Why We Have a First Dance at a Wedding


First Dance at a Wedding – The first dance at a wedding is the point of the evening when everyone convenes around the dance floor to celebrate the love of two people. It’s a highly emotional moment and one that leads to more than a tear or two being shed.


But where did the First Dance at a wedding originate?


The concept of honouring special guests originates way back in 16th century Europe. At the time, aristocrats ruled and they were known to throw a costume ball or two. And you can be assured that the ‘costumes’ at these affairs were pretty elaborate! At each one, there would be a ‘guest of honour’ and it would be the big part of the evening for that special guest of being ‘honoured’ by partaking in the first dance of the evening. During that time the guest could be pretty much anyone, but usually the most important person in the room or someone famous or had done a heroic deed etc.


While, some 500 years later, men might no longer wear powdered wigs and use a cane as part of their daily dress (Bullingdon Club excepted…), but some small parts of that long ago tradition do still persist in the modern day. There aren’t many occasions where formal dancing happens these days, but one time that it is most definitely part of the proceedings is at a wedding.

First Dance at a Wedding St Pierre Wedding Photography

First Dance at a Wedding St Pierre Wedding Photography

The first dance at a wedding represents a chance for the gathered people to witness that special moment when the newly married couple connect in a deeply romantic way in the centre of the dance floor and its popularity is the reason that it still happens in 2017. It’s a part of the wedding day that many look forward (and many dread!) to and is often accompanied by a room full of teary eyes.

Some couples choose to go all out and choreograph a wedding first dance routine, set to a waltz perhaps.  Others do something more modern altogether, whilst others just hold on tight and step around the room.

Andrew’s Top Tip #1– If you want the dance to be special, get some formal dancing lessons.  It really pays off and is actually good fun to do as a couple leading up to your wedding.

Andrew’s Top Tip #2 – if you are more self-conscious about doing your First dance at a wedding then just ask your DJ to play your favourite dance tune, hold on together for 30 seconds and then get your DJ to ask everyone onto the dance floor to join you.  The 30 seconds is for your wedding photographer to get some wedding photographers of the two of you together!


What Music do Couples First Dance at a Wedding?


The choice of wedding first dance and the accompanying song is really a subjective thing. Usually, the song choice is one that means something to both bride and groom and whilst the term ‘dance’ is used, it’s done so in a loose sense, with many preferring to do a simple side-to-side ‘slow dance’

I’ve had almost every kind of music in the 10 years I’ve been doing full-time wedding photography.  From waltzes to hip hop to soft rock to modern pop.  The music you choose for your first dance reflects who you both are as a couple and how you want your wedding to be.  Many couples choose something that they have loved since being together – it could be the first song they danced to for instance.

Wedding First Dance Photo Opportunity


Another reason why we still have the first dance at weddings is that it is a great moment to capture on film. Be it a video or a series of still images, the flash of many cameras going off is a very common sight at weddings as the happy couple start their showpiece dance.

Andrew’s Top Tip #3 – If you are paying a Bristol wedding photographer likes Andrew to photograph your wedding then think about how long you should give before asking other people onto the dance floor.  Usually, 30 seconds – 40 seconds is enough to grab enough wedding shots for the first dance at a wedding.


There is a growing trend to omit the first dance completely, as many people feel self-conscious that they can’t actually dance. However, this is unlikely to lead to the first dance at a wedding dying out completely as the majority of people still consider it to be an integral part of their big day.

Father / Daughter Dance

This is a very traditional dance, between Father and Daughter.  It signifies the last dance a Father can expect from his daughter, and his daughter moving from a girl to a women etc.  It is growing out of fashion, not lease because of more same-sex weddings, but if you are inclined then go for it!

Some music to think about for these dances could be:

  • Just the Way You Are – Billy Joel
  • Isn’t she Lovely – Stevie Wonder
  • Sweet Child of Mine – Guns n Roses
  • Unforgettable – Nat King Cole
  • Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton


Should you have the first dance at a wedding?


The choice, Ladies and Gents, is entirely yours!  But if you do decide to do something special and choreographed please please make sure to inform your wedding photographer and videographer before hand!

First Dance at a Wedding Manor by The Lake Wedding Photography

First Dance at a Wedding Manor by The Lake Wedding Photography

If you are looking for an amazing wedding venue then we can highly recommend St Pierre Marriott in South Wales.   If you are looking for tips on how to choose a wedding photographer click the link, and finally if you are thinking about the pros and cons of inviting children to weddings click the link! And finally the Top 5 Wedding Photography mistakes couples make.

Why We Have a First Dance at a Wedding
Article Name
Why We Have a First Dance at a Wedding
Bristol Wedding Photographer
Why We Have a First Dance at a Wedding - some little insights into the traditions of the first dance
Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller Photography
Andrew Miller Photography