How to Choreographer a Father Daughter Dance. Choreographed Wedding Dances. East Coast Swing Wedding Dance. Fast Wedding Dances. Zoot Suit Riot Upbeat Father Daughter DancesThere are so many, many great songs out there these days to use for the Father-Daughter dance, which are all wonderful and may fit your personality very well, as well as your relationship with your father. For my wedding, when it came down to deciding a song for our dance, my father had a little different request…

Yes, there is a Video,  Watch it here

He said, “So long as I get to wear a Zoot Suit” to which I replied, “Why would you want to do that?”

Then the answers poured out, but first, you require a little backstory:

Our Story

My dad and I have a connection that I think fewer than normal fathers and daughters share. We were/are both college athletes who then became coaches. My dad played Football at the University of Oregon in 1976 before being drafted into the NFL. I then followed in 2003 when I became a Volleyball Duck. He still gets all gooey when we compare letterman jackets and our “Order of the O” pins. Post our athletic careers we both went on to be coaches (and as humbly as possible, I might add that we were both very intense as well as very successful in that field). How this related to my wedding, and the current situation I was facing, asking him to choose a first dance song, goes as follows.

He proposed being “coached” together in a new sport, one that we had never encountered, to see if we “still had it”… and there it was… the gauntlet is thrown! He proposed a challenge which I could not decline. Also being a huge Dancing with the Stars fan, he had decided months ago that we should take on a swing dance, and not just ANY swing dance, no, no, an EAST COAST Swing Dance, which is NOT easy to learn as a total novice. Not surprising though that my dad would want to conquer the most difficult dance in a short amount of time….

Scheduling Dance Lessons

With this huge challenge set before us, we set out to find an instructor who could whip us into shape in time. Fortunately, the heavens parted and delivered to us Linda Staver with Staver Dance Sport, who just happened to like us and think we were going to be “A hoot” 😉

We signed up to do weekly lessons on Sundays, beginning in March (wedding day was in July). Our first meeting was an hour, and basically consisted of my dad explaining to Linda what he wanted her to teach us and what he envisioned for the dance (including a toss and catch scenarios which I omitted!) We then left Linda with assigned homework to practice some specific steps… she sent us off telling us how “cute” we were together… boy did she not know what she was getting into!

Linda was a little surprised by us when we returned to our second meet with “game-film” for her to review. After we left there on Sunday we went home and obviously, like all coaches do, began to plan our daily doubles schedule. Since I was working out for the wedding anyway (also with my dad) we would double up that session together. The first training session would be at 5:30 am with an hour workout of weights, followed by dance practice in the gym’s yoga studio with footwork and repetitions until 7:00 am. Then I would go back to my dad’s house after work at 6:00 pm in the evenings for another 2-hour dance practice with routines, transitions, traveling and complexes. None of which Linda assigned to us, we just made up on our own to challenge our frames and connections. (The
two words that will forever be burned into my brains: FRAME & CONNECTION)

My stepmother would video our last session and we would watch it together writing down questions and concerns we had for Linda the following Sunday. We did this every single day until we saw her again. So yes, she was a bit shocked by us at our second meeting. She asked us to show her our rhythmic footsteps, which she assigned us, the basic 1-2-3-4, and we busted out a routine. She dropped her jaw and laughed at us in glee. We then showed her the video and she practically giggled the whole time. We know, we’re a bit ridiculous. But she definitely changed our homework from that day on.

I ordered a green dress that was our wedding color and had a long feather hair clip custom made for me by Judy Seiffert from Wedding Hair by Judy. Dad and I spent hours looking online for the perfect color Zoot Suit and ended up having to get one tailored. The more I look back now, the more I realize how much this meant to him. Our final 4 weeks I practiced in my dance shoes so that I could break them in and the blisters I earned are unfathomable!

We met with Linda and practiced daily doubles for 16 weeks. At our final meeting with her, we did a dress rehearsal in full costume. Zoot Suit and all. When I arrived to pick up my dad to drive to our lesson he came down the stairs and his hatband had been changed to a leopard print ribbon, which made me bawl uncontrollably in appreciation (See why leopard print had such a big meaning on the wedding day here).

We arrived at Linda’s studio to a crowd of her other students who were our surprise audience. Linda affirmed that a true dress rehearsal also requires a dress crowd! We had never performed in front of anyone else before and we were so nervous! Unexpectedly so! But in true athlete form, we huddled up and put our game faces on. We received a lot of applause and invitation to perform at a competition that we had to decline since I would be on my honeymoon.

We said goodbye to Linda and she sent us off with hugs and more great advice. On my wedding, at 7:00 am in the morning before any makeup was on and any hair was curled, I met my dad out on our dance floor. It had been built the night before by Matt, my honorary stepdad whose contributions were massive on our wedding day. My dad and I danced around that freshly painted dance floor for two routines before anyone was watching to learn the balance and sway of the structure.

I still have the socks that I wore which have the dance floor
paint on them as a trophy to our accomplishment and triumph over such an elaborate challenge.

The actual wedding dance was incredibly shaky and nerve-racking. Way, way more intense than we had either ever imagined. Watching the video we both notice so many mistakes and little-missed cues that we rue, but are still happy with. I will always remember the 16 weeks I spent with my mentor coach and the time we spent practicing way more than the few missteps that occurred. The value on my father & daughter wedding dance isn’t the video (though it is awesome) it is the time spent preparing for it and the game day, teammate moments
I got to share with my dad.

When we stepped off the dance floor for the last time my big, tough dad cried… just a little.

What I leave you with from this is to consider the Father & Daughter moments at your wedding to be a bigger decision than just a song. Planning your wedding, and living out your engagement experience with your family builds its own memories, so make them valuable too!

Amendment- 11/6/17

Dad, I hope you are forever Twisting in the Winds of Heaven – Champions live forever. #fcancer

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