Advice from a DJ | Setting the Tone for the Dance Floor

DEREK HALL

 

At balls and galas in the past, there was a dance of the time, such as the macarena or cha cha slide. In my opinion, the minuet, quadrille, or polonaise are the best part of any historical fiction show or movie. Historically, the party’s dance would be initiated by the guests of honor, often royalty--then the dance floor would be opened for guests to join. Social dancing is not quite the norm these days, but there is an opportunity to have some fun, relay beauty to your guests, and lead them into your celebration as you twirl about the dance floor.

I loathe being the center of attention; formal dances can be uncomfortable bubble of alone time in the spotlight. As a DJ, I have worked with many couples who want to be on and off of the dance floor as fast as possible. The truth is, you and your new spouse are the guests of honor on the wedding day. As you host your family and friends for the celebration, I encourage you to take on the responsibility of opening the dance floor with your first dances.

PHOTOGRAPHY:  Du CASTEL PHOTOGRAPHY

If you’re not having dancing, roll the first die of the board games, butter the first bagel of your brunch, bounce the first bounce in the bouncy house. (Yes, you can now have bouncy castles at your wedding.) The pressures we may feel as the center of attention are most often rooted in our own insecurities; rest assured, the other guests will not hold up scores of your dance at the end of the song.  

The truth is that not everyone is paying extremely  close attention to your movements. Some guests watch with admiration, some eat their cake and drink their coffee, some chat among themselves.

Regardless of the attention span of the crowd, these first dances are  one of the few times during the wedding day to have alone time with your parents or with each other. It is really just about the two of you on the floor. Sharing an intimate experience is not the same thing as being stranded on the dance floor. Dive into the opportunity to be vulnerable together, to create a memory, and to savor a moment. When the song ends, the DJ can easily fade out the song, turn the attention to the guests, and keep things rolling.

Though I don’t always enjoy being the center of attention, I love a good dance party. If we replace our fears with a smile and some joy, we can stir up the best start of a dance party you’ve ever seen. Below I share additional insight and advice from my experiences as a husband and a professional DJ.

Learn a new kind of dance

My wife grew up as an Irish dancer and I did ballroom for several years around college. We decided to do a waltz for our first dance--and later did an Irish dance. We worked on them for several months, but for us it was largely a fun project that was sincere to who we are. It was athletic, challenging, and something to do together outside of grad school and wedding planning.

In practicing the steps, my wife and I learned how to dance the movements of a waltz rather than memorizing specific choreography. If things come off the rails in a choreographed dance, it may be hard to adjust on the spot. Give yourself at least a couple of months to learn some specific steps. Get comfortable making mistakes and moving back into the music. Most people won’t know if you mess up, so follow the leader, laugh at yourselves, and enjoy the process of trying something new. .

Pick the perfect song

The perfect song is unique to each couple.  Often, nostalgia has more value than perfect lyrics. Most often, guests are either distracted during the first dance or are enamored by the loving embrace of the couple to pay attention to the words of the lyrics.

If you and your fiance don’t have a song that is extremely meaningful or appropriate for a first dance, choosing a new song gives you something special that will forever be anchored to your first dance. If you plan to learn a kind of dance--as suggested above--ask a professional for recommendations for types of songs to match with a specific type of dance.  

Do the first dance last

I have emphasized the importance of sharing an intimate moment on the dance floor. But consider that your first dance doesn’t have to last the entire duration of a song. I’ve worked with many couples whose  families don’t have a strong dance party tradition.Here’s my pitch: make a plan for your MC explain that the couple doesn’t want to just share a first dance on their own, but with all of the guests--the friends and family who helped them get here. The first dance immediately becomes communal, inclusive, and fun for everyone.

Your bridal party and immediate families can be a part of the plan, and join you on the dance floor after the first verse and chorus. At the end of the song, the next song should come right on and everyone can come in around you. I have had a couple of these types of starts blend right into an upbeat remix or some great sing-alongs (think “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”).  

Get great pictures

So, we have done something to create community and inclusion of everyone in the room. We are making dancing “the cat’s pajamas,” the thing to do. Grab grandparents for a dance. Sing along to your favorite Spice Girls song you drove around singing with your mom when you were young. Burn it down for 30 minutes. Your photo and video are generally scheduled for a short chunk of dancing, and they can capitalize on this initial time with the guests and guests of honor together on the dance floor.

If we have a slow build or if you disappear from the dance party at the beginning of the celebration , you are missing out on a great chance to create and capture special memories of the night.  Eventually, some people might leave, go back to their dessert, enjoy a drink, or get some fresh air. A good DJ or band will figure out how to keep the party going. When you look back at your photos, your favorites may be from those first 30 minutes of fun. The mood for the night has been set. Anything else is gravy.


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About the Author: Derek is one half of The Block Party, a DJ company specializing in playing vinyl, mixing records, and trying to pour as much warmth and friendship into the vendor process as possible. They have done weddings and events all over the country; when they aren't traveling to throw monster dance parties, Derek and his wife Clare are traveling to visit their nieces and nephews or adventuring as a couple.

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Wedding Planning | Creating a Moment of Pause on your Wedding Day

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

It is not uncommon for a bride and groom to reflect how their wedding day “flew by.”

Despite the nonstop timeline for your wedding day, there are opportunities to intentionally plan alone time for you and your beloved. Creating these moments of pause to connect, make eye contact, catch your breath, and be together can help slow down the pace of the day so you can soak in each detail of the people and once-in-a-lifetime events.

Before your wedding planning is complete, note the moments of transition or create points of pause to allocate special times to truly cherish the day.

Early Morning Coffee Date

Depending on when hair and makeup begin for you and your bridal party, this option may mean an earlier-than-normal wake-up. But if you and your groom-to-be are eager to see each other, exchange gifts, and say “I love you” before the day begins, waking up with the sun may be a great option. Sneak away with your fiance for a cup of coffee to start your wedding day. This is a time to share complete privacy, authenticity, and emotional preparation.

First Look or First Touch

We have previously published several pieces discussing “Reasons to Have a First Look” and perspectives from a photographer including “Recommendations for a First Look” and “5 Things to Know.” In consideration of the time together, a first look or first touch is a moment not only to capture significant photographs, but to also savor a moment of solitude together.  

The Getaway Car

You say I do, share a kiss as husband and wife, walk down the aisle to the applause of family and friends, then… are swallowed into the demands of photographers and guests. Rather than waiting at the back of the church for the next order of business, consider enlisting a getaway car for a quick spin around the block. A five-minute drive offers a private moment to catch your breath and soak in the reality of your new rings and your new vocation. If a car is not an appropriate option for your venue, plan to step into a side room of the church while guests process out.

A Private Meal Before the Reception

Being intentional about eating a meal between the wedding and reception is recommended to maintain your energy and blood sugar. If possible, consider the option of enjoying a private meal as newlyweds. Regardless of what you eat—whether a plate prepared by the caterer or a take out meal on your way to the venue—the most important aspect is creating time to slow down and be together throughout your wedding day.

Freeze Frame the Reception  

Some of the greatest advice my husband and I received before our wedding was to step away from the reception before the day comes to an end. In taking this advice, we found a chance to laugh together and share how full our hearts felt—then go back inside to continue celebrating with family and friends. Creating this kind of intentional pause helps to break the day into compartmentalized segments, allowing you to remember specific details of each “chapter” as opposed to recollecting the day in one big blur.

We would love to hear: when did you and your beloved create a moment of pause on your wedding day? Share your experiences with our community on Facebook or Instagram.


About the Author: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Associate Editor. Stephanie’s perfect day would include a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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Wedding Planning | Making Traditions Meaningful

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

Like the Catholic Liturgy, wedding celebrations around the world are rich with tradition and history. Rituals become a source of nostalgia for guests who reflect on their own wedding day, they unite couples who participate in the traditions throughout time around the world. Furthermore, they enhance how the bride and groom bring unique personalization and meaningful symbolism to their ceremony and celebration.

Incorporating specific religious, cultural, or secular traditions into your wedding day is not about going through the motions for the sake of a good photograph or to appease a relative. Traditions are valuable opportunities to experience and share the sacramental nature of a wedding, involve beloved family and friends, or enter more deeply into your nuptials.

A brief selection of decisions and traditions are listed below as a catalyst to think creatively about ways to expand wedding standards in order to cultivate and share the deepest realities of your special day.

PHOTOGRAPHY:   VISUAL GRACE

PHOTOGRAPHY: VISUAL GRACE

Wedding Flowers

Besides choosing flowers in season or highlighting your color scheme, a symbolic approach to selecting flowers for your bouquet is to base the floral selection on religious symbolism. Historically, many flowers were named for Our Lady and Jesus. If you or your fiance have a special devotion to the Holy Family or a saint, you may consider honoring your devotion through your wedding flowers or a “Marian bouquet.”

Rehearsal Dinner

When many guests travel from out-of-town for a wedding, it is difficult for the bride, groom, and their families to spend adequate time with these guests. The rehearsal dinner serves an important purpose in honoring the family and friends who will serve at your wedding. But why stop there? If you are hoping to spend quality time with additional guests, expand the traditional rehearsal dinner to a meet-and-greet; invite others to join the celebration after the dinner, so guests can meet and mingle prior to the wedding day.

First Look

The First Look is a tradition with many benefits. First, it is an opportunity to shake some nerves before the ceremony. Second, as a time for prayer before meeting at the altar. Finally, it’s a perfect chance for the wedding photographer to capture special moments on camera. If the first look doesn’t feel like a good fit, brainstorm options to fit within your comfort zone. Perhaps you meet for a coffee date before everyone gets dressed, allowing time for laughs and prayers. Plan to hold hands back-to-back, as a “first touch” for a prayer and photograph before the ceremony. Determine your intention in this meeting, then consider ways to meet those goals.

Honoring Mary

In the Catholic Mass, there is generally an opportunity for the bride and groom to move to a statue of Mary to offer a prayer or a token of love. Even if you and your fiance have not had a strong devotion to Mary prior to your wedding, this is a beautiful opportunity to bring honor our spiritual mother; if you are at a loss for words to Our Lady, she will still shower you with grace on your special day. However, if you desire to make this tradition more meaningful, incorporate preparation for this tradition into your wedding planning process. For example, pray the rosary together as part of your spiritual preparation for marriage. Or work together to write a prayer to Mary and say the prayer when you visit her during your ceremony. You could also include the original prayer in your wedding program as a way to invite wedding guests to pray alongside and with you during that moment.

Significant Devotions, New Traditions

There are not many standard traditions to honor the saints in a wedding ceremony. If you and your fiance have a special devotion to one or several saints, talk to your priest about including a personalized Litany of Saints during the ceremony. When my husband and I offered the idea to our priest, he had never seen it done in a wedding, but we worked together with the music director to choose the right melody and timing--and it was a perfect addition.  

Eliminate Meaningless Norms

For me and my husband, a tradition that didn’t offer significant meaning, value, joy, or intention was the garter toss. We tried brainstorming ideas to parallel the women’s opportunity with the bouquet toss, but nothing came as a good fit. Rather than feeling obligated to partake in a wedding tradition that made us both uncomfortable, we decided to eliminate it from our reception—and no one asked any questions. If you and your fiancé find yourself at a crossroads between wedding norms and personal values, choose your values with courage and fearlessness. Your wedding day is a holy reflection of your innermost love and desire.

These topics are only the tip of the wedding-tradition-iceberg. We hope you will share your experiences with our community on Instagram or Facebook. We would love to hear: what traditions are you planning to incorporate throughout your wedding weekend? In what ways have you infused deeper meaning or symbolism into the religious, cultural, or secular traditions? How do you communicate the value and significance of a tradition with your wedding guests?


About the Author: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Associate Editor. Stephanie’s perfect day would include a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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3 Options to Create Community at your Reception

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

Regardless of the number of people who attend your wedding, the blending of two families and the witness of marriage brings together a joyful crowd. Part of wedding planning involves making decisions about managing this group of people who may or may not know each other. There are options in how you guide wedding guests through the reception not only for smooth transitions, but also to create community among your most beloved family and friends.

Relationships so often begin as strangers share a meal around a table. While considering the flow between seating arrangements and food service options for your reception, I invite you to also consider the possibilities of initiating new relationships among your wedding guests at the dinner table. Here, we list and compare three options for seating assignments and unique considerations for building community.

Open Seating

Open seating is open-ended. As guests enter your reception venue, they will have the freedom and flexibility to choose what table and chair they will sit at for the evening’s festivities. Will your guests have an opportunity to meet and mingle at a rehearsal dinner or social hour the day before your wedding? If many of your guests will make connections with new people prior to your wedding day, open seating provides former-strangers a chance to continue those organic relationships.  Perhaps your extended families live in the same town but have never met each other; this could be a beautiful invitation for new relationships that can begin and continue beyond your wedding day.

Open seating is the most budget-friendly option because it doesn’t require the purchase of a seating chart or place cards. You may consider providing more place settings than necessary in case guests choose to sit in small groups across several tables, rather than filling every chair at one table.

The most appropriate food service with open seating is a buffet, which parallels the flexibility and flow of the crowd through the reception.

Assigned Tables

Assigning tables can be fun to play with during your wedding planning as you create collisions between groups of people. Weddings bring together the old and the new, childhood friends and college friends, family and “friends who become family.” The reception is a chance for those worlds to mix in a way that strengthens your network of love and support for your new life as a married couple.

There are so many ways to approach assigned tables in order to quietly instigate new relationship among wedding guests: do the bride and groom’s childhood friends all sit at one table? Maybe it’s a chance for your childhood friends to spend time with your college friends. The options are endless, and the process is exciting.

Assigned Tables work well for a limited space because each table can be filled to its capacity. It provides both structure and flexibility for your guests. A large escort board can be placed near the entrance of the reception venue where your guests will see it and can note their table. Alternatively, you can create escort cards labeled with the guest’s name and table assignment, so they can find their table then claim their seat with the place card. If you prefer, couples or families that will sit together can be listed on the same escort card. This option requires a financial investment towards creating or purchasing the escort board or escort cards and table name signs, as well as a commitment to intentionally plan the table assignments.

Either a buffet or table service works well with assigned tables. Note that caterers may need to be aware of the tables with guests who have dietary restrictions.

Assigned Seats

Assigned seats are the most structured method for guiding your guests to a place at the reception. Both an escort board at the front of the venue and escort cards at the table are used to help guests find their way.

Similar to seating chart, assigned seats offer a more structured invitation for new relationships or dynamics among guests. If you plan to mix bride and groom’s guests at the same table, assigned seats can offer both diversity and structure for these encounters. Sometimes, assigned seats are helpful in creating a positive environment among guests who have a negative history by organizing people among the space.

Assigned seats are the best option for your reception if your guests select an entree and food will be delivered in courses. Name cards can be marked in a specific way to communicate dietary needs and/or entree selections to the catering staff.

Planning these parts of your wedding is not all about logistics and details. It is about building relationships and connections and bonds between you and your fiance by bridging your families and friends together.

True love is fruitful. The relationships that take root and grow beyond your wedding day is an irrefutable fruit from the celebration of love between you and your spouse.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the options in planning a wedding, it may be helpful to work backwards. What kinds of words do you want your guests to use when they describe your wedding and reception? How do you want to remember the atmosphere at your celebration of marriage? Once you and your fiance determine a vision together, it may be easier to make decisions about the social environment for your big day.

Check out the way this Spoken Bride couple incorporated their favorite saints through table names.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. Stephanie’s perfect day would consist of a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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Considerations and Tips for a Kid-Friendly Wedding

Do you have plans to invite many children to your wedding?

The decision of whether to include, limit, or omit kids from your guest list is a personal choice, one unique to your relationships and directly affected by your wedding budget, venue, and time of day.

If you and your beloved are currently working out which--if any--younger friends or family members might be invited to your celebration, it’s useful to consider particular realities for the parents in your life. You might be the oldest in a large family, for instance, or have many recently married friends with babies. Parents’ ease of traveling long distances or arranging childcare can be a major factor in their ability to attend your big day and is worth bearing in mind.

Whatever your call, the temptation to fear is real: how can you avoid wounding guests or prodding sensitive relationships while maintaining healthy boundaries around your decisions? It truly can be hard to feel a sense of freedom when so many others’ expectations influence your actions.

As with many wedding-related choices, it’s helpful to discern with sensitivity, move forward with prudence and conviction, and strive for peace over attempting to please everyone. Chances are, guests who have been through the wedding planning experience themselves--especially in more recent memory--will be reasonably disposed to your choices regarding kids, understanding financial constraints and the challenges of managing a chorus of opinions and expectations.

For Catholic couples in particular, concern might arise in the heart that excluding children from your wedding--whether by necessity or choice, or even de facto circumstances--conveys a closed-off attitude to life. But don’t let yourselves believe that. Openness to life involves so much more than who is or isn’t on the guest list.

If, however, you and your fiancé do decide to have children attend, their presence is a visual testament to the fruits of married love and to your families’ history in the making, across generations. There are no guarantees they’ll behave perfectly, eat everything placed in front of them, keep their best outfits spotless. In a way, that’s the point. The family is a beautiful mess; a cenacle of growth through its very imperfection.

That said, having kids at your wedding isn’t without challenges. Here, our suggestions for cultivating a kid--and parent--friendly atmosphere.

Offer materials for the liturgy.

A month or two before your wedding, ask friends and family members to loan you any Bibles, prayer books, and religious picture books for children to page through during the Mass. Place the books in a basket near the entrance of the chapel, and designate a family member to offer them as guests arrive and regather them at the end.

If possible or necessary, consider kids when booking.

If you anticipate early on that your guests have a significant number of kids, consider keeping their needs in mind as you make your plans. A reception venue with an outdoor area, for example, facilitates play and breaks for kids and makes it easier and more feasible for young parents to attend. Serving a buffet-style meal rather than individual entrées is usually more cost-efficient.

Enlist help.

Hiring high school or college-age babysitters to assist with on-site childcare can result in a lower-stress evening for both parents and children--younger siblings of your close friends or members of your parish’s youth group are a good choice for this role. Provide activities like coloring, books, Polaroid or disposable cameras, bubbles, and board games.

Create a space for downtime.

If the layout of your reception venue allows, creating a nearby area for kids to rest or decompress is a welcome gesture. A downtime space might be as simple as blankets, snacks, and Netflix; a few chairs for nursing mothers are also thoughtful.

Encourage kids’ participation in your guest book.

Childlike faith is more than a figure of speech. For some children, your wedding might be the first they’ve attended; a glimpse of romance and joy that stirs the heart, and an experience more formal and special than their everyday . A sign inviting them to write (or dictate) a message to the bride and groom is sure to elicit humor; and most likely, wisdom.

We love the opportunity to walk beside you in the steps toward your vocation that will end--and begin--at the altar, with the help of so many like-minded sisters. Brides, we want to hear from you in the comments and on our social media: have you and your beloved struggled to come up with guidelines for inviting children to your wedding? How did you approach it, and if you had them attend, what measures helped make the day more kid and parent-friendly?

Newlywed Life | Accepting Imperfection

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

My prayer during my engagement was earnest and intense, if not terribly varied. Most of my petitions revolved around the hopes I had for my marriage:

Prepare me to be a good wife. Prepare him to be a good husband. Slay my selfishness, Father, and help me make a gift of myself. Help us have long, happy, life-giving years together.

I was determined to make marriage make me better, not for my sake but for the sake of the man I loved.

Over the course of a year, I made my way through Venerable Fulton Sheen’s Three to Get Married, highlighting entire pages with his meditations on love and sacrifice. Sheen frequently notes the that even in all the beauty of married life, God alone satisfies our deep ache for completion, asking questions like, “How can one love self without being selfish? How can one love others without losing self? The answer is: By loving both self and neighbor in God. It is His Love that makes us love both self and neighbor rightly.”

Somehow, this point got obscured in the elation of my engagement. It felt impossible not to imagine that, despite our human weaknesses and the inevitable arguments and inconveniences, marriage would be a perpetual state of transcendence. The heights.

And in many ways, it really has been. I try to stay aware and thankful of the fact that my marriage has been a purifying gift, with many moments of scarcely believable joy and true communion. Yet as I anticipated these days I once only dreamed of, I still created an elevated ideal of what I thought marriage would be--and, more specifically, how I would be.

I thought love would drown out any voices of self-doubt in my mind. I thought gratitude for my husband would make petty bickering simple to resolve. I thought no matter what lay ahead on the exterior, that the interior--the particular relationship and bond I’d share with my husband alone--would be untouchable.

As with any great love, there’s a heady early stage filled with infatuation and good will. Even for those of us aware of this tendency, it’s hard to avoid that rush. Without intending to, I’d become infatuated with marriage itself, idealizing it, and idealizing who I wanted to be as a wife, in my hopes for perfection.

After our wedding, I found myself wrestling with my worth through a season of unemployment and loneliness in a new town, annoyed when my husband did chores differently than me, and resentful that exterior issues like in-laws and long-distance holidays still cast frustration on my overall happiness.

I wanted to be the best wife I could be, and ended up misinterpreting “best” as “never dissatisfied.”

It wasn’t my husband’s doing. Never in our relationship have I felt on less than equal footing with him, and never has he been less than affirming and consoling when I’ve needed his tenderness and strength most. It was my own self I had to confront. Just as my veil was lifted at the altar on my wedding day, I was forced to see the me that resided beneath the veil of my ideals. The lifting of that veil, and the opportunity to contend with the fact that, despite my efforts, I couldn’t be a perfect wife--nor was I called to be--was painful.

I became so aware of my shortcomings in a way I hadn’t been before getting married. Seeing how I reacted to irritations and trials in relation to another person were like a mirror to a version of myself I’d never seen before. The image wasn’t the one I’d always hoped to see.

But who you are in your vocation isn’t just the person you or your spouse sees reflected back at you. Who does the Father see?

In all my concerns, all my desires to be the best I could be at marriage, my focus was so narrow I often forgot to welcome the channel of grace. I forgot to invite the Lord to form me alongside my inferior human designs, to welcome the formation that hurt. And ultimately, to trust that even in my imperfection, he loved me the same. It’s the same kind of love spouses are called to bear to one another--the holy one’s own face--and the kind of love I received time and again from my husband.

During a recent storm of anxiety and self-contempt, a therapist showed me an image with three concentric circles. The outer ring was labeled facade, encompassing the people, things, achievements, sensual things, and tendencies to pride and vanity we might attach ourselves to in the world. Within it was a circle called defects, including our failures, past sins, disappointments, anger, and means of escapism (food, materialism, sex, or substances). The center circle read core, and listed who every child of God is and is made to be: Beloved. A temple of the Holy Spirit. Full of grace. Holy. A new creation.

These three circles, she said, together make up our spirituality. While we, and others, can see the facades and the defects--surrounded by our idols, the things we desire to be or what we want the world to see--God’s transforming, radical love, his vision of us, quite literally cuts to the core.

He sees the us in that center circle, not discounting the imperfect parts of us, but never withdrawing his love in spite of them. Knowing this, it’s like having permission to let the idols topple. It’s natural, and good, to desire becoming your spouse’s closest earthly example of excruciating love. It does take three to get married, though, because peace lies in knowing you aren’t doing it alone and, moreover, knowing the Lord wants us to become more and more an embodiment of his love in our vocation.

Imperfection is a part of us, but it’s not who we are. Our identity doesn’t lie in our shortcomings or in the masks we wear. It lies in who we are: his daughters and sons.

Images by Rae and Michael Photography, as seen in How He Asked | Jocelyn + Cheyne


About the Author: Stephanie Calis is Spoken Bride's Editor in Chief and Co-Founder. She is the author of INVITED: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). Read more

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Tips for Choosing Your First Dance

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

Perhaps there’s a song you’ve loved since long before you were dating your spouse-to-be, one you determined you’d dance to at your wedding. Maybe you and your beloved have had “your” own song from the start. But what if you don’t fall into those categories? Here, four considerations that can aid in your decision-making.

Is there a song that recalls a particular time or memory from our relationship?

Your song might not be one you’ve discussed outright in the past, but one that speaks to your history as a couple, nonetheless. Maybe hearing a song that was on heavy rotation at a memorable time in your relationship transports you vividly back to that moment. Perhaps there’s a piece that consoled one or both of you during a difficult time.

One of the songs with the strongest hold on my own memory, for instance, is one I actually experienced alone. Around the time I started dating my husband, I had recently bought Keith Urban’s album Defying Gravity; I’d repeatedly play one of the tracks, “If Ever I Could Love,” that captured the sense of newness, purity, and the joy of discovery I found myself experiencing. Take time to consider what titles have played a similar role for you; list the songs that have held a particular meaning in your own lives to this point or remind you of one another.

What songs are meaningful in our family cultures?

Dancing to your parents’ or grandparents’ wedding songs convey a sense of timelessness and of respect and affection for the bonds of love that make up your families and their traditions. Elise’s parents’ song, “It Had to Be You,” holds a fond and particular significance to her to this day.

Would we like to dance in a particular style?

If you and your beloved are skilled at swing, ballroom, or a style of dance that reflects your heritage, incorporating it is fun and takes off some of the pressure for your first dance to be a completely serious, romantic affair. At a wedding I attended were the groom was a theatre teacher, the couple included a choreographed entrance by the bridal party at the conclusion of their first dance. Jiza and her husband performed a swing dance.

And keep in mind that though your dancing style might not be contemporary, your song selection still can be: a friend and her husband waltzed to Lifehouse’s “You and Me” at their reception.

What do we hope to convey about love and marriage?

Your witness to lifelong love doesn’t end when your nuptial Mass does; it’s manifest throughout your entire wedding day. Whether you communicate it directly or simply through your actions and decisions, you and your beloved speak the language of free, faithful, fruitful, and total promises, simply by virtue of who you are and of choosing sacramental marriage. There are a wealth of selections, both secular and Christian, that embody the language of wedding vows; songs that speak to the longing of our hearts for something more than this life, the glimpse of heaven pure, sacrificial love affords us, the constant battle to allow love to prevail over lust and selfishness, and the perfecting love of the Father, who rejoices simply in the fact that we exist. Take them to prayer and see what lyrics stand out and might lend themselves to your first dance.

Choosing your wedding song one that expresses who you are as a couple and strikes whatever mood--romantic, lighthearted, or otherwise--you intend might feel like a tall order, yet as wedding planning goes, it’s one of the less stressful decisions to be made. The Father sings over us, his children, in a particular way through the sacraments, and no matter what selection you make, the love between you and your spouse makes his rejoicing so visibly evident.

Get inspired by the team’s love song suggestions here. We invite you to share your own favorites and first dance selections, as well. Tell us about your song in the comments and on our social media!