From First Glance to First Dance

The couple in the middle of the room moved as one. Gathered in a scattered and imperfect circle, the crowd watched in awe as they floated across the hardwood, hardly seeming to touch the ground. Her spins were as fluid as the Champagne in the onlookers’ glasses, and his turns strong and purposeful.

He wasn’t wearing a tux, nor she a white dress, but you could feel it as they turned and tucked in their dance competition attire. This couple was in love, and they expressed it wholly through movement. Their steps grew more powerful as the song grew in intensity. With X Ambassadors crooning in the background, they conveyed every emotion from heartbreak to longing and, of course, love.

Chad and Sorsha Maness danced into forever during their reception. The couple, who met while dancing, prepped the routine for three weeks. (Photo by Stephen Jones and Lenna Saldivia-Jones)

Chad and Sorsha Maness danced into forever during their reception. The couple, who met while dancing, prepped the routine for three weeks. (Photo by Stephen Jones and Lenna Saldivia-Jones)

When they told me they’d perfected the routine just the night prior, it was almost impossible to believe. Sorsha Maness, the follow in this story, said, “We actually didn’t have a successful run-through with music until the night before. We weren’t even sure if we were going to go through with it … Now that it’s over, though, we’re really happy that we did.”

Sorsha and her husband, Chad Maness, met at a West Coast dance event, decided that the perfect way to begin the rest of their lives was through dance. Three weeks prior to the big day, they hired Matt Auclair, six-time national champion in West Coast swing, to choreograph their duet.

When the music faded, the crowd, already standing to watch the whole affair, broke enthusiastically into applause. “We’ve been to a lot of dance conferences and I don’t think either of us has ever heard anybody cheer that loud for anything,” Chad said.

Read more to learn about the proposal that quite literally turned Sorsha’s life around, the DIY project that fell through and how Chad’s morning routine was “on par” with previous Maness wedding days. . But first, learn a little bit about the dance couple of the hour.

Chad and Sorsha embrace during their outdoor July wedding. They wanted to get married before Sorsha starts grad school in the fall. (Photo courtesy of Jim Oldham)

Chad and Sorsha embrace during their outdoor July wedding. They wanted to get married before Sorsha starts grad school in the fall. (Photo courtesy of Jim Oldham)

The couple/ Chad + Sorsha Maness
Current ages/ Chad—24; Sorsha—23
Occupations/ Chad—Associate Engineer at Rockwell Automation; Sorsha—graduate student

Engagement date/ January 2015
Wedding date/ July 9, 2016
Ceremony venue/ Stephens Lake Park in Columbia, MO
Reception venue/ Champagne Ballroom in Columbia, MO

CAN I HAVE THIS DANCE Rewind to November 2013, and one of Sorsha’s best friends dragged her to a West Coast swing event at Deja Vu in Columbia. While was a trained ballroom dancer, this marked her first foray into swing. And, because of the man in the suit and the fedora she talked to all night, it wouldn’t be her last. “She was a dancer, so she could kind of pick it up even though she didn’t know that much West Coast,” Chad said. “And that’s how we met. We knew we liked one another and had been dating ever since.”

It makes perfect sense that three years later, Chad proposed to Sorsha in dance at a West Coast swing party she had planned. “I led a move where I spun around and got down onto one knee and had the ring in my pocket,” Chad said. “She was very surprised which is unique. Most of the time, I can’t keep any secrets.”

She stopped mid-dance and mid-song, burying her head in her hands, and checking again to make sure it was real. Then she collapsed into Chad’s arms, nodding vigorously, *NSYNC’s “This I Promise You” continuing on in the background.

DIY GONE WRONG After the glamour and romance of the proposal, there was a rush to the altar. Sorsha wanted to start grad school this fall without wedding-planning stress. There wasn’t much time for DIY, but Chad and Sorsha did try their hand at one project: an aisle runner.

The goal? An elegant aisle runner with fake rose petals scattered on top. But, in order to save time on clean-up at the ceremony site, they would glue each petal to the fabric. The result? A wind-tossed aisle runner that creased before the glue had dried. “Basically what ended up happening is that all the flower petals got lost and the aisle runner got ripped from trying to pull it apart,” Sorsha said. “And so we had to buy a new one and basically gave up on the idea.”

Chad and Sorsha had fun on their wedding day, posing for silly photos on Mizzou's campus. (Photo courtesy of Jim Oldham)

Chad and Sorsha had fun on their wedding day, posing for silly photos on Mizzou’s campus. (Photo courtesy of Jim Oldham)

Aisle runner aside, most of the rest of the planning went seamlessly. Friends and family answered the call. Friends Stephen and Lenna Jones took photographs alongside Jim Oldham. Janine of Janine’s Flowers personally drove the blue bomb orchids and carnations up from the Lake of the Ozarks. Chad’s friend and budding wedding DJ, Christopher Couch, spun the tracks. Sorsha’s bridesmaids did hair and makeup. Chad’s groomsmen put together and took down the wedding site. “It takes a team,” Sorsha said.

Chad and Sorsha had much help from family and friends while planning their wedding. Janine from Janine's flowers drove these blue blomb orchids and carnations up from the Lake of the Ozarks on the day of the wedding. ( Photo courtesy of Jim Oldham)

Chad and Sorsha had much help from family and friends while planning their wedding. Janine from Janine’s flowers drove these blue blomb orchids and carnations up from the Lake of the Ozarks on the day of the wedding. (Photo courtesy of Jim Oldham)

ANYTHING FORE “LOVE” Theirs wasn’t a strictly traditional wedding. One of three ministers—Chad’s older sister—talked for five minutes about how she had just the other month felt the calling to live out of a van, and her husband’s willingness to humor her was the true meaning of love. She then pronounced the couple husband and wife to close out the 15-minute super-speed ceremony Chad and Sorsha had written themselves.

They did, however, incorporate one element of tradition. See, when Chad’s parents were getting married, his father went out for a tennis match the morning before their wedding. “So they were trying to keep that tradition because he really loved that, so Chad and his dad went out,” Sorsha said.

Chad, more of a golf type of guy, went for a couple rounds of golf in the morning with his dad. While he said those rounds were some of the worst of his life, he also thought it set a good tone for the day—they had been matched with a couple 50 years out from their wedding, but just as in love as they were on day one.

After the last round, Chad left the course to go to his wedding, where he would  dance into forever with his wife, Sorsha.

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