Ballroom Dancing for Brides: 3 Tips for Planning a Successful “First Dance”

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Last year, I was contacted by a bridal couple to help them with their “first dance” but there wasn’t a lot of time to prepare – 4 weeks or less. As it turned out they did quite well and learned a very nice Foxtrot. The groom even came in and took a “solo” lesson so he could work on his steps and leading skills (something I highly recommend by the way).

But as our time together was winding down, the groom asked me “what will we do for the rest of the evening when we dance?” He asked if they should learn more steps but my reply was “no”. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time and they had just gotten to the point where they could comfortably get through their wedding dance pattern with a smile and looking somewhat relaxed. How can you better prepare for this important milestone?  Here are three tips I’d like to share for successfully mapping out your First Dance:

First Dance

2013 – Ballroom Made Simple bridal students successfully dance their East Coast Swing routine. Photo by James Seip Photography ~   Salisbury, MD

TIP #1: My best advice is to plan, plan, plan. Your “First Dance” may not be the first thing you think of after you set your wedding date but it should be on your top 10 list of things to discuss. As a couple, take time to talk about what kind of dance you want to do and your budget for ballroom dance lessons. The best value for a bridal couple is to start taking beginner group classes several months in advance of the wedding. You’ll learn basic ballroom steps with other new dancers. It’s fun and affordable! Many studios and instructors offer monthly series, so you might be able to get through 3-4 group classes before your wedding day without feeling rushed.

TIP #2: As you come down home stretch (maybe 30 days before the big day) schedule a private lesson with your instructor to tweak your technique so you can look more polished on the dance floor. He or she will work with you to compliment what you have been working on in group class.

TIP #3: When scheduling private lessons always build in a couple of extra lessons on the calendar. The closer you get to your wedding day, the more likely you are going to be pulled in many directions, often resulting in last minute lesson cancellations and lost practice time on the dance floor. If you think you only need one private lesson, book two. If you don’t have to cancel then both lessons are an added bonus! Note: please be courteous to your instructor and give adequate cancellation notice per their policy.

Here’s an example: You become engaged in December and you have set the wedding date for the following September. My suggestion would be to enroll in classes by May and take lessons through the summer. That gives you time to try a couple of dance styles and to become familiar with the music used in that style. It helps to educate you on the differences between Ballroom and Latin. You may be set on dancing a Foxtrot, but then decide you really like the look and sound of a Rumba.

Please share these tips with your friends and family who are getting married in the near future – I hope they will help alleviate a lot of stress on the wedding day. And, remember to plan ahead.

What’s your best tip for a bride and groom’s First Dance? E-mail me at Ballroom Made Simple offers a variety of  group lessons for new dancers. Visit

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