When Is the First Dance?

A reader asks:

“So my fiancée and I are a little confused about what to do with our first dance.  We can’t decide whether to have our first dance immediately upon entering the reception hall or to wait until after we’ve eaten and all the toasts are over. 

“In the first case we would have something to do after the fanfare of our initial entrance.  In the second case the continuity of the “dance mentality” is preserved.  Which would be more beneficial to the flow of our reception?”

Go with Door #1.  Have the first dance upon entering the reception hall.

We get your concern. You’re worried that if you dance right away, you’ll blow your wad too early–soon the dancing will die down, the dinner will be served, the speeches will be given… and then what?

Don’t sweat this. Here’s why. Every wedding reception has an ebb and flow, an undulation of energy and music and dancing. Unless your name is R. Kelly or 50 Cent, it’s just not realistic to expect that you will suddenly go in “Dance Mode” and carry the momentum for the next 3+ hours.

Yes, there will be lulls in the dancing when they bring out the apps, when they cut the cake, when they raise their glasses of champagne. Roll with this. It’s normal, and it will pick back up. It’s the DJ’s (or other MC’s) job to manage this arc of this party, to nudge people on and off the dance floor, to sustain the vibe for hours.

But that’s all sort of academic. Regardless of all that, there’s a strong reason why you should do the first dance as soon as you make your entrance. This reason trumps all others: second only to the ceremony itself, this is the emotional peak of the evening. Don’t squander this moment. You’ve just made your grand entrance. Everyone is rapturous. (Or as close as they’ll get.) If you don’t dance… it’s almost a little awkward.

What else are you going to do? Smile and nod and say, “Um, yeah. Thanks y’all. You can go ahead and take your seats.” Sure, there are ways to gracefully segue from the entrance to your dinner table.  In the final analysis, however, this is the grandest moment of the night. Exploit it.

Why not give the crowd what they want?

For more on the overall topic, see: Somewhere Between Shuffle and Overbite: The First Dance.

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