DIY Your First Dance in 6 Simple Steps

You may have taken ballet when you were 5 but you can’t recall when the last time you danced with your fiancé formally. To avoid the awkward Junior High sway at your wedding, you should really put some thoughts into the first dance. If you don’t have time to take dance lessons before your big day, check out these 6 simple steps that help you DIY your first dance!

1. Choose a Danceable Song

Whether you have a special song or not, it is important to make sure the song you choose for your first dance is “danceable” and the lyrics are appropriate for your wedding. A good danceable song should have a strong beat and isn’t too fast or too slow. And it shouldn’t be too long either. Keep it short (2-­3 minutes long) and sweet so that your guests can enjoy the first dance and not get bored. Lastly, make sure that your band or DJ will play the version of your song that you have been practicing to. Any tempo or compositional changes can affect your dancing, especially if you have a choreographed dance. I have compiled a list of my favorite classic first dance songs and unique wedding dance songs. Check them out!

2. Learn the Proper Dance Position

A proper dance position will give you a more polished look and allow you to lead and follow better during your first dance. Below are details on how to hold your partner when dancing.

Leader —­ Place your right hand behind your partner’s left shoulder blade (cupping the shoulder blade). Make sure your right elbow is up and your elbow bone should be pointed out to your right side.

Follower — Wrap your left arm around your partner’s lifted arm and place your hand around his/her biceps.

Both of you can now bring the other arm up and clasp your hands together. Your elbows should be relaxed and pointed down slightly.

DIY Your First Dance in 6 Simple Steps

3. Learn the Basic Box Step

The box step is one of the most versatile dance steps since you can dance it to almost any song at a wedding! Watch this video as I demonstrate how to do a simple box step.

4. Create an Elegant Entrance

The beginning of your first dance is very important since everyone will be watching! A polished entrance will help you begin your first dance confidently and set the tone of the dance.

5. Spin the Bride

Once you know how to do the box, you can spice up your dancing with a simple spin! Check out this video that shows you how to do a simple underarm turn.

6. End with a Picture Perfect Dip

The dip is a great way to end your first dance. It is also a wonderful picture opportunity for your photographer and guests. This video will show you how to perform a simple dip safely.

What’s your first dance song? Are you doing a DIY first dance? How are you preparing for your first dance?  Please share with us!


Szewai (C­Y) Lee is the founder of Duet Dance Studio, a Chicago dance studio that offers Latin and ballroom dance lessons, wedding dance lessons, and BYOB dance parties. Besides dancing, Szewai enjoys discovering hidden gems in the city, finding great music and making short videos about people and things that inspire her. You can find Szewai on Google+ and LinkedIn.


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  • alex

    keep is short, 23 min long….. hahaha

    • weddinglovely

      OMG how did we not see this comment u2014 that was a typo, it was supposed to say 2-3 min long!

  • Amy Froise

    My first dance is going to be Tiny Dancer – Elton John and I have NO idea how to dance!

    • weddinglovely

      Awesome!

  • Chris

    Thinking about Ottis Redding – That’s how strong my love is. Wise choice?

  • Nicole

    Love the short and simple explanation of the box step. My fiance and I aren’t dancers but want to dance together at our wedding. I doubt a full dance routine would suit us, so this easy step will get us through! Thanks so much!! nnwww.vonjolie.wordpress.com

  • Andrea

    Thanks for this great post!nnWe are thinking about either: The Weepies- Honeypie (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeZMTOSeHVw) or Ben Rector- I like you (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zD7_I3mb1ng)nnnnNot sure if these are too challenging for beginners! Thanks for the help!

  • emma

    This is great stuff! I love the simple break down. I’ll add that when you dance the box step with your partner if you keep your right foot in between your partners right foot you’ll avoid stepping on toes. Happy dancing!

    • weddinglovely

      Thanks for the wonderful tip! :)

  • Kirk Randall

    One thing that many people don’t realize is that not all songs are dance-able. I have made that mistake before, and it is awkward. I love the song options you gave Andrea. http://www.dancetonight.ca/why_dance.html

  • bel

    My first dance song is going to be “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head by Dean Martin

    • weddinglovely

      Ooohhh. Sounds really groovy!

  • Justine

    My fiancu00e9 thinks that the only dance move that works with our song is the standard middle school hug embrace with swaying. I would be so embarrassed to dance like that on my wedding day! Tell us, what dance moves/steps would be appropriate for Johnny Cash’s “Rose of My Heart”?

    • weddinglovely

      Practice! Maybe you can look for dance steps for that song online! Hope this helps. :)

  • Ed Fraser

    Do you know Ben Howard – Only Love? Would the Box Step work for this? We only really want to dance for about 30seconds before others join in.

  • silentone

    Very helpful thanks!