Dancing and weddings go together like gin and tonic. The atmosphere of romance, the free-flowing alcohol, and the inevitable moment that Dexys Midnight Runners first burst forth from the speakers combine to create the ideal backdrop for a bop.
I know of more than one married couple who first met on a wedding dance floor. I even attended a wedding at which a proposal took place after some enthusiastic jiving to Chubby Checker. The bride fortunately had no gripes about her newly-engaged friends stealing her thunder somewhat.
The Groom-to-be and I both enjoy a side-shuffle and an awkward twirl, but neither of us is the kind of person who would initiate a dance-off to Hammer Time at the end of the night. And that’s partly why – shock horror – we’re not having a first dance.
As for the ‘second’ dance between father and daughter that is apparently traditional in the US and elsewhere – and becoming increasingly popular in the UK too – it’s usually only The Proclaimers that can persuade my dad onto a dance floor. Unsurprisingly, we’re both quite happy to forgo a coordinated hop to 500 Miles.
Despite our aversion to a performance sway, the GtB and I do love music, and we knew we wanted a live band as opposed to a DJ. Our venue is slightly too petite for a noisy rock outfit, so instead we’ve chosen the Swing Ninjas, a trio who often play at a cocktail bar we love. We’ve asked them to start the moment the meal is over, so that we can avoid any expectant congregating around the dance floor.
In between their standard two 45-minute sets, they’ve offered to play our own music for us from an iPod, so we’ve populated a communal playlist in Google Sheets. There has been a fair bit of veto-ing as well – I’ve outlawed Nirvana and Jane’s Addiction, while my choice of the Waterboys has been overruled (in retrospect, possibly a good thing).
Whatever our own music tastes, of course, we also have to consider the songs that will get our guests dancing. With ages ranging from eight months to 85 years, we’re starting with the ’50s and progressing through to the present day, via the Beatles, Beach Boys, Blondie and Bronski Beat. If we’d been a little more organised, we might have solicited requests when we sent out invitations – as a guest, I know that it’s fun to experience that feeling of recognition when ‘your’ song comes on.
In keeping with our keeping-it-simple approach, we haven’t considered any other entertainment, but there are a few options for couples planning more ambitious affairs:
Singing waiters: these can bring a hilarious element of surprise to the start of the meal.
Magicians: a fun diversion during the reception drinks or wedding breakfast – as long as they don’t interrupt guests’ conversations.
Fireworks: make an incredible finale.
Days remaining: 21
Spend: £1300 for the band +£150 for a PA system (some venues have them already – it may be worth checking when you book).
Total spend: £9111/£10,000 budget
Are you having a first dance? Which song are you choosing? And will you be opting for a band, DJ or alternative form of entertainment?