Music Matters - Your First Dance
Updated: Apr 23
So today I’m going to be talking about the first dance. It’s a topic that worries a lot of my wedding couples – I’ll go through a (very) brief history, a few tips and tricks, some song suggestions and even a few alternatives to the tradition.
The first dance is a centuries-old tradition from the days of banquets and balls – the guests of honour would start dancing to commence the partying! As we don’t tend to have formal dances anymore, this tradition survives in the form of the first dance between bride and groom (or groom and groom/bride and bride), signifying their love, new union and the start of their lives together.
Nowadays, the first dance tends to go one of two ways:
- The newly married couple take to the floor and dance alone for the first verse and chorus of their chosen song, the wedding party then join in, followed by everyone else
- The newly married couple take to the floor and perform a choreographed routine that they’ve worked on at a dance studio
The first way is obviously simpler, and as a couple you’re on the floor on your own for a shorter period of time. But if you’re feeling particularly nervous about being exposed on the floor, having a routine to concentrate on may give you that boost of confidence you need.
The biggest worry I hear from engaged couples is: “But we don’t have a song!”
I know it seems as if everyone else has ‘their’ song, but I promise you that isn’t the case! Here are a few tips:
- There are literally hundreds of lists of suggestions of first dance songs online; have a look through and see if something jumps out at you.
- You may not have a song, but have you been to gigs together? If you share a favourite band, check out their back catalogue.
- Ask your singer, band or DJ for suggestions! Here are a few of mine:
A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square – This is a beautiful wartime song covered by artists such as Vera Lynn, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. It tells the tale of a couple falling in love over the course of a night while listening to the beautiful melodies of the nightingale in London.
At Last – Etta James’ classic is hugely popular for a first dance, and it’s not hard to see why! It’s a waltz so it has a natural swaying quality to it, and it’s perfect if you want to wow your guests with a choreographed dance. It’s also a powerful song and will add a lovely touch of drama.
All Of Me – John Legend famously wrote this song as an ode to Chrissy Teigen while they were on honeymoon. The lyrics are so heartfelt: “Love your curves and all your edges/ All your perfect Imperfections” – it’s a song about loving everything about your partner. The original’s style is stunning, as is the version by Postmodern Jukebox, who have turned it into a soul-infused waltz.
Better Place – I was asked to sing this Rachel Platten song for a couple’s first dance in 2016, and I just fell in love with it! It’s a light and gentle option, perfect for a summer wedding.
Home – Ah, Michael Buble. Mr Bubbles. Mickey baby! Michael’s mixture of classic swing and original songs make him hugely popular for weddings, and this tune is a personal favourite for me. I sang it for a couple who had spent a large part of their time in a long-distance relationship, and with it being a song about coming back home, it was just perfect.
Sweet Lorraine – Ok, this one is VERY specific! It’s a Nat King Cole song which means I automatically love it, and in this song he sings about how he can’t wait to marry his sweet Lorraine. So Lorraines of the world – please let me sing this at your wedding!
Pure Imagination – If I were to get married, this would be my first dance. There is a long personal story to this, but in short it’s my favourite song from the movie of my favourite childhood book. I have so many memories and dreams tied up in this song, it’d be a no-brainer for me.
Marry You – This Bruno Mars song is definitely on the nose, but it’s so full of joy and energy I can’t help but love it! And if you can’t be cheesy at a wedding, when can you??
L.O.V.E. – Another Nat King Cole song! It’s a gorgeously simple song that describes what the letters in the word “love” mean to Mr Cole. A true jazz classic.
Then He Kissed Me – Originally recorded by 60s girl group The Crystals, this song details the progression of meeting at a dance, falling in love, right up to popping the question. The thing I love about this is that the first dance starts your journey where the song's story ends!
Still Into You – I’ll admit it: I’ve never been a Paramore fan. But my housemate played this song the other day at home and my first thought was: “this would be perfect alternative first dance”! The lyrics about still having butterflies after years together – beautiful.
The First, The Last, My Everything – This Barry White classic is brilliant if you’re after an upbeat, fun first dance and will set you up perfectly to dance the night away!
And if you don’t want a first dance – you don’t have to have one! There are some fabulous alternatives, such as singing a duet, the groomsmen performing a dance for the bride (or vice versa), or creating a flashmob!
Just remember – it’s your day so start your new life together in a way that’s right for you.
That’s quite enough rambling from me – have a wonderful Bank Holiday Monday, and feel free to comment if you have any questions or would like to share your first dance ideas.