7 Fun First Dance Alternatives to Start the Party Off Right

From singing karaoke to riding a mechanical bull.
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
by
Chapelle Johnson
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
Associate Editor
  • Chapelle writes articles for The Knot Worldwide. She covers all things wedding-related and has a personal interest in covering celebrity engagements and fashion.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Chapelle was an editorial intern for Subvrt Magazine.
  • Chapelle has a degree in English writing from Loyola University New Orleans.
Updated May 18, 2022

There are many reasons why you might not want to do a first dance at your wedding—for example, you don't like being in the spotlight, dancing isn't your strong suit or you really want to do something nontraditional. No matter the reason, there are numerous first dance alternatives to choose from so you can personalize your wedding to fit you while still making the most of your sentimental moment. If you and your partner want a memorable start to your reception but don't know what to do instead of a first dance, read through our list of fun and creative ways to represent your love story.

Welcome Toast

If going the traditional route isn't your style, consider a welcome toast as a first dance alternative. After making your entrance as newlyweds, welcome your guests to the reception with a beautiful toast, then invite everyone to the dance floor. If you've hired a wedding DJ or band, discuss with them what songs you want to play so you can set the right tone for the start of your celebration. Our tip: Choose one song to follow the welcome toast. That way, you and your guests can have a little fun before returning to your seats for dinner and drinks—don't worry, more dancing can resume later. (Need help making a playlist you and your guests will love? We've created a perfect list of the best wedding songs for each moment of your big day.)

Group Dance

This is a great first dance alternative if you like to dance but don't want the pressure of having all eyes on you. Try coordinating a choreographed dance with your wedding party so you and your friends can show off your moves on the big day (not to mention that it makes for a great Instagrammable moment). We recommend playing an upbeat line dance song like "Cha Cha Slide" by DJ Casper or "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus. If you don't think you'll have time to coordinate a dance before the wedding, simply pick a song that you and your partner love and dance together for the first 30 or 60 seconds of the song. Then you can invite your wedding party to dance with you for the remainder of the song.

Karaoke

Still wondering what to do instead of a first dance? Rent a karaoke machine as a unique way to kick off your reception entertainment. Ask your wedding DJ or band if it's possible to add a karaoke component to your contract—otherwise, you can rent the machine from a local party equipment vendor. Figure out if your band or DJ needs any songs sent to them before the wedding so they have time to learn them or include them on your reception playlist.

For some people, going in front of a crowd and singing can be nerve-racking, so you might have to go first to ease any awkwardness and help your guests feel more comfortable about going up next. Try singing a sweet duet with your spouse like the Broadway love song "We Go Together" from "Grease" (it's always a hit). Our tip: Curate a list of songs ahead of time for you and the guests to sing to avoid any inappropriate songs being performed. We'd recommend bringing the karaoke machine out after dinner before you invite everyone onto the floor for dancing.

Love Story Presentation

A slideshow of photos and videos of you and your partner's love story is a beautiful first dance alternative. Set your slideshow to music and show photos of where you and your partner first met, you and your partner's journey to the big day and funny or cute prewedding moments. Not tech-savvy? Some wedding DJs offer custom slideshows as part of their services, so ask yours if that's an option. Your presentation can be as silly or heartfelt as you would like, but remember to include photos of your loved ones and not to make it too long—we'd recommend capping it between three and five minutes. You don't want your guests getting restless and turning their attention to their Instagram feed. (We have a list of other dos and don'ts of wedding slideshows to help you showcase your favorite moments.)

Song Performance

Are you and your partner musicians rather than dancers? Or do you both love singing with one another? Then performing a song for your guests might be a more fitting first dance alternative for you. With this option, you're not only making a special connection with your partner but with your guests as well. There's no doubt your guests will be captivated by hearing you sing or play your favorite song in harmony.

Wedding Games

If you want to get into some friendly competition on your wedding day, set up a big screen to play Mario Kart or channel your dark side by having a Star Wars lightsaber duel. You can stick with traditional wedding games too, like the wedding shoe game or wedding guest bingo so you can include your guests in the fun. But our favorite first dance alternative has to be having a mechanical bull at your reception—dancing isn't the only way to surprise your guests with your coordination skills.

Wedding Speeches

If you're still wondering whether you need to have a first dance, the answer is no! It's your wedding, so do what makes you and your partner the most comfortable. Instead of slow dancing in front of your loved ones, skip to the wedding speeches upon entering the reception and taking your seats. If you're serving plated meals, ask your wedding planner if you can serve the food at the same time as the speeches, which are traditionally given in between courses. This way you and your guests can enjoy a delicious meal while listening to a couple of funny (and tear-jerking) toasts.

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