wedding dance

PNW Wedding Dance

Make Your Wedding Dance as Unique as your Love

Planning the wedding dance may not be the top of your priority list, but a little advance dance prep can help make sure this classic wedding tradition is not only fun, but also reflective of your unique relationship. Nikki Gaither with PNW Wedding Dance spoke with us about how she helps her clients makes sure their dance represents them and  

Where did the idea for PNW Wedding Dance come from?

I started teaching dance at Studio One Dance Academy in 2013 and a year or so into it my boss started sending all these wedding dance and flash mob opportunities my way. The more of them I did, the more I realized how much I enjoyed them and connecting with couples leading up to their big day.

Dance is filled with emotion and bringing that expression into a wedding environment, on potentially the most important day of one’s life? Or helping someone surprise the one they love? Well, the feeling of watching that unfurl is indescribable. I fell in love with watching LOVE through movement and decided I wanted to do more and more of it. So I threw my hat in the ring and started my own business, PDX Flash Mob in 2016.

As PDX Flash Mob evolved and expanded over the years I started to gravitate more and more towards wedding dances, in particular first dances with the bride & groom. While I love a good party, I really thrive most on deep connections one on one and found this was true not only in my private life but also with my clients. Thus, PNW Wedding Dance was born. I still love doing flash mobs but wanted this business to be focused solely on everything wedding – father/daughter dances, bridesmaid dances, garter dances, and reception line dance lessons just to name a few!

How do you help people with no dance experience get ready for their big day?

9 out of 10 of my couples have no previous dance experience whatsoever. The biggest thing I encourage them to do is start early. Sometimes wedding dances are pretty low on the priority list in terms of wedding planning, but waiting until the last minute to take lessons is a big mistake. The more time you have to practice the more confident you will feel dancing on your wedding day.

Plus, I’ve heard time and time again from couples that dance lessons were their favorite part of the planning process. Wedding planning can often be stressful, so having a fun activity like dance lessons to look forward to with your partner every week (or bi-weekly) can help relieve some anxiety and allow you to enjoy time connecting.

Before we start lessons I ask my couples a variety of questions to learn more about who they are and where their strengths lie. Then as we work together and I see how they move I make adjustments as needed to ensure that each couple has a dance they’re totally in love with that makes them SHINE on their wedding day. Anyone at any skill level can have a jaw-dropping dance that will wow the pants off their wedding guests. We collaborate to make the process a successful one.

How do you work with couples to ensure their dance is unique and reflective of them?

I always encourage my couples to dig deep to make sure their dance is incredibly personal because this is where the magic happens. We start with the music. Choosing a song that is attached to a special memory with your partner or is a specific genre of music you both love is so much more important than choosing a “top 50 first dance songs” hit.

Choosing a dance style you’re excited about is important too. I help guide my couples toward a dance style that matches their song and fits their skill level. Considering an outfit change for your first dance is fun too. If you choose an 80’s-style song (or mix) why not throw on some 80’s-inspired wedding outfits? Or if you’re really into hip hop maybe adding some easy flare to your wedding attire like shades and some bling will help you get in the mood.

I also like to ask my couples if they have any hidden talents (if they can do the worm or moonwalk, for example). It’s fun to add these skills into your dance that you’re already really comfortable with and that you may even be known for amongst your friends and family.

Do you have any advice for couples who want to make sure their wedding is fun and engaging for their guests

Hire an amazing DJ! For reals. A DJ is SO much more than someone who just plays music. They really run your reception and make sure the entire schedule of events runs smoothly. Good DJs work with you to come up with a song list you love instead of just throwing something generic your way that they play at every wedding.

And if you want to take it up a notch, hire me to teach dances at your reception. Whether it’s country line dancing or popular favorites like “the wobble” or “cupid shuffle” or short, original dances we choreograph to some of your favorite songs, this is a sure-fire way to get people on the dance floor and up and moving.

Another fun way to transition to the dance floor is to put your first dance LAST in the run of dances (father/daughter, mother/son, etc.) and turn it into a flash mob or a snowball dance. Dancing for just a minute or two as a couple and then adding more and more people into your dance as the song progresses not only takes some of the pressure off you as far as learning goes but gets people up and moving and on the dance floor and creates amazing energy and electricity in the room, setting the stage for a killer dance party.

what is involved for couples thinking about surprising their guests with a flash mob?

Clients who hire me for flash mobs are usually either looking to take some dance pressure off themselves on their wedding day, or they want to ensure they have an amazing dance party at their reception, or they simply want to involve all their friends and family in a really special memory and moment (or all of the above).

The process is….long. There are so many variables and options for flash mobs. You can involve just your friends and family, hire professionals, or have a mix of both. Any style of dance (and acro) is on the table. We work together to choose songs, costumes, props, and sometimes lighting.

Flash mobs are almost always a surprise for someone in particular, so there is a lot of scheming and legwork that goes into pulling that off. There is a ton of choreography, practice, preparation, and behind-the-scenes planning on my end to ensure the moment is explosive.

We’ve done flash mobs for weddings, bat mitzvahs, proposals, birthdays, vow renewals, and more. They’re a blast and honestly, I’m usually reeling for days afterwards, buzzing on a happy high. These moments are always highly tailored to the individual we’re surprising. There are often tears. And the moment is always touching and unforgettable.

Discover more fun ideas for your wedding in the latest issue of our magazine!