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When Is The First Dance At A Wedding? [What Time Exactly?]

When it comes to a wedding day timeline, one of the first questions that often springs to mind is when the first dance takes place. Does it occur shortly after the ceremony or much later in the evening? Are evening guests in attendance? But what about the cake?! Well, here is all you are going to want to know.

So, when is the first dance at a wedding? The first dance typically takes place after the wedding breakfast has finished. However, there is no specific timeframe, and some couples have been known to have their first dance as part of their grand entrance to their reception. An increasing trend is for the first dance to be held later in the evening, around the 7:30 pm mark. This allows evening guests to see and be involved. 

As a general rule, the first dance will take place after the wedding meal (or wedding breakfast) has finished. 

Usually, the bride and groom are the first people to take to the dance floor, and it is traditionally the first dance between them that begins the dancing for the evening. 

Having attended a fair few weddings over the past few years, it is safe to say that the first dance usually happens around seven-thirty or eight o’clock in the evening. 

This allows guests time to relax and mingle following the wedding meal before the party gets going!

If you are inviting additional guests to your evening reception, like we are, it is a great idea to consider having your first dance after these guests have arrived. 

Not only will your first dance create a fun atmosphere to kick start the party, but it will allow for evening guests to feel a part of your special day with you. 

On the other hand, couples who are nervous or who may not be looking forward to the traditional first dance in front of their guests may choose to have this tradition earlier or skip it altogether. 

Your wedding day should reflect you and your partner, any traditional elements that you are not comfortable with, like the first dance, for example, do not need to happen if they are going to cause undue stress or worry. 

My partner would describe both he and I as having ‘two left feet’; there is no doubt about it!

And whilst neither of us are particularly talented dancers, our first dance as husband and wife is something that we are really looking forward to. 

We are planning on asking evening guests to join us from seven pm onwards and having our cake cutting, immediately followed by our first dance at around seven-thirty pm. 

There are a couple of reasons that we are opting for this timeframe. 

Firstly, we want to create a relaxed yet fun atmosphere for our guests and give people the option to dance if they want to and continue to mingle and relax if not. 

By holding our first dance once our evening guests have started to arrive, we are hoping that the dancefloor will be filled from the get-go!

Secondly, as I mentioned before, neither my partner nor I are the best dancers, we are looking forward to our first dance, don’t get me wrong, but I think both of us will be relieved when it is over!

Your wedding day is a celebration of the love between you and your partner; you should have your first dance when you want to! 

That being said, there are some things that I would encourage you to consider before planning your first dance into your wedding timeline. 

When Should The First Dance Be At A Wedding?

The first dance at a wedding should be after the wedding meal has finished. The first dance will usually open up the dancefloor and allow for wedding celebrations to move from a formal, sit-down celebration to a more relaxed wedding reception vibe. The first dance is usually held anywhere between six pm to eight-thirty pm, depending on the timeline of the day and preferences of the bride and groom. 

Whilst the first dance is most commonly held at the start of the evening celebrations on a wedding day, there are a few things to consider when planning the timings of the first dance for your own celebration. 

For example, if you want to have your first dance when it is quite dark outside – perhaps you are going for romantic, candle-lit vibes, then consider when the sun sets, and plan for your first dance to happen then! 

In the summer months, you may need to have your first dance a little later if you are particularly concerned with the lighting. 

Another thing to consider is whether your photographer has agreed to stay up until a certain point during your celebration, and will they be around to photograph your first dance? 

We would always recommend having the conversation about your desired photos in advance of your big day with your photographer to ensure that your key moments are captured. 

That being said, it is really down to the personal preference of the bride and groom as to when the first dance takes place.

Whilst we would recommend not swaying too far from tradition to make the logistics of your wedding day as smooth as possible, you can have your first dance whenever you would like!

Is The First Dance Done Before Or After Dinner?

It is traditional for the first dance to be held after dinner on your wedding day. However, some couples may wish to have their first dance as a part of their grand entrance, so they may choose to hold it prior to guests sitting down for the meal. It is much more common for the first dance to be held in the evening, though, to begin the party!

A typical wedding day timeline will follow this pattern: 

  • First the ceremony; 
  • Followed by the drink’s reception and photographs; 
  • Then the sit-down meal or ‘Wedding Breakfast’; 
  • The arrival of the evening guests (if any); 
  • And then the cake cutting and first dance as a precursor to the party, drinks, and dancing that will likely follow!

Traditional wedding day formalities typically follow this pattern and timeline, so the first dance is usually held after the wedding meal. 

That being said, if you or your partner have a strong desire or preference to have your first dance before the wedding meal – go for it! 

Is The First Dance Before Cake Cutting?

Traditionally, the bride and groom will first cut their cake before heading onto the dancefloor for their first dance as a married couple. 

Whilst there are no specific rules about the order things should happen at a wedding, it is generally accepted that the bride and groom will cut their cake prior to the first dance. 

This will give the caterers time, whilst the first dance is happening, to cut and serve the cake to the wedding party. 

By having the cake cutting first, guests are likely to all be in one place and will be able to naturally flow from one happening to the next, rather than trying to gather guests from all over your venue on a number of different occasions. 

Trust me, whoever is announcing the cake cutting and first dance at your wedding will thank you for doing them in this order!

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