Should we have a first dance at our wedding evening reception?

House of Chords First Dance

Should we have a first dance at our wedding evening reception?

A very common question that we get asked is, should we have a first dance? Although clearly not the most profound question asked by mankind, it can help couples feel at ease on their wedding day and make sure everybody has a good time. This is written, along with other blog articles we’ve done, with the aim of sharing our experience with you.

Why live music?

If you’re thinking of hiring a band as entertainment then you most likely want people to be able to dance at the wedding. Dancing is an odd human activity but, without a doubt, it is a great activity for helping people enjoy themselves. Thinking about your big day, everybody having fun is probably pretty high up on the wish list!

After playing at so many events already, it’s amazing how often guests will act like their hosts. We find that if the bride and groom are up for having a good time, then their guests are too. So if you start the ‘dancing’ off then everyone else will get on the dance floor and join you and it sets the tone for the rest of the evening – rather than you hanging around the edge of the floor being afraid to dip your toe in.

Live music is already great for getting people going, as it gives that very human and personal experience with the musicians in the room playing the music. This is almost always the main reason many people choose a band rather than a DJ for the whole night.

Why have a First Dance?

Why? Good question. Traditionally it seemed to start the dancing off with the most important guests – the married couple – taking to the floor first. Now there are other reasons people choose to have this funny ritual, whether to have a particular piece of music just the two of you share or even to have a good photo opportunity. In many cases there is often this social expectation to have a first dance. The main thing we find is that it still serves the function of starting the night off, specifically with the music you want to hear.

What if we can’t dance?

One reason for not wanting a first dance is the fear of looking silly dancing. This is quite easily rectified. We like to get everybody to gather round before a first dance so they’re on their feet and up for enjoying a party. We’ll start the first dance and give you the first 30 seconds or so. That way, with everybody gathered ‘round, they can get their fair share of photos. Then we invite your family and friends to join you and the party starts! If you and your guests are shy at all then it doesn’t rely on anybody to lead the way and get on the dance floor, you’ve done that for your guests and now they’re already there with you enjoying the occasion.

Why not to have a first dance?

For some people it’s just too cheesy. They’ve had enough of being centre of attention all day and just want everybody to enjoy themselves without any more formalities. This is cool, and very understandable. Wedding traditions can just seem a bid removed from the informal culture we now live in.

What song to choose?

For most weddings, together with the bride and groom, we choose the repertoire that’s right for the guests that night.

The majority of couples choose some kind of ballad. This is good if you want to start off slowly and also have a nice in-focus photograph. However, lots of couples go for something more up-tempo. When my wife and I got married in 2014, for our first dance (pictured above) we had ‘Signed Sealed Delivered’ by Stevie Wonder – played by the remaining members of House of Chords (plus guests) of course!

Will a live band learn a new song?

If we have enough notice and it’s a song we feel will work well in our set in the future then we’ll happily learn it for free. Believe it or not, in the scores of weddings we’ve done we have still not played the same first dance song twice. So if it is a new song that we probably won’t play again then we ask for a small fee for the time of learning the song, arranging it for our setup, rehearsing it and then performing on the night.

So, should we have a first dance?

It’s up to you. We find that it can be a nice way of starting the music off and helping yourselves and your guests feel up for dancing. If you’re nervous about it then we make sure you’re only dancing the first dance on your own for a matter of 20 or 30 seconds and then invite your family and friends to party with you!


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