Which Style of Dance Should I Do For My Wedding Dance?

Category: Music / Last Updated: Fri Apr 12 / Written By: Michelle

Danni and Tom dancing their first dance

It can be a big decision…. on top of all the other big decisions! Which style of dance is best for your First Dance?

Here are some questions to ask yourselves to steer you in the direction of the right style for your and your partner;

What sort of look and feel do you want? 

Have either of you done any dancing before? 

How long have you got until your wedding day? 

How much dance floor space do you have to use for your First Dance? 

Now let’s look at each style of dance in detail… 

Rumba 

  • What sort of look and feel do you want? Slow and romantic, relaxed and fun 
  • Have either of you done any dancing before?  No 
  • How long have you got until your wedding day? 2-12 months
  • How much dance floor space do you have to use for your First Dance?  Small floor (less than 4x4), medium floor (4x4 - 6x6) or large floor (6x4+)

In the last 20 years rumba really has overtaken the ‘wedding waltz’ to become the king of the First Dance. 

Rumba fits any song that has a steady, medium to slow beat. So basically… any pop music! This makes it appropriate for 80% of wedding songs out there.

It can be done in a small space but can also be designed to move around the floor if you have the luxury of a larger dance floor. 

It's not too difficult. Whilst you can learn the basics of rumba in 4-6 private lessons it will always look smoother and more natural once you layer technique over the top. For best results give yourself 3-4 months to perform a relaxed and fluid looking basic rumba. 

A rumba done really well, will generally look good on everyone and have the most natural and chilled end result.

Rachel and Christian dancing first dance

The ‘Wedding’ Waltz… 

  • What sort of look and feel do you want? Slow, romantic, elegant, classy 
  • Have either of you done any dancing before? No 
  • How long have you got until your wedding day? Between 2 and 12 months
  • How much dance floor space do you have to use for your First Dance? Medium floor (4x4 - 6x6) or Large floor (6x4+)

When most people think of a First Dance they think of doing a ‘Wedding Waltz’ and whilst that may have been the common style 20 years ago these days it is not as common. Why? The music is much more rare.

Waltz music has a specific ¾ timing and each year there may be 2-3 common pop songs that are released with that timing but, generally speaking, popular music has a 4/4 timing which is actually more suited to a rumba. So, make sure that if you have your heart set on performing a waltz you choose music that has 3/4 timing. 

Waltz moves and glides around the floor which is part of it’s beauty so make sure you have plenty of space to dance if you really want to get the most out of this style. 

The step patterns of waltz are not very difficult to begin with making it a dance style that is okay if both you and your fiance’ have never danced before, just make sure you have enough time to work on some technique to make it look smooth and natural. 

Danni and Tom dancing their first dance 3

Ballroom Tango 

  • What sort of look and feel do you want? Something people will talk about and remember! Something that looks like it’s from a movie. 
  • Have either of you done any dancing before? No 
  • How long have you got until your wedding day? 4-12 months 
  • How much dance floor space do you have to use for your First Dance? Large floor (6x4+)

If you’re looking for a First dance that shocks and surprises your guests; a Tango is the way to go! 

Tango is dramatic, sharp and over the top and can add a bit of fun to any day of nuptials. 

The Tango, whilst looking very difficult, can be learnt by complete beginners but will need time and technique to give it the punchy dramatic vibe it deserves. Make sure you start at least 4 months before the big day so you can perform it with impact. A tango without styling just looks a bit ‘meh’… 

Tango is a ballroom style so it is designed to travel and will need at least a 5x5 space, more is better, of course. 

Finding music for Tango can be tricky and will generally not be a typical love song. You will need to choose a specific ‘tango’ piece of music and these are generally instrumental or oechestaral pieces suchcas the famous Libertango.

From time to time you'll come across a pop songs that fits tango but they are rare and almost never 'romantic'.  Examples of these are: Bust Ya Windows by Jazmine Sullican or Die Another Day by Madonna  

Rock N Roll

  • What sort of look and feel do you want? Fun, lots of spins, up beat, we want people to tap their feet
  • Have either of you done any dancing before? No 
  • How long have you got until your wedding day? 2 -12 months 
  • How much dance floor space do you have to use for your First Dance? Small space (less than 4x4)

Rock ‘N Roll is a great style to get your audience up and clapping along and makes for a fun and energetic First Dance! 

You don’t need much space so rock n roll is a good option if you have a very small venue or have decided against getting a specific dance floor set up. 

Rock n roll is a beginner friendly style so no need to have danced before but, as always, the more time and have to practise the better it will look and feel.

Rock ‘N Roll songs are generally fast so your song will have to be fun and upbeat and this style of dance will not suit a love ballad so put that Celine Dion away!

You can find rock n roll songs from the 50’s to today and they often have cute, happy lyrics to match. 

Mel and Adam kissing

Foxtrot 

  • What sort of look and feel do you want? Classy, elegant, 1920’s and 30’s chic 
  • Have either of you done any dancing before? Yeah, a little bit… and we’ve both played sport
  • How long have you got until your wedding day? 6-12 months 
  • How much dance floor space do you have to use for your First Dance? Medium floor (4x4 - 6x6) or Large floor (6x4+)

If you’re wanting to wow your guests with a dance that is polished, classy and escorts them back to the elegance of yesteryear than a Foxtrot is a must! Think Great Gatsby meets Puttin' On The Ritz and that’s a Foxtrot First Dance! 

Being in the Ballroom category Foxtrot is designed to move and gilde around the room so you will need a larger floor of at least 5x5, more is better. 

Foxtrot involves a bit of clever navigation and begs for correct technique so prior dance/sports experience is preferred. I would recommend learning a little bit of waltz first if you have never danced before as this will be an easier way to layer the basics of dance before tackling the Foxtrot straight off. 

Give yourself time to master this style and dance it with ease by taking up lessons at least 6 months prior to the big day. 

Foxtrot music is really what sets this glamorous style apart. From Big Band to crooners to modern day romance it’s a bit of everything! Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Michle Buble’ are just the starting point when it comes to romantic music that you can Foxtrot to on your wedding day. 

Lauren and Wes wedding photo

Swing 

  • What sort of look and feel do you want? Fun, lots of spins, up beat, we want people to tap their feet, maybe something a little retro or themed.. 
  • Have either of you done any dancing before? Yeah, a bit and we’ve both played a lot of sport in the past 
  • How long have you got until your wedding day? 6-12 months 
  • How much dance floor space do you have to use for your First Dance? Small space (less than 4x4)

If you are hoping to surprise your guests with a fast and flashy First Dance than 'Swing is the Thing'! 

Swing is full of spins, drops, lifts and kicks that will have your guests dropping their jaws and begging for more! 

Now… dancing in a typical wedding dress is never going to be easy (they just weren’t made for movement!) but swing is even more tricky so I would highly recommend you have a change of costume ready for your Swing First Dance. You can also get into it more when you’re not worried about tripping over of tearing your dress. 

Swing has a lot of intricate footwork and timing so we recommend swing for couples that have either danced before, have grown up playing a lot of sports such as netball, tennis or soccer and have at least 6 months before the big day. Giving yourself enough time to learn rock n roll first will often give you best results and make the learning process less frustrating and more fun. 

Music for swing is ‘swing’ style music, hence the name, but can also be danced to some more modern music with a medium to fast beat. Consult with your teacher to ensure you choose a song which you can swing to easily. Finding a typical ‘love’ song may be tricky. 

Salsa

  • What sort of look and feel do you want? Medium to fast paced, lots of spins, something unique 
  • Have either of you done any dancing before? No 
  • How long have you got until your wedding day? 2-12 months
  • How much dance floor space do you have to use for your First Dance? Small space (less than 4x4)

Yes, it can be done, however choosing the right song could be very challenging. Salsa music is generally Latino, meaning it is in spanish and it is very fast! 

Now if you’re having a Wedding with a bit of a Latino theme, maybe some mexican food trucks and Pina'tas then a salsa would be perfect. If not, you will want to consult with your teacher to find a song that you can salsa to that has some romantic undertones. You may find something in the realm of modern day r'n'b.

Salsa is what we call a ‘slot’ dance meaning it doesn’t travel across the floor but rather is danced in a small rectangular shape where the dancers pass each other from side to side with most steps. You can dance salsa on the smallest of floors so it is very accessible in that way.

You don't need to have danced before to make a salsa look fun and comfortable but as always, the more time you spend on your salsa the easier it will feel and the more fun it will be for your guests to watch.

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