The First Dance at a Wedding – some tips from someone who has seen/cringed/laughed/nearly cried once to quite a few.

Blog , April 5, 2013

The first dance at a wedding.

I suppose this does not fall under the remit of photography but I also play in a band. So between them both I”ve seen just about everything when it comes to the first dance.

I am not a music snob. I’m not really. Over the years the one thing I have learned is that people listen to different styles of music and just because it doesnt make me happy, doesnt make them wrong.

So the most important thing when choosing a song for the first dance is what will make you happy.

So what have I seen? White suited choreographed country moves to the whole bridal party doing a Thriller esque dance. From a  brides father singing (not too badly) to the happy couple choosing the most boring and predictable songs chosen either because they dont care enough or taking centre stage is not their thing ( After a whole day of being centre stage you would think a two step shuffle round a darkened room for a few minutes would be ok). From mash ups (several notable ones worked) to a traditional slow dance. From the groom chancing his arm with a song to hillbilly shuffle in Converse.

As with everything on your wedding day, be comfortable with what you are doing.  Dont pick a song that makes either of you uncomfortable. I would never say dont pick this style or that style, just be who the both of you are together.

My own first dance was a beautiful song and it meant something to us both. But it went on too long – over 5 minutes – if you are going to see it out then get the rest of the bridal party up about half way through a long song!

And so what made me cry? Well I didnt actually (snort snort) but it came very close. It was a couple who played the Book of Love by Peter Gabriel. Her dad had passed away and she obviously didnt want anyone else to walk her down the aisle.  So as she appeared at the bottom of the aisle, the groom turned and walked to meet halfway down the church. It was a beautiful moment echoed all the more by the song. That is the power of music. That works.

One Fab Day recently posted a list of songs – 99 in fact for your first dance. I have heard 5 of them played as a first dance. Not a list I would agree with from experience.

I think what is great and easy to dance to is a classic from the swing era. Ella, Nina, Frank, Nat, Louis.

When I was shooting their wedding, Daniel and Jenni  (featured below) chose this sort of style and it just oozed class. Dream a little dream from Ella and Louis. It was easy to move to and didnt last too long.

Finding a slightly different version of a song is another way to liven up a well played song.

Below I have grouped songs into various categories. And like I said whatever makes you happy and smile is what you should stick with. Dont do something that is not really you. As it could be the most cringe worthy 3 minutes of your life.


Songs that should never be the first dance   (bordering on criminal)


Anything by the Smiths or Morrissey.

Bryan Adams – Everything I do (i do it for you)

Lonestar – Amazed

Anything by Shania Twain.


The ones you can rely on

I put a spell on you  – Nina Simone

A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square – Various

Van Morrison – Have i told you lately

Van Morrison – Crazy Love

Van Morrison – Tupleo Honey

Joe Cocker – You are so beautiful to me


Those borderline ones (overplayed) 

Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars

Anything by Buble (I like him)


Something I would dance to now

Foy Vance – Elshaneed

Foy Vance – Guiding Light

Birdy (version of Mumford song) – Learn me right (infact the mumford is perfect too)

Brian Kennedy – Captured


What I Had

Iain Archer – Working up a storm


What our band have played recently –

Chasing Cars – Snow patrol

The Piano Man – Billy Joel

Can’t Help Falling in Love – Ingrid Michaelson

Kiss Me – Sixpence none the richer

Come away with me – Norah Jones

Bad English – When I see you smile (secret favourite)

Save the last dance for me – Buble

One Day like this – Elbow

Your song – Eliie Goulding

Never tear us apart – Paloma Faith


It would be great to hear what your first song was and if you would change it now. Or if your wedding is coming up – how are you going to go about choosing a first dance song.




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