The first dance- something that is planned and coordinated to perfection by some couples, yet feared or loathed by others. Often, the music is carefully & painstakingly chosen. Whether it’s “their song”, just one they love, or something they’ve chosen for fun, the first dance is often one of the key moments of the day.
Planning key parts of your day with photos in mind can really help you to achieve the tear jerking, heart stopping, beautiful photos that many couples lust after. So we’ve put together a little guide which will help you achieve the best results for you.
Firstly, choosing your song.
Now, whilst we can’t advise on what you should choose (which is the hard bit really isn’t it!?) what we do always suggest is letting your photographer know what you have planned if it’s anything out of the ordinary. If you’re planning to suddenly break into Gangnam Style at some point for example, it always good for your photographer to know what’s coming. It may influence where we set our lighting up, or where we shoot from. Don’t worry if it’s a surprise for guests, we wont say anything!
Next is making sure your DJ is briefed on what you want.
Each do their own thing and have their own way of working. It is SO important to talk to them about what you want regarding other guests joining you on the dance floor during your special dance(s). Some will allow the full song to play out whilst you dance, but others will literally give you 10 seconds together before announcing that everyone else should join you. Now, if you want those lovely romantic, close first dance shots that you see all over our blog and website, you really need to tell them NOT to do this. It totally ruins the moment! Even the best photographers in the world will struggle to get those gorgeous snaps if 20 other couples have invaded the dance floor out of nowhere.
As someone who hates the thought of doing a first dance myself, I know it’s tempting to get everyone else up there asap to take all eyes off of you, but it’s just one of those things. If you want the photos, there has to be a bit of give and take and a bit of gritting your teeth and bearing it. 2 Minutes of your day for a lifetime of memories is surely worth the investment?
Having said that you don’t have to have a first dance at all if you don’t want one. Check out these fun, alternative ideas for couples who just aren’t into bustin’ a move: Alternative First Dance Ideas.
Next is another DJ related point. Lighting.
There is nothing that’s more of a romance killer than the bride & groom being covered by hundreds of colours circles, or brides having jazzy coloured shapes projected onto their dress. When you look back at your first dance photos, do you want a big green circles covering your face, or a series of red dots all over you making it look like you have chicken pox? Probably not.
If this is something you want to avoid, it’s worth chatting to your DJ about the kind of lighting they use and what their procedure is for the first dance. After the first dance is fair game, they can go crazy- whack the lights on and get the party atmosphere going, but for just 1 song, if you want great results, party lighting will need to be off. (Uplighters are a fantastic way of creating atmosphere without the funny coloured face issues).
Of course, it is absolutely your call- some couples love the disco lights look but whatever you decide you will need to reach a clear agreement with them about this before the wedding, because if it comes to that time of the evening and all of a sudden the coloured lights come on, there isn’t much we can do. Many of the higher end DJ’s we’ve worked with over the years don’t even use these kind of lights at all for a wedding and of those who do, most are very accommodating and understanding. Ultimately, if you (the couple) ask, you will get. If we ask, we’ll probably be ignored and branded photographerzillas!
Other special dances
If you are having any other special dances, please make sure your photographers knows about these. Many contracts state that vendors will stay until the first dance is complete. Some take this very seriously and will be up and away the moment it’s over. So, if you’re planning a lovely dance with mum or dad, make sure they know so that they don’t miss it! Some of the loveliest, most touching photos we capture are those that show the bond between a parent and their child- the pride in their eyes gets me every time.
Take home points:
- If you have anything out of the ordinary planned for your first dance, make sure your photographer knows about it so they can plan accordingly.
- If you want romantic first dance images, free from funky party lighting make sure you ask your DJ before the wedding for these to be off JUST FOR THE FIRST DANCE.
- Discuss when you want guests to join you on the dance floor (if at all) during u first dance. Relay this to your DJ and to your photographer if it will fairly soon.
- Inform your photographer of any other special dances you have planned.