Friday, June 17, 2016

The Blue Haired Bridesmaid and the Blue Bride

Another wedding planner reached out to me for advice and asked: "The MOB just called me to ask me what they should do about a bridesmaid situation. Evidently the bridesmaid has dyed her hair blue and is not going to go back to her natural color prior to the wedding. The wedding is going to be a formal affair and the bride does not want blue hair in the wedding. What do you suggest I tell her? The wedding day is not until October. Thanks in advance."

Here is my advice:


The only thing worse than a Bridezilla is a self centered member of the bridal party. Wedding etiquette exists for a reason. Wedding planners can't just make it up as we go along. That is not what we are paid for. We are paid to inspire and empower, anticipate problems and manage crisis. Ideally, both parties should be educated about wedding etiquette at the onset so situations like this can be avoided in the first place. There are several wedding etiquette books that I recommend all planners have in their arsenal to deal and PREVENT exactly these types of scenarios. 

When looking at wedding photos of blue haired bridesmaids, I have to say I was very distracted by the blue haired bridesmaid in the picture above and spent more time looking at her than anyone else. I assume when the bridesmaid was invited to join the bridal party she did NOT have blue hair so I can imagine how shocked the bride must be feeling. Obviously her appearance will change over the course of the year in many ways but just as the bride may select the hairstyles, gown style, color, shoes nail polish or jewelry, drastic and unnatural or distracting topics such as tattoos or radical hair color changes should also be on the table for discussion. Manners and etiquette are timeless and span across all geographic regions so it is important to have clear guidelines from the beginning so everyone is on the same page. It is inappropriate for the bride to dictate every detail of the bridal party appearance but the bridesmaid chose a dramatic change that she can easily modify or alter to support the bride's vision and compliment NOT compete with her for attention. It is important to respect the bride's wishes above all as she is spending thousands of dollars on the photos and videos and the blue haired bridesmaid will dominate a lot of those photos. Bridesmaids are not supposed to upstage the bride with outrageous fashion or hairstyles. This is basic etiquette that all the guests observe which is why certain colors and dress styles are generally avoided. 

A lot of bridesmaid drama can be prevented with a simple conversation about expectations, etiquette and responsibility in advance and topics like drastic/distracting hairstyles or hair color should be addressed BEFORE accepting the role. The bride had no way of anticipating this so she failed to ask if her friend is comfortable with the limitations and boundaries or giving them some time to think about it. Sometimes bridesmaids accept the role without understanding the sacrifice, cost, inconvenience or considerations involved. Being a member of the bridal party does not mean a strut down the runway and a free for all. This is where the event planner could have helped prevent misunderstandings and offered valuable expertise. If the bridesmaid is not willing to make a simple compromise by wearing a wig then perhaps she can be honored in a less high profile manner or she can volunteer to play a bigger role in planning one of the festivities where more casual pictures are taken. I think coordinators can be particularly helpful in this area by teaching wedding etiquette, creating guidelines, anticipating this common type of problem in advance and having a script or mock conversation with the bride and groom so they feel comfortable discussing parameters with their bridal party. 

Not everyone is bridal party material. There are TONS of ways to be creative and flexible about accommodating bridesmaids attire, makeup or jewelry but something as dramatic as unnatural shades of hair color may be non-negotiable for the bride. This is why it should have been addressed beforehand. It's not appropriate for the bride to control her decision to color her hair or demand that she change the color but it is appropriate to request she wear a wig, dress modestly or cover up tattoos for pictures and inside her house of worship or at a religious ceremony where certain codes of dress are considered offensive. Its not about the hair, it's about respect and deferring to someone else's wishes for just one day. Other examples of altering one's appearance out of respect is when a friend invites you to visit their mosque or Budhist temple where everyone is expected to remove their shoes or in a synogogue where every male visitor covers his head or in a Catholic church were strapless sun dresses are innappropriate. This is  the most  joyful, profound and spiritual day of the bride's life. It is not just an 8 hour party. It is also the most visually dynamic moment of the couple's life representing their public image. They spent thousands of dollars on photo shoots and video and the average metro wedding for 100 guests is $25,000 including feeding Bluebelle. A very simple compromise is a wig and it costs the bridesmaid nothing but would be a valuable gift to the couple demonstrating that respect is more important than vanity. 

I live in the DC metro area which is extremely politically liberal but where official diplomatic and military protocol is understood and practiced. Being part of a bridal party is NOT about political correctness, making a unique statement about how special, trendy, fashionable, hip or liberal one is. It is about loyalty, sacrifice and a small degree of CONFORMITY to reflect the couple's public image in the spotlight in accordance with THEIR vision. Just like performers have costumes and are expected to look uniform, a wedding is a production with plenty of costumes, lights, camera, action too! That is why everyone looks SIMILAR. If not IDENTICAL. If our blue haired beauty wants to look radical in a classic themed photo lineup then she belongs as a part of the audience not the bridal party. I personally think blue, pink, purple and rainbow hair is gorgeous when done well but it is definitely not in line with a CLASSIC look if that is the bride's goal...AND it can be distracting. Ms Bluebell's choices will demonstrate whether her vanity is more important then being in the bridal party. The good news is there are many helpful roles she can still play while simultaneously showing off her locks!. She can assist with hosting an engagement party, bachelorette party or bridal shower when the paparazzi aren't being paid through the nose to capture formal portraits. She should not think of it as a demotion but  simply being re-cast to a role she is more comfortable and willing to play. There are lots of creative solutions to this problem.

In sum, a strong friendship does not have to be sacrificed although the bridesmaid was ill-informed or is behaving selfishly and seems short sighted. The best solution is for the bridesmaid to select an elegant wig that can be worn on the wedding day to cover the blue. Someone needs to explain to the bridesmaid that blue hair is a trend that is not conducive to natural, timeless and classic photos and actually distracts attention away from the bride in every photo. If she opposes then perhaps they can compromise and allow her to show off her blue hair during the last two hours of general dancing once all the major pictures are taken. If she does not agree to this then she loses her privileges to participate in the bridal party but the bride will still have a beautiful, unique, expressive blue haired, trendy guest at the wedding and the bride should make sure to include her in less formal guest shots and take special time out for shots alone with her taken. 

Some say, what is all the fuss about? It's just a 8 hour event? Lighten up! I dont see the wedding as just a 8 hour event. I see it as a day she has fantasized about her entire life, planned for over a year, spent $30,000 on and her only memory of the event is her photo album which will be viewed by anyone special and important to her in her life. Since the issue was not properly addressed to prevent the incident in the first place, damage control is the only option. A compromise is in order if the bride is uncomfortable. Maybe ALL the bridesmaids and groomsmen could wear blue or rainbow wigs to fit in and abandon the silly, boring, classic theme all together to accommodate the bridesmaid instead?

In retrospect, a bridesmaid etiquette and responsibility handout could have avoided all of this in the first place...

Resources:


Emily Post Wedding Etiquette
The Bridesmaid Guide




The Wedding Dance Specialists is the premiere national expert of the wedding dance industry and a certified event planner.  Deborah Joy and Brian Block founded the company in 2000, while engaged and preparing their own "First Dance." Year after year, The Wedding Dance Specialists remain the most recommended wedding dance company according to engaged couples, wedding vendors and the media.  The company has taught over 10,000 engaged couples. Appearing repeatedly on Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen Network, The Wedding Dance Specialists and their students starred on an episode of "Real Weddings by the Knot", the nation's first wedding reality show. In addition to attracting celebrity clientele, The Wedding Dance Specialists were the nations original wedding dance company and have since inspired an entire niche industry that has expanded worldwide! Wedding Planning Services are available through their Dance for Joy Events division.


Copyright 2016 The Wedding Dance Specialists. All rights reserved.




Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Symbolism of the Spotlight Dances for Same Sex Couples



Same sex couples like heterosexual couples are faced with the harsh reality that a wedding reception is a significant investment in many things that will only last one day but live on in your memories and photo album- with one exception - the dance lessons.  The cake will be eaten, the flowers will die, the attire will be preserved, sold or donated but learning to dance is an investment in your relationship which lives on. Dancing is a life skill useful for future special occasions or even just tender moments in your living room on a rainy night! Our students say their dancing date nights are the most fun and romantic time they have during the wedding planning process and our couples tell us that the First Dance is the most sentimental moment of the reception too!


Many same sex couples are realizing the importance of expressing their unity and growing closer through this unique learning experience. They are seizing the opportunity to proudly shine on the dance floor while personalizing their celebration through their own creative expression. For these insightful couples, the First Dance is often the highlight of the reception and the most vivid wedding memory guests recall since an image tells a thousand words. At first, there are nervous hesitations of expressing their physical affection in public or creating misperceptions about roles and gender identity but it is our job as dance professionals to guide same sex couples through the process that customizes their unique personalities and relationship dynamics so they accurately represent their signature style on their special day. The spotlight dances with the parents is also a sacred ritual to honor the parental bond and love and in return the parents are demonstrating public respect for their son/daughter, acceptance of his/her choices and pride in who their son/daughter has become. 


TWDS Students, Ken Patterson and Brian Burson, wed 9/14/13
There are lots of aspects of the wedding that can be outsourced - - the bakery, the caterer, the florist, the event planner. There are three vital components that only the couple themselves can execute in order for a wedding to demonstrate the strength of their relationships - - their vows and their First Dance and the speeches.  The public and legally binding vows verbally profess the couple’s intentions to be supportive and loyal to each other, the speeches commemorate bonds and the spotlight dances seal the deal with action. And actions speak louder than words. These public rituals are especially validating to same sex couples who have historically been denied the right to marry, felt shunned or misunderstood by family, felt stigmatized by religious organizations or marginalized by society or kept their relationships a secret from employers, colleagues, neighbors. 

Now that many states have legalized same sex wedding, more same sex couples are bravely putting their best foot forward because they realize that words alone do not a relationship make.  After all, successful relationships do not involve daily verbal vowal renewals and flowery speeches. Instead they require sincerity through your actions both big and small. Just as couples and their families attend a rehearsal to prepare for their ceremony, it is vital to dedicate some time in advance before making their public debut so everyone can sparkle in the spotlight. By exercising teamwork and patience during private rehearsals and ultimately for public display, the couple “moves as one” on the dance floor and a promise is sealed and delivered. For this reason, the "spotlight" dances are the most sacred ritual of any wedding reception regardless of the sexual orientation of the couple.

Since our doors opened for business in 2000 we have welcomed same sex couples to our studios because we believe everyone deserves the same chance to dance and romance! Our couples tell us with a little preparation the spotlight dances will transform the most sentimental moment into the most photogenic and memorable moment for them and their guests!

"We had a great time and learned a great deal! We recommend The Wedding Dance Specialists to other same-sex couples andopposite-sex couples whether learning to dance for their wedding or just for the pure fun of dancing! We give them all top scores when it comes to professionalism, quality of instruction, availability and ofcourse enjoyment! Dance lessons were definitely worthwhile and we did so much better than if we had tried to "wing it." Ken Patterson and Brian Burson, wed 9/14/13

The Wedding Dance Specialists is the premiere national expert of the wedding dance industry. Deborah Joy and Brian Block founded the company in 2000, while engaged and preparing their own "First Dance." Year after year,The Wedding Dance Specialists remain the most recommended wedding dance company according to engaged couples, wedding vendors and the media.  The company has taught over 10,000 engaged couples. Appearing repeatedly on Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen Network, The Wedding Dance Specialists and their students starred on an episode of "Real Weddings by the Knot", the nation's first wedding reality show. In addition to attracting celebrity clientele, The Wedding Dance Specialists were the nations original wedding dance company and have since inspired an entire niche industry that has expanded worldwide!

Copyright 2014 The Wedding Dance Specialists. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dance Studio Etiquette for Teachers and Students

by Deborah Joy Block, certified etiquette instructor and professional dance instructor/performer
There are lots of articles about social dance etiquette and a few about ballet student etiquette but despite the fact that ballroom studios have existed in this country for over 100 years it is quite rare to find an article on the subject. Some landlords question the need for guidelines because they assume the rules should be "common sense." Unfortunately history shows that without formalized rules, societies descend into chaos. Hence The 10 Commandments, The Bill of Rights, The US Constitution, International Human Rights Law, etc.. Therefore common sense certainly does not always prevail in a room full of “divas” who often operate on incorrect assumptions or whims - so official etiquette rules are required. These tips are designed to ensure a pleasant and fair work environment with satisfied customers enjoying high quality lessons. Studio landlords, feel free to copy this and post it or distribute it to your staff. I hope you will find it a useful resource to maintain a peaceful and pleasant studio atmosphere! Feel free to add your own etiquette suggestions (without specifically IDENTIFYING individuals as that is ALSO a breach of etiquette and your comment will be deleted.) Enjoy!
  1. If space allows, set up speakers & use mirrors at OPPOSITE CORNERS of the studio NOT NEXT to another lesson already in progress.
  2. Once all 4 corners are full THEN fill in the middle sections to avoid creating a crowded, distracting and dangerous teaching environment.
  3. If you need to play music LOUDLY or NONSTOP while rehearsing alone and directly next to ongoing lessons please use EARPHONES.
  4. GROUP lessons requires MORE space and are noisier so either rent the whole room or do NOT teach middle sections. Simply swap positions with your neighbors.
  5. If you set yourself beside a privacy curtain assume that your neighbors may expect you to use it or else switch places with them so others can take advantage of the amenity.
  6. Rent space during non peak hours (anytime BEFORE 6pm) if you are teaching tap or flamenco, drumming, zills or other loud percussive dances. Anything after 6pm requires that you rent the entire back room as you are making it IMPOSSIBLE for others to teach next to you.
  7. Be mindful of volume levels and speaker location/angle or take turns if nobody is able to hear their music. If your speakers are poor quality bring A/V wires to take advantage of the many speakers the studio offers. If the bass is adjustable set it to MEDIUM.
  8. Approach management with unresolvable complaints rather than gossiping or cyber bullying on social media as that damages the studio reputation and creates a toxic work climate.
  9. Ask permission before adjusting the teaching environment –curtains, lights, fans, borrowing speakers, using overhead speakers, adjusting temperature climate, closing or opening blinds or windows, switching music, etc…
  10. Due to the high risk, direct contact nature of our jobs, use sanitizer or wash hands frequently to prevent spreading germs around the studio.
  11. Turn your music OFF when not teaching or dancing to minimize the overall noise in the room. Don’t leave music playing unattended.
  12. Don’t leave your belongings around the studio to “save” a space indefinitely. Let your neighbors know when you plan to return.
If landlords avoid creating some structure and standard expectations for everyone using the studio then landlords are setting themselves up for a situation when a disgruntled customer has a complaint about the environment or another instructor's conduct and the staff simply replies, "Sorry, we have no rules here." or "Sorry, I don't know what the rules are here." or bombards your office with all their customer complaints because "It's out of my hands." or worse, "I agree with you but the management does not respect staff concerns so perhaps you should address them directly or write a review online to get their attention." Don't waste precious time putting out fires and reinventing the wheel when you should be focused on earning a great profit from a popular studio! Please use common sense and good etiquette to be part of the SOLUTION be creating a FUN environment for yourself, colleagues staff, renters and clients that is friendly and respectful so everyone will recommend and support your studio while sharing your passion for dancing!
Deborah Joy Block is a professional dance performer and has 17 years of teaching experience with over 10,000 students. Mrs. Block is an entrepreneur, supervised 30 professional instructors including world champions. and is a certified etiquette instructor from the American School of Protocol in Atlanta, Georgia. Mrs Block is the  Director of Back to Basics Manners Social Graces Program teaching etiquette and social dance in the DC metro community, public and private school systems for 10 years. Deborah Joy Block, is also the Founder of The Wedding Dance Specialists and premiere national expert of the wedding dance industry who inspired the entire niche industry to expand worldwide. Mrs. Block is available for interviews, consulting, guest blogging and teaching etiquette and social dance instruction in the DC metro area. http://www.BackToBasicsManners.com and http://www.theweddingdancespecialists.com/in-the-press.php

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

All Dressed Up And No Place To Go! Oh NO!

by Deborah Joy Block, Premiere National Expert on Wedding Dance

Have you heard of the fable about the Emperor with no clothes? He travels through his kingdom making proclamations but his ommission obscures his message. Unaware of his nakedness and with nobody daring to inform him, his nonverbal communication speaks volumes. Watching the honored couple resort to the prom sway for their First Dance debut is equally awkward. They are royalty for the day and the dance floor spotlight is the most visibly dynamic destination which represents their unity - the reason they got married. In this comparison, both the Emperor and the Couple have missed the opportunity to seal the deal with action. 

Which brings me to a sad story that I wish was just a fable.  It has only happened once before in my 16 year career as a wedding dance instructor working with over 10,000 engaged couples. I had a groom slip through the cracks. He came in for one visit and then his fiance contacted me to say he was too nervous about the idea of dancing to go forward with the lessons. I was proud of him for being open enough to come to the studio because stepping through the door is often the hardest part for people- especially men. 
I asked them what their alternative plan was and the bride tearfully responded "the high school prom sway."  I suggested that before settling on a decision they should videotape themselves and see if they can last 2 minutes (a typical song is 3:45) without feeling bored or awkward then watch the full 2 minutes from their guest's perspective too.

According to proper etiquette, The First Dance is a formal obligation to open up the dance floor for your guests so they feel welcome and comfortable to dance and set the tone for the festivities. It is also the epitome of the Cinderella/Prince Charming moment at their ball. Unfortunately, I don't think he realizes that the awkward high school prom sway for 4 minutes in front of 200 people is not a desirable alternative either especially when this "photo op" is costing $5000 in photography and $1500 worth of videography. Cutting the "bear hug sway" down to 90 seconds isn't fooling anyone either. It just says that you are all dressed up with no place to go. There are countless reasons a person can conjure up to talk him/herself out of dance lessons but for every reason not to there are double the reason to go for it!

The dance lessons are a vulnerable space where couples learn about themselves and their partnership. The couples also feel pressurized because they are often juggling major undertakings such as full time jobs, graduate school, moving house plus wedding planning! They carve out precious time to prepare for their first social debut as Man and Wife which is expressed through The First Dance. Besides a required formality, The First Dance is also the most sacred ritual of the wedding reception. It is the physical manifestation of your ceremony vows of unity and with a little preparation it becomes the highlight for the couple and the guests.  Can you imagine a ceremony with no microphone for all of the guests to hear the vows? Unthinkable. Dance moves give voice to the First Dance as a nonverbal expression of a couple's love. It has the potential to be the most magical, sensual  and exquisitely romantic moment of the whole reception. Royal proclamations and ceremony vows are intended to be backed up with action since actions speak louder than words. That's why it breaks my heart when Prince Charming surrenders to his fear and gives up his throne.

The Wedding Dance Specialists is the premiere national expert of the wedding dance industry. Deborah Joy and Brian Block founded the company in 2000, while engaged and preparing their own "First Dance." Year after year,The Wedding Dance Specialists remain the most recommended wedding dance company according to engaged couples, wedding vendors and the media.  The company has taught over 10,000 engaged couples. Appearing repeatedly on Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen Network, The Wedding Dance Specialists and their students starred on an episode of "Real Weddings by the Knot", the nation's first wedding reality show. In addition to attracting celebrity clientele, The Wedding Dance Specialists were the nations original wedding dance company and have since inspired an entire niche industry that has expanded worldwide!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

What Does the First Dance Symbolize?

The Most Sacred Ritual of the Wedding Reception – The First Dance
By Deborah Joy Block, National Wedding Dance Expert

TWDS Founders Deborah and Brian Block's First Dance - Tango
You’ve made a big investment in many aspects of the wedding day that will only last one day but will live on in your memories and album– with one exception – your First Dance lessons.  The cake will be eaten, the flowers will die, the gown will be preserved in a closet or sold but learning to dance is a small investment in your actual relationship which lives on and evolves. Dancing is a  life skill useful for future special occasions or even just tender moments in your living room on a rainy night! Our students say their dancing date nights are the most fun and romantic time they have during the wedding planning process and our couples tell us that the First Dance is the most sentimental moment of the reception too!

Many couples are realizing the importance of expressing their unity and growing closer through this unique learning experience. They are seizing the opportunity to shine on the dance floor while personalizing their celebration through their own creative expression.  For these insightful couples, the First Dance is often the highlight of the reception, and the most vivid wedding memory guests recall since actions speak louder than words.

There are lots of aspects of the wedding that can be outsourced - - the bakery, the caterer, the florist, the event planner. There are two vital components that only the couple themselves can execute in order for a wedding to be valid and authentic - - their vows and their First Dance.  The public and legally binding vows verbally profess the couple’s intentions to be supportive and loyal to each other. The First Dance is the first marital act that physically proves a couple’s ability to be supportive of one another. And actions speak louder than words. After all, you are not going to recite your vows to each other every day of your marriage but instead you will prove your sincerity through your actions both big and small. Just as couples attend a rehearsal to prepare for their ceremony, it is vital to dedicate some time in advance before making their public debut in the spotlight as a married couple. By exercising teamwork and patience during private rehearsals and ultimately for public display, the couple “moves as one” on the dance floor and a promise is sealed and delivered. For this reason, the First Dance is the most sacred ritual of the wedding reception.

For less than the price of Cinderella's glass slipper, couples can sparkle in the spotlight instead of being all dressed up with no place to go once they reach the ballroom floor.  With a little preparation, you can turn the most sentimental moment into the most memorable moment for you and your guests!
TWDS students Greg and Shelley Webb

The Wedding Dance Specialists is the premiere national expert of the wedding dance industry. Deborah Joy and Brian Block founded the company in 2000, while engaged and preparing their own "First Dance." Year after year,The Wedding Dance Specialists remain the most recommended wedding dance company according to engaged couples, wedding vendors and the media.  The company has taught over 10,000 engaged couples. Appearing repeatedly on Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen Network, The Wedding Dance Specialists and their students starred on an episode of "Real Weddings by the Knot", the nation's first wedding reality show. In addition to attracting celebrity clientele, The Wedding Dance Specialists were the nations original wedding dance company and have since inspired an entire niche industry that has expanded worldwide!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Help! My Partner Dreads Dancing Part II : Ten Tips to Overcome Dance Floor Dread

by Deborah Joy Block, National Wedding Dance Expert

In Part 1 of this blog I discussed the common problem I encounter on a regular basis of students (mainly grooms) but sometimes brides expressing serious reservations about dancing, learning to dance and dancing in the spotlight. I explain that dancing has historically been a primal expression of joy and a way for a community to come together in celebration. Although most people end up having fun after they feel empowered I cannot guarantee a good time because 1. I can't control anyone's emotions and 2. it's above my pay grade. However, it IS my job to make you look good in front of your guests and the cameras and I can certainly guarantee good results IF you stick with the program. It's important to first find out WHY your partner is feeling the way he is so that you will know which angle to approach him/her from. So here are a few strategies I recommend trying when dealing with a reticent dance partner. Follow these 10 tips and yo will be dancing and romancing in no time!


1. Validate his/her feelings - Fear is normal. Do not allow yourself to be defeated by it. Live a little!

A Bride's Fears:


“During the wedding planning period, which is inherently stressful, I learned something important about myself: outside of work I really do lack confidence. I was uncomfortable being celebrated as a bride, and the dance lessons brought up a lot of unexpected feelings. Deborah Joy was so cool and supportive, even sending me an encouraging email after one of our sessions. She taught me techniques that enhanced my confidence and pride as a woman. She made us both feel important. We are truly grateful.” makerr, Wedding: 8/4/2012

A Groom's Fears:
So tomorrow [which is tonight for all y'all readers] it all begins.  I am not looking forward to it.  Put me on a baseball field, a football field, or a basketball court and I have all the coordination in the world.  Put me on a dance floor and it's not that i have two left feet.  I'd more say i have no feet at all, just two legs cemented into the ground, with the occasional bend at the knee.
I figure there are three things that can come out of this first lesson:
1.  The instructor realizes I am completely hopeless and asks us not to waste anymore of her time
2.  Amy realizes I am completely hopeless and decides that we shouldn't waste anymore of the instructor's time
3.  The instructor miraculously is able to teach me to keep some sort of rhythm

I think it will be 1 or 2.  I hope the instructor realizes what she's getting into.  Wish me luck. 

2. Give him/her an out - I recommend that nervous grooms approach the whole thing as just a fun learning opportunity and that if he decided at that last minute that he is not comfortable going through with it then change the focus entirely to dancing for fun instead of dancing in the spotlight.  Change the direction of the lessons to focus on how he can learn to transform the same moves into fast dancing when he is not in the spotlight for general dancing, future social events, the honeymoon (or even just in your living room on a rainy night! ;)) Whether he chooses to learn to dance before or after the wedding he should know that dance lessons are  a safe space, working with a professional, with nobody judging him.  It’s an opportunity for the two of you to explore and grow from a new challenge together that ultimately brings you closer. After he has relaxed and started to enjoy himself, have the instructor video you both doing your "First Stand" as the high school prom sway and make him watch the WHOLE dance from his audience's perspective. This combined approach should be enough to convince and compell him to want to continue learning the spotlight dance too.

3. Find a support group - Read testimonials by other grooms on review sites or check out the blog diary of one of my couples  from both the bride and groom’s perspective on their dance lessons. Maybe reading this will be helpful to your groom:
http://www.relentlessbride.com/search/label/He%20Said%20She%20Said

4. Seeing is believing - If the Groom's diary doesn't help, I suggest videotaping yourselves doing the high school prom sway for the whole length of your song and see how it feels and then watch the whole thing from your audience's perspective. See how long you can bear to watch the zombie sway. Or have him watch some simple routines on YouTube to show him other Grooms who were brave enough to take the plunge.

5. Good old fashioned guilt - The bride is generally responsible for the majority of the wedding planning and has to endure the most stress. The First Dance is the Groom's project because he is the Leader on the dance floor so it's the least he can do.

6. Sex sells - Guys who can dance are chick magnets because dancing is an aphrodisiac for women. I call it "Floorplay." So really flirt with him on the dance floor, serenade him, shower him with kisses, run your fingers through his hair, caress him, smile and wink to show your delight with how he is making you feel.  Talk to him with your hips instead of with your lips! But save something for the honeymoon...Dancing is floorplay not "all the way!"

7. Let the teacher be the bad guy - Brides, avoid the temptation to correct your Groom, back lead the steps, micromanage or criticize, anticipate the moves or even give him clues. He has to learn not to rely on you as a crutch so that he doesn't panic under pressure. Give him the space to learn how to become a trained dancer under the watchful eye of a trained and seasoned professional who can objectively provide feedback without the emotional connection. Perhaps the Groom is bristling about lessons because tension rises between you during the learning process or during practice sessions. Be sure to read our "Practice Makes Perfect" tips and let the teacher be the mediator during the lessons. Dance lessons are like pre-marital counseling so practice your teamwork skills! 

8. Make it fun! Take the pressure off of the groom by reassuring him that you are not attached to the outcome. Keep the lessons a secret to reduce the expectations so that your dance floor debut is a pleasant surprise for your guests. The Groom will likely be the expert in the room by the time he finishes his lessons and nobody even knows what he rehearsed. However things turn out you are just grateful that he is making the effort and you are proud of him for trying. Remind him that you are thrilled to be marrying your soul mate and best friend and even if you just use your dance moves at home, it will be a romantic gift. Couples have enough stress planning the wedding, dance lessons should be the most fun aspect!

9. Let the Groom lead! It is tremendously liberating once a man realizes that he is the pilot and you are the passenger. Once he has total control over the situation and clear roles are established I usually see tremendous relief wash over the mens' faces because they realize that this will not be a power struggle or another "compromise." Instead it is his project that he can take ownership of and take pride in creating a magical experience for the Bride. Although there are clear patterns and processes and black and white  at the end of the day he is still right even when he is wrong. So if he dances off beat ladies, just dance to the beat of his heart!  

10. Leave it to the pros - If all of your cajoling fails, perhaps he needs professional intervention. Have him read Part 1 and Part 2 of this article or encourage him to call your instructor and have an open, honest and candid discussion of his fears and concerns. Instructors have heard every reservation, objection and excuse in the book and may be able to talk him down off the ledge. Maybe if given the chance, your instructor can help your groom face the music and dance!

The Wedding Dance Specialists is the premiere national expert of the wedding dance industry. Deborah Joy and Brian Block founded the company in 2000, while engaged and preparing their own "First Dance." Year after year,The Wedding Dance Specialists remain the most recommended wedding dance company according to engaged couples, wedding vendors and the media.  The company has taught over 10,000 engaged couples. Appearing repeatedly on Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen Network, The Wedding Dance Specialists and their students starred on an episode of "Real Weddings by the Knot", the nation's first wedding reality show. In addition to attracting celebrity clientele, The Wedding Dance Specialists were the nations original wedding dance company and have since inspired an entire niche industry that has expanded worldwide!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Help! My Groom Dreads Dancing!


by Deborah Joy Block, Founder of The Wedding Dance Specialists


A sad thing happened this week. It has only happened once before in my 16 year career as a wedding dance instructor. I had a groom slip through the cracks. He came in for one visit and then his fiance contacted me to say he was too nervous about the idea of dancing to go forward with the lessons. I was proud of him for being open enough to come to the studio because stepping through the door is often the hardest part for men. But his self doubt overpowered his trust in me as a professional. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Unfortunately, I don't think he realizes that the awkward high school prom sway for 4 minutes in front of 200 people is not a desirable alternative either especially when this "photo op" is costing $5000 in photography and $2000 worth of videography. Cutting the "bear hug sway" down to 90 seconds isn't fooling anyone. It just says that you are all dressed up with no place to go. Torturing your guests with the "zombie sway" means you've become another dance floor casualty. Since the Groom is the leader on the dance floor doing nothing demonstrates that you have put no thought or effort into the Bride's "Cinderella" moment in the spotlight. 

I have surveyed thousands of couples and I have found that the majority of the time the bride is burdened with projects and shoulders the majority of the stress of wedding planning. The First  Dance is  the Groom's project. It's his job to show her off, make her feel treasured and special and keep her safe. That requires preparation. Just remember one thing when your nerves get the best of you - You are supposed to suck when you first start something new. You do not have to have faith in your own natural talent. Dancing is a learned skill like everything else, the skills are not acquired by just rolling out of bed. So just have faith in the talent and expertise of your teacher and when you are ready they will let you know. After all, they have a reputation to keep up to and have an incentive to make you look good. There are countless reasons a person can conjure up to talk him/herself out of dance lessons but for every reason not to there is another good reason to go for it!

The dance lessons are a vulnerable space where couples learn about themselves and their partnership. The couples also feel pressurized because they are often juggling major undertakings such as full time jobs, graduate school, moving house plus wedding planning! They carve out precious time to prepare for their debut as Man and Wife which is expressed through The First Dance. And it is our honor to be trusted with the awesome responsibility of someone's public debut especially because the First Dance is the most sacred ritual of the wedding reception. After all, actions speak louder than words. It is the physical manifestation of your ceremony vows of unity and with a little preparation it becomes the highlight for the couple and the guests. It is also the most magical and exquisitely romantic moment of the whole reception. It breaks my heart when people surrender to their fear.

For many cultures dancing is the most primal collective expression of joy  and I certainly love sharing my passion for dance with couples! At least half of my grooms are very excited about learning and view the wedding as the perfect excuse and opportunity to finally be rico suave on the dance floor! However, many grooms in our culture are not enthusiastic about dancing. Some are bitter. Some are terrified and feel like a lamb being taken to the slaughter. Some just do it to make the bride happy. Men in American culture are not generally raised with dancing so when they are confronted with it on their wedding day it is uncomfortable because they are afraid of looking silly in front of others. That is the whole purpose of lessons. To get comfortable behind closed doors before being in the spotlight. Often brides are nervous too but if anyone is dreading the experience it is generally the groom. I had one man introduce himself to me  as, “Terrified" instead of his name when shaking my hand. I had another groom refuse to look me in the eye, talk or smile for 5 hours and yet another groom was actually extorted into taking the lessons by his Father in law. But in my 15 years of experience working with nervous grooms all of them felt empowered and more confident after the experience and most of them had a new perspective about dancing in general. By the way, both grooms I mentioned earlier did a spectacular job during their First Dance and had terrific video and photos to capture the moment! 

Click here for Part II - Ten Tips to Overcome Dance floor Dread-  http://weddingdance411.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2013-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2014-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=4

To learn about our upcoming Wedding Dance Boot Camps click here!

The Wedding Dance Specialists is the premiere national expert of the wedding dance industry. Deborah Joy and Brian Block founded the company in 2000, while engaged and preparing their own "First Dance." Year after year,The Wedding Dance Specialists remain the most recommended wedding dance company according to engaged couples, wedding vendors and the media.  The company has taught over 10,000 engaged couples. Appearing repeatedly on Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen Network, The Wedding Dance Specialists and their students starred on an episode of "Real Weddings by the Knot", the nation's first wedding reality show. In addition to attracting celebrity clientele, The Wedding Dance Specialists were the nations original wedding dance company and have since inspired an entire niche industry that has expanded worldwide!