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Arthur Murray Live Wedding Dance Tips

31 Things Your Wedding Dance Teacher Wants to See You Do

It's a big deal.  We get it.  

Yes, it will be the biggest and fanciest party you've ever thrown, but that doesn't mean it should be the most stressful. So here are 31 things to keep your first dance fun, less stressful, and your wedding dance teacher from having a premature heart condition.  


1. Start Early

Let's get one thing straight:  No one can deliver on champagne wishes with a diet soda time line.  The earlier you start, the more likely dancing gets stored into muscle memory, and you look more composed, can make your vision become a reality, and save the universe from an alien invasion.  

2. Enjoy the Process

Last minute survival mode is not typically very enjoyable.  Whether we are talking about your wedding dance or Holiday shopping.  You're more likely to enjoy it if you Start Early (#1). 

3. Get the Wedding Party Involved

It's kind of like false advertising if your bridal party just sits around during the wedding reception. So why not make them part of the show?  Whether it's putting together a flash mob, a cut in dance, or just so they enter the reception with a little more swagger - dance lessons are a bridal party gift that they'll never regift or sell on eBay. 

4.  Stay Open Minded

You may not realize it, but your guests may not want to watch you dance to the full version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.  Your wedding dance teacher is there to help turn your vision into a reality, and assist with decision making based on your time line, ability, and the typical attention span of humans. 

5. Attend Group Class

The sooner that dancing becomes a habit, the sooner you will look relaxed and confident on the dance floor.  A group class is a great activity in between your private lessons to build confidence and comfort in the skill of dancing. 

6. Attend the Practice Party

Without this appointment, your reception is completely up in the air.  The practice party is the activity that allows your teacher to simulate your reception, help you practice how to think on the fly, and give you some real practical application of your dancing skills. 

7. Do a Father/Daughter Dance

What your guests will see is a Father and his daughter dancing together like something out of a Hallmark card commercial.  What they won't see is all of the wonderful experiences you will share together on your dance lessons leading up to the big day. 

8.  Do a Mother/Son Dance

Similar to #7, the Mother and Son dance seems to play second fiddle in a typical US Wedding Reception - but not anymore.  

9.  Have Options with Your Slow Dancing

You've just gone to Arthur Murray to upgrade the way that you dance together as a couple - so let's ditch the swaying side to side high school dance.  Learning how to dance some Rumba, Waltz, West Coast Swing, or Bachata can keep your slow dance upgrade installed forever.  

10.  Have Options for Medium Tempo

We are all for having a few Soul Train moments during your wedding reception, but don't use that, or the surplus of alcohol, as your rationale for winging it when the tempo picks up.  Having some Foxtrot, Swing, or Cha-Cha in your back pocket will keep you looking classy for years to come. 

11.  Have Options for Fast Tempo Music

Your new favorite dance for fast music will be Merengue.  All day, every day, reception, honeymoon, or date night, if it gets fast - Merengue.  If you're going for bonus points, dances like Salsa and Lindy Hop can be fun, and turn some heads in the process. 

12.  Have a "Drop the Mic" Dance

This doesn't necessarily have to be your formal first dance.  It could be a second dance, a reception dance, part of a "Just Kidding Mashup" dance, or your grand finale.  One dance that can serve in that capacity is the Tango.  It's dramatic, sends a bold message, and will make your reception a topic of conversation for years to come.  

13.  Change Into Dance Shoes

You are under no obligation to keep your custom Italian wedding shoes on for your first dance.  So, just like the movies, find shoes to act as the shoe stunt double. They will be more comfortable, are built for dancing, and will keep your wedding shoes preserved. 

14.  Give the DJ a Playlist

You will hear the phrase "it's your day" a lot.  Managing the reception playlist with your DJ is one clear cut example of that.  This doesn't mean to micro-manage the master of the beats, but your teacher can help you pinpoint some different styles of music to look for as a template. 

15.  Make Your Wedding Lessons Part of a Date Night

We know how sexy seating charts and wedding registries can be, oh and who can forget those romantic moments while picking out centerpieces or the perfect brooch for the Mother of the Bride's dress?  Who are we kidding here?  Learning to dance together is the only part of your wedding plans that you'd probably want included in a non-wedding planning date night.  Well, and brooch shopping.  

16.  Escort Your Dance Partner the Right Way

A wedding dance is the first up close glimpse at a newly formed married couple.  So during your first dance lessons you will learn how to escort, and be escorted, onto the dance floor the right way - the first time, and every time after that. Hint:  Leaders hold the follower's hand in a way that keeps her wedding ring on display. 

17. Recognize that Recovery is a Skill

The best wedding dance training allows for time to cover how things are supposed to go, as well as how to recover when things don't.  Mistakes happen, just ask Adele, but learning to recover gracefully can make your moment seamless. 

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18.  Allow The Vision to Evolve

People learn how to dance quickly at Arthur Murray.  This means that the version of you when you first arrived, and the version of you a few weeks later are completely different. What you thought was impossible ("learning to Rumba"), becomes possible ("I'm loving this Rumba").  Your Wedding Dance Teacher wants to see your vision evolve with your ability. 

19. Avoid Last Minute Changes

There's a point in a wedding-themed romantic comedy where the best man takes his prepared speech and tosses it aside so he can speak from the heart.  Never, ever do that when it comes to dancing.  Dancing is about muscle memory, and last minute adjustments to the choreography can rewire the circuitry that could have had your dancing on auto-pilot.  

20.  Have a Great Ending

Your wedding dance needs a big finish.  This doesn't always mean something you've seen on Cirque Du Soleil or Dancing with the Stars.  There are plenty of wow moments that can deliver a great response from your audience without throwing people in the air or doing the splits. 

21. Be Inspired by Dance Scenes

Being inspired by a dance scene is much different than doing a complete reenactment. While doing a shot for shot homage to the Mambo from Dirty Dancing is very impressive, that may not be what you want to show your kids in 10 years. Instead, take your Dance Movie inspiration and share it with your teacher as a starting point to build around. 

22. Dance During Your Reception

To some, this idea may seem to threaten your very wedding dance existence.   For others, it's a no-brainer.  We hope this is a no-brainer.  

23.  Do a Second Dance

Imagine doing your first dance as something elegant and expected, like the Waltz.  Then, mid-way through your reception you dim the lights and turn up the heat with a sexy Salsa.  

24.  Tell Your Story

Your Wedding Dance teacher wants you to pick music that tells your story.  You know, instead of picking wedding songs that should be retired forever that you picked because it's what most people pick (See:  Etta James "At Last")  

25.  Smile, Talk and Dance at the Same Time

Nothing looks more natural and easy on the eyes than a first dance where the couple is calm enough to smile, talk, and dance at the same time.  There are dances that will fast track this technique for you (Foxtrot, for example), which can then be applied to others.  

26.  Take a Bow

Even if you are opting for a Rustic Barn Wedding, this event is still the most fancy and traditional party you will ever host.  So it doesn't hurt to have a nice bow and a beautiful curtsy.  

27.  Don't Overshare

There are some things that are best kept as behind the scenes material, like mistakes.  Share what it meant to you, share how enjoyable the process was, but avoid going into detail about any problems that may have occurred.  Chances are, they had no idea anyway. 

28. Pressure Test 

Learning a dance is much different than learning to dance in front of people.  So during your wedding dance training, your teacher will want to set up a few demonstrations - possibly in front of friends and family.  

29. Redirect Concerns to Teacher

Learning to dance as a unit is a challenge with an exponential reward.  Your dance teacher is your guide to help facilitate that transition, so utilize them.  As easy, and accessible, as your other half may be to shoulder the blame for dance related problems, it's critical that your teacher sheds light on the problems, and solutions. 

30. Set Up Your Post-Honeymoon Lessons

We don't want to spoil anything for you, but there is life after your honeymoon.  But that doesn't mean it has to be dull or predictable. Scheduling your dance lessons, after your wedding, ensures that you aren't returning to "regular life" after the honeymoon.  

31.  Pop the Question

"Will you be my dance partner?"  It is often said that marriage is a partnership, but why not make it a dance partnership while you're at it?  The worst thing that will happen is you'll have better date nights, feel less anxiety about future wedding receptions, high school reunions, or anyplace else with a dance floor, and non-dancing married couples may get a little jealous of your hobby together.  Not convinced?  Ask the question and see what happens. 

Final Thought

You don't need all 31 of these steps to be successful.  In fact, you could do a simple Waltz, and still have your guests compliment you on the wonderful Latin dance you did.  The point is - your first dance is special.  It's something that elevates your wedding to an elite level, even if it isn't perfect.

All in all, learning to dance as a unit is bigger than your wedding.  It's something that can be one of the lasting tokens you share together from your wedding throughout your marriage.  

Your first dance begins with this simple first step - clicking this form below to arrange your first wedding consultation.  You'll go from walking to dancing within five minutes of arriving, and then you can pick the path that fits your goals and timeline.  


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Chris Lynam
Chris Lynam loves to train his staff, read to his kids, make his wife laugh, and write. This screenwriter turned dance teacher is the Editor in Chief of Arthur Murray Live and has been published in the HuffPost, Forbes, .INC, and The Sporting News.
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