I was absorbed in Pinterest the other day when I spotted this clever homemade sign from an Etsy seller. As the owner of not only a ballroom but a wedding event venue, I definitely see the need for this sign. In fact, I see it a lot: Wedding guests…just…sitting.

It’s kind of sad, really. Weddings are happy occasions, and dancing – even if you’re freestyling it – is a great way to celebrate! Who cares what you look like?

But I get it. For many people, overcoming that insecurity is a big hurdle. I can tell them over and over that all anyone remembers from a wedding reception is how much fun it was (or wasn’t). No one is thinking about your dancing skills. I can tell them that as long as you’re remaining upright, you can call that a success. (Heck, even if you fall down, it just adds to the overall memory of a fun, crazy, night!)

Unfortunately, those reassurances alone probably won’t nudge everyone out of their chairs. But as we approach the fall wedding season, you need to ask yourself: Do you plan on joining the fun, or will you stay tethered to your chair next to your half-eaten plate of cake?

Don’t let fear ruin your good time

For those planning a wedding, the details seem endless. The color of the bridesmaid dresses, the flavor of cake, how close Grandma should be seated to the bathroom…and of course, what songs to play at the reception. So much goes into planning for the big day, including a lot of expense. The least you can do is play your part in the celebration.

Except that’s hard to do when fear is getting the best of you. User “Jeff” posted this comment on a social anxiety forum, and his comments are indicative of the way many people feel:

“Wedding receptions scare the crap out of me … I can count on one hand the number of times in my life that I’ve tried to dance in public (if you could call it dancing). Ugh. I could probably overcome this fear if I had someone to teach me and go out in public with me and show me what to do and what not to do.”

If you’re not someone like Jeff yourself, then you can easily spot them at the reception. They’re not happy about staying behind, but they also can’t bear to expose themselves in front of a crowd.

Invest in some prep

Jeff really nails the solution to conquering his fears at the end of his post: He just needs someone to teach him. Yes! Confidence comes when you feel prepared! It doesn’t matter if you’re taking a test in school, presenting to your boss at work, or taking your first steps on the dance floor—if you’ve put in the effort to learn the material, you feel confident in your abilities. (Plus, you just might have a little fun while you’re at it.)

That preparation means at least a few dance lessons to teach you some basic steps. I know what you’re thinking, but a small investment of your time now will pay dividends in the years to come. I actually just read an article recently that espoused the common-sense advantages of splurging to buy a basic yet timeless tuxedo. After using it just a few times, you’re already saving money over rental fees (not to mention avoiding the hassle and hygiene issues of wearing another man’s tux every time you’re invited to a formal event).

Dance is no different. By learning some basic steps, you’ll be able to show off your skills at countless weddings and celebrations the rest of your life. Imagine not carrying around that fear and insecurity anymore, and walking into that reception hall ready to party!

So, whether you want to learn a few standard dance moves you can do with a partner, or some basic steps for a little solo freestyle, we can help keep you in the middle of the celebration, and not just on the sidelines.

As a professional dance instructor and owner of Overland Park Ballroom, Amy Castro has been teaching ballroom dance for more than 25 years. When she attends a wedding reception, you’ll either find her in the middle of the dance floor or encouraging someone to come join her. Let her know your thoughts by tweeting @OP_Ballroom or by commenting on the Facebook page.