthwhile sending a copy of the song in advance so it can be downloaded on to the music system that the DJ or band is using. Don't give the DJ a CD on the day. For various technical reasons you can't rely on a CD playing - especially if it has been copied or burned on a computer.
It seems that most ladies are quite comfortable on the dance floor, but the poor old groom is often left weak kneed at the prospect of having to 'perform' in front of his friends and family. On the anxiety / nervousness scale, the first dance comes in at third place behind the wedding ceremony and the speech. In reality, everyone just wants to see you staring into each others eyes whilst enjoying the music. No one really cares if you put on a full blown routine or just stand on the dancefloor holding each other!
After years of performing at weddings I've found the best time for the couple to have their first dance is after the buffet (if they are having one). This gives evening guests chance to mingle with the day guests and lets everyone 'relax' until it's time to start dancing! 5 minutes before the first dance I make an announcement to all the guests to make sure they have their cameras ready and to gather around the dance floor. This works as both a heads up for anyone who might be thinking of sneaking off for a cigarette, and it gives the bride and groom chance to get near the dance floor.
In recent years the trend has been for couples to dance to a choreographed dance routine. So I often have to supply them with a pre-recorded version of me singing the song for them to dance to. This ensures that the version I am going to sing has all the same timings as the version they are rehearsing with. As I mentioned, there are a number of web sites advertising wedding choreography and it's become quite a lucrative business. However, in nearly all cases the couples who have opted for a choreographed dance seem more stressed about the dance than about any other part of the day. In one case the couple abandoned their set piece just before they were about to do it and opted to shuffle around the dance-floor in each others arms - which was just as endearing!
Starting the live music or disco right after the first dance is a great way of kick starting the party. Everyone is concentrated around the dance floor and in many cases the bride and groom ask people to join them halfway through their first dance so it's a great ice-breaker to get people boogieing the night away.
Tips for a great first dance.
To achieve a romantic and well-executed first dance, I recommend following....
- Prepare: In order to make your first dance a memorable one (and not for the wrong reasons) make sure that your singer or DJ is well briefed on the song you have selected and the mood you want to create, whether this be light hearted, serious or even funny. This will give whoever is performing the song the chance to thoroughly prepare and make sure the music is seamless. I work closely with couples to make sure they get exactly what they want out of their first dance.
- Pick a song that’s right for you both: I find that the song choices work best when they reflect the couple’s personalities and resonate with their relationship. Perhaps certain lyrics really stand out or a song takes you back to a special shared memory. However, you must bear in mind you ultimately have to dance to the song - so there’s no point in choosing an up-tempo number if your partner has two left feet!
- Forget cool, go with what YOU love: Don’t be afraid to choose something that’s cheesy, tacky or a little risqué! The day is all about you Who cares if you’ve chosen a Westlife number, or if you've shocked aunty Maureen with your intimate slow dance to an RnB track.
- Dance lessons: In general, ladies seem more comfortable dancers than men. So if you're that bothered about messing up your big moment, take a few dance lessons together. Not only will this help to put you both at ease but it will also guarantee quality 'couple-time' in the busy run up to the wedding.
- Timing: This may seem trivial but timing is key. After years of performing at weddings I've found the best time for the couple to have their first dance is after the buffet (if they’re having one). This gives evening guests a chance to mingle with the day guests and lets everyone 'relax' until it's time to start dancing. Also if you are not comfortable performing in front of your guests throughout the entire song then tell the DJ or singer to encourage your guests to join you half way through. I have performed at many weddings where the bride and groom have opted to do this and it helps set the couple at ease and involve the wedding party.
A list of first dance wedding songs.
From the timeless classics to the contemporary chart songs I've compiled a list of the most requested first dance tracks I have performed at weddings over the last 25 years...
The top 5: Timeless classics
- Let there be love - Nat king Cole
- Stand by me - Ben E King
- Don't want to miss a thing - Aerosmith
- Three times a lady – The Commodores
- Let's stay together - Al Green (I was actually singing this song at a gig when Al Green walked in!)
The top 5: Current tracks
- Thinking out load - Ed Sheeran
- The greatest day – Take That
- To make you feel my love – Adele
- Don’t stop believing - Journey
- Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
The Top 5: Wild Cards
- Burning love – Elvis
- Gimme some loving – The Blues Brothers
- Ain’t Nobody – Chaka Khan
- Tiny Dancer – Elton John
- Me and Mrs Jones – Billy Paul