Help! I can’t decide if I want a first dance at my wedding?!
The simple answer here is no, you do not need a first dance at your wedding. Year after year, first dances are gradually becoming less common so choosing to skip this typically traditional part of a wedding day is not an odd occurrence in today’s wedding world.
First dances! We’ve all spent a lot of time thinking about them, planning them and my case learning, rehearsing and performing them. Do I need a first dance at my wedding is something every wedding couple considers as they are a big part of your wedding planning whether you eventually decide to have one or not. In this guide, I’m going to argue for and against these symbolic yet brief dancing moments so you know for sure what you want to do on your big day.
What’s in today’s guide?
For starters, I’ll go through the reasons why you should and shouldn’t have a first dance. Simple right? I’ll then give you a sneak peek into our experience here at Seventh Second of helping couples pick or not pick a first dance, planning the first dance with them and our opinions on performing or not performing a first dance. We have years of experience with this so you should find it interesting at the very least.
More you say?
You want more? Happy to oblige. I will also offer up some first dance stats for people who like to watch trends and number crunch. I also rustled up some feedback from one of our brides who’d been dreaming of her first dance for years and another bride who chose not to stick to tradition and skipped the first dance entirely. Finally, I’ve got some links to forums you may find useful and a little summary for you.
Here are some quick links within the guide for you.
First dance pros
First dance cons
If you still can’t decide
Our experience and stats
Real-life first dance stories
My thoughts on first dances
Firstly though, I thought I’d get my own opinion out of the way so I can be nice and unbiased afterwards.
I’ve performed hundreds of first dances, possibly over a thousand in my time as a wedding musician in The Avengers (above) and there’s no denying a first dance can be stunning, achingly romantic and truly memorable. On the other hand, weddings without a first dance have never appeared any less romantic or memorable. No one has never complained about the lack of a first dance.
My first dance
A few months ago, I spoke about my first dance experience with my lovely wife. Truth be told, due to my terrible dance abilities I wasn’t keen on having a first dance and my wife and I aren’t huge traditionalists either. We had a good think about it, preparing a song we felt comfortable with so it felt right having a first dance. I know many couples and especially grooms get very stressed and nervous about having a first dance so from one nervous post-wedding couple to another, I can safely say that our first dance was actually a lot of fun and one of the highlights of our day! I didn’t think I’d ever be saying that but there you go. I’m all for first dances if it feels right. Don’t force a first dance on yourself.
Yes! You do need a first dance
Anyway, here are the reasons you absolutely should have a first dance
First dance romance
It’s a fact, first dances are one of the most romantic aspects of a wedding so if you love the romance and want plenty of it at your wedding, a first dance is pretty much a must! There are few moments during your wedding party with your other half that are more personal or bursting with romance than a first dance.
We just love that song
We talk a lot more about this in our guide to picking a first dance song but if you and your other half are lucky enough to both love a song, that’s a strong reason for having that first dance. If you feel you want to dance to that song, I say go for it!
First dance memories
First dance memories, ahhh… I’ve got some amazing ones as mentioned so if you want to collect perfect wedding moments and memories to look back on when you’re old and wrinkly they don’t get much better than first dance memories.
Dancing the night away
Unlike me, you’re a dance floor pro? Do you want to have that one intimate, romantic moment on the dancefloor with your partner? Maybe you both want to strut your stuff and wow your wedding guests? Well again, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a more romantic, poignant or show-stopping moment during your wedding to showcase those dance moves or dance routines than during your first dance.
First dance photos
First dance photos can look pretty amazing. Whether they are just you and your partner or feature friends and family dancing or swooning along, your first dance is one of the major red-carpet photo opportunities during any wedding. Say cheese!
Live wedding band performance
Read any of our happy wedding couple reviews to see that having a live wedding band perform your first dance is quite the spectacle and pretty memorable! Live bands can add a new twist or bring to life a song you love and make your first dance so much fun. I know it was the case for me, my wife and our guests. Check out our guide on wedding bands for hire here or our guide on whether you should hire a live band at your wedding if you want a bit more insight.
Your friends and family
Maybe you simply want to share a magical moment with your partner, friends and family? I know we did and if you get them involved, it can be a load of fun and get rid of all those first dance jitters you had.
Some of the most romantic first dances Party Republic (above) have performed have simply been a couple dancing with friends and family looking on with love in their eyes.
First dances are super traditional, not much more to be said there! If you like tradition or don’t want to miss out on one of the biggest aspects of a wedding, a first dance is for you too.
First dances are fun!
You might just want to have fun at your wedding yes? First dances can be a lot of fun! Our guide on picking a first dance goes through all the different types of first dance you can have and how much fun boogying on that dance floor can be! Our post on our 25 handpicked first dances for 2021 even shows the fun factor for each of our chosen songs.
No! You don’t need a first dance
Maybe you’re not totally sold on the idea of a first dance? Let’s go through some common reasons why that may be…
I don’t like dancing
We speak to a lot of wedding couples who don’t like dancing or don’t feel comfortable with the idea of dancing in front of their whole wedding party. I get it, I felt like that too so if you don’t fancy dancing in front of all your friends and family a first dance might be a bad idea.
You can’t find the right song
Our guide to picking a first dance has to be mentioned here because it’s so, so useful. We outline every single way you can decide on a first dance but if you still can’t think of a song to dance to, just skip that first dance. Many couples do and have no regrets.
It’s one busy wedding day
Couples like to have all sorts of different activities and special moments as part of their wedding day and although wonderful, it can all get a bit hectic! Some couples prefer father-daughter, mother-daughter or other dances over first dances so if you feel you want something like that or just want to strip your wedding down and enjoy quality time with your partner, friends and family, skipping your first dance or other wedding day traditions might be a good idea.
I feel too nervous!
Lots of couples we chat to feel too nervous or scared about dancing in front of everyone – especially grooms. For many, this kills the intimacy and romance or a first dance and so many couples choose to skip one. If the thought of a first dance turns your stomach inside out or sends you into a panic, don’t worry, just don’t have one.
We’re not having a traditional wedding
Something becoming far more common is the non-traditional wedding. Couples are throwing wedding traditions out the window so they can create their unique and perfect day. After realising it was almost impossible to please both my Catholic family and her Orthodox family, my wife and I did something similar and simply designed a wedding we wanted and knew would show everyone a great time. Many couples simply don’t want a first dance for this very reason.
I don’t fancy being in the limelight thanks
You are the centre of attention come wedding day but you might not want that all day! All eyes are on you as you dance away during your first dance and if that’s not for you, it might be worth forgoing that one dance. Your wedding will still be brilliant regardless!
I’m not feeling it
While helping excited couples design their perfect wedding entertainment we eventually get onto the topic of first dances and one of the major reasons why they don’t want one is simply because they aren’t feeling it. If you aren’t feeling it, then don’t worry about it.
First dances just aren’t fun!
First dances can be loads of fun as mentioned but then they can be no fun at all too. Stress, pressure, embarrassment in the limelight and high expectations are just some of the reasons couples fear or don’t enjoy their first dances. Does the thought of a first dance on your wedding day fill you with dread, indifference or total excitement? Let those feelings guide you.
What if I still can’t decide?!?
Choosing whether to have a first dance is a pretty big decision. It’s why I’ve spent all this time chatting about it here! If after reading all my pro and cons you’re still struggling to decide I hope these other suggestions help. The second one helped me…
You can always pick on the day
Many of our wedding bands like Good Fellas (above) prepare a first dance for couples and wait to see how the couple feels on the day about it. Don’t stress yourself to high heaven, see how you feel on the day, maybe you want that first dance, maybe you don’t. Knowing you and your partner can always decide on the day can give your wedding planning brain a bit of breathing space before the big day. Few!
A first dance for everyone!
We chose to get everyone involved in our first dance because we knew it would be a load of fun, pretty memorable and make it easy to hide my terrible dancing. It helped remove all our first dance nerves and jitters and was a fantastic way to enjoy a special wedding moment with all our friends and family.
If you are now wondering what a good group first dance song is, start your search with the song we chose – Paolo Nutini’s Pencil Full of Lead which you can see above.
What we see and hear from wedding couples
We work with a lot of couples and overall, first dances are still very popular and show no sign of going anywhere. Yes, many couples feel nervous, struggle to pick a song or worry about their dancing ability but the romanticism, tradition and memories a first dance brings is a must for many couples and leaves them with no worries or regrets after their first dance as a married couple.
Let your live wedding band help you
Wedding musicians and live wedding bands like ours are here to help you every step of the way and year after year we guide couples through the first dance minefield and help to deliver the perfect first dance for them. Worries and jitters are cast aside once we’ve all had a good chat and come wedding day, their first dance is the perfect moment they dreamed of. Just look at one of Blue Eclectic’s reviews for proof!
There is a new first dance trend
Saying that, year on year, more and more couples chose not to have a first dance and we never notice the difference. They love their wedding and their friends and family do too. In 2018, 80% of our couples chose to have first dances. In 2019 it was 70% and next year we expect that to continue to drop. In essence, don’t feel pressured into having a first dance, many couples don’t.
Real-life first dance stories
You’ve heard enough from me so as promised we asked two of our past brides if they would share their thoughts about having to decide whether to have a first dance or not. Caroline is up first…
“I always wanted a first dance and the League of Gentlemen helped us pick exactly the right song for us. I LOVED my first dance even though we were a bit nervous. They’re so talented and made the song sound brilliant. I can’t recommend them highly enough. We have some great photos and memories of our first dance now too!”
When first speaking to Laura, she wasn’t sure about having a first dance and in the end, she chose not to have one…
“The Usual Suspects let me tailor their playlist specifically for my wedding but when it came to a first dance I wasn’t sure we wanted one. The boys showed us lots of first dance ideas and came up with good suggestions and ideas but in the end, we didn’t feel our wedding needed a first dance. I’m really glad we chose not to have one as I found our wedding day quite busy and stressful sometimes and I wanted to relax and have fun in the evening.”
Your wedding will be fantastic either way!
Whether you decide to have a first dance or not, your wedding will be amazing! Myself and everyone here at Seventh Second have seen all types of weddings and they all work and have their own unique charm. At the end of the day, ignore outside influences and do what you and your other half feel like doing. Your friends and family will love your wedding if you do and with a fantastic wedding band on board, you will have a wedding party to remember!
Here are some helpful forums for you. Lots of great thoughts and feelings from brides and brides to be here!
You and Your Wedding Forum
If you have any questions, comments or queries or want to tell us about your first dance or lack of, tell us all about it here. We spend a lot of time making our blog posts the best we can for you so if you liked what you read please consider sharing it with others.
Jon and the Seventh Second Family