Brush Up On Your Moves

Rusty and Allie Brett wanted their first dance as husband and wife to be a pleasure, not a stress, so the two of them prepared with lessons at Studio B Dance Center.

Rusty admits he “wasn’t particularly excited” at the start; he went to make Allie happy. But soon he changed his tune.

“I highly recommend taking some dance lessons because is it offers something more than the classic turn-in-a-circle-for-four-minutes move most of used are used to,” he says. “It is the most important dance of your life; might as well have a good story about it.”

The Phenomenon

Interest in partner dancing has exploded with the popularity of such shows such as “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance?” says Studio B owner and dance instructor Ashley Mayer.

“There has been a huge influx in dance lessons for newly engaged couples,” she says. “Couples are searching us out and are willing to spend a lot of time to make sure they look great on their special day.”

And it’s not just bridal couples coming in for lessons prior to the wedding.

“We have parents of the bride or groom come in for private lessons almost as often as wedding couples,” Mayer says. “We also teach many private group lessons, including family members, wedding party and close friends. Weddings get many people thinking about brushing up their dance moves.”

Personalizing The Dance

Different couples have different ideas of how the first dance should go, and instructors can work with them to achieve their particular visions, Mayer says.

“Some want a sweet romantic intimate moment on the dance floor, while others want to spice things up with crazy choreography to get the party started for their guests,” she says. “The couple’s first dance really sets the atmosphere for the rest of the evening.”

The most popular dances taught to engaged couples at Studio B are the foxtrot and the rumba, “because most of the music couples bring in lends itself to those two styles,” Mayer says. But couples can choose other dances, including wedding tangos, swings, waltzes and more.

“It really just depends on the songs they choose,” Mayer says. “We try to customize the dance experience to exactly what the couple wants.”

For the Bretts, who chose “True Companions” by Marc Cohn, the goal wasn’t so much to wow their guests as to look — and even more importantly, feel — comfortable.

“[Our dance] wasn’t flashy or showy,” Allie says. “We wanted it to look natural. Everyone said it looked like we were having a great time.”

She adds that one of the greatest benefits of the lessons was that now she and her husband have a fun new skill.

“It wasn’t like it was something we learned for just one dance,” Allie says. “It was something we could take away and use the rest of the night and in the future … In fact, we enjoyed it so much, we just went back and started taking a class with a group of our friends.”

“Once in a while, we’ll play our song and have a dance together by ourselves in our living room,” Rusty adds. “Makes the song and that moment in time even more special.”

Dance Lessons Q&A


Couples have a lot of the same questions about dance lessons, including …

How far in advance of the wedding should we start lessons?

“We suggest two to three months prior for maximum confidence and retention, but we can work with couples as close to a few weeks before with crash courses focusing on basic partnering movements and technique,” says Ashley Mayer, Studio B owner and dance instructor. “We can customize a program to fit each individual couple’s needs.”

Do we need to have a song picked out?

Come in with some ideas; the instructors can help couples make a selection.

How will the wedding dress affect the dance?

“Dresses with large or heavy skirts can be difficult to dance in,” Mayer says. But the instructors can provide techniques and adjust choreography to prevent potential wardrobe problems.

Should I wear my wedding shoes during lessons?

“Yes, especially for women not used to wearing high-heeled shoes,” Mayer says. “We suggest choosing a shoe that fits snugly on your foot. Mules, slides and sling-back shoes can be difficult to dance in.”

How do we avoid forgetting the steps?

Keep practicing at home, daily, up to the wedding. If there’s a break between the last lesson and the wedding, schedule a refresher course. And relax!

“I see too many couples forget the reason behind why they are dancing together and focus too much on getting everything just right,” Mayer says. “Your first dance … should always be about the two of you connecting in a new way, moving as one out there on the floor. Your dance is symbolic of your first steps together as husband and wife.”