Monday, June 27, 2011

On the first dance (prepping... or not... for your wedding day)

On this, our second wedding anniversary, I look back at the photos from the wedding and reception that the photographer had posted on her blog, which also eventually got mentioned on another blog, months after the fact, which alluded to our "choreographed" first dance. That made me chuckle.
Now, two years after that, I will reveal something: The reality is that we did not rehearse, practice, or even do a single run-through of our first dance prior to actually dancing it.

Certainly we knew the song very well (Nina Simone's "Feelin' Good"), and I had thought of some moves that would be apropos for particular parts of the song, but we improvised the whole thing. As "Feelin' Good" has a long, slow intro (with Nina singing a cappella) it occurred to me that a good way to fill that time (until we could, you know, actually dance) would be for us to start at opposite ends of the room and slowly make our way toward each other, and with any luck we'd come together just prior to the commencement of the beat. The fact that it more or less came off that way was as much coincidence as it was talent.

But as with much in life, often it's as important to be lucky as it is to be skilled, so I'll take the result of us giving the appearance of having spent much time on the dance. Obviously a certain amount of acumen and rhythm is requisite to pull off even a rehearsed number and perhaps even more is necessary to wing it, and it's only because I knew that we possessed at least a rudimentary level of ability that I felt comfortable just making it up as we went along.

Frankly, practice probably would have worked against us; with a specific game plan we would have been thinking about what to do rather than reacting to the music. A routine must be followed and if one gets off one must try even harder to get back on track, but we had no such burden.


So, for couples whose big day is still pending, I'll offer this:

Prior to your first dance you and your spouse have your respective levels of skill in the arena of dance. You can cram by taking a formal class, certainly, but ultimately if you ain't got it you ain't got it. You can have a perfectly wonderful wedding reception if you go out and dance in a manner that merely represents the skill you possess; it may not get you on YouTube, but that's fine. On your wedding day you are supposed to be celebrating your love and who you are a couple, not ostensibly trying out for So You Think You Can Dance.

Your first dance will be over in a matter of minutes, and then you'll get on with the rest of the reception. You can spend months trying to have something that will blow the proverbial socks off your guests, but your guests are going to be more impressed with an open bar and a meal that actually tastes good.

If there's one thing you don't need do on your wedding day it is pretend to be someone you're not. At least when it comes to that first dance. Sure, you'll dress in formalwear that you may never adorn yourselves with ever again, and speak in poetic language that's not close to your everyday speech, but after that ceremony you need to let your real selves shine through. If you are comfortable on the dance floor, cut loose; if you have a combined four left feet, pick a short song.

I can tell you this because I have no connection to the Wedding Industrial Complex. Let's keep this between us, okay? I don't need the nuptial ninjas stalking me in the night.


  1. Happy Anniversary!!!! I have never heard of a couple who did not practice their first dance. So Bravo!!!

  2. Erin and I didn't practice our first dance either. It probably didn't matter much, I think.

    Happy Anniversary!

  3. Thanks, Anjita and Brian. Practice is overrated.

  4. Congrats! I dodged the issue by not dancing.


So, what do you think?