Tradition is both a wonderful and strange thing. Some people love tradition, they love the idea that they are continuing long held rituals and beliefs from their ancestors. Other people find tradition cold and scary. They don’t understand why they have to do things they way they are expected to be done. 

Weddings are chock with tradition. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. The groom can’t see the bride in her dress before she walks down the aisle. The groom’s family sits separate to the bride’s family. In this article I want to concentrate on one tradition that is long held but can be a total nightmare for some people, the first dance. 

When couples hire me as their wedding singer and guitarist I go through a series of questions with them before the book me. One of them is “Do you know what your first dance is?” I get a range of responses. Some people are sure and some people are not. It is quite common for a bride and groom to be dreading the first dance. Some people just don’t enjoy being watched so the idea of dancing for 4 minutes in front of 120 pairs of eyes is knee knocking to say the least. 

Guides for Brides outlines the traditional setup for a first dance as follows:

“According to tradition and etiquette, the bride and groom should lead on the way up to the aisle after the ceremony. They should then be followed by bridesmaids and pageboys, the best man with the maid of honour, the bride’s mother with the groom’s father and then the groom’s mother with the bride’s father.”

But times have changed. You’re not obligated to follow any tradition in a wedding. The only thing you have to do to be married is come before a registrar and say particular legal phrases. Everything else is completely up to you. So here I offer 4 alternatives to the traditional first dance.

1. Keep it short and sweet
You and your partner can dance for the first verse and chorus of your chosen song then your entertainer can invite the wedding party up to join you all. With this method you get the chance to be seen but not for too long so you don’t have to feel super awkward while everyone watches you.

2. Get dance lessons
This may seem a little done but you can opt to learn a first dance to a song of your choice. It doesn’t have to be spectacular or comedic, it just may help you to know what to do if you learn a simple routine.

3. Have a whole group first dance
Have you considered asking everyone to come and do the first dance with you? I have done this before and it’s a great way to fill the dance floor early on and for people to celebrate your first dance with you.

4. Don’t have one
Controversial, I know but you really don’t have to have one. If people looking at you is enough to make you feel sick then consider it. You really don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Remember, it’s your day.

There’s 4 ideas for alternative first dances that might help you to think about things in a slightly different way.
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