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What To Do Instead Of First Dance [First Dance Alternatives]

There are a number of wedding day traditions that people often expect couples to adhere to. One of which is the first dance. But what if you do not feel confident dancing with your partner in front of your guests? You may be wondering if there are alternatives. 

So, what can you do instead of a first dance? The main alternatives to a first dance are a group dance (inviting members of your family or bridal party to share the dance with you), playing a game like Mr and Mrs, a sparkler party with your guests, or a couples first song – it could be that karaoke is more your thing! 

The first dance is a wedding day tradition, not a formality; couples are under no obligation to have a first dance; it is down to the personal choice of the couple. 

When planning our own wedding, my partner and I thought long and hard about our first dance.

Neither of us are particularly skilled on the dance floor, so we decided to consider other options that would suit us a little better. 

Our research was enlightening, and we found some great alternatives to mark the moment instead of a first dance. 

Many of which we loved so much that we have incorporated them into our own wedding day!

Any wedding planner or coordinator will tell you: your wedding day should be a reflection of you as a couple. 

Your wedding day is about the unity and love shared between you in your partnership, so you shouldn’t feel bad about not including traditions that make you feel uncomfortable or that aren’t important to you, like the first dance, perhaps. 

That being said, it is usually the cutting of the cake or the first dance that kicks off the evening celebrations on your wedding day, so you may wish to plan for an alternative, 

Do I Have To Do A First Dance At Wedding?

Couples do not have to do a first dance at their wedding. The first dance is a traditional part of a wedding day but not a legal obligation or formality. Some couples may choose to bypass the first dance moment altogether, whilst other couples may choose an alternative to mark the moment. 

Whilst some, more traditional guests, may anticipate or even expect there to be a first dance at your wedding, there is really no reason for you to do one if you don’t want to. 

The tradition of a first dance is ancient in origin. 

Historical sources attribute the first dance to a time when brides would be married off by their fathers, and so the bride would be required to dance with her betrothed as a great honor. 

This is corroborated further by the tradition of the most esteemed guest being invited to take the first dance at more formal occasions: at a wedding, this is the bride and groom. 

In the more modern sense, it is usually the bride and groom undertaking the first dance that invites other guests onto the dance floor and thus begins the party! 

However, there are many alternatives to this, and it could well be that you do not intend to have a dancefloor at your wedding.

In this situation, a first dance may seem a little out of place, and that could be the reason you do not want to have one. 

For others, it could be that there will be a dancefloor and dancing at your wedding, but you just simply do not want to do a first dance. 

Is It Weird Not To Do A First Dance?

A first dance may be expected as part of your wedding day by some guests, but it is highly unlikely that anyone would find it weird if you did not have one. Deciding what to include on your wedding can be a challenge for some couples, and considering the perceived opinions of others can make this challenge impossible. Instead, it is always recommended that the engaged couple, when planning their wedding, choose to include events that are meaningful to them, and if the first dance does not fall into this category, don’t include it in your wedding day. 

If you don’t have a first dance, the worst thing that will happen is that somebody questions as to why. 

This will most likely be out of curiosity, rather than anything else, as it is generally accepted that a first dance is a traditional part of a wedding day. 

And really, responding to a question such as this will simply require ‘because we didn’t want to’ as the answer. 

Your wedding day is a rare occasion in your life where the whole day is centered around you and your partner. 

Make decisions based around your preferences as a couple and try not to worry about what others will think; after all, it’s not their wedding. 

What Can I Do Instead Of The First Dance

The first dance often begins the wedding reception or the evening celebrations. The first dance is often seen as a transition between the wedding day formalities and the party in the evening. If you are choosing not to have a first dance, you may wish to mark this moment with an alternative to a first dance, such as a group dance or first song. 

When we researched this for our own wedding, we were surprised to find that there are so many different options for what couples can do that is not necessarily a first dance.

Here are some of our favorites. 

Group Dance

Instead of a first dance, have a group dance. 

Invite your family, bridal party, or even all of your guests onto the dance floor with you to share a group dance to start the party.

You can choose a song that is meaningful to you as a couple and share the moment with your loved ones.

This option would be great for a couple who are feeling a little shy about all eyes on them during the first dance. 

Share A First Song

Instead of a first dance, share a first song. 

Perhaps singing is more your thing than dancing.

Gather your guests and wow them with a couple’s rendition of your chosen song, karaoke-style!

Your guest will absolutely love to be a part of your moment and what a great way to start the party!  

Play A Game

Instead of a first dance, play a game. 

Involve your guests by playing a game to start the party rather than having a first dance.

Traditional wedding games such as Mr and Mrs work well here, and your guests would no doubt love to be part of the action! 

The Mr and Mrs game is great fun and a personal favorite.

If you haven’t heard about it already, essentially the bride and groom sit back to back, both holding a shoe of their partner (so left hand, one of the bride’s shoe, the right hand one of the groom’s shoes).

The toastmaster or another nominated speaker then asks questions to the couple.

Both the bride and groom have to answer the question by holding up an arm with the shoe of the person they think it is most likely to be (unbeknown to the other).

So, for instance:

“Who is likely to scream when they see a spider”

Both the bride and groom raise the grooms shoe!

….And the whole audience laughs.

Then onto the next question!

Sparkler Party

Instead of a first dance, have a sparkler party! 

This option makes for amazing photographs!

Instead of a first dance, gather your guests outside, light up some sparklers, and away you go!

Be sure to check with your venue before committing to this idea, though, and ensure that you have undertaken the necessary safety precautions to avoid incidents with this idea. 

Need sparklers -> Best Sparklers For Wedding [These Are The Ones To Buy]


As you can see, there are many other great options as an alternative to a first dance at your wedding.

There is no obligation for couples to have a first dance or even to replace the first dance with an alternative. 

Ultimately, a wedding signifies the love shared between you and your partner; your wedding day should be an occasion for you both to enjoy – not to feel stressed and worried about certain elements of it. 

First dance or not, you and your guests will just be delighted to share in a part of your celebration.

And hopefully, you will be able to cherish the memories you have made on your wedding day, regardless of how you have chosen to celebrate. 

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