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THE FIRST DANCE

According to The Knot global wedding report, 86% of UK weddings in 2023 had a first dance. You may think it’s a little outdated and you’re not going to bother, that’s cool. You may want to do a ‘dance with my father/mother’, whatever floats your boat. But if you are having a first dance then you’re going to need an amazing song to accompany it and unless you’ve always had your song, this is where the trouble begins. Let’s begin with a bit of inspiration, drawing on our years working in the wedding industry. 


A couple dance their first dance accompanied by a violinist
Photo by Nicole Wilcox

Dances of note

Emma and I have witnessed a lot of first dances. Some fast, most slow, some awkward, most not, some bizarre, most fantastic. Highlights so far include:

- A gorgeous, understated acoustic live band version of La Vie En Rose

- A completely bizarre mashup of John Legend’s All of Me into Insomnia

- A massive family Blues Brothers dance to Everybody Needs Somebody

- Confetti cannons coordinated perfectly for the massive drop in Rudimental and John Newman’s ‘Feel the Love’

- Sax anthem Jubel outdoors at 4pm in broad daylight with mates lifting the bride and groom high above the guests in their chairs


This just goes to show that just like every other aspect of your wedding day, there is no right or wrong way, just your way. 


Song choice

If you already know what you’re dancing to, you’re golden. Some couples don’t have a song and have to work a bit harder to find something that works, but that search can definitely be a bit of fun amongst all the wed-min.


We think the best first dance songs are those that are a little bit different, a bit leftfield and quirky. Here’s a playlist we made of such songs: First Dances for Cool People. Take a look! You never know, you might just get inspired. 


Once you’ve decided on your song, you just need to decide if your bandsinger or DJ are going to be playing it for you. To make this call, think about whether it’s the song itself (meaning behind the words etc) or the version (the artist singing/playing it and how they do it!) that you love. To test this, you could track down some covers and see what you think.Basically, if you want to practice a dance along to it, or it to sound exactly like the version you know or love - DJ. If you want a beautiful surprise and a version that is totally bespoke to you, your day and that moment - band!


A couple dance their first dance in full colour
Photo by Hayley Gell Photography

Nerves

So many couples we meet and work with get really nervous about their first dance. There are a few things you can do to combat this including inviting other guests in, doing a mega short first dance and of course, not having a first dance at all. If it’s any consolation, first dances (including song choice) are lovely but not usually up there on the most memorable part of the day and (if you’ve a boozy bunch) most guests could be well-oiled by that point in the evening too. 


Our top 5 tips 

Here are a few ideas if you’re a bit stuck: 


  1. Start a joint playlist between yourselves early on in the planning stages and gradually add songs you think could be contenders. When it’s got a nice collection of about 20 songs on you can have a listen together over a bottle of wine and test some out. How romantic.

  2. Think of what you want the first dance to say about you to your guests. It should reflect you as a couple. Are you mega loved up (course you are). Is this a new thing? Are you best friends? Are you very fun? Are you a bit silly? Do you want to surprise people? Do you want to include a lift (yes we’ve seen a couple of these).

  3. Have a quick rehearsal just to make sure you can actually dance to it in a comfortable way. It’s worth 3 minutes of your time dancing together in the kitchen to avoid the longest 3 minutes of your life ever.

  4. Choose by lyrics. The lyrics to your first dance song can be just as important as the music. There are some amazing songs with really inappropriate song lyrics for a first dance such as God Only Knows, Easy Lover, or that Roxette one, It Must’ve Been Love. If you’re dead set on a song but the lyrics don’t work, you could get your band to play it without the lyrics as a chilled acoustic cover. We’ve seen it before and it works well.

  5. Don’t be lonely -  Inviting other guests to join you on the dance floor has to be the number 1 route to feeling a little less nervous and awkward during your first dance. Just tell your band/DJ/mates that this is your plan and hopefully they won’t stitch you up.


I hope this has helped. Weddings are tricky and there are so many decisions but I’ll leave you with a last bit of advice on first dances:

  • It doesn’t have to be slow

  • It doesn’t have to be soppy

  • It doesn’t have to be just the two of you

  • You don't have to have one at all

See also our blog on How to Book Wedding Music Easily

Why not sign up to our mailing list and get a free handy wedding music planning tool to get you started


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