It’s the most important day of your life, and you want it to be memorable. You want to wow your guests and enjoy a flawless dance with your newly betrothed. Choreographed first dances at weddings are nothing new, but thanks to social media you’ve been seeing some seriously impressive routines and the bar is raised high. Choosing a Latin routine, such as salsa, is a great option that’s sexy, personal, but still formal enough to pass muster for your conservative grandparents in attendance. However, especially if you’ve never taken a salsa class before, where do you begin? How do you find an instructor, how long do you need to practice, and is it doable in that mermaid dress the bride(s) will be wearing?
The simplest answer is you need as much practice as your timeline and schedule allows. Regardless of your experience, or lack thereof, the more practice you have, the more comfortable you’ll be. Ideally, most instructors recommend at least four months of one private lesson per week, and more months or times per week if you can swing it. One great aspect of private classes for choreography is the instructor will work around your schedule the best they can, which means if you need early morning sessions you can find them.
Think salsa is the perfect dance for you and your new spouse? Here are the most commonly asked questions:
Is salsa appropriate for a wedding reception?
Of course! Just like any dance, you can make salsa as sensual or formal, flamboyant or reserved, and outlandish or proper as you like. Yes, it’s naturally a sexier dance than others (ahem, like the waltz or fox trot), but it’s also highly customizable and much easier for newbies to learn than some more classical dances. Talk to your instructor about how passionate you want the dance to be and they can create a routine that everyone is comfortable with.
How long do we need to practice?
Again, as long as you can. If you have a traditional engagement that’s about one year long, find a choreographer immediately. It’s just as important as booking a venue in advance. At least one lesson per week is a must to keep you fresh, and you may want to inch up to two or even three per week about six weeks before the wedding.
How should we choose a teacher?
This is a highly personal choice, but start with checking reviews and testimonials from unbiased, third-party sites. Most instructors should offer a free meet and greet and perhaps a discounted first lesson. You’ll learn a lot simply from meeting them, including how comfortable you feel. Trust your gut. Remember: This is the person you’ll be spending a lot of time with, and the person who’s going to design one of the most memorable moments of your wedding day. They should be professional, knowledgeable, actively listen to what you want, and make you feel comfortable.
What if our wedding attire doesn’t work with salsa?
Suits are a salsa staple, and if someone is wearing a dress, there are many ways to customize salsa routines (or the dress!) to make them work. Plus, brides are increasingly choosing reception dresses that are less formal and easier to dance in, changing into them after the formal ceremony. If somebody is wearing a more formal dress for the reception, you have two options: Ask the instructor to design a routine that works with the dress, ask the dress tailor/designer to make sure there are options to make it danceable, or a little of both. For example, you might modify spins or make sure there’s a durable way to bustle trains for easier dancing.
How much will this cost?
There’s no getting around it—private classes are expensive compared to group! It depends on where you live and the status of the instructor you choose. However, weddings themselves can generally be expensive, so this comes as no surprise. A great way to supplement your private classes is by attending group classes, watching online videos, and attending local studio parties to keep up with what you learn during your private sessions.
Your wedding is a whirlwind of excitement, and just like everyone says, it will truly fly by. Make your wedding one that’s flavored just as you like, and if that includes salsa dancing, go for it! Just make sure your photographer and videographer capture that first dance because it’s a highlight of the day you’ll want to watch over and over.