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When Should Your First Dance Take Place?

You actually have a few different options.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Bryan from For the Love of It

Once you've selected your wedding date and venue, booked your vendors, and mailed the invitations, it's time to start thinking about the timeline for the ceremony and reception. You probably have a rough idea when a  number of things will happen—the ceremony starts at 5 p.m., cocktail hour at 5:30, and the reception at 6:30—but what about the smaller moments that make up the celebration? Your first dance as husband and wife is one of the sweetest moments of the night, so timing it right is critical. Luckily, you have a few options. Here, we explain all of the times you can hit the dance floor.

 

Related: First Dance Songs from Real Weddings

 

Upon Entering the Reception

Your first dance can literally be the first thing you do once you've entered the reception. Many couples choose an upbeat tune for their entrance, then have their band or DJ switch over to their first dance song. From there, you can take to the floor with the knowledge that you have everyone's attention—guests won't be busy with your photo booth or ordering a signature cocktail yet. Plus, your hair and makeup will still look fresh, which makes for even better photos.

 

Following Dinner

Depending on your ceremony's start time and what's on the menu, it might make more sense to start serving dinner before your first dance takes place. If you're planning on serving multiple courses, meal service could go well into the evening, so carving out more time at the beginning for dances may not be in your best interest. Remember: Hungry guests are not happy ones. Even if you're having a shorter meal, you may feel that it makes more sense to have your first dance after dinner. You'll have time to adjust your makeup, change into a second dress if you're having one, and relax a little before you become the center of attention once more.

 

After the Cake Has Been Cut

Many couples don't want to stop the party in order to cut their wedding cake, so by sharing your first dance immediately after the cake is cut, you're effectively ensuring that your guests know it's time to start celebrating. This works best if you cut the cake immediately after dinner, though, so make sure to time each portion of the evening correctly.