Your wedding’s first dance should be an epic life moment. It’s your symbolic entry into society with your partner as an official Married Couple. It’s romantic, it’s emotional, it’s photogenic. But if you’re a little nervous because you feel it’s also awkward as heck, you’re not alone. Most wedding-planning couples freak out about the first dance—don’t beat yourself up if you’re one of them.
Instead, plan ahead with these tips to help make your wedding’s first dance blissful…instead of stressful.
Vet your song.
Your wedding’s first dance song is all about you and your partner, so choosing a romantic favorite is a good go-to. But you also should try to imagine that song playing over the speakers for all to hear at your wedding—is it a song your guests can relate to, or is it more obscure? Are there long musical interludes that could get awkward? Any lyrics you’d feel weird having your great-grandmother hear? Think about your potential first dance song from the perspective of your wedding guests, as well as from your and your partner’s, and you’ll feel that much more confident when the time comes to publicly dance to it.
Shorter is better.
Some of the most beautiful songs in the world would keep you on the dance floor, silently swaying, for like, 20 minutes. Unless you’re a professional dancer, you probably don’t want that. Select a song under three minutes to avoid any chance of you, your partner, or your guests from getting that “This is never going to end and it’s starting to feel weird” vibe. If there’s a song you like but it’s too long, ask your DJ or a tech-savvy pal to edit it down for you. You’ll get all the feels of the song you love, without that “We’ve made a huge mistake!” feel hitting you at five minutes in.
Take dance lessons.
This might not be something you’ve never heard before—there is that classic cliche of the soon-to-be-married couple signing up for ballroom dancing lessons as soon as the question is popped—but maybe you’ve written it off as something that simply isn’t for you. Well, think again! If you’re nervous about your wedding’s first dance in any way, dance lessons are probably the single most effective thing you can do to reassure yourself. You’ll have a clear set of instructions as soon as you hit the dance floor, you won’t worry about looking like you don’t know what you’re doing, and even if you forget some steps, you’ll have the wherewithal to improvise. This isn’t about learning a So You Think You Can Dance-level routine, it’s just so you can have a few moves and more confidence when you get your center-stage moment at your wedding. Also, who wouldn’t want to spend a few evenings cutting a rug in a local dancehall with their One and Only?
Dress for success.
If you’re nervous about your big dance and wearing a dress to your big day, sky-high stilettos, a skin-tight mermaid silhouette that you can barely walk in and a ten-foot train probably won’t help. Even if that’s your chosen wedding day look (sounds cute, good pickin’!) you can make your wedding’s first dance easier on yourself by exchanging your heels for dancing shoes (a block heel will give you height without the fright), bustling your dress, and ditching the veil, or maybe even changing into a more forgiving silhouette after your ceremony. Even just one of these changes will make your first dance that much more drama-free. (And what’s more exciting than an outfit change?)
Skip it if you want.
Some people can’t wait for their wedding’s first dance. Some might feel a little nervous about it, but they know they’ll be fine. Some—and if this is you, this tip is the one that matters most—will have read this far and will still feel very not into their first dance. And to those people, I say: Just don’t have one! This is one of those nice-to-have but not need-to-have wedding traditions, just like parent dances and bouquet tosses, and if you opt out, you’ll not only likely enjoy your wedding day more, you’ll not even miss it. Your guests might not even notice! If you want to skip the first dance but replace it with something equally personal, try a slideshow of photos of you and your partner over the years, or simply give your speechmakers a little more time to bring the house down.