First Dance Songs: Ideas and Inspiration to Help You Decide

How do you choose a first dance song? What if you hate the idea of dancing surrounded by your friends, all eyes on you? Why should you waste time with a slow one if you just want to party?

If you’re here for an ideas list of first dance songs, then there’s one at the bottom of this post. Hopefully, they will help you come up with something that’s perfect for you.

In my opinion, the first dance is one of the most important parts of the wedding party. It’s a great ice-breaker for nervous dancers. And nine times out of 10, the dance floor gets fuller faster when there’s a first dance, compared to when there isn’t. These stats are official!

First Dance
That’s ^ Laura and me dancing to our first dance!

Choosing First Dance Songs

A number of couples I’ve worked with were a little unsure about which song to have. Some were unsure whether they wanted a first dance song at all. Over time, I’ve worked out a surefire way to make sure you, and your husband or wife to be, can come up with a great song that really means something to both of you.

Despite the soppiness of it, a slow first dance is probably your best bet if you’re a little worried about dancing. If you’ve got moves, and you want to show them off, something faster can definitely work.

The thing I have learnt from playing hundreds of weddings is that your guests won’t judge. They’re happy just to see you and your new spouse sway from side to side, and have a little chat for a few minutes. This is what most first dances end up being.

It’s About You, Not Your Guests

Picking the perfect first dance song can be quite a difficult process. You want people to recognise the song without it being a cheesy cliche. Perhaps you can’t think of anything that suits. You might love a song that your other half doesn’t like or vice versa. And even when you think you’ve found the perfect song, it can be totally ruined when you find out that it’s actually about stalking rather than all-encompassing love. 

Let’s just simplify it for a second: the most important thing is that it’s a song you both love and have a connection to in some way — whether it be a band you have always been passionate about or a new discovery and the lyrics just make sense for you. Let everything else fall by the wayside. 

Embrace the total obscurity or extreme cheesiness of your favourite song if you wish — quirky first dance songs can be great, for you and your guests. It’s your day after all, and this is a moment where it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Even if no one else likes your song choice and doesn’t care much for unusual first dance songs, they aren’t going to mind putting up with it for three minutes. Plus they’re going to be totally distracted by how happy and gorgeous you look on the dance floor!

If you don’t have first dance songs that spring to mind straight away, you are probably going to want a bit of inspiration to get you going. That’s where we come in! Every Thursday I post a First Dance Inspiration idea on our Instagram account — here are some samples:

lion king first dance idea

You can find all the songs we’ve featured so far on our First Dance Inspiration Board on Pinterest. Or if you’d rather listen to them, I’ve made a playlist on Spotify. So why not play it over dinner with your other half tonight, and see if anything sparks your interest?

First Dance: A Pause in a Hectic Day

Weddings are frantic. People you haven’t seen in ages want to talk to you, everyone asks how you’ve been, you might have last-minute plans to put into fruition or speeches to worry about. Over the course of the day you hardly get a moment to yourself, let alone with your new husband or wife. 

These few minutes spent together can be a welcome break from all that. A moment to pause everything and think, “Woah, I’m married to this person,” before the day is over. First dances are a great way to put a momentary pause on a wedding day.

But I can’t dance!

It was nerve-wracking when Laura and I had our first dance — I can’t dance to save my life — but it was definitely worth it to have a song played especially for us.

Every time we hear our first dance song now, we remember the great day we had together, surrounded by family and friends.

Sometimes I wish I’d put more thought into choosing a first dance song. Laura and I didn’t really have “a song”. We both love music, and there are so many tunes that represent highlights in our relationship. We just went for something that was fun and had good lyrics — You Make My Dreams by Hall and Oates.

Daryl Hall & John Oates - You Make My Dreams

Yeah – that’s a tune!

But we’ve since discovered that we would have chosen another song — Just Like Heaven by The Cure — if we had done it again. Maybe the beautiful Katy Melua version.

Katie Melua - Just Like Heaven

Wow – was what the guitarist wears in this video ever ok?

If you don’t have an idea for a first dance song, or are contemplating not having one, I urge you to give it a little more thought.

First Dance Song Advice

My advice for picking your first dance is as follows.

Both of you write down separate lists of at least 10 songs. Songs that make you think of your other half when you listen to them. The ones that give you goosebumps, or send those tiny little hairs on the back of your neck standing on end. These don’t necessarily have to be songs you think the other person will like (usually there’ll be a common interest anyway), just ones you’re happy to admit to yourself that you like.

Then put the lists together without judgement. If there’s one similarity — bingo! — you have your first dance.

If there’s a few, then make a playlist, and have a listen together. Listen to the words. Do you agree with the sentiment? Maybe google the meaning of the lyrics. It’s always worth checking the theme behind a song. I remember someone asking for Every Breath You Take as a first dance, thinking it was a lovely love song. Actually it’s about obsession, and jealousy. Uh oh!

If you’ve managed to pick a fast song, and aren’t too keen on dancing in front of your guests, then see if your band can make an arrangement for you. Lots of our acts are more than happy to make a slowed arrangement of your first dance — Laura, and I asked Mister Kanish to slow down the first verse and chorus of You Make My Dreams, and it was great.

Here’s an example of Mister Kanish playing The Rock Show by Blink 182 (a pop punk rocker) as a folky first dance

Blink 182 - The Rockshow Cover - Live First Dance -

First Dance Ideas

Unique first dance ideas
Below is a list of popular and unique first dance songs that we’ve played in the past. It may give you some inspiration and help you find that perfect first dance song.

  • You Are The Best Thing – Ray Lamontagne
  • Ho Hey – The Lumineers
  • Romeo and Juliette – Dire Straits
  • You Can Call Me Al – Paul Simon
  • One Day Like This – Elbow
  • You’re My Best Friend – Queen
  • Lover Of The Light – Mumford and Sons
  • Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
  • I’ve Just Seen A Face – The Beatles
  • Dancing In The Dark – Bruce Springsteen
  • Mountains – Biffy Clyro
  • Stand By Me – Ben E. King
  • Your Body Is A Wonderland – John Mayer
  • Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing – Aerosmith
  • At Last – Etta James

Hopefully this has given you some ideas. Below is a montage video of Ben and Andy from Mister Kanish trying out some first dances from the past.

First Dance Ideas - How to Choose a First Dance with attached blog

In the end, if you’re really not keen on having a first dance, that’s ok. But if it’s due to a fear of dancing in front of your friends, you can always convince the best man or bridesmaids to join you with their partners within 20 seconds. Then the dance floor is full — all ready for the band’s first set.

I hope you’ve found this useful. If you need help choosing a great band to play at your wedding, give us a shout on [email protected] or call 0800 448 0295.

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