It can be hard to know when to get the party started.
guests watch bride and groom share first dance
Credit: Sarah Falugo

When you think back to the last wedding you attended, your clearest memories are probably of the reception: While you loved watching the couple exchange vows, remember enjoying the cocktail hour and your dinner, and swear you had a slice of cake, what you can likely see in your mind's eye is you and the other guests in attendance dancing the night away to the sounds of a live band or DJ. Since the party is what often sticks with guests the longest, it's no surprise that you want to make sure your wedding has a great one. But if you want to encourage your guests to dance all night long, when is the best time to open up the dance floor? We checked in with pro planner Beth Helmstetter to see what she recommends when it comes to the right timing for officially opening up your wedding's dance floor.

Most couples feel that dancing kicks off the party, but in order to keep your timeline smooth and your guests entertained, is it best to open up the dance floor right away, or should couples wait until after dinner? According to Helmstetter, both are viable options. If you plan to have your first dance as a married couple immediately after your reception entrance, you might want to invite guests to join you on the dance floor after, encouraging a pre-dinner dance set. If you're open to it, have your band leader or DJ let guests know that they can also get up and dance throughout the meal if they feel inspired. "You never know if the band is going to play Aunt Janet and Uncle Tom's 'song' during the salad course, and if they do, you'd certainly want to ensure guests are comfortable dancing," Helmstetter says.

However, if you're thinking about waiting until after dinner to officially open up the dance floor, Helmstetter has some pro tips to share. "We recommend kicking off the evening with a welcome toast from the bride's father or even the couple. From there, allow guests to simply enjoy dinner and a bit of toasting before the dance floor is opened perfect," she explains. "Once the last dinner course is dropped, use that time to start the formal dances beginning with the first dance."

Once you make it through your first dance and any mother-son or father-daughter dances you choose to include, your guests will be excited to get on their feet and join you. If you're not sure how to make the transition from dinner to dancing, consider asking your band leader or DJ to invite each guest to the dance floor to take a group photo, and then playing an upbeat song that keeps them there.


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