Our first dance as Mr & Mrs
The first dance at weddings are truly a special moment for every couple. However, what do you do when you are professional ballroom dancers, met through dancing and dance together practically every day. How do you make the first dance special, unique and memorable?
This was our conundrum as we prepared our wedding. Plus the fact, that we had different cultural traditions to take care of, with Ben being British and myself Danish. As the wedding planning progressed, it was surprisingly easy for us to agree on which Danish and British traditions we wanted to incorporate into our big day. We happily took the best of both sets of traditions making our wedding day truly our own and very special to us. However, when it came to the matter of our first dance, we had a hard time agreeing on anything.
In Denmark, it is tradition for the bride and groom to dance their first dance to a specific piece of music (The Bridal Waltz or `Brudevalsen` as it is authentically called) whilst dancing a specific and very simple choreography. All the guests are gathered around the couple in a circle, which slowly gets smaller as the dance progresses. The dance has to be performed before midnight.
Of course, I wanted this to be our first dance together. Ben wasn’t keen. He finds it boring and would much rather do a more traditional British first dance with a song of our choice.
How do you combine that?
Thankfully, we both agreed that we didn’t want to do proper ballroom dancing as the first dance. Firstly, there simply wasn’t enough floor space at our venue for a full out ballroom routine. But more importantly, we didn’t want this to feel like yet another show at an event. This was going be our first dance and not a work show. We naturally wanted to be in our wedding outfits which wasn’t exactly the normal clothing when we dance full out.
Now you are probably thinking that one of us gave in to the other, learning the cliché that marriage is a whole row of comprises.
But neither of us gave in.
Instead, we did a huge remix of some of your favourite songs, with some subtle hints about our relationship in a jovial way. And the very last track was the Danish Bridal Waltz. Now, there is the compromise.
We kept it secret from our families and guests as we wanted to surprise them with this Danish-British first dance hybrid. Only the DJ knew what would unfold.
Here is what happened on the night:
We started the dance of with an absolute classic, and very romantic song: Love by Nat King Cole. Teamed with our four bridesmaids, each with a letter of the L-O-V-E that the lyrics incorporates, we were off to a good start.
The slow, soft tune of Love was then transitioned into Bruno Mars’s song Treasure - which we both love and has a great energy. We had choreographed a cheeky but basic cha cha cha which already received a good response from the guests.
Then, the music changed once again and this time Candy Shop by 50 Cent was accompanied with Ben getting rid of his jacket and tie. To many people’s surprise, Ben quite likes 50 Cent and getting rid of the tie was a crucial and purposeful element to the choreography.
Once the jacket and tie was off, Alesha Dixon’s ‘The Boy Does Nothing’ tune came on - a subtle joke at the work distribution in our household. To this, we danced a lively jive which soon transitioned into another slow and loving foxtrot to ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ by Tony Bennett.
Finally, we finished off with the Danish traditional Bridal Waltz to a big ‘aww’ from all the Danish guests.
Our first dance was truly special to us, we loved the process of brainstorming various versions of the remix, getting the choreography together, and keeping our guests on their toes as they watched it unfold - not knowing what we would do next.
Let’s just get back to the Candy Shop moment and Ben taking off his jacket and tie.
In Denmark, the first dance is instantly followed by another tradition where the male guests lift up the groom, removing one of his shoes and cutting off the end of his sock and cutting off a big section of his tie. Knowing this tradition and Ben having seen it live at Danish weddings in the family, there was no doubt Ben would be getting the same treatment and ‘welcome’ into the family. Ben wore a lovely suit and tie which he wanted to save. Therefore, it was important the tie was off before the end of the dance!
This without a doubt falls into the category of weird traditions you do without knowing the background story and reason behind the tradition. It turns out, many years ago this was done as the males of the bride’s family wanted to check the groom’s hygienic habits before the wedding night. And what better way to do this than checking his toes.
The cutting of the tie was a visual demonstration that the groom was no longer available to other women and thereby off the market.
And yes, Ben most certainly did get lifted by the males guests - Danish as well as British – at the end of your first dance. They struggled for a moment to get his shoes off, he is after all a ballroom boy and has learnt to do a secure double bow on his shoelaces. The guests eventually succeeded and cut off the end of one sock exposing his (clean) toes. The tie was saved!