5 Lessons I Learned From My First Wedding Choreography Gig
Updated: Aug 20
Choreographing for a wedding is really different from teaching classes or dancing with a company. It's all about a performance of non-performers, which makes it challenging as a choreographer, but definitely a lot more interesting as teacher. Here are a few things I learned along the way that might be helpful to know before hitting the dance floor at the your next wedding performance.
Keep it simple but dance to more beats.
The best way to make the dance look intricate, but easy to execute, is to choreograph simple moves to more beats. More choreography but easy moves makes inexperienced dancers rely on their ability to memorize a sequence instead of their ability to move a certain way.
Know where your audience is.
Unlike a stage performance, where your audience is in front of you, at a wedding your audience can be on either side of the dance floor. You obviously don’t want to disconnect from half of the crowd by having your back to them the whole time, so be sure to add some choreography facing the other side as well. (Oh, and don’t forget to give your videographer a heads up too.)
Formations are your best friend.
But actually though. It’s so much easier to teach people to move from one place to another than to teach them new steps. It also makes it look like there’s so much more going on from the audience’s point of view. Adding formations is another great way to distract from the simplicity of the steps.
Everyone learns differently.
If you’ve been given the responsibility to choreography a reception dance with non-dancers, keep in mind that everyone learns differently. At the first practice, keep an eye out for what people are better at and what’s not their strong suit. Everyone learns differently so as a choreographer or teacher you have to learn how to bring people along, especially if they’ve never danced before. Some (usually the Engineers) might even ask you to write out the sequence of steps…Do it. It helps.
Give it the time it needs.
Putting together some choreography the night before the performance with a bunch of cousins will work well if they’re all dancers, but when they’re not, you have to give it the time it needs. Two or three practices might not cut it, because you could have some great choreography that even the non-dancers end up picking up well, but if no one practices it, the end result will be a hot mess. Start planning ahead and scheduling some rehearsals before the week of the wedding. Ideally, you should have one rehearsal before the performance where you’ll just be reviewing the dance and not learning anything new.
And remember, if you want to make life easier, just hire a choreographer. Check out 3 Reasons Why You Need a Wedding Choreographer to see why.