The traditional and indeed, still the most popular time to do the First Dance is after the cake cutting, making it the last ‘formality’ of the day and the start of partying on. The main ‘formalities’ are generally, arrival at reception, welcome, meal, speeches, cake cutting, First Dance.
This may then be followed by the bridal party dance, groom and mother and bride and father dancer, then general dancing for guests.
Contemporary weddings can be a completely different format, such as cocktail weddings, or those at unusual locations such as beach, poolside, boats etc. Where your wedding is not the traditional format one just works out when the dance fits in or when you would prefer to do it.
Music and dancing is usually the key element of a part of a party or celebration atmosphere and the First Dance / Bridal Waltz is usually the first dance that kicks off that party or part of the celebration.
However, many couples nowadays choose to start the party mood earlier in the day to suit the theme of their wedding and it is no longer important when you do the dance.
For those who want the mood to start right from the start of the day, there is the option of even dancing down the aisle for your wedding ceremony. This is less common than the ‘wedding entrance dance’ as it is still more popular to keep the ceremony itself relatively formal even if relaxed.
The ‘wedding entrance dance’ can include the bridal party or can be exclusively for the bride and groom. It is performed where the bride and groom are last to arrive at the wedding reception and they dance into the reception room from the door to the dance floor. It certainly starts the reception off on a high note and sets the stage for a great party.
Where the couple has done a ‘dance down the aisle’ they will also usually do a First Dance at the reception. Where they have done a ‘wedding entrance dance’, it is more commonly also the First Dance as well, but some elect to also do another dance after the cake cutting.
In order to accommodate other activities of the reception, especially where there is after dinner entertainment, the First Dance is sometimes done between courses, however it is still most popular to perform it at the end of the meal after the cake cutting.
The location of the dance floor may also dictate the ideal time to perform the dance. If the dance floor is in another room or area where guests have to leave their tables to stand around the dance floor then it makes more sense to have the dance as the first dance of the evening so guests can join the general dancing after the ‘official’ dance or dances have taken place. Once you’ve moved all your guests from their tables it’s quite hard to get them all seated and settled again to continue with other formalities.
Where the dance floor is in the same room, the centre of or to one side of the tables and guests will remain seated for the first dance it can virtually be scheduled at any time of the reception to suit your running order.
Whenever you do your Bridal Dance don’t forget to brief your MC of the details, how you want to be introduced, when the music should be started and what to do when the dance or the song finishes.