A Treatise on Why Everyone Needs to Take Dance Lessons Before Their Wedding

And various other assundries.

So, I got married.

I’ll pause and let you properly mourn that this out-of-shape, neurotic wino (patent pending) is officially off the market.

I’m sorry for your loss.

Please, no tears. 

Compose yourself and we’ll move on, together.

Weddings are strange.  When you become engaged, you metamorphose from Kerri McGovern, friend at large, to THE BRIDE.  And people expect you to play the role well, with grace, however foreign the subjects of table linens and your “theme” (for the record, still in the dark on this one) are.

I’ve mocked up some tricks of the trade to help you through your big day as THE BRIDE:

  1. Embark on an extremely ambitious diet and exercise plan as soon as you are engaged, knowing full well that the 3 months before the wedding you will be up at 4:30am watching Murder on the Orient Express and stress eating cold, day old Vietnamese food.
  2. Solicit opinions from friends and family and then HATE them for butting in.
  3. Cry at work.
  4. Become a functional alcoholic, because the only thing preventing you from saying “screw this” and  hopping on a plane to Vegas is that you are too drunk to drive to the airport.
  5. Take dance lessons.

Dance lessons are my number one recommendation for your upcoming nuptials.  Dance lessons and cutting your song down to 1:15.  NO ONE wants to watch you sway back and forth to 6+ minutes of Wild Horses while their drinks get warm.  The getting married part is easy; you just stand up there and repeat when prompted.  The first dance is a whole other level of scrutiny.

When it comes to dancing, Rich (now husband) and I have two diverse dance backgrounds. 

The last time Rich danced at an event of this largesse, he was doing the Macarena with Rachel Goldenblatt at his bar mitzvah.  He manages to give off a strong Jewish Frankenstein vibe when he attempts to dance – stiff upper body, rocking back and forth, repeatedly demanding “braaaiiinnsss.”

I, on the other hand, had 5 years of intense ballet training.  From the ages of 3-8, I was a serious student of the craft, until my career was abruptly cut short by commitments to soccer and softball, and a family trip to Disney.

We signed up for the wedding package at the iconic Dance Factory, right in our neighborhood.  This place is great.  They have a strong showing in the 50+ population, if anyone is looking for tango partners.

Our instructor, Sam, is smooth headed and has an infinite supply of high waisted bolero pants.

Rich, while lacking natural talent, is a great student.  He does EXACTLY what you tell him to do.  No embellishment.  No rhythm.  He can wax poetical for hours about Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, or Herbie Hancock, but can’t tap his foot to the beat of their songs.  We did a lot of clapping and counting out loud our first class.

By the second class, we had our step-step-rockstep down and were flying high.  Sam decided we were ready for turns and dips.

Oh, Sam.  This man exudes so much patience.  He translated dance terms like “pretzel” into bits we could understand like “Rich, you stay still. Kerri, you move around him.”  We managed a pretty decent dip, eventually.

At our last lesson, Sam presented me with a skirt to practice in.  That was a game changer for me – I realized no one would really see my feet in the dress!!  Ha-HA!  As for Jewish Frankenstein, he had graduated to a whole new zombie level.  Not quite Thriller zombie, but certainly Army of Darkness-worthy.

Sam wished us luck and we promised we would practice every day.  Which we did not.  See Point 4 re: alcoholism.

At our reception, we snuck away to practice before the introductions.  

Oh crap.

I didn’t remember ANY of it. 

You know who did?  My husband-zombie.  Every bit.  And the real names of the moves.  He re-taught me the whole dance, minutes before show time.

And.  We.  Nailed it!

And.  I.  Can take no credit for it.

So thank you Sam of the Dance Factory for making us look like we knew what we were doing, and thank you Rich for remembering the steps…and for letting me insinuate that you eat brains.


954 North Monroe St

Arlington, VA 22201
(703) 528-9770 - phone


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Cecily Walters July 15, 2011 at 04:59 PM
This brings back memories of when my husband and I took dance lessons at Dance Factory four years ago for our wedding. (Agreed about the practice skirt--so helpful!) We had a similar experience with the patient instruction. The money, time and effort we put in were all worth it; we actually looked like we knew what we were doing during our first dance instead of just swaying. (I also must second your advice to couples about the length--one or two minutes is really perfectly sufficient.) Congratulations and best wishes!
Julia Hatcher July 17, 2011 at 12:33 AM
Cool advise but i remember at our wedding both Matt and I were too drunk to do a dance so never got past step 4..... we still haven't


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