This week, my favourite show ON EARTH begins: it's Strictly time, and all is right in my world again.
Everything about it makes my little heart leap: from the opening chords of the title music to the decadent glamour of the set through to the stunning outfits, fabulous hairstyles and magical make-up... I feel many a Strictly-inspired blog will be beaming its way across the website this autumn!
For the moment, let's focus on the wonderful world of dance, and how introducing dance lessons to your wedding planning brings with it a host of bridal benefits. First of all, you can wow your crowd with a slick first dance, and secondly: have you seen how much weight those celebs drop during the show? It's better than marathon training! Two classes a week will get you svelte and super-fit in just a few months. Plus you get to learn a new skill of course, so that forever when you go to other weddings, parties and such, you can work your way round the dancefloor in style. The trick is convincing your groom to join you for classes (but a promise of a nice meal or unlimited Xbox time usually works).
One of the coolest places to learn in the UK right now is The Karen Hardy Dance Studio in Chelsea, London. Yes, the Karen Hardy who won Strictly with Mark Ramprakash! Her studio is gorgeous: think mirrrorballs, modern decor, a welcoming cocktail/coffee bar and hen parties, private tutorials with Karen or one of her staff and group classes. There are plenty of packages to choose from - visit www.karenhardystudios.com. Alternatively, if you're a member of a local gym, ask about evening dance classes as they may have guest teachers.
For low-cost classes, try Ceroc. It's a really fun dance style - think of it as a cross between salsa and jive. Www.ceroc.com have classes nationwide and since they're usually held in town halls and community centres, it's very affordable and attracts a variety of people each week, from first timers to pros of all ages. In a typical class, you learn a selection of dance moves but you don't have one fixed partner. The good dancers and professionals stand in lines across the room, and with each new move you are taught, you shift over to the next dancer. It's a really clever system as it teaches you to learn the moves yourself rather than depend on the same partner to help you though it. Then later on in the evening you have "freestyle time" to dance with your own partner and practise the moves you've just learnt. Rather than learning a specifically choreographed routine, Ceroc teaches you the basics of dancing with a partner and how to respond to their lead, and eventually whatever song plays at your wedding you'll naturally know how to move to it.
Another good website for nationwide classes is www.danceweb.co.uk - ideal if you want to learn a specific style like waltz or tango.
Finally, if you really want to impress, have private dance lessons at home. Www.firstdanceuk.com will send a professional dance teacher to your house (anywhere nationwide) so you can learn a specific routine for your first dance song.
What you wear in your classes is up to you... but I reckon a few sequins and false lashes are Strictly essential!