Whether you’ve always dreamt of the moment or it’s just a custom that you want observed at your wedding, the Special Dances segment of the evening needs some careful planning.
Family dynamics and logistical hassles can make it a stressful task and, what’s more, once you’ve figured out timing, order and who-knows-what-else, you still have to pick the song! Ouch.
Here are a few things to keep in mind, so that you can actually enjoy yourselves.
Phase I – Decisions Decisions
1. What do your parents want? What do your In-Laws want?
Determine people’s wants and needs. You might be giving them a tremendous gift with minimal investment by having them participate in the wedding through Father-Daughter/Mother-Son (and any permutation thereof) dances.
2. Most importantly, what do YOU, the couple, want?
Determine which dances, if any at all, are important to you. If both you and your families are not very excited by this tradition, you’re allowed to nix it altogether.
Once that decision is made, take a moment to think about whether you have any particular songs that you would like to dance to. Any heartstrings being pulled? Any memories being stirred?
At the end of Phase I, you should have:
A decision about which, if any, Special Dances you will have at your wedding. Go ahead, write them down! Email your spouse or parents about them. It’ll be one thing off your to-do list.
An idea of whether or not you have particular songs in mind. If you do, include them in the List of Things Related to Your DJ (if you don’t have one of those, get on it!).
Phase II - Research
If Phase I left you with the knowledge that you’re missing some or all of your Special Dances songs, you might want to consider this little exercise:
1. Open your mind and your notebook
It’s still early in the planning. Listen to lots of music over the next few months, over dinner, while you’re driving, doing chores, at the gym etc... Your ears and heart will tell you once that special song comes on. Are you hit by one of Oprah’s “Aha Moments” when The Turtle’s Happy Together comes on? Get to your notepad or email as quickly as you can (NOT, repeat, NOT WHILE YOU’RE DRIVING!) and make yourself a note that’ll be really easy to find later on. I’m a fan of sending myself emails with a dummy-proof subject line (wedding songs, for example).
2. Get searching
Too much on your mind? Out of inspiration? We all know that The Interwebs provide a plethora of advice and ideas. Here are a few ideas and lists that were garnered within exactly 56 seconds of searching:
From the classic
The most popular
Now. Block off 30 minutes with your partner.
Print (sorry, trees) this document and grab two pens.
Open a whole bunch of music lists.
Brew a cup of something hot or make yourselves some cocktails.
Settle in and be ready to listen, laugh, gag etc. Use this as a chance to have fun together!
Start the clock.
Go over as many songs as you can and mark down which songs you either really love or hate on your own separate sheets. Also make a couple of choices that you can tolerate. Mark them down on that form!
Now tick off which category they belong to.
After 30 minutes, STOP
Compare notes. Write down which choices you have in common.
At the end of this phase, you should have a maximum of 5 choices per Special Dance that you both love.
Phase III – Verify
Congrats! You have some viable options!
Now, let’s run a couple of tests that will avoid hassle and awkwardness.
Does the song go on and on? Two minutes is quite a long time, so make sure to keep song choices short. If your favourite tune is too long, see if there is a spot where you can fade it out (ie lower the volume gradually). Yes, you can ask your DJ to edit it, but that might a) cost you extra and b) cause some technical issues.
Is this the song that your mother-in-law shared with her ex? Is it going to be difficult for her to sit through it, or worse, dance through it in front of a bunch of people?
I’m not saying that you should let your song choices be dictated by others. But, as the hosts of this momentous event, you might want to consider people’s feelings and how they might impact your evening.
You know that song you love? Well, you love the chorus but have never really paid attention to the rest of it... Yeah, that one! Sounds like a promising choice!
Just be warned, you might be surprised by some weird or even offensive lyrics that you’ve just never paid attention to before. Consider your crowd, and the tone of your event.
Case in point…
I love the song Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrisson. It makes for a cute Father-Daughter song.
Until the words “Making love in the Green Grass” are blasted loud and clear while you're dancing in your father's arms...
Don’t get me wrong, if that song means the world to you, and you don’t care what the lyrics are, all the power to you! Music, after all, is meant to inspire what’s within us.
But if you think you (or your poor, unsuspecting Dad) might be uncomfortable, then you might want to listen to the whole song before selecting it. Look up the lyrics too because, well, you just never know.
That ought to cut a few choices from your list!
Phase IV – Plan
Now that you’ve narrowed it down, take a look at the order you want to have your dances in. Then see how the songs flow together. Ask your DJ or MC for advice, as they are the pros and can provide some really useful insight.
Phase V – Practice
Take your soon-to-be-spouse for a whirl around your living room, preferably in your wedding shoes. See how it feels. Is the tempo too slow/fast? Are you comfortable dancing through the whole song? Are you relaxed? Are you able to enjoy each other’s company?
If you've answered yes to all of those questions, you're ready.
Clarify song choices with your DJ, performer etc. Write them down somewhere. If you're providing the music files yourself, have backups and put your songs in the order in which you want them played. Dummy-proofing is always the way to go.