After: The First Dance

13 Feb

First Dance 1Bring in da noise, bring in da funk
Just tuning in? Check out last week’s blog post on how we decided on our first dance, and see the dance we chose! This week, find out how we went about doing our rehearsals, and how our little wedding boogie turned out… 🙂

On the way
Fast-forward to the three-month countdown! This is when we promised ourselves we would start working on the dance. At our first rehearsal of our swing and slow foxtrot to “Come Fly With Me” we got as far as learning all the steps up to the “float down to Peru”, and felt extremely proud of ourselves. Unfortunately, we then had a busy week and were not able to practice again until 8 days later… and by then we had forgotten all the steps, so had to start again from scratch! (Our Reflective tip: practice twice a week, with just a few days in between, even if your practice is just for half an hour. If you have just learned a complicated sequence, rehearse again the very next day, while the new steps are fresh in your head!)

My groom began every practice session by going over what we had learned the last time, and did not move on to the next steps until we’d mastered the previous ones. We knew that toward the end of our dance performance my groom would need to twirl me around in a dramatic lift, so he also began a weight-lifting regime, and I practiced doing front-splits so that I could hold my legs in the proper position for that lift. We finished learning the whole dance six weeks before the wedding, and used the remaining time for polishing it up to increasing levels of awesomeness (plus getting that lift looking sharp)!

Once we had learned the whole thing, we wanted to run through the dance in a space the same size as our wedding reception dancefloor, so we knew exactly how much space we had to move. We shifted to the large living room of my in-laws-to-be, though we also considered asking our gym if we could borrow one of their mirrored work-out rooms when it wasn’t in use. In the final month we also rehearsed the dance while wearing our wedding shoes… to break in our new footwear, and scuff them up a little to aid all the spins and twirls!

BustleAt my alterations appointments, I asked the seamstress to bustle the back of my wedding gown for easy dancing, and to ensure that neither the guests or the groom could step on it. However, there was so much fabric in my train that even with a three-point bustle an inch or two still dragged on the floor. Knowing all the steps and spins in our dance, and that the groom could very easily step on the extra inches of train, I pleaded for her to do anything she could to get the train completely off the floor. She assured me that the seams of the dress wouldn’t allow any additional bustling, and that the groom would be unlikely to step on it anyway. After that, the Reflective Groom and I practiced the dance with me wearing the hoop petticoat that would go under my wedding dress, so he would have a basic idea of how wide the dress would be and how to maneuver around it.

When we were more confident with our wedding boogie, we also filmed ourselves doing a full run-through of the dance. Thinking we had burned up the dancefloor like pros, we were a little surprised when we played the video back. All of our steps were correct, but we looked so booooored! We had been so focused on learning the steps and getting it right that we forgot the rest of the “show”. Our shoulders were slouched and we lacked a distinct “shazzam”! We tried videoing a rehearsal again, this time beaming, with excellent postures (I spent the whole dance repeating to myself “chest to the ceiling, chest to the ceiling!”) and a lot sharper movements. Big improvement, phew!

We had mostly been practicing our dance to the music played in the YouTube video (so that we could keep an eye on Mr and Mrs John Tucker and if we were keeping up with the steps!). In the final month we requested from our wedding DJ his version of Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me”, so we could do our final rehearsals to the exact ditty to be played on the night. But, when we first heard the song, it sounded completely flat compared to the live band in the YouTube video. Uh-oh! We can’t dance to that! There’s no bing-boom-bang! After a little fretting we had the brainy idea to look for covers of the song, and found that the Michael Buble version was much more jazzy, while still being the right length. We felt a little disappointed that we wouldn’t make our debut to Frank, but figured most of our guests wouldn’t even notice the difference!

First DanceIn the final weeks before the big day, we aimed to do two run-throughs of the dance every night. Just before the wedding, I had a niggling fear that a guest might have seen the video before, but realized it’s highly unlikely anyone else would have watched it… and if they had they probably wouldn’t remember it unless they were also learning it for their own wedding!

The night before the wedding, our reception room was already decorated and set up, and the wooden dancefloor we had hired had been installed. So, we took the opportunity to do a run-through… and it went excellently! The floor felt a little sticky, so we checked in with the staff and they assured us the dancefloor would be mopped (and the rest of the carpeted room vacuumed) first thing in the morning now that set up was all completed.

How it turned out
It’s our wedding day! At the reception, the dinner flew by and I felt so nervous about my upcoming speech and the first dance that I could only eat half of my main course and dessert. It was soon time for the official cake cutting, from which we would head straight into the first dance. While my groom and I sliced and diced the cake, a bridesmaid ducked in behind me to bustle my dress.

First DanceMy shiny new husband and I then headed over to the dancefloor. Our DJ was a little slow in starting the music for our first dance, so we hesitated awkwardly at the edge of the floor, nerves renewed by the break in flow. The song began at last, and we launched into our choreographed routine! At last, months of practice culminated! Everything started wonderfully, and there was a huge reaction from the audience as they realized we weren’t going to uncomfortably slow dance junior-high style. We hit all the right steps at the right time (though of course not as stylishly as Mr and Mrs John Tucker!)… until about one minute into the song when my fear came true: the groom stepped on my dress. He trod on those spare, trailing inches at the back so heavily that the bustle tore off, and the entire train unraveled! Internally, I panicked. We talked a lot about that this could happen, but never what to do if it did happen. Do we keep going? Do we stop? How do I keep dancing with two meters of fabric trailing behind me? My dance partner hadn’t yet realized what had happened, and I doubted the audience had either, so I pushed ahead. The main problem was that I couldn’t spin around as easily, so anything that was supposed to be a double-turn had to downgrade to a single. The Reflective Groom started to think I’d forgotten the steps, but it soon dawned on him what happened. We made it – somewhat awkwardly – through to the end of the dance, finishing to whoops and big applause. Hurrah! We took our bows and headed into a traditional bridal waltz, as our parents and bridal party joined us on the dancefloor, and the DJ invited all the other guests to join in, too.

The groom and I breathed a sigh of relief that the dance was all over, but immediately started whispering about the renegade train ruining things for us. We felt like we did the dance only half as well as we could have from the point where my train unraveled, and I certainly didn’t remember to smile, keep my chest up or look shazzam after things went south! (Then again, this was the biggest thing that went wrong on our wedding day, so I guess we got off fairly lightly!) However, to our surprise, our guests were blown away by the dance! People came up  to gush how fantastic it was. Huh? We forgot that our guests didn’t know how the dance was supposed to look, so they didn’t realize that anything had gone amiss! So many approached us afterwards to ask how long it had taken us to learn it all. Interestingly, nobody asked us where or how we learned it… 😀

First Dance 2How are you approaching your rehearsals and dance preparation? If you’ve already had your wedding, how did your first dance go?

(First image from Mrs. Barrettes Blogs, second image from WetCleanUs, third image from Wedding Photojournalist Association.)

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One Response to “After: The First Dance”


  1. 5 Things I Wish We’d Done Differently In Our Wedding Planning | The Reflective Bride - May 7, 2014

    […] was so worried about my groom treading on my train during the first dance (which he did) that I spent the entire cocktail hour in the bathrooms with a bridesmaid trying to better hitch up […]

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