Of all the things you are planning for your wedding, the songs you want to use for your first dance with your newly married husband or wife will either come to you instantly, or with a good deal of searching for the “perfect” tune. When we got married ourselves, it was a pretty quick decision – after a few weeks of Chris’ relentless joking about dancing to some black metal song. The first dance wedding songs we have put together here are representative of some great songs we have heard at weddings, and a lot of hidden gems that come from our own eclectic music tastes.
If you’d like to know more about us, and how some of the obscure choices might have come about, check out our About Us page. Below you will find a lot of indie rock, folk, electronic, and classical tracks fitting for a variety of different moods and wedding day first dances. Of course, there is no expectation that you have to dance to any of these – it’s meant to be all in good fun – but maybe you will find something fresh to your ears? We hope so!
If you’ve already picked your first dance song, we would love to know! Tell us in the comments below. If you haven’t yet, let us know what song(s) you’re thinking about!
H&A’s First Dance Wedding Songs – Hand Picked By us!!
Ed Sheeran – “Perfect”
Right now, this song is probably the most popular wedding song out there. Having been to quite a few weddings over the past few years, this one pops up regularly during the first dances. While we’re not huge fans of a lot of pop music (so…what plays on the radio), this one has grown on us – probably as a result of being exposed to it over and over again. On occasion, Chris will get into weird phases of listening to it on repeat, which we find pretty funny 🙂 One thing is for sure about this track, it seems like it was created with being played at a wedding in mind, and really fits the bill quite nicely if you are looking for an accessible song that just about everyone in the room will understand, probably have heard, and appreciate!
Asgeir – “i know you know”
Moving away from Ed Sheeran and the instantly recognizable songs on this list, give a listen to Asgeir. We’re not even entirely sure how to pronounce the name, but we found this artist will doing research for our trip to Iceland. We do have a soft spot in our hearts for Icelandic music in general, with some other musicians from there popping up throughout this list of first dance songs, too.
The main appeal of this song to us, within the context of possibly being played at a wedding, is the nice blend of natural, acoustic instruments with the soft synths and gentle electronic beats. It’s the sort of sound that we could easily associate with Iceland (on it’s nice weather days), and for those looking for a alternative, relaxing and smooth tune that isn’t so overtly trying to be a first dance wedding song, this might be for you!
Twenty One Pilots – “Can’t Help Falling in Love”
One of the most recognizable love songs out there is one made famous by Elvis himself. While this original version actually has it’s rightful place being on a list like this, we figure we could update it with a more recent cover by Twenty One Pilots, which is actually a great and unique rendition – in particular due to the use of the ukulele. And if you know anything about us, we both enjoy playing the ukulele in our spare time, usually while brainstorming some big photo shoot idea or in between editing photos.
Angus & Julia Stone – “Wherever You Are”
These days, we have been listening to Angus & Julia Stone a whole lot. It’s been a while since we’ve felt really obsessive over music, but since they released their latest album Snow in 2017, we’ve basically been listening to their music a couple times a week. Much of their music is about love in general, so there are many songs in their discography that could work perfectly for a first dance wedding song. We chose “Wherever You Are” in particular because it is one of our favorites. The contrast of Angus + Julia’s vocal styles across different verses, and the intimate acoustic performance, really would make this great for a couple looking for a downtempo and relaxing acoustic first dance song.
Some other great tracks of theirs you might want to give a listen to are “Chateau” and “Lady of the Sunshine.”
Bon Iver – “Holocene”
Bon Iver is one of our favorite mellow bands to listen to. Can’t say that we can understand everything that is being sung all the time due to the use of a lot of vocal effects by the singer, but the mood conveyed in just about every song they produce is on point.
If you picture your first dance being spent close to the partner you have just newly married, without a desire to make a big scene with a loud or fast paced song, then this might just work for you. We also imagine this track would suit any adventurous couple with a love for nature, as the music video might seem to suggest as it features some of the gorgeous Icelandic landscapes throughout.
Seriously, Iceland seems to show up everywhere now for us…
Olafur Arnalds – “Particles”
Our apparent obsession with Icelandic things is on display again here, but with good reason. Most of the music composed by Olafur Arnalds is instrumental and piano based. This particular song stands out in all of his discography in that it features an excellent vocal performance (who doesn’t love Nanna Bryndis from Of Monsters and Men?!), and by all means compliments a fairly minimalistic and conventional song structure.
If you are actually looking for an instrumental song to use for your wedding first dance, digging through his discography will uncover a lot of wonderful pieces.
Dave Matthews Band – “Crash Into Me”
“Crash Into Me” has always felt like a really perfect, intimate song absolutely fitting for a first dance between a newly married bride + groom. Some of the lyrics are pretty adult (to say the least), but if that’s not a concern for you, you might just love this one. The great acoustic guitar droning on in the background, paired with some light sax and jazzy drums building up throughout the song…it’s just great!
Bright Eyes – “First Day of My Life”
If you’re like us, Bright Eyes has been a band to follow us around since our angsty teenage years. While some of their music is a little emo for us these days, “First Day of My Life” still stands alone as one of the sweetest little love songs you’ll ever find.
We actually danced to this song ourselves, and had a little giggle to ourselves when one of our couples had it played during their wedding ceremony while we were photographing. It’s a semi-popular wedding song that sometimes goes overlooked in exchange for more popular “top hits” musicians we tend to hear more often. Still worth checking out if you’ve never heard this one before!
Also, the music video is one of the most endearing we’ve seen, too!
Iron & Wine – “Call it Dreaming”
You might sense a theme in this list of potential first dance songs – we tend to like a lot of relaxing, acoustic heavy, music. Iron & Wine produces a type of folk music that can be really eclectic at times. “Call it Dreaming” is from one of his most recent releases, and has some really tender lyrics to go along with the simple but powerful chord progression.
In our minds, this song seems perfect for those who have maybe gone through a lot of rough times, but will be overjoyed to be there in the reception hall dancing together.
Coheed and Cambria – “Wake Up”
Coheed and Cambria is an old favorite of ours. Just the name alone brings to light a lot of memories from our teenage years and the inspiration that their sci-fi storytelling albums & graphic novels have been for us. Having seen them in concert multiple times, and met them, it’s hard not to find a place for them on our wedding playlist. Despite most of their songs being heavier, more specifically “Wake Up” is actually a fairly soft ballad featuring the unique falsetto of Claudio Sanchez. The lyrical theme is a bit darker than most others on this list, but for some couples, this might just be what you are looking for!
Michael Buble – “Everything”
While easily a poster child for a music album to be released in Hallmark stores, “Everything” is actually a sweet and enjoyable little tune perfect for everyone in the family, and great for first dances if your looking for something really catchy and poppy.
Imogen Heap – “You Know Where to Find Me”
Imogen Heap is probably best known for her song “Hide and Seek,” but of all the songs she has written – “You Know Where to Find Me” just feels like a fitting first dance song. Her music is very unique, while also being very accessible, too.
The Dire Straits – “Romeo and Juliet”
While we aren’t the biggest fans of most classic rock, The Dire Straits is a really big standout exception. We got into them a lot more in college since grabbing their vinyl Making Movies for 99 cents at a record store (shout out to Young Ones in Kutztown), we’ve been hooked. “Romeo and Juliet” is a really powerful and even fun song at times that takes the simple story of Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet and breathes new life into it. The perspective in the song is really nice, and just about everything else is perfect too – from the vocals, the guitars, the overall composition…it’s just great. A really solid choice for a first dance – and probably one your parent’s might appreciate, too!
Alcest – “Autre Temps”
Alcest is a French language band that originally started off by producing heavy metal songs, but over time has become increasingly softer, more melodic, and ethereal in their sound. Of any “heavy” song that we could think of for a first dance at a wedding, this is one that comes to mind. There are some heavy moments throughout the song, but the way the song is mixed allows them to still feel lighter and with more breathing room than listening to something loud and crazy.
Of course, unless you understand French, you will not be able to make out what is being said – but fortunately, the French language typically has a romantic sort of sound to it – so one can at least appreciate the vocal melody and sound of the voice.
Johnny Cash – “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”
There are many versions of this song out there as it has been covered by a large number of famous artists since it was written in the 50’s. Of all the versions we’ve heard, Johnny Cash has the best. The minimal instrumentation paired with his powerful voice makes it an excellent choice for a first dance – in particular if you are feeling really sentimental, and want to have your own space on the dance floor.
Peter Broderick – “Colors of the Night”
Peter Broderick is an interesting musician – with much of his work being pretty folky in nature, and some instrumental. One of Chris’ favorite albums of late has actually been Home by him!
“Colours of the Night” stands out as a sort of trippy and unique track from him. It’s quite catchy and comes along with a lot of different vocal styles and tempo changes throughout the song. For sure, this would not be a “standard” wedding dance song by any means, but could certainly fit the bill for the right couple interested in dancing to something a little different, and a little unique. We can picture a little more of a choreographed dance going along with this.
Another great song you might enjoy in this vein from him is “It Starts Here,” which is a little closer to a techies love song. You have to hear it to understand 🙂
Spiritualized – “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space”
The first time we heard this song was while watching a Vice News special, and they randomly decided to use it during a montage segment. It’s not the normal place to expect to find a song that you really enjoy, but such is life…
This would be another unconventional first dance song, but again, an interesting choice for the right couple. It’s great for a simple waltz given the time signature of the song, and it basically drones on for a few minutes with instrumental and vocal layers building on one another. It’s sort of like listening to David Bowie, but not quite as strange – and honestly, it’s pretty different than even other songs on the same album, which are much more standard rock fare.
M83 – “We Own the Sky”
One of the “classic” M83 tracks from before they really became big time artists with songs played on the radio and showing up on movie soundtracks – “We Own the Sky” is really excellent if you want something uptempo and electronic. Their music often reminds us of the vibes you get when watching the crazy colored forest scenes in Avatar.
Rick Astley – “Never Gonna Give You Up”
Honestly, there is probably no better first dance wedding song in existence. “Never Gonna Give You Up” serves so many purposes during the wedding day. It’s a way to relax. It’s a way to have a good laugh. It’s a way to Rick Roll your partner if you end up telling the wedding band to play this one instead of song other more emotionally heavy song…
In all seriousness…it is a good song…Also, Chris danced to this with his mom during our wedding. It’s something we’ll never forget.
Jeff Buckley – “Hallelujah”
What song does Chris play on the guitar most days of the week? “Hallelujah.” The original by Leonard Cohen is also great if you want something a bit more “classic,” but this cover by Jeff Buckley is often considered the best version. And for good reason! It’s really a beautiful cover, and the sound of the song is distinctly different and more emotive.
“Hallelujah” is probably one of the few universally loved songs out there. It is extremely powerful, despite being a pretty simple song structurally. This could easily…easily…be an excellent first dance song to be shared between you and your newly married love.
Well, that’s a wrap! That is 20 first dance wedding songs to check out. We probably have an endless well of recommendations, but these are some of our favorite tunes that would suit a first dance well. Hopefully you enjoyed the mix of popular first dance songs paired with some more eclectic tracks we enjoy.
What are some great first dance wedding songs that come to your mind? We’d love to hear about them!