The first dance traditionally takes place immediately after the couple has been announced at the reception, but it's not your only option.

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Everyone loves watching a newlywed couple's first dance—the happy twosome seemingly oblivious as many pairs of eyes watch them swirl around the room to a slow, sweet song that leaves observers wiping away a tear or two. But should you do it before or after dinner? Generally, the first dance takes place at the very beginning of a wedding reception, immediately following the bride and groom's entrance. Lately, though, it seems like the post-dinner first dance is gaining popularity. Is it right for you? Consider the pros and cons of doing your first dance once the meal is over, as outlined below, to make your decision.

bride and groom first dance

Pro: The first dance kicks off a night of dancing.

It feels appropriate that the most sentimental dance of the night happens right before everyone gets down on the dance floor and the real wedding fun begins. Plus, your first dance typically concludes with everyone being invited out to the dance floor. If you were hoping to have a pre-dinner dance set, this is the best way to make that happen.

Con: You won't have a captive audience.

When the first dance doesn't happen until after dinner is over, half the guests will be chatting with friends and family while the rest will be waiting in line for the restrooms. By contrast, if you did the dance at the reception's very start, the crowd will be enthused and go wild.

Pro: Guests won't have to sit through a lengthy list of traditions.

If you're starting the reception off with bridal party introductions, followed by the first dance, the parents' dances, and possibly a blessing, guests may wonder if they'll ever see a waiter again. Not so with an after-dinner first dance. Everyone will be full and happy.

Con: It will prolong your performance anxiety.

Learning that choreographed number seemed like such a good idea, but with the first dance happening in the middle of the reception, it means you've been nervous about dancing in front of a crowd for hours. If you tend to be anxious about these types of things, it's better to share your dance early so you can relax and enjoy the rest of the party.

Con: You and your dress won't look as fresh.

Think of the photos. By the time you're ready for "All of Me," you and your wedding dress (and the groom) will have been through hours of hugging, kissing, chatting, eating, drinking, and crying. It might not be your best look. Plus, if you planned to wait to bustle your dress after the first dance, you'll be walking around with a train for quite some time, which could lead to stains or tears.

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