Surprise Wedding Dances

Bride and groom doing a surprise dance

A surprise and choreographed wedding dance by the couple is a treat at many wedding receptions. Couples getting married often choose funky, upbeat songs for their surprise dance. With a little help and a few tips, most couples can plan their own surprise dance to wow family and friends.

Newlywed Dancing Goes Viral

YouTube has been a main contributing factor to the popularity of surprise wedding dances. The video sharing website provides a place for guests and couples to upload their choreographed dances for friends, family and even strangers to watch time and time again.

One couple, Michelle and John Brubaker, have had over 10 million views of their first dance routine set to Baby Got Back, after it was uploaded by their videographer for loved ones to watch if they were unable to attend the wedding.

James Derbyshire and Julia Boggio recreated the final dance scene from the movie Dirty Dancing, set to The Time of My Life. The UK couple has had over four million views of their YouTube video and plenty of press that followed, including an appearance on BBC's morning show and a surprise from Patrick Swayze on Oprah where they showed off their skills.

Numerous other videos have been uploaded and sent around the globe through shared and forwarded emails. The first dances range from couples doing the 1980s "robot" moves to break dancing to hip-hop mixes to the hottest salsa moves. Making their way across millions of computer screens, these surprise wedding dances show no sign of stopping any time soon.

Create a Surprise Wedding Dance

A surprise first dance can be a fun challenge for couples who are looking to break up the traditional first dance with something unexpected. Tips for creating the dance include:

  • Start early, because you need to have the moves down for the dance to be successful.
  • Choose a song you both enjoy that is also appropriate for the occasion. Classic party songs, disco hits, rock tunes and contemporary hip-hop are all popular choices.
  • Make your dance a "split" routine to cut down on the amount of time you need to do the routine. The first part can be a traditional dance to a love song, while the second part is a fun routine.
  • Ask a trusted friend or relative with dance experience to help guide you.
  • Brides with uncooperative grooms might consider asking their fathers to do a surprise choreographed father-daughter dance.
  • Be sure your wedding dress is appropriate for doing all of your dance moves; a tight or extremely low cut dress may not be the best choice.
  • Keep the dance a surprise by making it a "need to know" piece of information.

Couples who are reluctant to make up their own routine can always copy the moves from another media, ala James and Julia. Popular dances can be found in music videos (Thriller, Hit Me Baby One More Time, Bye Bye Bye) and movies like Footloose.

Spotlight shy couples can enlist the help of others in making their first dance a hit. Asking the maid of honor and best man to be "backup" dancers is a great way to share the limelight. The entire bridal party can even become a dance crew with a little practice.

Two Left Feet? No Problem

With all of the other planning that goes into a wedding, coming up with a choreographed routine can be difficult for even the most experienced dancer. Luckily, the experienced toe-tapper and the left-footed disaster can get help from instructors who are trained to teach simple dance routines to couples in a short amount of time.

The groom and best man practicing dance moves


Most dances will require at least three lessons with the instructor(s), with many typically taking five. Lessons may take the following format:

  1. Introduction; dance and song style/choice
  2. Instructor shows couple the dance s/he created and breaks it down into steps
  3. The couple returns after several days of practice to polish the routine
  4. Extra lesson or lesson with bridal party; instructor may send home written dance steps for further practice
  5. Final lesson, in costume (if necessary) and with bridal party (if involved)

The cost of the choreographed routines will depend upon several factors. Geographic location, instructor experience, number of lessons and number of people involved in the dance will all factor into the cost. An average cost can range anywhere from 50 to 150 dollars or more for lessons.

Rock the Reception

For a realistic look at exactly what goes into creating a surprise choreographed wedding dance, check out the new television show on cable channel TLC called Rock the Reception. Showcasing couples who want to surprise their guests with a fantastic routine, this show follows them from the first meeting with dance instructors to the ups and downs of practice to the actual dance at the wedding.

The best wedding dance is one that you and your spouse have fun doing. Surprise or not, any wedding dance where the couple is having a good time is one that the guests will enjoy and remember forever.

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Surprise Wedding Dances