One of my favorite parts of the wedding (next to the handwritten vows) is the first dance, is that lame? Oh well, don’t care. It can certainly be among theee cheesiest parts of the reception, but it’s also the cutest. Couple of newlyweds dancing around, slightly tipsy, super smiley, and probs a little too sweaty too. The best part of it is the song. And the couples who do it right end up picking something that’s completely personal and not played TO DEATH on the radio. They’re the songs that guests end up tuning into the lyrics halfway through during and thinking ‘oh s***, this is really good.’
To me, a first dance song is sacred and something that should never be an afterthought. By the time I got married, I had been dating my husband for eight years. We had tons of songs that rocked our souls together, ones that we turned waaayyy up in the car together, and ones that we just loved embarrassingly together, you know the guilty pleasure songs (can’t EVEN begin to say how many times we put “Irreplaceable” on his iPod and each sang in our seats without looking at the other one #beyoncedoesthattoyou). And we knew we wanted something perfect for our wedding, so we chose “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol - yes, well aware that it’s basically been used as an anthem for anyone who’s ever died in Grey’s Anatomy. My backup was “These Are the Days” by O-Town. Ummm. But that has more to do with the fact that that was the first song my husband and I ever danced to. We were 16….
The Snow Patrol lyrics were just everything, and we knew all the words. Our band hadn’t ever played it before, but we made sure they’d rehearse it and have it 👌 for our wedding. And they did. It was awesome.
So, we chatted with a few former brides to find out what songs they swayed to on their big day, and why they chose the ones they did. And ended up with a few key tips for landing on THE ONE.
- Don’t settle. Your first dance song isn’t on par with your senior song from high school (ours was “Final Countdown” wow), it’s special and will be somewhat of a theme song for you and your boo throughout your lives. So, if you have a song that you’re psyched about, tell your band how important it is to you. Most bands offer to learn 2-3 new songs for a wedding, so don’t just phone it in and pick something that’s already part of their repertoire. Ask and you shall receive!
- Pick something with a story. Whether you and your partner have seen the artist in concert dozens of times together, always text each other when you hear ‘your song’ played anywhere, or maybe even heard the song playing somewhere in the background when you shared your first kiss. Whenever and wherever that song became meaningful, that’s your story right there.
- Choose a track that’s tight. And by tight, we mean short. First dances are wonderful, but at some point, they get boring for guests - and/or awkward for the couple. So, if you can, think about a few of your favorites, and select the one that’s shortest and sweetest. It’ll mean you’ll have more time for eating and dancing later.
- Use your work day to vet tunes. If you’re anything like me, you need some kind of music situation in the background to get through work. After all, Jack Johnson, Pink Floyd, and Matisyahu were the only reasons I got papers done in college, kidding 😉. But if you can put you headphones in and work until something has you distracted enough to start looking up lyrics, then you might have stumbled upon your song. Go home and tell your bae about it. Listen to it together.
- Turn to a favorite movie for some serious inspo. If it wasn’t for our love of “Chasing Cars,” we would have probably just turned on 500 Days of Summer or The Last Kiss for some song inspiration. These were two of our favorite movies, ones that we obvi saw together (and pretty early on in our relationship), and the soundtracks were solid. So, if you’re still stumped, think about using movies for motivation. You’ll often end up finding some elusive deep track that has wedding worthiness written all over it.
And to help out, we’ve rounded up 12 of our favorite - and not-so-basic songs - some that even our staffers danced to at their own weddings - that are totally stealable.... and beltable.
H.E.R ft Daniel Caesar - Best Part
Leon Bridges - Beyond
Alabama Shakes - Hold On
Sixpence None The Richer - Kiss Me (Oldie but CLASSIC goodie)
Summersalt - Sweet To Me
SZA - Garden
Rhye - Song For You
Everything But The Girl - Night and Day Cover
Penny And The Quarters - You and Me
The Internet - Wanna Be
Etta James - If I Can't Have You
King Harvest - Dancing in the Moonlight