Contrary to popular belief, not everyone has a Grand Entrance. Sometimes, it’s a small house wedding and a Grand Entrance would feel out-of-place. Some brides and grooms want to be a part of the cocktail hour with their guests and the element of surprise with the entrance is not needed. There are yet other couples who just don’t want the spotlight on them hardly at all so they’d rather bypass the Grand Entrance.
That said, almost every couple has a First Dance. After the First Dance, the next 2 popular formality dances would be the Father/Daughter dance and the Mother/Son dance. Trying to figure out the right song to use for these can be tricky, especially if music isn’t your thing or dancing isn’t your forte. Here’s a few things to keep in mind with the formality dances:
WHY DO THE DANCES AT ALL?
The formalities are more about the pictures that are taken during them than they are about the sentiments of the dance itself. If you’re not looking for these dance photo opportunities, it’s completely OK and not against etiquette to do only one or none of these dances. Don’t feel pressured to do them. It is all about you and your significant other. In this day and age, everything is customized. No longer do couples have to feel the added pressure of doing all the formalities of past generations.
CONSIDER THE LENGTH OF THE TRACK …
More often than not, ballads can be unusually long. An average song length for most tracks is around 3 minutes. Ballads, however, can range anywhere from 4-6 minutes. That can seem like an eternity if you’re not a natural-born dancer. You may be thinking, “If we cut it short, does it hurt the photography?” Not at all. Professional photographers are snapping a to of shots in milliseconds. After 2 minutes, they more than likely have enough shots of the dance from every angle possible. So, unless the song has extreme meaning to both of you or you have choreography for the dance, consider picking a shorter song or have the DJ fade out the track after 2-3 minutes. Not to mention, the quicker the formalities conclude, the quicker you can get to the open dancing and get your guests involved and the party can really go up another notch!
MAKE SURE THE SONG HAS A BEAT …
This is so often overlooked. If dancing isn’t your strong suit, using a song that has a beat can be extremely helpful. This doesn’t mean the song has to have a rock type sound with huge drums. It just needs something where you can feel the pulse of the tempo.
ADD A LIVE ELEMENT …
This can give a creative twist to any of your formality dances. If you have a live musician for your cocktail hour, consider keeping him/her there to do the First Dance as soon as the grand entrance is over. It’s an extra 5 or so minutes after the cocktail hour but can give the song a more intimate or custom feel. Another option is to have a vocalist sing to a karaoke track. It used to be tough to find karaoke tracks. Now with all music going digital, you can find the karaoke or instrumental for virtually any song.
Traditionally, this dance was supposed to be a song that had deep meaning between the bride and groom. While that still can be the case, these days it’s happening less and less. If the song doesn’t instantly come to the both of you, here’s some thoughts.
FIND A SONG THAT IS TIMELESS …
One of the things my wife and I kept in mind while looking for our own First Dance song was that we wanted the song to still be relevant 50 years from now when we request it at a future wedding we attend or better yet, when we’re dancing at out our own 50th wedding anniversary surprise party! This does NOT mean you have to dance to the original version of a track necessarily (although there are some great ones). So many songs have great arrangements or covers done by current artists. With YouTube, you might even find an amazing version of your song by an amateur that you want to use. Check out some of these examples:
- At Last by Eva Cassidy (Etta James Cover)
- Make You Feel My Love by Adele (Bob Dylan Cover)
- Just Like Heaven by Goh Nakamura (The Cure Cover)
THE MASHUP …
This is the latest trend in First Dances. This creates a memorable and creative way to handle a traditionally slow type of dance, not to mention that it brings energy and typically humor to the event immediately. If you’re not familiar with a “mashup”, this is where you take at least 2 tracks and mash them together into 1 song. You don’t have to necessarily create the custom track yourself. At B-Boy, we can create a custom edit for you (at no charge). Also, this is a great way to help make a “non dancer” look great because you can choreograph it! This is also something to be sure to get on video! Here’s some of the best we’ve seen.
Armanda & Joe:
Chad and Shawna (personal friends of ours):
THE SIGNATURE FIRST DANCE …
This is a custom and personal touch that we at B-Boy started in the Panhandle of Florida and have adopted in our other markets. This is where we meet with the bride and groom in person (preferably) or over the phone or virtually through the internet before the event and record them separately telling the story of how they first met or how they got engaged. We then take the “best of” from the interviews and splice it in various parts of the first dance as if they’re telling the story together. We surprise not only their guests but also the bride/groom with this gift. We give the bride/groom a keepsake of the custom song on a CD with the raw interviews. Crowds are either tearing up, laughing hysterically or both. Here’s a few of the ones we’ve done.
Graeme & Christen:
Paul & Kristin:
A lot of the same concepts from above apply here as well. Dances with parents can be awkward if you’re not a dancing family. Those are the couples that tend to need our help finding a song. In those instances, I encourage them to find something upbeat and fun. The dance steps don’t have to be perfect in faster songs. The other problem that couples run into is there aren’t many songs these days ritten about a father/daughter relationship. Not to worry…pick a song about the woman. There are a ton of tracks about that. A couple popular ideas from the past year are:
By far, this is the toughest dance to find a song for no matter if you are a dancer or not. If you thought songs written about a father/daughter relationship are scarce, try finding one about a mother/son (and harder yet is finding one that isn’t cheesy). Good luck. Most men don’t dance with their moms often anyway, making the song selection choice that much tougher. A generic song about “gratitude” is always a safe route. Another idea is to defer to your mom in the selection of the song. Typically, her role in the wedding is minimal so this will give her a feeling of importance and purpose. Regardless, keep it upbeat and pick a short song. A few of the more popular selections we’ve used in the last year are:
- How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You by James Taylor
- Forever Young by Rod Stewart
- LOVE by Nat King Cole
Hope these tips are helpful. Again, if you’re a client of ours, e-mail us and we’ll send you a more comprehensive list of song ideas. Good luck in your selections! Our next and last installment of the formality series will deal with the other misc. formalities that need custom songs selected.