When should we do the first dance?

When Should We Hold the First Dance at the Reception?

Honestly, you can plan your first dance at any point in the reception. Traditionally, you’d dance right after dinner to open up the dance floor for your dance party, but we all know that tradition isn’t always the way to go. There are definite pros and cons to all of your options, but it’s most important to consider how you want your first dance to affect the rest of the evening. Here are a few options to consider.

1.  Keeping With Tradition:  Holding Your First Dance After Dinner

Okay, as we mentioned above this is tradition and it’s pretty easy to see why.  Everyone’s full and, let’s face it, probably a little drunk (aka either ready to take a nap or ready to seriously party).  This is the perfect time to engage your guests. Think about your crowd. What kind of dance would inspire them to get up and move?  If you’re looking for a long night of revelry, this is NOT the time for a slow, sappy, romantic song.  So kick it up a notch.  

Be sure to check out our future post about parent dances.  Often, couples prepare an exciting first dance, followed by slow, sappy parent dances.  This quite often redirects the energy in the room and, as dance instructors, we see that as a big “no-no.”

2.  Making An Entrance:  The First Dance at the Beginning of the Reception

You walk into the reception, you’re announced, everyone is completely stoked to see you, then you kill it on the dance floor and wow the entire crowd.  Cool, right?  We think so too.

Or maybe you walk into the reception, all eyes are on you, and your first dance is a sweet moment between just the two of you, setting a romantic tone for the rest of the evening.  

Either way, your guests are looking to you to set the vibe.  Be purposeful and plan your dance accordingly.

3.  Entertain and Satisfy:  Hold the First Dance During Dinner

Maybe your first dance isn’t a big show.  Maybe it’s just a moment the two of you have prepared for together.  If that’s what you want, offer your guests a few libations while you’re on the dance floor.  This will divide their attention and it’s a great way to have a romantic moment together without having everyone’s eyes on you.

But being a bit shy on the dance floor isn’t the only reason it might be a good idea to have your first dance at dinner.  A romantic dance is a beautiful moment a lot of people want at their wedding but, as mentioned above, it can be hard to start a spirited dance party after such an intimate moment. This could be a hard decision, but it doesn’t have to be.  Why not have both?  

That’s right.  You can have more than one dance.  Hold your first dance at dinner:  let it be intimate and romantic.  That’s what everyone expects, right?  Then have a “second dance” later in the evening.  This is an especially good idea if you’ve taken dance lessons and you’re eager to show off your new skills.  A “second dance” is a good chance to open up the floor for the rest of the dance party! Get your wedding party involved in your “second dance” or simply invite all the guests out to the floor after you’ve shown off thoroughly for the first part of the song.  


Regardless of where you place your first dance at your reception, be sure to consider the tone and mood you want to set for the evening. The first dance (and quite possibly the second dance!) is a huge element of your event.  Think of it as a tool to make the party exactly what you want!  If you’ve taken the time to read our blog about your first wedding dance, then we’re pretty sure you’re looking to take care of all the details.   Don’t leave this one out!