Tips, tricks, and two-steps: Here, two musicians explain what you need to know.

By Lauren Wellbank
March 06, 2020

A choreographed first dance packs a lot of wow into your opening number as a married couple, but there are a few important things to take into consideration if you're going to have a live band playing your song. We talked to two musicians about what you need to know if you're using live music instead of a recorded track for your first dance.

Related: Tips for Choosing the Perfect First Dance Song

It Won't Be Exactly the Same as What You Practiced

If you've fallen in love with a song for your first dance, and you've listened to it dozens of times, you may expect to hear that exact version on your wedding day. However, Matt Winter, the lead singer and guitarist of the Matt Winter Band, says that you shouldn't expect the band's version to match up completely to the recorded version. "A live performance is going to be much more organic and will never be exactly like the original track," he explains. "However, a great band should be able to get close."

While the timing of the original track should be similar, couples should expect it to be slightly off. Winter says to ask your band for a recorded version of them playing the song live. This will give you a feel for how they tackle the track, including subtle nuances in timing.

Focus on the Words, Not the Beats

Josh Walther, lead singer and founder of the Josh Walther and the Phase 5 Band, says that one good way to make sure that your moves match up to the music is to practice it at different speeds. "It's almost impossible to match the tempo perfectly," he says, explaining that live versions will always sound a little different than the recorded version. If you know that going in, it may help to keep a surprise change in tempo from throwing you off. "I always recommend a couple to learn a song based off of lyrics instead of counts, because no matter what happens, the singer will sing the correct lyrics." Also, make sure you talk to your band ahead of time about whether you want them to start playing your song as you walk into the reception or to wait until you are in position on the dance floor. That decision can have a major impact on your choreography.

Remember That Mistakes Happen

Whenever you're dealing with any live performances (that includes both on your part and the band) there's always a chance that something with go awry. Winter explains that guests aren't there to see a show, they are there to celebrate your love. They'll forgive any flubs, and you can cover almost any mistake with a well-executed dip and a kiss.

Your reception is about celebrating your love, not busting a move. Try and enjoy the entire experience and not worry too much about your performance. It will make for a more enjoyable and beautiful dance routine.

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