7 First Dance Alternatives for Dance-shy Couples

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alex & mark's wedding

A few days ago I got asked a question via Twitter about some suggestions for good alternatives to the first dance. Offbeat Bride has broached the topic of dance-free wedding receptions before, but what if you like to dance, but you just don't want to have to be the ONLY ONES dancing? Or, maybe you love being the only ones under the spotlight, but dancing isn't exactly your thing — what are your other options?

First Drink

Instead of mixing your unity cocktail during the ceremony, save it for the reception in lieu of a first dance! Kicking off your reception with a first drink is quick and painless and does double duty for shy brides & grooms as it can help to calm nerves and will probably help put you in the mood to dance later on… with everyone else, of course.

First Song

We've seen many variations on this idea — there's been first songsfirst karaoke, musically inclined couples have even put a band together in order to perform at their wedding. I've been to a wedding where only the bride was a musician, and she performed a song that she wrote for groom instead of them both doing the first dance.

First Game

Gamer geeks might feel right at home playing a first video game as husband and wife. We've seen first Rock Band rock-outs so much so that it even has it's own tag! This wedding made me think that it would be really awesome to do a “First Dance Dance Revolution.”


The sporty couples that we've featured have had first non-virtual games like a vollyball and soccer. The bride and groom could throw the first pitch, or make the first kick to start the game and then the entire party could join in. Or what about a first potato sack race? Having your wedding reception at a bowling alley? Of course you two can jointly roll the first balls!

Roller derby brides and grooms could taking a first spin around the reception site on their skates!

First Jump

How far are you willing to go to not dance? Would you be willing to rent a bounce house? Or perhaps you happen to have a trampoline on hand? If so, you guys could have an awesome first bounce as husband and wife. 

Photo by  Tim Oben of intrepidphoto.ca
Photo by Tim Oben of intrepidphoto.ca

First Group Dance

What about a conga line or a Bohemian Rapsody rock-out with the entire bridal party?

Sara & Matt pulled off a surprise group dance at their wedding when they “assumed the traditional first-dance pose, but as soon as the music started the entire wedding party joined [them] on the dance floor and performed a choreographed dance.”

First Hula Hoop

Burners? Hippies? Vintage toy enthusiasts? A first hula hoop might be just the thing! Look how cute.

Double points if you both can rock the fire hoops. 


First Duel

A reader named Ariel told us, “My boy and I do European martial arts together, and his one request thus far is that we have a duel instead of a first dance. (He'd like to end it with a disarm and a kiss, no word yet as to exactly who'd be getting disarmed.)”

Of course, my favorite duel in OBB history is from Laurie's Big Fat Geek Wedding! Star Wars light saber duel FTW!

You want even more ideas?

You guys, these seven suggestions are just the beginning… we've got SO many more in our archive of first-dance alternatives!

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Comments on 7 First Dance Alternatives for Dance-shy Couples

  1. ooh-I was thinking of having a bouncy castle anyway and we're both kinda dreading the all eyes on us moment so a first bounce would be a cool idea!! love it!

  2. I went to a wedding with a bouncy castle (and a load of outdoor games). It was cool because it kept the kids entertained and the bride and groom did the 'first bouce' thing as you said!

  3. Hey! Look at that! There we are again. And we really didn't do a first dance – so I guess our first bounce together WAS our alternative to our first dance. And luckily we didn't have to rent a moon-bounce – there was one on the waterfront – we just kicked all the children off it in order to have some fun. 🙂

  4. what happens when you are a dancer and choreographer (so the first dance is important) and your partner doesn't dance? I'm trying to figure it out! any suggestions?

  5. We had DDR at our reception, too. We had a normal first dance (to the theme song from Scrubs so normal maybe stretching it) but then later I surprised my gamer geek hubby by lowering the big projection screen that our roommate had conspired with me to hook up to the PS2. And we did another first dance to Dream a Dream aka the only song on DDR I don't automatically fail 😛

  6. On the first duel, they should preface it by saying something like "May this be the last fight we ever have" and then call it a truce.

    • That is, in fact, exactly what the person introducing us said. 😉 And it was a truce; I disarmed him, he grappled me, and we kissed. Wouldn’t want to end with a winner, after all!

  7. So don't dance.

    My brother and SIL had no dancing at all and I don't think anyone really noticed. Certainly they didn't comment on it. They did the kiss-the-bride bit and then everyone lined up to sign the wedding certificate–groom's family is Quaker–and then on to the food.

  8. My cousin and his wife asked that everyone who was so inclined get up and join them on the dance floor to share in their first dance. It was lovely: they got to dance to the song they wanted to, but weren't the focus of 150 pairs of eyes, either. I'd say at least half of the guests got up and danced with them to "their song."

  9. i'll be a bride in a wheelchair and don't really care to try and dance in my wheelchair..any suggestions to replace the first dance or father/daughter dance?

  10. We're doing a "first DJ set"; we met at a Daft Punk concert so we feel it's the most appropriate thing to do.

    • this is amazing. my fiance and I WISH we met at a Daft Punk concert. and we wish we had the skills to DJ at our own concert-themed wedding. well, he does. but I kinda still want a sappy romantic first dance…

  11. I went to a wedding this weekend where there was no dancing and the bride came up with a wonderful alternative for the father/daughter dance. When she was younger she rode horses competitively and at the end of the day her father would always help her pull off her riding boots b/c she couldn't get them of by herself. So, after the wedding, she secretly put on her riding boots and asked her dad to help her get them off as a way to honor him and that something special that they share. It was so original and the best father/daughter "dance" I have ever seen.

  12. I have to say I am really stumped on this. I don't want dancing, my guy doesn't drink and we would never do a duel (not that it's not super cute) I am even more pissy about being told "you have to have dancing" I have time to figure this out, but I am glad that someone is thinking about this.

  13. We don’t want to do a first dance.
    I like an idea I read on another site, instead of dancing they just stood on the dance floor after walking in, holding each other so people could take photos as if they were dancing, but there was no movement/dancing so it didn’t screw up photos, lol.
    Might have a jumping castle, but not sure on that idea.
    We are also NOT throwing the bouquet or the garter (and I’m not giving my bouquet up, lol. It’ll be made of brooches).
    Trying to think of ideas that don’t seem too kids party (although I do like a lot of the weird ideas, my partner doesn’t :P), or that isn’t too boring.

  14. We’re hockey fans and got married at an arena. We had an open skate afterwards for our guests, no dancing. We did a first skate.

  15. A scottish tradition is the grand march. I remember doing it as a giant group march, which was fun too.
    If you need an ending, this ones traditional (and AWESOME) in scotland – ‘the bonny banks of loch lomond’ – I like the runrig mix, im sure theres videos on youtube showing how its done!
    To return to starting dances, ive been to weddings where the whole wedding party and parents get up with the couple for the first dance, or where everyone is invited up to celebrate too.

  16. We played rock band at our wedding. And since none of my family is really into dancing, we just left it out for other people to play. No one missed the dancing, and lots of people said it was their favorite part of the wedding.

  17. My husband is disabled so we didn’t dance at all. I decided to do a salute to marriage by having “The Last Couple Standing 1st Dance” I had my DJ call all married couples to the dance floor and throughout the song they had to leave the floor as he called out years of marriage, i.e. 1-3, 4-6, etc. My aunt & uncle who have been married over 40 years were the last couple standing and it was by far one of the most touching and memorable first dances I’ve ever seen. It was really nice because my husband didn’t feel bad about not being able to have the first dance with me. The other guests were rooting for the couples and everyone said it was their favorite part of the reception.

  18. We were thinking of smashing open a pinata together instead of our first dance. Far more fun, and less nerve-wrecking.

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