Wedding First Dance and your Marriage

10 02 2010

Hi friends, I promise that I will conclude the Newly Engaged Starter Guide this week! If you just can’t wait, take a break from shoveling snow and go back and read Part 1 (Words of wisdom), Part 2 (The Big Picture), and Part 3 (Money).  Today’s post is about learning to do your wedding first dance and its implications on the wedding planning process and your marriage. How? Read on.

My friend Amy Jean of The Relentless Bride fame is getting married next month and is taking dance lesson with her fiancé for their first dance with Deborah Joy Block at The Wedding Dance Specialists. She is writing a “she said, he said” style series on their experiences learning their first dance on her blog, each describing his/her own perspective.

I love this series because I am a firm believer that ballroom dancing lessons, regardless of whether you are taking them to learn your first dance, are like marriage counseling. There is a reason it’s called partner dancing and I try to encourage all engaged couples to try it. They offer insights, a microcosm even, into how relationships work.

Give and Take. I am a control freak, worsened by the fact that I’ve danced ballet since I was 4 and ballroom since college. So when we started lessons, I always wanted to lead and became very frustrated when John couldn’t pick up the steps fast enough. But I soon realized that if I wanted him to dance with me until we’re 90 years old, I’m going to have to grow some patience, bite my tongue and keep encouraging him. I tell him he’s doing great when he makes even the slightest improvement and even when he’s not.  He has never done instructional dancing before and being the man, he has to learn how to lead me besides figuring out his footwork. After a while, John gained more confidence about his ability to lead and to master his own steps that he was more proud of himself and wanted to show off to his friends! The point is – you give a little and you take a little in your relationship.

Teamwork & Communication. You learn how to work together to conquer a difficult task. When challenged with a new and seemingly daunting combination, we like to ignore the music and break down each step very slowly until we get it right. Then we do it to music. As we try to work out the dance moves, he tells me to take bigger steps and I tell him to not lift his arm so high. We try to communicate what each of us need the other to do in a neutral tone so that together, the steps feel right and look good. We each have our own good days and bad days and some days, he has to help me and other days I have to help him. The point is – communicate.

Date Night.  Thursday night is our standing date night when we have our ballroom class and we never practice outside of class. Since we don’t intend on entering any competitions anytime soon, we keep it fun for ourselves and not take it so seriously. When life gets hectic, especially when planning a wedding, we could count on having one night where we were doing something together. You learn to just be in the moment, focus on each other, enjoy some rockin’ music, and forget about the world. We started ballroom lessons 10 years ago, several years before we actually got married, and we are still dancing.

Doing our wedding first dance - a rumba to Al Green's Let's Stay Together.

Go try it! Vicky

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8 responses

11 02 2010
AmyJean @RelentlessBride

I absolutely love affirmation that what Deborah told me before our first dance … that this wasn’t just dance lessons and that it would help overall in many different aspects of communication, teamwork and enjoyment. I think its awesome you guys have a date night and am openly hoping that these dance lessons will create the confidence in FH to explore this as a hobby we can do together…. first thing first: i need to give up control! That’s so much harder done than said… 🙂

11 02 2010
The Wedding Dance Specialists

The concepts you listed: Give and Take, Teamwork, Date Night are so much bigger than what people initially envision when I first mention dance lessons. Once you have the experience your perspective can really broaden. It is a powerful and exhilirating experience for a couple to share and once you are bitten by the bug, it’s pretty addictive! — Deborah Joy from The Wedding Dance Specialists

11 02 2010
Brian Block

I’m a walking, talking, and of course, dancing example of the fact that dance lessons work. Marrying a dance instructor (Deborah) put the pressure on for our wedding. Instead of dancing to a style that I already knew, we decided to spend lots of time and lessons learning the Argentine Tango.

The lessons definitely help you feel confident and comfortable while dancing before the largest crowd of friends and family you’ll ever experience.

11 02 2010
Vicky Choy

Thanks for reading Deborah! You offer a wonderful service.

11 02 2010
Vicky Choy

Deep breaths Amy, deep breaths! Enjoy your lessons. It’s a lot of fun and good exercise too!

11 02 2010
Vicky Choy

Thanks for sharing your perspective Brian. Maybe I need to get my husband to write about his perspective too! Hmmmmmm

Argentine Tango — very seductive! One of my first clients did a Tango to Por Una Cabeza – one of my favorite pieces of music.

16 03 2010
Rebekah (the barefoot bride)

I also am of the mindset that ballroom dancing is like marriage counseling. Leading and following. Communicating both with and without words. Learning together. Playing together. Walking in the other person’s shoes. There are just so many lessons involved besides the actual dance steps, if you’re willing to hear them. 🙂

My fiance and I teach ballroom dance together, so people are expecting quite the show when we have our “first” dance – we’ve had a ton of people ask (persuasively) if we’re going to be choreographing it. However, we’ve decided that for that first together as husband and wife, we’re just going to enjoy the moment and enjoy each other without the worry of choreography. We’re considering a “performance” dance right before we leave the reception, though. That we can focus on each other for our first dance, but our friends and family will get to see us show off a little, too. 🙂

16 03 2010
Vicky Choy

That sounds like a great approach for the first dance and I’m sure your ‘performance’ dance at the end of the night will be fantastic too!

That always reminds of a client I had. The bride and groom were both actors in their spare time and choreographed a very theatrical first ‘dance’. It was awesome!

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