By Shawna Schofield

The first dance shared between partners is a tradition that goes back centuries. As it is such an important staple, you may want to seriously consider what you would like to perform ahead of time. Some couples can get intricate with a whole choreographed routine, while others keep it simple. The option is  up to you and your spouse! Here are a few options to keep in mind if you are unsure where to start.

1. The Sway

This is the option that many couples who are not trained in dance tend to go with, especially if they haven’t made time to rehearse or practice. This type of dance involves the participants swaying in place, or in a small area, somewhat akin to a slow dance at prom. Of course that doesn’t mean it’s a bad option, in fact when paired with a sentimental song, it can be a relaxing way to just focus on your partner; giving you a few moments to spend reflecting together on your love before the rest of the reception begins.

2. Two Step

This requires little or no prep time as well, it can be as simple as the sway; however, with this dance you may consider specific hand placement, spins, pivots, and dips, to really spice up the routine. For this one you could spend a bit of time with an instructor if you want to practice and get pro tips on how to make it look the best it can.

3. Waltz

While many people have heard of the waltz, you may not know that there are different variations of the popular dance. There are American, Western, Cajun, International, French, and Viennese versions that each have their own particular flare for you to consider. The basic choreography for this dance includes a set of box steps and turning patterns. With practice and proper instruction, you can make your dance look amazing and unforgettable for both you and your guests. The waltz is a classic and timeless dance, that is always a good choice for a wedding.

4. Swing

A swing dance is much more fast paced than a traditional waltz; however, like the waltz there are different dance options for you to choose from. The lindy hop, jitterbug, jive, boogie, east coast, and west coast swing types are as unique as the waltzes above, and all have their own merits to consider. While east coast is the most popular option for weddings, depending on how unique you want to make the experience, a jitterbug or jive routine can really liven up the atmosphere, and set you apart from the crowd. Be sure to wear the appropriate attire for the dance, whether you change before the reception, or you tailor your wedding dress around the dance, it’s something to keep in mind with all dances.

5. Foxtrot

Another popular dance for weddings, this routine falls somewhat between a waltz and a swing. It is usually preformed to medium tempo songs, and can be set to either contemporary or classic ballads. Learning this dance can not only serve you well at your wedding, but it can serve as a strong foundation on which you can continue to learn more routines. This can benefit you at other weddings, or even on nights out on the town.  It is a classic dance that never goes out of style.

6. Rumba

This Latin style of dance has an emphasis on hip movement and fluidity. While this style is easier than other Latin dance, such as the salsa or mambo, it will require some instruction and practice to pull off seamlessly. With this style you will want to make sure you are wearing appropriate attire and shoes, and mentioned above for the swing dances.

7. Mambo & Salsa

As mentioned above, these dances are more difficult than a basic rumba, though they do share characteristics. These two dances are more fast paced and require an emphasis on timing in order to appear at their best. The mambo is a staccato feeling dance, while the salsa is more rhythmic and fluid, something to keep in mind when deciding which suits you better. Definitely wear or change into appropriate shoes for any routine involving these dances. While they will require practice and instruction, often months in advance, depending on your skill level, these dances are a great way to add a unique flare you your reception.

8. Hip-hop

A modern hip-hop choreographed routine is also an option if you want something 100% modern, and absolutely unexpected. This can be a fun routine to kick off the reception with, as it gets people excited and amps up the energy. Working with an instructor can help nail down specific moves, and build off what you already know. This routine has a lot of possibility, as there are an unlimited number of dance move options you can use to create a unique and high energy routine.

9. Free Form

This can be whatever you want it to be, as there doesn’t have to be a set routine in place for this type to work. Instruction is recommended, especially if you have zero dance experience. Taking a couple classes can give you a foundation to utilize when going off on your own. You can also employ a loosely choreographed routine to guide you through the debut, this can help keep you in time, but also give you the freedom to mix it up.

10. Flash Mob

This can require instruction and a choreographed routine, but for those who aren’t involved, it can be a great surprise at the reception. Starting out with the bride and groom, other members of the wedding party who are in on the routine, can join in at timed intervals, creating a fun and upbeat atmosphere for the beginning of the reception.

It’s Up to You

Everyone has their own style that complements a style of dance. If you want a specific routine, but are unsure which one is best for you. Look into talking with a dance instructor, and getting a direct consultation. A professional dancer will be able to explain the ins and outs of each dance, and if it would be possible to teach it in the time allotted (depending on how far out the wedding date is). Starting months out can give you the luxury of being able to learn at a relaxed pace, rather than trying to cram and learn a basic routine. Though even a couple instructions can help you understand the basics, and give you a steadier ground on which you can base your first dance. Keep in mind the above, and speak with an instructor to see what can be done to make sure your wedding dance is not only flawless, but unforgettable.