Samba? Foxtrot? Waltz? The Electric Slide? Which category does your first dance song fall into? Does the mere thought of dancing in front of all those people make you break out in a cold sweat? No need to worry groom, all you need is a few dancing lessons.
Here’s the one morsel of advice offered by every dance instruction studio we spoke with: begin taking lessons well in advance of your wedding. With plenty of lead time you will have a chance to practice during the days between classes. "Dancing is a muscular activity that requires repetition in order to learn," says Michael of the Hollywood Dance Center. "If couples want to look relaxed as they dance at their wedding, they should leave enough time to learn the steps."
Public and private
According to Lisa from Arthur Murray Dance Studios, the type of lessons you choose depends largely on the amount of time you have left before your wedding. Regardless of how much time you have, Lisa suggests you take a few private lessons. It will be just the two of you and the instructor, so people new to the world of dance won’t feel as inhibited as they might in front of a large class. Once you’ve worked with an instructor for at least a little while, you can move to a group setting which is not only a better deal financially, but it will mirror the world of your wedding dance floor. If you have left the dancing lessons until the last minute you’ll need to take a crash course. The last minute dancers are a common breed, and the instructors recommend they focus on private sessions.
Feel the beat
Lisa from Arthur Murray also tells us that she asks couples to bring in a CD of their wedding song to practice by. "Before they get here, a couple may be trying to waltz to a song that’s really a rumba or a foxtrot," she says. "We can help them find the right dance for their song." Once you have mastered your wedding song, most studios will teach you other popular dances. A private dance instructor, Cindy Mason, teaches couples to salsa dance after they’ve finished their wedding waltz instruction. Swing dances are also a popular form at weddings, and most instructors will make sure you know how to swing before you leave the class.
Dance the night away
The duration of the dance lessons varies quite widely. Almost every instructor will work with the amount of time the client has to spend, but the recommended duration ranges from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Some Arthur Murray studios offer couples two introductory lessons lasting only 20 minutes. This is a great way to get your dancing legs. You won’t get tired out and the short classes will probably whet your appetite for more serious concentration.
With a private instructor, you’ll most likely need fewer sessions, usually four or five. If you’re opting for a mixture of private and group lessons, you’ll probably need a few more. Some studios recommend between five and ten sessions, depending on available time. Couples should try to attend class at least once a week, though most instructors say that twice a week is ideal. If the package of sessions you purchase ends well in advance of your wedding, be sure to keep practicing your steps. Try to go out dancing about twice a month or at least take a couple of spins around the living room.
Learning to dance will probably be a lot more fun than you anticipated. It’s a chance for you and your partner to spend time together, in each other’s arms, stepping on each other’s toes. Why not make a night of it? Plan to go out to dinner together after the lessons. Or better still, go home, order out and give each other foot rubs while you wait for the delivery.