You’ve said your I Do’s and had your first kiss. Dinner has been served and the cake has been cut. You’ve danced, laughed, toasted, and, if you’re anything like me, probably cried a few times. Your feet might hurt from dancing and your cheeks are sore from smiling, but your heart is so so very full. So, what’s left?
The last dance.
Now, I’m not talking about the last song of the reception. You know the one – where the DJ or band announces that it’s the last song of the night and everyone rushes the dance floor for one last song while simultaneously feeling their heartstrings tug because it means the wedding is over. That dance is fun, but I’m talking about the private last dance. The idea of the private last dance between the bride and groom has been around for awhile, but it’s become more and more popular over the last couple of years and talked about a lot more frequently – especially on Pinterest and wedding topic boards. So, what the heck is it?
In short, the private last dance is the actual final song of the night, shared by just the bride and groom. It can be any song you want, from a slow song to an upbeat rap song, as long as it’s something the two of you love and enjoy. It gives you a minute to be entirely alone with one another, enjoy your reception space for the last couple of moments, reflect on the day you’ve had, and get incredible photos, too.
When I planned our last dance, it was entirely for practical purposes. If you’re doing a grand exit – particularly if you’re doing a sparkler exit, which is one of our most popular exits at The Chandelier – it gives your guests time to get outside, get lined up, and get set up for you to walk through the tunnel. I wanted a solid amount of time for the guests to all get outside while also giving myself something to do. I’m way too much of a micromanager and I would have been twiddling my thumbs wanting to go outside and light things for people. I also didn’t want to just be standing in our reception space realizing that the wedding was actually over. By doing a last dance, I was otherwise occupied so I wasn’t wondering if it was still super windy outside and if we brought enough lighters, or getting caught up in any emotions other than how happy I was.
On the other side of practicality, the last dance is a great way to get your guests out of the hall. I’ve been to a lot of weddings in my life, and I’ve seen a clear difference with grand exits before last dances gained a lot of popularity and after they’ve been instituted in almost every wedding I’ve gone to in the last 2 years. Without a private last dance, guests have a tendency to linger. They want to say their goodbyes to the bride and groom, they’re talking to other guests, and they don’t want the party to end. With a private last dance, though, the bride and groom are already on the dance floor and it’s pretty clear to guests that they are expected to go outside so the couple can be alone. Instead of your band or DJ announcing “please head outside for the grand exit,” they can announce “head outside for the grand exit so the bride and groom can share their last dance together.” It gives your guests a purpose and a reason, which clears the hall out faster. It’s useful for your coordinator and photographer so they can get the grand exit set, but it’s also useful to your family because it gets everyone out of the hall once the wedding is over, so they can start cleaning up. Even if people come back in for their shoes/purses/coats after the grand exit, the music is off and the lights are on. It’s a clear indicator that the wedding is (unfortunately) over but it does make things run much more smoothly.
What I didn’t expect from our last dance was how much I would enjoy that moment with my husband. We danced to Gettin’ You Home by Chris Young, sang the lyrics to one another throughout the song, talked about the wedding and being married, and then got to run out of the hall to all of our friends and family cheering outside. There’s truly something to be said about getting to be alone for a few minutes and soak in the fact that 1. you just got married and 2. you just threw an epic party. We also really love our photos and videos from our last dance, because it allowed our photographer/videographer to focus solely on us. There are a ton of great photos from all night on the dance floor, and our first dance, but there are always other people in them. Our last dance photos, however, have us in a world all our own. There are no funny faces or people blinking in the background, and no distractions.
I will also say that the last dance photos at The Chandelier tend to be breathtakingly beautiful. Most photographers have included shots with the couple dancing under the giant crystal chandelier in the hall, and it’s such a pretty way to look back at your reception and all of the beautiful things that happened there. I have 100+ photos of our reception details and how the table settings look and all of the details that I spent hours planning, but the photos from those 3 minutes of dancing tell the story of our reception space better than all of the detail shots combined because they’re emotional. I can see where we had dinner, where my dad dipped me during our dance together, and where I was sitting when I cried during my sister’s toast. I can see our cake table, with no cake left, and our very undone reception tables that shared laughter and stories all night long. I can even see the wet spot on the dance floor from when Kevin spilt his wine on my dress. Those are the memories I want to be brought back to again and again, and a last dance allowed me to think back on all of the greatness of the day that concluded in those 3 minutes of us together, as a married couple.
I can’t say it enough, but plan to have a private last dance. You won’t regret it.
On a personal note, I also want to tell every bride out there to not sweat the small stuff. I know it’s a heck of a lot easier for me to say it now, after going through it, but it really is so true. During our last dance, we had a few people who would.not.leave. no matter how many times our coordinator and DJ tried to get everyone out the door before starting our song. In the raw video footage, you can see me look at Kevin and say “why are they here still?” with a straight up stink eye.
At the time, I was so bothered by them. I blew it off quickly and focused on our dance, but I was still annoyed because that was supposed to be our time. In hindsight, I wish I would have pretended they didn’t exist. It was still our time, they just got to witness it. I say to not sweat the small stuff because there is literally nothing you can do about it without making yourself crazy, but more importantly because your focus should be elsewhere. I have 3 minutes of video footage from our last dance, and I love 2 minutes and 40 seconds of it, but I’m mad at myself for those 20 seconds that focused on anyone other than us. Focus on yourselves through every aspect of the wedding, but especially during the last dance. It’s truly the culmination of your wedding, but also one of the only times during your reception that you’re alone, even if you do have a few nosey rosies peeking in. Soak in all the love and soak in your marriage, because those are the emotions you’re going to want to remember and look back on twenty years from now.
Love the idea of a private last dance and want to know other ways to create moments just for the two of you on your wedding day? Don’t miss our post about creating intentional moments on your wedding day.