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How To Choose Your First Dance Style And Song

Wedding choreographer and first dance expert Jess Brichto gives us the lo-down on all things wedding dance. From seemingly improvised masterpieces to classic waltzes – or perhaps you'd like to become a Youtube sensation... Read on to find out what style will suit your big day best

17 May 2018

With just days to go to the royal wedding, we’re super excited to have the nation’s speculations finally answered. What will Meghan wear? What will her bouquet, hair and make-up look like? We now know that Elton John will perform at the couple’s big day (LUCKY!), but what will our young Prince lead his new Princess to for their all-important first dance?! Jess Brichto from Start the Dance gives us the lo-down. Read on to learn how royals dance at special occasions, what she thinks might be planned for Meghan and Harry and how you can make your first dance just as special as theirs. She says:

Traditionally, a formal wedding would see a sophisticated, elegant waltz. British royals and aristocrats have always been taught to ballroom dance from a young age. This is because it would have been considered very embarrassing if an all-important suitor offered their hand at a ball, only to discover they their dance partner didn’t know what to do! Not too long ago, in fact, I taught a couple who wanted to learn the waltz for their big day. Very soon after this, the groom actually found himself invited to an event at the Queen’s Balmoral Castle in Scotland! While in attendance, a dance was announced where guests were told to hold hands in two circles. Whoever ended up standing opposite you was your dance partner. My client landed HRH Queen Elizabeth II herself! As the cold sweat dripped from his brow, he thanked his lucky stars that he’d booked those lessons with us.

Will our newest royal couple keep up with tradition or will they surprise guests with something different? Rumour has it that Ed Sheeran will also play live on the day, so perhaps they’ll waltz to Thinking Out Loud – 2018’s most popular first dance song.

For all the lovebirds getting married this year, and who’re still unsure what type of dance to go for on their fairy-tale day, here’s a quick guide to help you choose.

The Casual

Natural and not at all “try hard”. The ultimate aim is to make it look like you’re making it up as you go along. This one makes you seem as though you’ve never had a dance class but were simply born with good timing and grooves!

Gypsy Westwood

Difficulty: 1/5
Recommended no. of lessons: 1-2
Floor space required: As long as you have space to swing your arms around, you’ll be fine
Song suggestions: Any (or all!) of the UK’s favourite first dance tracks: At last, Etta James; Frank Sinatra’s I’ve Got You Under My Skin; L-O-V-E, Nat King Cole; Perfect, Ed Sheeran; A Thousand Tears, Cristiana Perri; For Once In My Life, Stevie wonder
Ideal Venue: Anywhere, from a pub to a palace

The Classic

We’re talking about a classic ballroom dance here – what everyone pictures when they imagine the fairy-tale wedding: timeless, elegant and stylish. This would traditionally be a waltz, but a foxtrot or cha-cha is just as impressive.

Werner Harrer

Difficulty: 3/5
Recommended no. of lessons: 3
Floor space required: A large dance floor or ballroom
Song suggestions: Shostakovich Jazz Suite 2; The Last Waltz; Blue Danube
Ideal Venue: Castle or country manor

The Crowd Pleaser

If you want to hear your guests whoop and applaud, this one is for you. Often, a reconstruction dance from a film or a music video is perfect for this. This dance is made to entertain and is crammed full of seriously fabulous moves and lifts.

Voyteck Photography

Difficulty: 4/5
Recommended no. of lessons: 5
Floor space required: So long as your guests can form a circle around you – for optimal cheering capabilities, and you have some space to move around in the centre, it’s a goer!
Song suggestions: Time of my life from Dirty Dancing; Teenage wedding from Pulp Fiction; Thinking out Loud, Ed Sheeran; Do you love me from Dirty Dancing
Ideal Venue: A converted barn, a city farm or beachside fund fair. Somewhere quirky, different or unusual works especially well with this style

The Storyteller

A medley of songs, edited together to tell the story of the couples love or how they met. The choreography consists of a mix of dance styles and is aimed to make your audience both laugh and cry!

AO Media

Difficulty: 4/5
Recommended no. of lessons: 4-6
Floor space required: Medium to large dance floor, as this style often contains lifts and/or other showpiece moves
Song suggestions: A string of songs edited together to tell a story, for example: Hello by Lionel Richie, Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston, Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer, At Last by Etta James, perhaps finishing with Marry me by Bruno Mars
Ideal Venue: The best fit would be a location that is particularly meaningful to the couple

The YouTube Sensation

The one for going viral! This dance needs to strike a balance between being intricate and entertaining. I would also advise it involves props and costumes… We’ve had couples break dancing, floating on hover boards or creating flash mobs with their guests. One of my recent clients ended her wedding dance by flashing her sparkly pair of bloomers at her guests, which had the message “BOOM!” written across her bottom! Wish I’d been there to see that one! Anything goes.

Voyteck Photography

Difficulty: 5/5
Recommended no. of lessons: 6-10
Floor space required: This varies depending on what you want to create. We’ve had a groom on a skateboard before, which required a fair amount of space. But we’ve also had couples dancing on table tops or using the venue as the stage, which didn’t require much space at all
Song suggestions: Everybody Dance Now, C&C music factory; The Road To Hell, Chris Rea; Moves Like Jagger, Maroon 5; Gangham Style, Gangham style band; Uptown Funk, Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson
Ideal Venue: When it comes to ‘YouTube sensations’, we’ve had it all! Marquees, Museums, Barns, Boats and Beaches, just to name a few. Even the House of Lords has seen this sort of thing… But we can tell you about that another time.

To book pre-wedding dance training with Start the Dance, head to their website at startthedance.co.uk