Wedding Dance Types

April 10th, 2017 by admin

What type of dance works best for a wedding dance?

This is a good question and I get it a lot!

The answer can depend on a number of things:

1) Will you be wearing your wedding dress or a second dress for your wedding dance?

Many brides are opting to change out of their long formal gowns into short flirty dresses.  Some brides are changing their white A-line gowns for slinky long gowns in a vibrant color.  If you know you’ll be wearing something else to dance your wedding dance in please let me know.  This can make a big difference in choreography and even song choice!

  • Dances for short flirty reception dresses:
  • Swings, Rumbas, Foxtrots
  • Dances for slinky long reception dresses:
  • Argentine Tangos, Rumbas
  • Dances for A-line wedding gowns:
  • Foxtrots, Waltzes, Viennese Waltzes, Some Rumbas

2) How big is your floor?

If you’re getting married on a yacht that has a modest dance floor with a staircase coming through the center of it your dance choreography will be close and romantic.  If your reception will be in a large ballroom with over 150 guests you’ll most likely have a large floor to travel around on during your wedding dance.

  • Dances for small reception areas:
  • Rumbas, Swings, Some Argentine Tangos
  • Dances for large reception areas:
  • Foxtrots, Waltzes, Viennese Waltzes

3) What kind of people are you?

I’ve had couples that love to jump into the lime light at the least provocation and we made their dance a fun spectacle that their guests twittered about for days.  I’ve also had couples that thought of the wedding dance as 3-4 minutes of eternity alone on the dance floor and we made their dance something for just the two of them that their guests just “got to watch”.

Just about any type of dance can be tailored to reach out to the audience or keep it intimate and personal, depending on whether the couple stays in closed dance position looking into each other’s eyes the whole time or plays to their audience through open work, shadow positions or side by side choreography.

If one person is shyer than the other we can always highlight the more outgoing one and keep the other one cozy with less interaction with the audience and more with their spouse.

I’ve gathered these tricks of wedding dances over the years working with hundreds of couples, their relationships, wedding attire and venues but remember if you have your heart set on wearing that slinky red dress and dancing a Viennese Waltz in a small space – we’ll make it happen!

Happy Spring and warmer days!

Contact me to take advantage of my Sunday Special at 949.400.7347


Happy Spring!

Happy Spring!


Spring Into Dance

March 1st, 2017 by admin

March 1st! 

Time to think about that wedding dance if your wedding is in the Spring or Summer.

Do you have a song?

Your song is your special expression of your feelings for each other.

If you like two songs don’t be afraid to come in with them both and we can dance to each of them to see which you prefer.

Maybe you’ll even decide to use them both; a bit of one to start and finish with the other.

How big is your floor?

If your floor is under 10×10 you can keep your steps small, intimate and romantic, not traveling in the dance too much.

If your floor is over 14×14 or a long runway rectangle you can use traveling steps for maximum dancing appeal, pausing at the corners to do twirls and figures.

How do you think your dress will dance?

A bustled dress is easier to dance in than one that you have to loop the train over your arm to dance.  I’ve choreographed dances with the looped material and it definitely can happen but we do have to be careful with underarm turns not to get dress in the face!

Poofy dresses look beautiful in all kinds of turns.  Mermaid dresses look sexy undulating in romantic rhythms. Strapless dresses need to be secured for dancing especially if you’re planning an invigorating song mash-up or swing dance.

Dancing shoes vs wedding shoes

A lot of my brides are opting for two pair of shoes.  One to look absolutely stunning in for the ceremony and pictures, the other to dance and have fun in at the reception.

If you wear high heels all the time you prolly won’t worry too much about your heels on the big day.  But if you’re a tennis shoe or flats gal you might want to wear more comfortable shoes during your reception.

Just keep in mind that your dress will be bustled to a certain shoe height so if your two pair of shoes are dramatically different you’ll want to make arrangements with your alterations team.

Get Started!

Please contact me if you have any more questions or just want to brainstorm ideas about your wedding dance.  I have a two lesson special right now which is $138/couple for two fifty-five minute lessons with me on Sunday afternoons only.

Happy Wedding Planning!

Hugs, Jillian

949.400.7347 – Message & Text

WYBMV Gift Idea

February 2nd, 2017 by admin

Valentine’s Day – 12 days and counting…

If you would like to pop something special into that fun and romantic card you’ve got burning a hole in the top drawer of your desk think about a gift certificate for some dance lessons.

Wedding coming up soon?  NP!  A gift certificate is the perfect choice for that busy, busy bride, groom or even mom, dad, maid of honor or best man.

Anyone can benefit from my two lesson special where we play your music, go over lead and follow, how to do twirls and movement across the floor and of course THAT incredible dance dip.

It’s fun to learn how to dance in sync with another person or even to just learn how to lead or how to follow so you can keep your toes from being stepped on and a smile on your face.

Sunday Afternoon Special: 2 lessons (55 minutes each) with me for $138/couple

I offer a two lesson special which is just enough time to get some great technique and steps.  Some of my students choose to do my two lesson special twice but I never push it.  I know everyone has a lot going on and I’m just happy when they take that big step to actually contact me and and come on in to learn to dance!

At the end of each lesson, I use your phone to video you dancing while I’m talking underneath it so you have something to practice with at home to remember all the little technique points and things we did in class.

Contact me today by email at or fill-out my on-line gift certificate form or text me at 949.400.7347 if you are interested in getting a Valentine’s Day gift certificate or just want to know more.

I can invoice you through PayPal and you can pay with your PP account or your own credit card and then email you a printable Valentine gift certificate ready for February 14th.

Happy almost Valentine’s Day!

Jillian :))

Valentine's Day Gift Certificates <3

Will You Be My Valentine?

2017 Dances!

January 11th, 2017 by admin

Getting married in 2017?

It’s a new year and it’s time for new beginnings and the dances to go with them!

Now is the perfect time to reserve your dance lessons for your wedding dance and to start thinking about your song and the type of dance you would like to do.

I’ve had all kinds of songs and all kinds of dances so whatever you think says “us” is a great place to start.

My couples have used oldies but goodies, popular tunes, indie ballads, Country western ditties, movie soundtracks and original music.  The only requirement I have is that you both like the song or songs you choose and want to dance to them!

Many of my couples have danced a foxtrot for their first dance which is always a crowd-pleaser with its beautiful frame, frolicsome tempo and easy-going steps and twirls.

Your song will give me ideas about your dance so if you’re wondering what type of dance it could be just text me your song!

Others have opted for a waltz, rumba, tango or swing, all of which can be equally fun to dance and watch.  Depending on your attire and the time you have to put into your dance,  anything is possible.

The size of floor you’re working with can also be a factor for your dance.

Is your dance floor smallish (on a yacht) or quite roomy (hotel ballroom)?  Is it long and skinny like a runway or will you be moving tables and chairs to create a big square?

It looks and feels good to use a large space and travel with the wedding dance steps. Conversely, it works well if the space is small to keep the wedding dance intimate and romantic.

Which brings us to the wedding dress which can be another factor in your dance! 

If you can’t move backwards due to a long train or drooping bustle, this is good to know.  I can match steps to the movement you’re able to do in your gown so that gorgeous dress stays gorgeous!

Let me know if you have any questions about your wedding dance.  I would love to talk with you about the details and get you dancing together right away.

I recommend two months or so lead time to get the dance into your muscle memory before The Big Day.  My two lesson special is $138/couple and you can reserve your lessons by paying and filling out my reservation form on my Pricing page.

Happy 2017 wedding planning!


Text: 949.400.7347




Holiday Gift Certificates

December 15th, 2016 by admin


These days I think a lot of us would rather order gifts on line than brave a crowded mall! Parking is crazy, the merchandise is picked over and everything seems just beyond budget.

Speaking from experience when I find something different and easy to give as a holiday gift I jump at the opportunity… like the idea of a gift certificate for dance instruction and choreography for the bride and groom, mom and dad or anyone in your life who just likes to dance.

Only a text or email away, this gift is one that does keep on giving and isn’t your average fashion item that someone may wear once or, heaven forbid, return for what we all know was less than original purchase price!


Email or text me at 949.400.7347 with your information about who gets the certificate, who it is from and what amount you’d like it for and I will correspond with you.

I can either invoice you through PayPal (you can pay with your own credit card through PayPal) or you can mail me a check for the amount.


Gift certificate lessons are available on Sunday afternoons all year long and the certificate can be redeemed for a full year after issue, longer if you let me know.

Lessons are just minutes from The District at the new Avant Garde Ballroom at 1502 East Warner Santa Ana, Ca 92705.


One busy groom called me Christmas Eve and I raced home, made his gift certificate and emailed it to him in time to be in his bride’s stocking by Christmas morning!

Contact me soon – I’d love to help you check off a few special someone’s on your gift list this year!

Holiday Hugs, Jillian

Text: 949.400.7347

One of my holiday couples dancing the tango!

One of my holiday couples dancing the tango!

Holiday Wedding Dance

October 25th, 2016 by admin

A holiday wedding can be a great way to utilize beautiful decorations, cozy weather, warm attire and fun accoutrements – no wonder more brides and grooms are choosing a date in the months of November, December and January for their special day.

Holiday wedding dances can be extra special too!

Just think if you’re not trying to stay hydrated and keep the misters filled you can use the cooler temps to really kick up your heels with a wicked waltz,  jumpy jitterbug, cheeky cha cha or teasing tango.

Also, knowing you’ll be dancing with rain drops or even snow out the windows can give you some exciting choices for songs that highlight this festive time of year.

I had one couple do a romantic rumba where the groom wore a fedora tilting it at his bride and then frisbeeing it off stage and the bride wore long gloves and then sexily took them off drawing them across her groom before he tossed them to his best man.

Another couple getting married around Christmas in the snowy mountains used a traditional song and waltzed around a real decorated tree in the center of their dance floor.

A third couple kissed in the new year as husband and wife dressed flapper-like with an Argentine tango and lots of balloons, confetti and noise makers.

Whatever your theme and wherever your venue, taking a couple of hours to learn to dance together to your special song will make you feel even more fun when you get out onto your dance floor.

This time of year is busy, even if you’re not getting married, so I offer some quick ways to get in a little dancing practice in lead and follow, twirls, movement around the floor and pretty dips.

The majority of my couples start with my two lesson dance special which is $138/couple available on Sunday afternoons.

If they are really pressed for time they do a single lesson for an hour and a half.  Since some of my couples are flying in for just the week or two before, this option is a great way to still get in some practice before the big day.

Call, email or text me with any questions you may have about your holiday wedding dance at 949.400.7347 and

I can’t wait to talk with you about your wedding and brainstorm about what type of dance you’re thinking would be fun and romantic!

Halloween Hugs,



Holiday Wedding Dance Song Ideas:

“The Gift”, Martina McBride and Jim Brickman (slow foxtrot)

“You’re My Favorite”, Jason Jones (country slow dance)

“I Am Your Man”, Seal (slow dance)

“I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm”, Frank Sinatra (foxtrot/jitterbug)

“Winter Wonderland”, Dick Dale and Alice Lon (foxtrot)

“All I Want For Christmas Is You”, Mariah Carey (slow foxtrot start, rousing swing)

“Christmas Is The Time [To Say I Love You]”, Katharine McPhee (slow start, jitterbug)

“I’d Like You For Christmas”, Julie London (rumba or slow foxtrot)

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, Sam Smith (rumba)

“Christmas Wedding Day”, Judy Brown (jitterbug)

“21 – Gumption from the movie ‘The Holiday'”, Hans Zimmer (instrumental – fast foxtrot/swing and slow romantic parts for rumba)

2 Dances for 1 Person

September 19th, 2016 by admin

What happens when you need to learn two dances for your big day?

This is not as unusual as it may sound!

I have had many brides come in to learn a wedding dance with their groom and a father daughter dance with dad.

Or a dad would come in to learn a father daughter dance and a special dance with his wife or significant other for a “parent’s dance”.

Grooms have had to learn the wedding dance and a mom son dance.

One bride learned two father daughter dances to dance a different dance with each of her dads.

And that’s just for weddings!

Last month I got a dad learning a Sweet 16 dance with his daughter and a birthday dance with his wife celebrating her milestone birthday at the same event.  Click here to see their pretty pictures and read their lovely testimonial.


So how can two dances be learned by one person for a big event and not leave that one person’s head spinning with steps, choreography and songs?

There are a few ways to go about the two dances, one person lessons.

Overlap OK:

First, I inquire if the person in question wants some overlap of figures and choreography between the two dances or if two entirely different dances and steps are needed.

If overlap is ok I incorporate some similar moves for both dances and make sure that the two dances complement each other.

Entirely Different:

If two entirely different dances are needed I inquire about the number of lessons the person is able to take to learn the dances.

Just a few lessons? Then I definitely keep it simple, limiting each dance to two or three unique moves and two different beginnings and endings.

If the person can take more than a few lessons we can do more moves, unique picture poses and “get across the floor” steps.

No matter what your preference for your two dances I make it fun and make it easy to remember for you!

At the end of each lesson, I video all the steps and sequence of choreography on your phone so you can work with it at home.

Happy dancing and contact me for those Fall and Holiday weddings coming up fast, Jillian

2 Songs – 1 Dance!

August 11th, 2016 by admin

Over the years I’ve had a lot of requests for a wedding dance that starts out with one song and ends with another.

Sometimes the first song is faster and more upbeat and the second is slower with romantic undertones. Other times the first song is slow and dreamy and the second song really lets the couple break loose!


How does it work?  Is it too hard?  Will it look ok?

How it works:

I teach simple “doable in the dress” steps for the two dances that utilize common technique points for turns and movement to keep things flowing seamlessly from the first to the second dance.

DJs are great at fading a first song down and bringing up the second or you can always do the tried and true “scratchy record sound” to transition with some acting stuff for laughs.


Most of my couples have used half of the first song and half of the second song.  There is usually a good place to fade out during an instrumental area or repetitive refrain.  The whole dance should run about three to four minutes.

Three to four dance moves, particular to each type of song, still give each dance their own flavor but don’t feel overwhelming to master.

Transitioning can be fun with a cute move right before the new dance that showcases the lyrics or provides a picture pose.

Most of my couples still want that famous dip for the end – but it can done fast or slowly, depending on which song is first or second.

Looking Good:

If the couple really likes two songs, rather than just one, and wants the flavor of two types of dances seamed together for their first dance, this can be an ideal solution.  Two songs – one dance is a great way to showcase your individualism and do something a bit different.  Ultimately if my couples look happy dancing together –  it’s a win!

One two dance medley I had was super crazy: the bride and groom started out with a traditional foxtrot and then halfway through she grabbed a chair, sat her groom down, someone placed a fez on his head, she donned a cute coin skirt over her wedding dress and it all finished with a rousing belly dance display (pg rated, of course) for her adoring groom and crazy applauding guests!

Soon Fall will be in the air so text or phone me at 949.400.7347 with any questions about songs, dances and lessons.  Right now I have a two lesson Sunday Special available!

Jillian :-)

Put on your dancing shoes

July 14th, 2016 by admin

Over the almost 16 years I’ve been specializing in teaching wedding dances I have seen a lot of different shoes that brides and grooms were going to wear to dance in on their BIG DAY.

The Bride’s Shoes

What’s a given:

1) The bride wants to have her shoes look absolutely fantastic on her most important day.

2) A lot of times if the groom is tall enough the bride wants to wear some sort of high heeled shoe.

3) If the bride is a lot shorter than her groom she probably wants to wear very high heels.

What’s to consider:

1) Dancing in very high heels can be a challenge to move quickly and turn in if you haven’t danced a lot in them before.

2) If your groom is not an experienced dancer he might accidentally throw you off balance with his moves if you’re feeling unstable in your shoes.

How to compensate:

1) You can allow for your “new height” by bending your knees more and keeping your head back on your spine to balance yourself evenly on your high heels and lower your center of gravity.

2) You can have two pair of shoes, one to wow everyone with at the wedding and one for fun and comfort at the reception.

I’ve seen brides dance in everything from super high heels (one of my bride’s had a side business selling 6-10″ heeled shoes and of course wanted to showcase a pair of her acrylic Cinderella verrrry high steppers) to platforms, ballet flats and even bare feet.

Ultimately, it’s all about what you want and what you think you can deal with on your wedding day and if your heart is set on a certain shoe by all means go for it! But if you’re able to change shoes for your first dance to a more modest heel or flat – that could be more comfortable and easier to dance and party in.


If you choose a platform be aware that it will probably give you a “rocking action” as you step and could make you feel a little stiff due to the fact it doesn’t give.

If you choose an open backed sandal, you could get a clunking sound as you dance as the shoe separates from your foot momentarily during the step.


Having seen lots of choices for wedding dance shoes I recommend changing shoes for your reception so you can have the best of all shoe worlds!

About a 2″ heel and one that is a bit larger than the tiny stiletto type heel plus a shoe base that is not too slick (rough them up in the parking lot beforehand!) seems to be the easiest for most brides to dance in.

Flats are good too but your wedding dress might not be bustled to your flats but rather to your first pair of wedding shoes and you would need to allow for some extra material at your feet.

You can also purchase a pair of dance shoes online if you’re sure you won’t be walking outside in dirt or through water.  (They have suede bottoms to help you glide on the dance floor.)

The Groom’s Shoes

What’s a given:

1) The groom wants to please his bride!

2) Most of the time the groom will just default to rental tuxedo shoes or nice dress shoes that he already has or will purchase for the wedding.

3) If the bride wants to wear something unusual like Converse tennis shoes or bare feet he will match his bride.

What to consider:

1) The bride’s wishes!

2) Any special needs that the groom has physically.

How to compensate:

1) Dress shoes can be slick on the dance floor so if the groom owns them he can scuff them up a bit in the parking lot so he has more traction on the floor as he leads the steps.

2) If he’s dancing in tennis shoes for the big day – Converse, Vans etc. – he will need to be aware his shoes may stick to the dance floor and he will need to step carefully.

I’ve seen lots of fun and fancy groom footwear and it’s all good as long as the bride is happy with the choice and the groom can walk and dance in his shoes!

Lots of grooms care about their footwear these days and it’s not unusual for a groom to tell me in intricate detail about his wedding shoes.  I encourage my grooms and my brides to dance around in their living rooms in their wedding shoes before the wedding day.


1) Most of my grooms that have opted for their own shoes rather than a rental pair seem to be more comfortable.

2) Grooms and brides wearing matching tennis type shoes usually wear them to dance lessons to get used to dancing together in them.


I recommend the groom dance in something that is comfortable, the right size for his feet and meets his bride’s expectations.

If he has a particular idea for his shoes it’s probably a good idea to let his bride know right away so she can yay or nay the shoe idea!

Leading the first dance can be challenging so the groom probably doesn’t want to be thinking too much about his shoes. 😉

Just like the bride, the groom can also purchase a pair of dance shoes online if he’s sure he won’t be walking outside in dirt or through water.  (They have suede bottoms to help you glide on the dance floor.)

All in all the shoes the bride and groom wear for the wedding dance are pretty important!  If you’re unsure about a particular shoe and how it would be to dance in it please text or email me and I can share my experience about it.

Dance lessons can really help you work with the shoes you’ll be wearing on your wedding day.

My brides wear flats to our dance lessons and often bring their wedding shoes so they can dance around on the carpet at the studio to show me what the shoes will and won’t do!

My grooms usually wear leather soled shoes to learn in and sometimes bring their wedding shoes to show me and we discuss any possible challenges they might present.

Happy shoe hunting! Text or email me if you have any additional questions and to schedule some first dance lessons to get you and your shoes ready to dance!

xoxo Jillian

Message or Text: 949.400.7347

Book some dance lessons now!

Wedding Shoes!

Wedding Shoes!

To Choreograph Or Not…

June 16th, 2016 by admin

To choreograph or not to choreograph your wedding dance…


That is the question!

I get asked about this constantly by my wedding couples and there are positives and negatives to both approaches.  Let’s take a look.


The Choreographed First Dance


1) It’s great to know your dance order, especially for the follower!

2) You will get in ALL those cool steps and picture poses you learned.


1) What if you mess up and now you’re out of order and now… you’re in trouble!

2) It can look a little “canned”.


The Non-Choreographed First Dance


1) You know how to dance as opposed to just knowing one routine!

2) It’s all based on “lead and follow” so the leader always looks good.


1) “Deer in the headlights” potential!

2) Need to be well-versed in the “never let them see you sweat” rule.


You can see that there are many considerations and it depends on what you both decide would work best for you and your wedding.

For example, if you’re having over 300 people, like one of my recent couples, you may want to opt for the choreographed routine because, well, that’s a lot of people watching you!

If you’re having an intimate reception in an outdoor setting, you might prefer the non-choreographed dance to keep things casual and just flowing.

Maybe you both are into control!! and leaving the dance up to lead and follow and a group of steps sounds out of your comfort zone.

Or perhaps you both are easy going and a choreographed dance would be waaaay out of character for people to watch who know you both well.

Whatever your decision, or if you want to wait to make a decision during your lessons, I will help you put together the wedding dance of your dreams to your lovely song!

Contact me a couple of months before your big day to schedule some private dance lessons… farther out if you’ve got something wild and crazy up your sleeve!

Best with all the planning!

xxoo Jillian

Message and Text:


Happy 4th of July!

Dance Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory