Top 20 First Dance Songs
By Felicity Newburry

07 December 2015

The first time you and your beloved dance as a married couple is a very special moment and choosing the right song to accompany you can be tricky. Will you dance a waltz or some freestyle? Do the lyrics fit your love story? There might be a lot you need to consider, or you might be at a complete loss for ideas, but don’t worry! If you’re in need of some inspiration for the perfect first-dance song, this article is a great place to start. Read our top 20 list to find the perfect song amongst our pick of contemporary and modern options, the goodness of the 70’s and 80’s, and the toe-tapping tunes of the 50’s!

1.     Shut Up and Dance – Walk The Moon

You can’t help but throw your shoulders into a little shimmy when you hear this song. So if you want your guests out of their seats and dancing with you on the dance floor, Shut Up And Dance is an ideal choice! The lyrics perfectly capture the energy of an enthusiastic couple and their new life as they get swept along for the ride of their life.

“We were bound to get together, bound to get together / She took my arm, I don’t know how it happened!”

2.     Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran

The first few chords of this song will naturally pull you and partners feet into a light-footed waltz across the floor. Somehow Ed’s ingenious melody and lyrics articulate exactly what your heart is trying to express. This song is a beautiful dedication to true love that will last throughout the ages.

“I’m thinking out loud, that maybe we found love right where we are.”

3.     Swinging On A Star – Frank Sinatra 

For a relationship that started out young and is full of laughter and fun, Frank Sinatra’s jazzy rendition of Swinging On A Star is a fantastic choice for your first dance.  It’s fun, quirky, timeless and reminiscent of growing together, loving each other for who you are, and laughing at all the mistakes and flaws that crop up along the way. 

“Would you like to swing on a star? Carry moon-beams home in a jar?”

first wedding dance

Jennifer Michelson Photography

4.    It’s Oh So Quiet – Bjork

Was yours the kind of love story that began while you quietly minding your own business? Then suddenly, in the words of Bjork, “there’s no mistaking, this is it!”, you were totally and irrevocably in love? If so, this is the perfect song for your first dance!

“It’s oh, so quiet. It’s oh, so still / You’re all alone and so peaceful until… / You fall in love – zing boom!”

5.     I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You – Elvis

Decades on from his last single, Elvis can still reach in and strum the heart strings of anyone who has ever been in love. Through its gentle serenade, this song eloquently encapsulates the feeling of being in love: that you were made to fit your partner, that your partner was made to fit you, and that your love will go on for years to come.

“Like a river flows surely to the sea, darling so it goes – some things are meant to be.” 

6.     Kiss from A Rose – Seal

Evoking images of a beautiful medieval romance, Seal has created a masterpiece in his original, Kiss from A Rose. One can easily imagine being swept around a ballroom in your beloved’s arms to this timeless and romantic ballad.

“Did you know that when it snows, my eyes become large and the light that you shine can be seen?” 

first dance song

Ryan Smith Photography

7.     Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton

Wonderful Tonight is a warming depiction of a couple who have loved one another for many years. It’s a fantastic song to slowly sway to in your partner’s arms while you smile and laugh at the truth of Clapton’s words.

“And then she asks me ‘Do I look alright?’ and I say ‘Yes, you look wonderful tonight.’”

8.     At Last – Etta James

You won’t be able to count on one hand how many times this song has been used in a film to signal that epic moment when two people fall in love. Etta James so perfectly describes this moment in her love ballad. This is a wonderful choice for your first dance and is perfect for a dreamy waltz over a parquet floor.

“My heart was wrapped in clover the night I looked at you.”

9.     You Make My Dreams Come True – Hall and Oats

Anyone who has watched 500 Days of Summer will remember this exciting and invigorating tribute to a love that makes sense of the world. Just imagine boogying to this song with your loved one in the style of Joseph Gordon-Levitt for your first dance of the night! It’s impossible not to grin and sing along to this upbeat and unforgettable tune.

“What I’ve got is full stock of thoughts and dreams that scatter, then you pull them all together.”

first dance song

Anna Zajac Photography

10.  Safe and Sound – Capital Cities

In this song, Capital Cities have created a modern pop tune that is a fun, meaningful and romantic homage to a love that will survive time, distance and hardships. Dancing to this as a couple would be a way to kick off your marriage!

“Even if the sky is falling down, I know that we’ll be safe and sound.”

11.  A Thousand Years – Christina Perri

This is another wonderful choice and perfect for the couple who feel that they have known each other for a lifetime. This is the sort of love song that gives you goose-bumps and is sure to bring tears to the eyes of those looking on as the two of you sway in each other’s arms.

“Watching you stand alone, suddenly all my doubt goes away somehow.”

12.  Be My Baby – The Ronettes

You and your partner will find yourselves swept back to the 1960’s with this song choice. This is a lighthearted musical tale of meeting and falling in love and a fun, toe-tapping tune for your first dance.

“I’ll make you happy baby, just wait and see / For every kiss you give me, I’ll give you three.”

wedding first dance

Patina Photography

13.  Sugar – Maroon Five

Written specifically with weddings in mind, Sugar is the kind of first-dance song that will get everyone out of their seats and dancing. Your guests will stand and clap to the beat while you and your loved one freestyle to the rhythm and lyrics of a modern love story.

“I don’t really care where you are, I just wanna be there where you are.”

14.  Baby You’ve Got What It Takes – Michael Bublé ft. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Akin to “you’re the peanut butter to my jelly”, but far more classy and sassy, Michael Bublé and Sharon Jones’ song delightfully articulates the kind of marriage that is full of fire and fun. This is the sort of song that will get you swinging to the tune and mouthing the lyrics.

“It takes somebody special to knock me off my feet and baby you’ve got what it takes.”

15.  Locked Out of Heaven – Bruno Mars

This is a fantastic and invigorating song choice for a couple not interested in the traditional first-dance waltz. Shake it up and party like crazy to Bruno’s vocals!

“You make me feel like I’ve been locked out of heaven for too long.”

first dance song

Jim Lentz Photography

16.  If It’s Love – Train

Fun and free, this is a perfect choice for the couple who have travelled the world and finally returned to start a life together. This song depicts a warm and exciting romance where each other’s faults and flaws are not only accepted, but loved.

“On a spinning ball in the middle of space, I love you from your toes to your face.”

17.  The Time of My Life – Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes

Immortalized by the timeless love story of Baby and Johnny in Dirty DancingThe Time of My Life has been used time and time again as a first dance song. Some couples have even learnt the original dance routine performed in the film by Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey! With lyrics and a musical arrangement that depicts the passion of love like no other, it is little wonder this song has made musical and film history.

“With my body and my soul, I want you more than you’ll ever know.”

18.  1, 2, 3, 4 – The Plain White T’s

When loving your partner is the easiest thing in the world to do, 1, 2, 3, 4 is the right song for your first dance. The lyrics talk about the grace and ease of being in the love and are sung along to a cheerful, acoustic accompaniment.

“I’m so glad I found you, I love being around you. You make it easy.”

wedding dance

Soul Sisters Photography

19.  Dog Days Are Over – Florence and The Machine

This song is all about new beginnings, fresh starts, freedom, and exploring true love. It is a vibrant and feel-good song choice for your first dance that will send the two of you off on your life together with a bounce in your step and eyes set high on the horizon, anticipating all the great things that lie ahead. 

“Happiness hit her like a train on a track.”

20.  Flightless Bird, American Mouth – Iron and Wine

This is one of the best and strangest songs to ever make it on a first dance playlist. Anyone who has watched Twilight through to Grey’s Anatomy and the Vampire Diaries is probably familiar with this song and its connection to epic romances. Yet, the lyrics are actually beautifully crafted nonsense! A love story can be heard in the music and in the sound of the singer’s voice, but the actual words don’t match it. Nothing could summarize love and all its magic and mystery and this is reflected in Flightless Bird, American Mouth.

“I was a quick, wet boy diving too deep for coins / All of your street-light eyes wide on my plastic toys.”

wedding first dance

Rob Cartwright Photography