My ‘Mrs T Meets’ sessions cover the full suite of wedding suppliers, and this time I’m focussing on the first dance as a married couple.

Hester Barnes Photography

Oh, the first dance! We’d all love to give a fabulous Strictly-esque display, but in reality many couples are very nervous about the idea of a first dance. I totally get that – we can all picture the slow, awkward shuffle around the dance floor.  But the first dance needn’t be something that fills you with nerves. As a luxury wedding planner, I work with amazing suppliers and Alison, from For the Love of Dance, can make the first dance a fun, confidence-filled moment for you both.

A dancer, choreographer and performer, Alison teaches a broad repertoire from street dance to Salsa, Waltz, Foxtrot and Jive. Founder of For the Love of Dance, she has been working with couples on their first dances for over ten years. It is safe to say that she can teach any style that suits you – whether you are after a slow and romantic dance, or something a bit more energetic!  She also has other strings to her bow, teaching pre-wedding fitness and Pilates.

I caught up with Alison to find out how she choreographs dances to suit each couple’s personality. She also shared her tips on calming those first dance nerves.

Q&A

Alison, you must have seen a real range of first song and dance styles?

“Yes. Many couples choose lovely, more typical first dance songs – Ed Sheeran is popular at the moment. But I’ve also seen more unusual choices like Black Eyed Peas or Dirty Dancing. I do like finding things that are a bit different and unique! I loved teaching one couple who had a medley of different songs, edited down to the real highlights. It included ‘Lemar’s ‘Someday We’ll Be Together’, a bit of Dirty Dancing, an Arabic routine to nod to the couple’s heritage, then ‘OMG’ by Usher. The couple were really up for pushing the boundaries a bit, and it was so much fun.”

Hester Barnes Photography

If a couple comes to you without a first song – can you help them choose one?

“Of course, the choice of song is about the couple’s personal preferences and journey. But, if they are stuck, I suggest they have a creative, musical journey on a Saturday afternoon just listening to all sorts of songs. Spotify is brilliant because, if you hear one song that isn’t quite right, you just keep listening to the new suggestions that come up.

If you are going to have a live band, it is worth remembering that they can often do a little rearrangement of your song. They can remove a verse you don’t like or slow down the tempo for example.”

Many couples feel nervous about the idea of performing a choreographed routine. How do you go about designing a dance that really suits them?

“Personality is important. When I first consult with a couple, I get a feeling about whether they want something chilled and classically simple, or if they want something a bit different.

Most couples I work with aren’t dancers – and I can honestly say I’ve loved teaching every one.  Remember choreography doesn’t have to be a scary word! Once you listen to a song structure there are ways of repeating chunks of movements – it is not a new move for every beat of the song. I also include familiar partner dance moves, like underarm turns, that you’ll have probably done messing around on a dancefloor at some point in your life anyway.”

Hester Barnes Photography

What can couples expect from your sessions? How long does the process take?

“I recommend couples start at least six months before their wedding. We generally need about nine hours over that period if they want something choreographed. It takes time and practice to learn how to move together and feel relaxed, not just to memorise the steps but to get them into the muscle memory so they become second nature.

Sessions can fit around a couple’s schedule – be that weekly, monthly, or weekend intensive sessions. I’m based in Bedfordshire, but will happily to travel to teach – and I’ve taught in people’s houses, gardens, parks or other public spaces.

Top tips for First Dance nerves

  1. Try and have a rehearsal in your wedding venue. Quite often venues will allow this at an off-peak time. It will allow you to visualise, and get excited about, how it’s going to feel on the day.
  2. Practice at home. Just messing about, dancing around your kitchen to other songs, will help you feel relaxed dancing together. It is also just a really lovely thing to do.
  3. Have basic steps to fall back on. As well as any choreographed routine, Alison teaches couples the basic steps for your style of dance. Then, if nerves kick in on the day and you forget part of the routine, you have the basic steps to fall back on.
  4. Breathe and stand tall.  This doesn’t just apply to the first dance.  With all eyes on you as a couple, breathing, posture and relaxation techniques can really help you feel confident.
Hester Barnes Photography

If you’d like Alison to work with you on your first dance, find her at www.theloveofdance.co.uk