Brighton wedding photographer Lel Hurst shares her tips on capturing the magic of the first danceThe first dance is something of a Marmite point for most couples: you either love or hate the idea of it! I do have a secret for you though – you can shun tradition altogether and have a secret song that only you know about…but more on that later.
From a photographer’s point of view, your first dance is pretty much the final formal element of the wedding left to photograph, and can sometimes be the most exciting depending on how adventurous you both get.
Whether you are planning an amazing dance that the Strictly Come Dancing judges would be proud of, or if a gentle sway is more your pace, it’s worth thinking about the kind of photos you want from your first dance so that a little planning can go into it to get the best images. I’ve therefore tried to give you some hints and tips that will help you achieve the photos you are hoping for.
1. Choose your song
I know that sounds like it should go without saying, but I have been to some weddings where they are still choosing the song minutes before the dance is due to start. Not only is this stressful for you, but it also makes it difficult for a photographer to know where to be, and if it’s appropriate to set up lights or go for a more subtle look. Personally I love to use some off camera flash at this point in the day, but your song just might not need it.
2. Let your photographer know about anything unexpected
If you are planning on surprising your guests by breaking out into Gangnam Style or a channeling your inner Patrick Swayze with some Dirty Dancing re-enactment, then let us know. We promise not to tell your guests and we can also make sure we are in the right place to capture your amazing moves. We can also subtly make sure granny has the best seat in the house to see your spectacular performance without giving the game away!
3. Think about lighting
There’s nothing that spoils an amazing first dance image more than crazy laser lights making people look like aliens. Usually a quiet word with the DJ before the dance begins does the trick, but it’s always useful if the couple asks for the lights to be off for the first dance.
4. Tell your DJ about what you want
If you want your guests to join you part way through the song, let your DJ know. Your guests will not join you until they know they are allowed, but once they know they are allowed, be prepared for a bundle! Personally I love this bit. Don’t be surprised if you see your photographer on a chair at some point; you’ll be amazed at the images they will get for you while they are in amongst your guests.
5. Don’t have a first dance
This might break all the rules but its your wedding, if you don’t want a first dance then don’t have one! Plenty of the couples I work with have opted for a ‘secret’ song instead. They have had a discussion with their DJ before the day about a special song for them, and once there are enough people on the dance floor, then the DJ announces that it is a special song for the couple and that they want everyone to stay on the dance floor. You then get to enjoy the moment without the pressure of everyone watching you. Just make sure you brief your photographer as well so they know which song to listen out for.
6. Have fun!
Remember, this is your wedding celebration, no matter what you decide to do, and how you would like it captured. Remember to enjoy every moment you have together on your day.
See more of Lel’s work on Lel Hurst Photography.