Many, many (but not all) weddings feature dancing in some fashion. There's the first dance, the parent and child dance, and then there's the reception. That's a lot of dancing!
If there's going to be dancing at your wedding, it's a lot more fun if you have some idea of what you're doing. As someone who has professionally taught wedding couples how to dance, as well as simply gone through my own engagement process (and learning to dance with my fiancé), here are some tips for learning how to dance…
1. Start 6-8 months out
If you want to learn to dance, you want time to have fun learning without being under a time crunch. You want time to really learn how to lead and follow so that you're actually dancing with each other and not just repeating rehearsed steps. You want to be able to relax, laugh, talk, and enjoy it, and that comes with practice. So give yourself that time.
Wedding dance lessons become like date night for couples — it's an opportunity to put everything else aside and just focus on dancing together. Dancing takes teamwork, and I can honestly say from both learning to dance and teaching dance that it brings couples together and teaches them how to communicate better.
2. You can start before you know your song
You can practice dancing to any music — you don't need your specific song for that! There are lots of important things to learn in dancing, but one thing that you will need for every single dance is the ability to lead and to follow. So start taking lessons right away and bring in your song when you're ready.
3. Have an idea of what's going to be played at the reception
So you've got your first dance down. That's great. Now, what if you want to show off your dancing at the reception? Tell your instructor what kind of music you'll be playing at the reception, and they'll give you some basic steps that you can do to your music.
4. Go to private lessons and group classes
A lot of people don't like group classes for a number of reasons, but they can actually be really good for you. Think of private lessons like taking a class from a teacher in school. If private lessons are like classes, then group lessons are like homework: They reinforce your lessons, they help you practice, and they keep you sharp for your next private lesson. Most dance studios offer packages that include group classes with private lessons. If you're already paying for them, take advantage of them! Your dancing will greatly improve from it.
5. Even if one of you can dance already, take lessons together
When I started taking lessons with my fiancé, I'd already been dancing for six years. But he'd never danced before, and we'd never danced together. I had to learn how he led, what his quirks were, and how to tailor my dancing to match him. It became a fun thing we did together, and the studio taught me some moves that I'd never seen before.
6. Let the teacher teach
As someone with a lot of dance experience, it was really tempting to start telling my fiancé what he's doing wrong. Wrong foot, bad lead, messed up the pattern, something. But learn from my mistakes: don't do it! Your teacher will take care of all of that. If you must say something, form it in an “I Statement.” Don't say, “Your lead is bad,” say, “I can't feel your lead.” That will clue your teacher in to check things out, and they'll adjust accordingly. Trust the professional.
And above all, have fun! Humans have been dancing since the day we could walk. There's no reason you can't laugh, make up a few steps, and have an amazing time with the person you love. Remember, it's only dancing. So enjoy it!