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10 Unique Songs for Your First Dance

Megan McCarty Lara Burnap

Picking the perfect song for your first dance is no easy task. Sure, there are standard tunes that we all know and love (like Etta James’ “At Last”). There’s nothing more romantic than finding the perfect lyrics to sum up how you are feeling at that moment.

“Your first dance selection should be taken seriously as it’s one of the first traditional elements of the night and says something to your guests about your relationship,” says Southern California deejay Lee Dyson of Hey Mister DJ. “Sometimes it’s fun to go against character but usually it’s recommended to find a song that reflects your personal style and taste.”

Here, Lee shares his tips for choosing the perfect song and a list of his favorite first dance songs to get you ready for the dance floor.

1. Make a list of the top 5-10 songs you are considering and then read the lyrics to see how they resonate. “Sometimes people pick a song because they love how it feels but don’t realize the lyrics might not be 100% appropriate or representative of that couple’s dynamic.”

2. Identify a song that is meaningful to you as a couple. Maybe it’s one you heard on your first date or the lyrics really sum up your connection.

3. Keep in mind that the song should be consistent with the theme of the wedding. “If the wedding reception is very regal and classy then a more traditional or classic sounding song may be in order,” notes Lee. “If the wedding is more modern or fun/playful then something contemporary or less serious would be great.”

4. Practice dancing to your song prior to the wedding! “Sometimes people choose a song they love but don’t realize that the tempo of the song may be difficult or simply too fast,” recommends Lee. “Rehearsing will give you time to decide if the song is workable, needs to be changed or if you should consider hiring a dance coach.”

5. Remember that the average length any couple should be on the floor for first dance is about 2-3 minutes. “Longer than 3 minutes starts to drag for you and the guests,” says Lee. “Shorter than 2 minutes may look to your guests like something is wrong and also it may not be enough time for the photographer to get that perfect photo.”

 photography by Laurie Bailey from Jon & Mari's Wedding 

Here are a few of Lee’s favorite songs for first dances. “I’ve decided to focus on songs a bit in the left field because we usually specialize in clients that want something a little different than the traditional music selections,” says Lee. 

“If Not for You” by Bob Dylan: “I like this for guests that want something more upbeat or folksy. Also the lyrics are very passionate.”

“I Want You” by Third Eye Blind“For couples that want something with an alternative edge.”

“Love Me Tender” by Norah Jones: “Amazing Elvis cover…almost sounds like she wrote it!”

“I’ll Melt With You” by Nouvelle Vague and Jason Mraz: “Just a classic 80’s song that people never get tired of hearing.”

Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” by Ingrid Michaelson: “I was hesitant to include two Elvis covers in this list, but it’s such an amazing and heartfelt song that I always see people visibly moved during this one."

You’re So Cool” by Hans Zimmer, instrumental from the movie True Romance: “It doesn’t get more cool that this…a song from a classic movie for the younger generation. Every time I play it I get at least 2 people asking me what this is.”

“Love You More” by Alexi Murdoch: “This guy just makes beautiful music…period. This song is great for a short dance with simple lyrics."

“All of My Days” by Alexi Murdoch: In fact…his stuff is so pretty I’m sneaking in an extra one.”

“The Luckiest” by Ben Folds: “This is what a love ballad is suppose to be….deeply emotional and just perfect."

“I Choose You” by Ryan Leslie: “This is an lesser known R&B track but has amazing lyrics perfect for a first dance talking about total commitment.”

"In the Name of Love" by Bob Sinclair:  “Want a cool song that turns right into a dance party? Use this one and invite your guests to join for the best “feel good’ vibe of the night.”

You can find all of these songs and more suggestions in Hey Mister DJ's Spotify playlist: SONGS FOR FIRST DANCE

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