The First Dance: Do We? Don’t We?

The First Dance for many (grooms especially) appears to be next in line as the most nerve wracking thing after speeches. But Why?

Have you been putting off discussing this part of the day? hoping it’ll go away? Is you’re other half refusing out right to do it? Or are you struggling as a couple to think of something to dance to?

If so, Listen up! Today we’re pleased to have Nathan, The Lead vocalist from The Duplicates back on the blog again!  This time, he’s sharing his experiences and offering his advice on that all important First Dance. 

duplicates 3

As the lead vocalist in a busy wedding band I get to not only witness, but sing or hit the ‘Play’ button on more than my fair share of first dances. Some good, some bad. Some unique and some predictable. Some that are memorable, and not always for the right reasons. Here, I’ll run you through some of the things I’ve learnt first hand about the first dance and share a few tips to ensure you get yours right.

As with most things, the first dance is subject to trends. With every year that passes there will be that one song that keeps cropping up more than others and trends have also influenced the type of dance couples go for. A few years ago the choreographed routine reigned supreme. Couples took lessons to deliver a showboat production that often seemed more about ‘going viral’ than an expression of love. Then came the rise of the ‘remix’ dance, where the couple begin by shuffling along to something slow before a louder, funkier tune takes over, the Groom whips a comedy wig and glasses from the Bride’s cleavage, everybody gyrates furiously and the whole thing crescendoes with the Maid of Honour attempting a backflip and duly makes her way toward ‘Epic Wedding Fail’ compilation video stardom.

There was then a period where I found that opting not to have a first dance at all became increasingly common, whereas currently, ‘Get my friends and family to join in’ is King. For now, at least, dancing with your partner while your loved ones take to the floor along side you is the most popular option for my couples. The important thing to remember is that you have a number of options, which includes not having a first dance. Don’t feel pressured to do it because of tradition. It’s your day and you can do what you like! Particularly if one or even both of you feel that strongly opposed to the idea of it. No matter what you go for, just be sure your expectations are realistic and you’re both comfortable with it.

Pembrokeshire Farm Wedding Maria Farrelly_105Image by: Maria Farrelly Photography

Choosing A Song

Choosing a song is a different experience for every couple. For some, it’s a simple “that’s our song” and hey presto, they’re done. For others, it can be a minefield: you met on the dancefloor of your local nightclub to the strains of Sir MixAlot’s ‘Baby Got Back’ and that isn’t going to cut it.

Your other half loves Metallica while you’re an Ed Sheeran sort of girl, and you can’t bear the idea of everyone you know finding out that the only dance move you can perform with any proficiency is ‘The Worm’ (and the last time you did that you were 19, in Butlins, had drunk a bottle of Tequila and dislocated your shoulder).

If you and your partner’s musical tastes contrast and you simply cannot come to an agreement then you should use what I like to call “The Last.FM approach”. Last.FM is a musical streaming service that suggests songs based on an analysis of the musical properties of the music that you tell them you like. For example, imagine I love Elvis but the ol’ ball and chain is a Soul Music nut – may suggest “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You“. One of Elvis’ biggest hits as recorded by soul icons, The Stylistics.

Once you’ve settled on a song there’s a few things you need to consider.

Do you want the band to play it or stick with the original recorded version?

Having your song performed live is always a nice touch but bear in mind the kind of band you’re having. Asking a Swing band to play a Nirvana song or getting your floppy-fringed Indie band to play ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ is likely to end in disappointment. Having the original version played by the DJ is a safe bet if your band are unable or unlikely to do your chosen song justice.

How long is the song?

You don’t really want to be up there for any longer than is absolutely necessary. A rule of thumb to consider is the length of time it’ll take for your photographer to get those all-important snaps of you both looking fabulous. Commercial radio stations generally refuse to play any song that’s longer than 3 minutes. Why? Because research shows that Joe Public lacks the attention span to focus on one thing for too long and will go looking for another station if the song playing is any longer. If your chosen song is an epic, sprawling ballad that runs on and on….and on, then you may find that even your videographer has gone to the bar by the time it’s over. If your heart’s set on a particularly long song then ask your band or DJ to cut it down and give you what’s known as ‘the highlights package’.

Can you dance to it?

It sounds a bit daft but there’s some songs that even Michael Jackson would struggle to move to….and I mean when he was alive of course. Some songs are either very, very slow or have an unusual time signature that makes dancing with any kind of coordination difficult. Try it out at home, and if you look like a robot when you’re not even trying to do ‘the robot’, then maybe it’s time to pick another song unless you look as good as this:

Are you fully prepared?

A dance is a dance, but things change when it’s one as monumental as the first dance in front of your family and friends. Practising to the music beforehand will give you an opportunity to refine your technique, build up a tolerance to having your toes stood on and think about how you will move to certain parts of the song. If you are learning a specific routine to perform, the more you can practice, the better.

Ask yourself in the lead-up to the big day if everyone who needs to know what you want to happen in the build-up to and during your first dance does – Band/DJ, photographer, videographer, Best Man, Maid of Honour, other half, and God forbid don’t overlook informing the parents. They hate being left out! If you wait to mention specifics until your wedding day, you may not have the time or you could forget with all the excitement. Once the first few bars of the song come in and the cameras start flashing there’s no going back!

And Finally!…

…Don’t forget to smile and enjoy the moment.

bergerac_wedding_france361Image by: Maria Farrelly Photography

Your wedding day is bound to be a whirlwind so remember, your first dance may be the only time during the whole day that you and your partner get a chance to enjoy a few minutes together without distraction!

So many people (nearly always the Groom) are concentrating so hard on trying to remember the choreography, or just trying to look like they know what they’re doing, that they completely forget about smiling. The least you can do while you’re up there is pretend that you’re enjoying yourself. Happiest day of your life, remember! Let’s not forget that there’s at least 100 cameras pointing at you at this point and the picture of you with a look on your face like you’re still digesting the main course is not going to look great above the fireplace. Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. No matter what anyone else thinks, you will have the best first dance because it’s yours to remember.

On that note, I’ll leave you with a few quotes I received from Musician friends and others of their most memorable first dance experiences.

“We played the wrong song for one couple. Right band, wrong song. It should have been ‘Chasing Cars’ but instead we did ‘All That I Have’. Their faces were a picture!”

“Recently we had a Bride and Groom have their first dance with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.”

“If it’s doing it via a CD then turn your anti-virus software off so in the middle of the song your laptop doesn’t scream “A virus has been detected!” Yes, this happened to us recently.”

“For my wedding song I had the artist sing ‘I Never Really Loved You Anyway’ by The Coors. I really liked the song and didn’t think of the significance at the time. Thinking about it, I feel quite bad now.”


Thanks Nathan! its great having you on the blog. We hope all our lovely readers enjoyed reading it as much as we did! 

For those wondering what the most popular wedding songs are this year, Spotify analzyized over 30,000 wedding playlists and came up with this top 10:


We’d love to know what your first dance song is/was, Do let us know in the comments box!

Hiring a Band: Part one by Brother Ray Music

Hello all, Maria here :) After quite a lengthy debate on our Facebook page recently where I asked, Which type of supplier do/did you find most difficult sourcing? Finding a great live band to hire for your wedding was top of the list. Some of you it seems, are not even sure where to start looking.  So… I thought I’d try and help!

Please note, I’m not a musician, although occasionally (after copious amounts of wine) I do convince myself I have a voice like Beyonce. Fear not though, you’ll be relieved to hear, I do know some excellent professional musicians that can help :)

This week I’ve arranged a two part special dedicated to finding the right band for you and where to start looking. I have chosen two of Wales’ leading wedding bands to offer their advice.

Today, we have the beautiful Julia Coles who is the lead singer from Brother Ray music. They performed at our Cwtchmas Party back in December and were fabulous!  Coming up on Thursday, we then have Nathan from The Duplicates offering his advice too. I’ve worked alongside both these bands at recent weddings I’ve photographed. Both are brilliant! They are leading professionals in the welsh wedding industry and highly sought after. Only the best for our readers :)  

Let’s hand you over to Julia for part one…

cwtch3Hi Cwtch readers, I’m Julia and I’m the lead singer and organiser of Brother Ray, a Funk, Soul, Disco and Pop Covers band based in Cardiff. We’ve performed together for over 6 years and LOVE every second of what we do!

Cwtchmas Party 185153Image by Tim Bishop Photography

Having now performed at hundreds of weddings, as a band, we have a great insight into what makes a great party! Every wedding is different and every couple have different needs and tastes so there are a number of things to consider when looking for the right entertainment for you!
The best thing about a wedding is that there is usually a big age range of guests to entertain. This however is something to consider when looking for entertainment, especially if you’re thinking of having a band or a DJ, as certain bands specialise in particular era’s or genres. It’s lovely to see Nan dancing with the bride to a hit they both know!
There is quite a large selection of bands in the South Wales area, all offering different things from Rock covers, to Soul classics. Live entertainment often doesn’t come cheap but from our experience offers such a special addition to the evening. As bands we all know each other and have worked with one another in different guises and events over the years, so if a band you like are unavailable we will be sure to suggest some other great bands that suit your requirements!
Many bands also perform live at public gigs so it’s worth getting in touch with a few of them and popping out to see them perform live before booking if it’s possible. This is also a great way to meet the band members first and It’s also lovely to meet our couples beforehand so that we have a taste of your personalities and preferences before the big day!
Daytime entertainment can also be a beautiful addition to your drinks reception, be it a harpist, vocalist or violin player. Some bands offer this laid back setup as part of a package to keep your guests entertained all day long!
julia coles
The main piece of advice I’d like to share or suggest is ‘What kind of party/atmosphere do you want for the evening at your wedding?’ Not all couples want everyone up all night dancing and would rather a chilled back atmosphere with some light background music. Each couple is different! (Although all of the Brother Ray Bride and Grooms are on the dancefloor all night!)
I thought it might be useful to share a top tip checklist for you to use when looking for your entertainment!


  • Check the bands setlist – Something for everyone? Do you like the songs?
  • Will the band perform your first dance?
  • Where are the band based and will they travel to you?
  • Do they offer lighting?
  • Do you want a DJ or an ipod playlist?
  • Can they recommend a DJ they work with?
  • How long will the band perform for?
  • Do they have insurance?
  • How much do they charge?
My final piece of advice would be BOOK EARLY! Many couples leave entertainment as the last thing they book. We hate turning away couples who are really excited to book us. So many bands are made up of full time musicians so their diaries fill up quickly.
Get searching early and have fun looking. Also, feel free to get in touch!
Julia, Brother Ray xx