There’s no question that your first dance song will set the tone for your wedding reception. After all, the first dance is one of the most iconic moments of the big day. Your family and friends get to see you together for the first time since the ceremony. The first dance is also a way to warm up the dance floor and invite the room to get in the dance-the-night-away mindset.
On the other hand, your first dance is one of the only moments during your reception to slow things down and solely focus on one another. It’s a precious moment of calm on a day that can fly by far too quickly. You’ve been in host mode since the ceremony ended, but now you get to take the time to recognize that momentous day. So, it’s only normal to want to know how to pick the perfect song for your first dance.
Sentimental, playful or unique, there are some tricks when narrowing down your song choices. Not only should the song reflect your relationship, but it can also inspire you to take to the dance floor and kick off the celebration. Consider a few tips when considering how to pick the perfect song to frame your big day.
First Dance Styles
Even when you take a more traditional approach, every wedding is unique. Your personality shines through in all the small details such as your music, décor and menu. The first dance is an excellent chance to reflect your wedding theme or tell a story about your love. There are a few main approaches to your first dance style:
Simple and Slow: Non-choreographed slow dance to a 2-4-minute song cut that is sentimental and heartwarming.
Choreographed Routine: Work with a teacher or choreograph your own structure dance together for a more formal or playful approach.
Group Dance: If you’re not comfortable as the focus of attention for too long, ask your DJ to invite your guests up to the floor for a group slow dance after a few moments.
Brainstorm First Dance Song Ideas
Have you had the same favorite love song since you started dating back in high school? Perhaps you’ve known from the day you got engaged that it would be your first dance song. Other couples may have hundreds of songs that remind them of one another, this can make picking a song a huge challenge. If you’re not sure where to begin, consider a few tips for creating a list of songs that have played a meaningful role in your life.
Special Event: Was there a song that caught your ears on the first night you met? What about a special anniversary? You can even consider special moments together from friends and family weddings during their slow dances. Which song inspires a memory that denotes a turning point for your journey together?
Special Lyrics: Some songs simply exemplify exactly how you feel about one another. If there’s a song that has always brought happy tears to your eyes, put it on your list! Your first dance song lyrics are helpful for anniversary and wedding presents as well. Look back on your big day by incorporating your favorite lines into photo books, frames or artwork.
Childhood Favorites: If you’re a bride that’s been planning your wedding ever since you were a teen, you may have a dream song in your mind already. Many couples opt for romantic Disney songs that exemplify their relationship and their ongoing journey together.
Create a Favorites List
If a key song memory doesn’t pop out in your mind, consider a different approach. Begin with the music itself. Sort through genres of music or outside suggestions to create your shortlist.
If you’re big music fans, there’s nothing wrong with choosing the top song on the radio or from a recent release. Your wedding memories act as a time capsule for the experience. If you choose a popular song at the time of your wedding, you can also link back to this beautiful time in your relationship.
Some favorites today include:
“A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri
“Make You Feel My Love” sung by Adele
“Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran
On the other side of things, there are reasons why classic hits have stuck around to serenade the most romantic moments of our lives. Sort through lists of classic first dance songs that are known to set the scene for a perfect slow dance.
“At Last” by Etta James
“Can’t Help Falling in Love” sung by Elvis Presley
“La Vie En Rose” by Neil Armstrong
If you’re looking for a way to honor your parents, ask them what their slow dance song was at their weddings. Is there one that speaks to you today? Surprise them by carrying on the tradition.
Favorites retro first dance songs include:
“Stand by Me” – Ben E. King
“L-O-V-E” – Nat King Cole
“You Are the Sunshine of My Life” – Stevie Wonder
What songs will get the crowd singing along with you as you sweep around the floor? Choose a tune that everyone will recognize the moment the DJ introduces you to the dance floor.
Get the crowd singing with favorites like:
“Your Song” by Elton John
“Ho Hey” by The Lumineers
“I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz
Are there songs that come to mind when your friends think of the two of you? Not only is this a great way to get first dance song ideas, but also a fun game to get you excited for the wedding. If you can’t use the ideas for the first dance, consider spreading some of the songs throughout the dance party playlist.
Other top first dance songs include:
“Yellow” by Coldplay
“The Luckiest” by Ben Folds
“First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes
Once you have your shortlist together, put them to work! Spend a few romantic evenings dancing around the living room to your top favorites. Narrow down your choices by considering a few practical details that we’ve explained further below.
Whether you’re torn between two options or set on a favorite tune, consider a few tips for choosing the perfect song for your first dance. Your first dance works into a series of scheduled moments during your reception, so its length and sound should play a role in your decision making. For example, consider these tips before practicing your dance moves:
Not every romantic song lends to moving around the dance floor. Consider what type of dance you’d like to have at your wedding. If you want to keep it simple with a classic sway, a slower tempo is fine. A slightly faster tempo, however, could keep you from feeling stagnant. What if you want to choreograph your dance after a couple of dance lessons? Choose a song with a bit of a clearer and quicker rhythm so your teacher has something to work with. If you’re a bit more advanced, you can even choose a song with a waltz time signature.
Some couples consider skipping the “slow” part of the slow dance section altogether. If you’d rather hop across the dance floor with a bit more playfulness, choose an up-tempo song for a fun twist.
Dancing at home, a four-minute song may seem to simply fly by. This length can seem a bit long in front of a large group, especially if you’re not as comfortable dancing in front of a crowd. Many DJs suggest couples trim their partner dance songs – including mother-son and father-daughter dances to around 2 minutes. If you choose to take this route, be sure there is a clear place to cut your favorite song. You can also speak to your DJ about this trick, as they have plenty of experience making the music flow from one song to the next.
On the other hand, it’s your big day. If you want to dance to the whole song, this is perfectly acceptable as well. Keep the length of the song in mind as some favorites have longer intros and outros than their popular radio cut.
Most importantly, choose a song that gets you the most excited about celebrating your new marriage. This will be a tune that will bring you back to your big wedding day for years to come. It is also a way to bring the crowd into the moment. As mentioned earlier, a song that is also sentimental to your family or friends is a great way to give a nod to your community that supported your relationship to this moment.
At the end of the day, the perfect first dance song should be important to you and your partner. It should make you want to rush to the dance floor as soon as you hear the first notes.
Planning Your Dance
Once you’ve landed on your dream song, work with your venue and DJ or band to ensure a perfect first dance moment. Your wedding venue coordinator can also help you schedule your reception for a smooth event around dinner and cocktails. Here are a few tips for planning your first dance at your wedding reception.
Coordinate with the Kitchen: The first dance is traditionally held at one of two places. It either occurs right at the beginning of the reception after the guests have taken their seats or before dessert. Work with your coordinator to ensure the best time for the kitchen so that guests fully have your attention during your big moment. If you want your guests to stand around the dance floor, you want to ensure they are not taken away from their meals.
Open the Dance Floor: The first dance is a perfect time to transition your music from dinner to party tunes. Once your slow dance comes to a close, invite your guests to join you for a more upbeat number that transitions into a night of fun dancing.
Pair with Parent Dances: If you’d like to celebrate a mother-son or father-daughter dance, these often occur just after the first dance of the couple. Some couples choose to hold the two dances at the same time or split them into separate moments. Either way, keep the length of each song in mind or ask your DJ to fade the song at a natural moment in the music.
Set the Scene
The right wedding venue knows how to make your first dance a truly unforgettable moment. Each couple at The Pavilion works personally with a professional coordinator to ensure the dance is flawless and personalized. Customize every detail of the day, from the menu made by the in-house catering team to the dance floor and reception area itself. A range of spaces hosts all wedding themes and styles, welcoming stunning first dance moments on the dance floor of each couple’s dreams.