The Most Important Factors for Choosing a First Dance Song

For some couples, choosing their first dance song takes no more than a few minutes’ discussion. For others, there are no obvious contenders and, with innumerable songs to choose from, the decision can seem impossible! This guide is here to help with tips for where to find the right kind of songs and everything you need to consider before making the final decision.

Places to look for inspiration

Meaning

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Image by Joseph Gonzalez

For many people, music serves as the soundtrack to their lives, becoming intertwined with memories and emotions. Since this will be your first dance as husband and wife, it can be meaningful to choose a song with an unmistakable personal connection to your relationship story. Perhaps a song from the first concert you went to together, a track from the soundtrack to your shared favourite movie or a piece of music you realised early on that you both adored.

Alternatively, you could imbue meaning by using an older family member’s first dance song. This is a lovely way to honour family, and could perhaps involve inviting the person in question up to join the dancing midway through!

Wedding theme

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Image by Jen Huang

If you’re tying together the different elements of your wedding with a theme, it’s only fitting that the music should complement that if possible! Themes that evoke particular musical genres or eras include vintage (anything from the era you’re channelling), rustic or bohemian (folk or folk rock), elegant (classical or jazz) and travel (music from your country of inspiration, e.g. French, Moroccan, Hawaiian). Of course, the first dance is always an exceptional song - don’t worry if you can’t find the right one within the constraints of your theme.

Curated playlists

If you don’t mind following the crowd when it comes to suitable songs, ‘best of’ lists online can be a treasure trove of tried and tested ideas. Check out our very own list of 20 top first dance songs here, or search on Google to find suggestions by musical genre or era. 

Intelligent suggestions

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Image by Pat Moyer Photography

Another great way to generate musical suggestions is a free service like Pandora, which will create a smart station for you based on a chosen artist, track or genre. You can indicate whether or not you like the suggestions, and the station will keep on adapting to your preferences until (hopefully) you find something perfect!

Factors to help narrow it down

Once you have some ideas lined up, run through these considerations before committing to your final choice.

Lyrics

It’s always advisable to pay attention to the lyrics of your chosen song. While some tracks have a clear and easy-to-understand message or story, others may sound like they’re about one thing while actually being about something else. 

Some commonly misinterpreted songs include Every Breath You Take by The Police, a rather sinister song about a stalker, and Stay with Me by Sam Smith, about a one-night stand rather than a committed relationship. Sometimes even a single lyric can alter the meaning of a song. For instance, the line “I don't think you're right for him” reveals that Ho Hey by The Lumineers is actually about a girl who’s in a relationship with someone else!

Length

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Image by Lori Paladino Photography

Give some thought to the length of the song (or whether you’re able to shorten it or otherwise transition). For your sake, you won’t want the song to drag on too long!

How easy is it to dance to?

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Image by Patina Photography

If you have a particular dance style in mind – whether a slow dance or something more upbeat – you’ll want to make sure the song fits well with your choice. 

Longevity

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Image by Avodah Photography

This isn’t a concern for every couple, but if you’re keen for your wedding to have a timeless feel and you have a few different songs to choose from, you may want to opt for one that’s already stood the test of time – perhaps a piece from one of the greats like Sinatra, Elvis or Aretha.

Can the band play it?

If you’re going for a wedding band, you’ll want to ensure that they’re able to play your choice before setting your heart on it!

For a complete guide to your first dance, including dance lessons, sound check and photography considerations, be sure to check out this article.


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