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15 Classic First Dance Songs + First Dance Tips

first dance, classic first dance songs, wedding reception, choreography, couples dance, newlyweds, dancefloor
Photo: Ama by Aisha

Your first dance as a newlywed couple in front of your loved ones is a classic tradition. It can be a mesmerizing moment, but for some couples, the first dance can also be daunting. That’s completely understandable, as you’ll be in the spotlight, with all your loved ones looking on. But with these tips and song suggestions, you’ll be able to shake those first dance jitters and enjoy a deeply romantic moment with your spouse.

Practice Is Your Friend

When it comes to this tradition, rehearsing is a must. Even if it’s just a couple of practice sessions, rehearsing will prepare you for when it’s time to dance, and all eyes are on you and your partner. Make sure to practice in the actual shoes you will be wearing, to get comfortable and avoid missteps. Also, if you’re wearing a dress that could make dancing difficult, practice a couple of times while wearing it, to learn how to avoid snags or stumbles.

first dance, classic first dance songs, wedding reception, choreography, couples dance, newlyweds, dancefloor
Photo: Khanh Nguyen Photography

Keep It Simple

It’s fine to have a choreographed number, as long as you keep in mind not just your dancing abilities, but those of your partner. Your first dance shouldn’t be frustrating or terrifying for either one of you, and should be a fun way for you to connect as newlyweds. Avoid overly complicated steps and stick with something you’ll both be able to do with ease.

Let Loose

In a perfect world, your first dance will be seamless and maybe even YouTube-worthy. However, this is the real world and mistakes are a real possibility. When a mistake happens, embrace it and maybe incorporate it into your routine. A stumble can be turned into a romantic dip, while forgotten steps can become a fun freestyle. What matters is that you remain focused on each other and that you be present in the moment. Doing this will guarantee a first dance you’ll cherish.

first dance, classic first dance songs, wedding reception, choreography, couples dance, newlyweds, dancefloor
Photo: Adam Nyholt, Photographer

The Song

Lastly, choose a song that is meaningful to both of you. From meaningful lyrics to a shared love for an artist, the song you dance to should reflect your personalities and be enjoyable. With that mind, don’t feel relegated only to soft, slow songs. Below are both new favorites and enduring classics we love for creating first-dance memories to last a lifetime.

  1. Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
  2. Your Song – Elton John
  3. A Thousand Years – Christina Perri
  4. Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
  5. At Last – Etta James
  6. All Of Me – John Legend
  7. Everything – Michael Bublé
  8. Never Too Much – Luther Vandross
  9. Die A Happy Man – Thomas Rhett
  10. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Lauryn Hill
  11. Someone Like You – Van Morrison
  12. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) – Marvin Gaye
  13. Speechless – Dan + Shay
  14. Love On Top – Beyoncé
  15. Nothing Can Change This Love – Sam Cooke

4 Tips for Easing First-Dance Performance Anxiety

photo: Cottonwood Weddings Photo: Cottonwood Road Photography | Venue: The Gallery

Remember when the newlywed “first dance” was just two crazy kids, swaying around on the dance floor to their fave sentimental tune? Yeah, neither do we. Probably because for at least the last 5 years or so, first dances have become major productions: the perfect song choice, the dramatic entrance, the fancy footwork, the…professional choreography?? If you’re feeling first-dance pressure, you’re in good company. And we’re here to help, with these tips for bringing the fun back to this much-loved wedding tradition.

  1. Include your soon-to-be spouse in the first-dance planning process. After all, he or she is the one you’ll be dancing with! Take a step back and try to remember if there were any songs you both liked while dating. Is there a song that has particular meaning to you? Is there an artist you both love? Is there a musical style you’re both more comfortable dancing to?
  2. To ease the pressure you may be feeling about dancing in the spotlight, consider taking a series of dance lessons together. These can be a great date-night activity, followed by dinner or a post-con cocktail and laugh sesh, looking back on his sweet attempts at salsa, or your dramatic “dip” recovery. Pre-wedding dance classes can also serve as a way to explore what music style fits both of you best.
  3. When selecting a wedding reception first-dance song, don’t forget about the “classics.” There’s a reason why you can never go wrong with a timeless standard for your first spin as spouses. Classic songs from the 40s and 50s are always in style, and any qualified Houston wedding band or wedding DJ will definitely be able to fulfill this request.
  4. Beware of pop music. Charting songs and Spotify hits typically are in for like…five minutes in the grand scheme of things…and then forgotten. You’ll want to pick a first-dance song you and your groom will love in the moment, be delighted to relive in your wedding photos and wedding video over and over again, and dance to, in intimate moments, for years to come.