How to Dance for Weddings on Video (DVD)
Impressive WEDDING DANCES
from Dance Lessons that deliver!
Learn to Dance the First Dance to the Last without Formal Lessons or “Routines”
Yes, these DVDs really work!
Picture your wedding reception. You are standing just off the dance floor, waiting to be introduced to your family and friends as husband and wife. As soon as you’re introduced, your song is started by your deejay or band – the song you will remember for the rest of your life as your wedding song. How do you select this song? How long do you dance once you’re out on the floor? What dance is best for this occasion? Do you really need hundreds or thousands of dollars in dance lessons to look decent out there? Are there any quick tricks or tips you should know?
All these questions and much more are answered below.
“With all of the other wedding expenses, our dance lessons with a personal instructor fell out of the budget. We decided to at least get an instructional DVD to help us out. We have had a great time learning to slow dance and will have a lot more confidence on the day of the wedding… Shawn and his wife are great instructors. I feel like we should almost invite them to the wedding!”
-A. Walters | Dec 2013
Learning to dance for a wedding is one of those motivators that is often discussed and much less frequently acted upon. Once the expenses start cropping up, the leftover funds for dance lessons continue to dwindle.
Don’t let your budget or your busy schedule keep you from having a wonderfully memorable first dance at your wedding.
Wedding Dancing 'Need-2-Knows'
Click an option and jump to the info on this page:
Dancing at Your Wedding The Location The Music for Your Wedding Dance Lessons for the Guests The First Dance When to Start Dance Lessons Who Needs to Know What 3 Tips for Dancing at Weddings
How to Dance at Weddings: Best DVD Deals
Wedding Starter Pack
Fast & easy ballroom dancing lessons that fit any schedule with everything you need to look fantastic on the dance floor!
Complete with a wide variety of dances & moves for weddings & tips & tricks to help prepare for the big day.
Slow Dance Starter Pack
An all-in-one assortment of show-stopping slow dance moves with easy-to-follow slow dance lessons made perfect for beginners! Great for practicing moves on stay-at-home date nights with real-life slow dancing that works in all situations
Ballroom Dancing 6-Pack
The Best Beginner Ballroom Dance Lessons Available Today!
Designed just for the beginner dances with easy to follow lessons.
Contains & teaches all the most popular ballroom dances.
Easy to follow, proven instruction method.
How to Dance at Weddings: Single DVDs
Slow Dancing for Beginners V.1
Define your moves and learn to Slow Dance with Style! Learn today… dance tonight! Easy & Fun Slow Dance Lessons on DVD!
Slow Dancing for Beginners V.2
Learn to dance even more of those graceful, charming Slow Dance Moves. Learn today… dance tonight! Easy & Fun Slow Dance Lessons on DVD from the authors of Picture Yourself Dancing!
Swing Dancing 101
How to Swing Dance! Swing Dancing 101 is a must-have for anyone ready to boogie to big band or country swing music! Shawn & Joanna Trautman put this easy to follow intro together for a fun lesson on single time and triple time swing that will get you bopping!
How to Waltz! Waltz 101 is the perfect starting point anyone wanting to learn a timeless romantic dance that is much more than a simple box step. Shawn & Joanna Trautman show you the right look & style to make this dance your own in either ballroom or country settings.
How to Cha-Cha! Learn to dance the Cha-Cha w/Shawn & Joanna Trautman's Cha-Cha 101. Cha-Cha is fun, easy & can be danced to Ballroom, Latin, or Country music.
Party Line Dances
If you need emergency line dance lessons for a wedding, party, cruise, or other special event, this is the DVD for you. Learn the most popular special event line dances of all-time!
Answers to common Wedding dance related questions
Dancing at Weddings
Dancing of various forms is a part of the vast majority of weddings. Some couples choose a theme for their music and dancing for their event, while others simply request the deejay or band play whatever is popular. With the information you'll read below, a little bit of forethought, and some practice, you have the makings for a highly enjoyable and entertaining reception. Because the first dance is such a large part of your own experience as the bride or groom, it will be addressed by itself down below.
The Location (of the dance)
Although you can dance almost anywhere, please be sensitive to your surroundings and your guests. If possible, place the dance floor within the sight line of the vast majority of your guests. If by necessity you need to seat guests beyond the visual reach of the dance floor and festivities, try to arrange seating nearby so your guests can somewhat comfortably view such important events as the first dance, the father-daughter dance, and the mother-son dance. It's also recommended that you leave at least a foot between all edges of the dance floor and the nearest table. Dancers tend to spill off of the dance floor during the more lively tunes, whether they are freestyle dancing or couples dancing, and that extra little buffer of space usually gives them enough of a heads up before they hit someone.
The Music for your Wedding (party)
Whether you have a band or a deejay, take the time before the event to acclimate them a little bit to your crowd. If you know the crowd consists of slow starters, let the deejay or emcee know - sometimes they have some tricks to get the crowd going. If there is a particular type of music that really gets your cousins out on the dance floor, you should also educate your entertainment crew. Everyone has a better time when the correct music is played. Just in case, and speaking from our own experience, provide a written list of the important names in the wedding party and how they are pronounced, as well as songs that you definitely want played or not played at your wedding. Don't be afraid of line dances, such as The Wobble, the Cupid Shuffle, Cha-Cha Slide or the Electric Slide (learn these dances on the Club Line Dances video )here. They can be invaluable for getting your crowd going. Just remember, your guests are taking their cues from you - if you aren't participating, they probably won't either.
Dance Lessons for the Guests
We have participated in several wedding celebrations where the bride and groom incorporated a dance lesson for their guests into the festivities. Before you scream “budget” on this one, we have found that it can actually save you some money on your bar bill if you are providing an open bar for your guests. Bored guests tend to drink more heavily, and their biggest beverage time is while you are otherwise occupied with photographs and signing wedding licenses.
A great lesson while you and your wedding party are tied up with the pictures can set the tone for the rest of the celebration. We've seen brides and grooms take this opportunity to introduce a theme for the event that might have otherwise been foreign to the guests at large. For instance, we've taught a salsa lesson prior to a Latin-themed dinner reception for which the bride had hired a great salsa band. The guests knew enough basics to hit the floor and boogie with the bride and groom.
This group was especially clever because they allowed for enough time while the guests were being seated for the bridal party to have a mini-lesson in a side room after the main group lesson for the guests. That way, everyone was on the same foot, locals and out-of-town guests alike.
We've also seen the dance lesson incorporated into the reception following the first dances, but the success of this strategy depends on the bride and groom and immediate wedding party leading their guests onto the dance floor in participation.
Line dances or party dances can really get your party going if done correctly. These also depend on your participation and your immediate wedding party's participation. Yes, there is more to party dancing than the chicken dance and the Macarena. Ask your deejay, and if he seems to be out of ideas, look for a local line-dance instructor. Most line-dance instructors have material for more than just country music. The line dances give your crowd an opportunity to shake a leg in a structured format without the pressure of couples dancing. A good instructor or deejay really makes the difference here.
Make sure the instruction is in short spurts and not for long periods - this will also let you gauge your audience. Another key ingredient is the quality of the group instruction. A deadpan or overwhelmed instructor can be disastrous for your reception. When you are considering a group lesson at your wedding, attend a group class or two of the instructors you are interviewing. You are looking for someone with charisma, who is comfortable with a microphone, and who can put a large, diverse group at ease while still teaching them some dancing. Be choosy - it's your special event!
Last, and in many cases a better alternative to the live lessons, is getting everyone up to speed with the same type of dance(s) before the wedding. We have worked with several wedding parties to get everyone copies of select DVDs (Club Line Dances, Dance Lessons 101, and Swing for Beginners Volume 1 are the top requests) to ensure there will be people dancing at the reception. Below are several options that you should consider for your guests that will allow them to be comfortable when the music starts. Having people dancing and having fun will also vastly improve your wedding videos and pictures from the event.
The First Dance
Ahhhh, the first dance; your first opportunity to showcase each other as husband and wife following the ceremony has arrived. You have a variety of options that fall on a spectrum somewhere between walking onto the dance floor, embracing, and leaning into each other while swaying, and learning an elaborately choreographed routine that you spent months preparing for the three minutes of fame during your first dance. Typically, the bride and groom are first-time dancers and simply want to look like they know what they're doing out on the dance floor.
Without making you into an expert, these next couple of bullets should provide you with enough insight into the dance and how to pull it off to make you look smooth without years of instruction. It's understood that you are event-driven, but don't overlook some basic factors that can help make your dance a success. Whether you're dancing a lead-and-follow dance, choreographing your dance, or having an instructor help you, there are certain elements that you should consider. Following is a listing of some of what you'll need to think about regarding your music and your dance:
The song. Pick two or three “first dance” songs and work with them during your dance lessons. You might find that one song is much better to dance to than another as you practice your steps. Click the link here to view our extensive wedding song database.
The speed of the song. Is it too slow, too fast, or just right? Dancing with your partner to the speed of the song is important because you'll want to go with a speed you're comfortable with.
- The length of the song. Shorter is better! If you're able to, try to keep the song less than three minutes. If it's a band playing this might be difficult, but if it's a deejay, it's possible to have him fade it. The old saying about there being “too much of a good thing” is true when it comes to the first dance. A long song makes everyone uncomfortable, not just the bride and groom. Always leave your audience wanting more!
The words of the song. Make sure you're both comfortable with the words that are used in your song. Don't just pick one because you like the beat. Try to find a song that you'll always remember and that either fits your relationship or fits what you'd like it to become. Does the song just make you want to say “Awwwwwww!” every time you hear it? If so, you might have found the perfect song for the two of you.
Size of the dance floor. How much space do you have to dance and where will your audience be? This is critical in choosing your dance and picking your moves. You don't want to do a very small dance (not much moving) on a very large floor. By the same token, when you are dancing your first dance please be aware of where your guests are. If they are on three sides or completely surround the dance floor, please dance accordingly. Your family and friends would like to see your glowing faces for at least part of the dance.
What you're wearing. You should always practice in something similar to what you'll be wearing at your reception. If the bride is wearing a strapless dress, she should practice in one so you'll both know the limitations. Ladies, it's imperative that you practice in the shoes you'll be wearing or ones that are strikingly similar in height, feel, and heel size. Guys, if you'll be wearing a coat the night of your dance, you should practice in one.
The entrance. How will you walk onto the dance floor, and will it be before the song or after the song starts? For many songs, it might be best to walk out arm in arm after your music starts and do a walking underarm turn and come back to a quick, romantic kiss. Your entrance will appear choreographed and will capture your audience's attention while filling up some very valuable seconds.
When to Start Your Dance Lessons
You should at least start thinking about the dancing at your wedding, the first dance and otherwise, in the earliest stages of your wedding plans. Whether you want to have dancing at all will probably play an important role in your reception location as well as the time of day of your wedding.
If any dancing beyond the cursory first dance and father-daughter dance is not on your wish list at all, a brunch reception would probably suit you well and save you quite a bit of money in catering. However, if you want an evening reception with a rocking deejay on a Saturday night in June, you will need to plan further in advance and budget accordingly for everything. Chances are you won't be getting as many discounts from your vendors. That being said, you do not need to start taking lessons the instant you set a date. Yes, you definitely want to allow yourself enough time, and most instructors recommend at least three months.
However, we have taught several couples to dance the day before their wedding, and countless more the week before their wedding. There's nothing like a deadline to make people move! Yes, those last-minute learners were happy with their results at their receptions, but we don't recommend the extreme last minute to anyone. It is very nerve-wracking. The only up side is when you leave it to the last minute, although you don't really have much time to develop good muscle memory, you certainly don't have time to develop any bad dance habits either.
If you plan to learn from a video or DVD, plan to start learning and adjusting to your music about six weeks in advance. This allows for plenty of practice time and tweaking of your music selection if necessary. Truth be told, if you're under the wire time-wise and you need to learn something immediately, take a look at the Slow Dancing Starter Pack (see image below) and look for the option of Express Shipping (Overnight to most U.S. locations). In a matter of an hour or two, your understanding of how to dance will dramatically improve. If you're down to your last day, you'll need to look for private lessons with a reputable instructor in your area. If the instructor is worth his salt, he/she should be able to polish the two of you up in a couple of hours if you can get it scheduled.
Who Needs to Know What?
As you coordinate with your wedding professionals, keep the channels of communication open. If you are doing a choreographed first dance or are at least planning to do a true lead-and-follow dance with actual moves other than the lean-‘n-sway, you need to alert your deejay, videographer, photographer, and wedding coordinator or the manager/ head server at your reception (if you have one). You will also need to let these same people know if you are planning to have a dance lesson or have a dancing crowd attending. These are all things that will impact the manner in which the aforementioned wedding professionals will conduct their business throughout your event.
Your photographer and videographer will have much more to work with and should be able to provide you with a higher quality and more interesting end product, your deejay will probably do a little research based on your information and modify his playlist to better suit your party, and your wedding coordinator or your event planner for the reception facility might have a different recommendation for the layout or the food and beverage services you are providing for your guests. Trust us, if you have selected quality vendors, these people will be genuinely excited to be associated with a dancing wedding reception. Your guests will have more fun, whether or not they are dancing, and you will most likely have a better overall experience.
Do not forget to coordinate with your groom and your father as well as your dance instructor, brides! There is important information that these individuals need in order to create the ultimate first dance for you. Although it is perfectly acceptable and appropriate for you to maintain a sense of mystery about your dress, you will need to give your dance partners and your instructor some general ideas.
For instance, if your dress is a sheath or mermaid-style dress, you will be gorgeous, but you will not be taking very many long steps, so waltz might not be your best option for a first dance. If your gown is off the shoulder, you will also need to let your partners and instructor know because this will inhibit your ability to lift your arm, and your turns will need to be modified accordingly by the choreographer. For those of you with strapless gowns, let your partners know that they need to be careful. We have seen brides come flying out of their tops courtesy of an overly zealous dip. It was hilarious for everyone but the bride. If the groom practices being careful beforehand, he has a better chance of success when he is nervous or has had a few drinks.
Final Thoughts on Dancing and Weddings & 3 Great Tips
As you plan and prepare for your big day, don't lose sight of the fact that your first dance, toasts, dress, flowers, music, and food are meant to be a celebration of your marriage to each other. Not one of the previously mentioned items should overshadow your union as a couple. Our three final tips are given in an effort to maintain the integrity of your dance and make it just another wonderful part of your big day that will live for some time in your memory and the memories of your guests as a beautiful moment that they shared with you.
Practice as if it's the big day. Grooms should practice in a jacket and dress shoes. Brides should practice in a long skirt or their crinoline, if possible, and their wedding shoes. To protect your shoes from smudges or scuffs, cover them with athletic socks while they are on your feet. If you plan to wear a veil during your dance (not recommended), be sure to practice with this as well. Once you are fairly comfortable with your steps, try to practice in front of a friend to prepare you for dancing in front of an audience. As silly as it might sound, if you plan to drink at your reception, practice your dance after a few drinks. You want to at least be aware of what you'll look like, and you might need to modify some of the moves. Finally, practice in front of a camera and/or video camera, especially if you're going to have a photographer or videographer at your wedding. At the end of your wedding, you're going to have three things: your memories, your photos, and your video. Your memories will be shaped by the two things that are tangible (the photos and the video), so you really ought to invest some time in front of them before your debut.
Don't fight with each other. Take it easy on each other during lessons and practice. As they say, it takes two to tango, and when something goes wrong, it is rarely one person's fault. You are a team and need to work together. Never compare yourself to one another or to the instructor. This should be a fun part of your wedding plans, so no fights!
Be honest. Be honest with yourselves, your band leader/deejay, your dance instructor, and anyone else who is involved in making your wedding decisions. If you don't want to dance the entire song, don't. If you don't like a certain move, don't do it. If you want to change songs, do it. It's your day and your dance; you should feel comfortable.
Now that you and your future spouse have all the tools, hit the dance floor and make some memories! This is a special occasion into which hours upon hours of preparation and planning have been poured. If you don't know how to dance, wow your friends and family and learn. If you shake a leg effectively at your wedding, you will remember it for years to come with pride.