The Best First Dance

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The first dance is one of the most anticipated moments of a wedding. Everyone is watching, waiting to see which song the couple has chosen and how they'll add their own twist to a song that may have been played countless times before.

While some brides and grooms may decide to go the traditional route, selecting a sweet slow song, others may choose a more modern tune or select a pop culture favorite, choreographing a surprise routine for friends and family. So the question is which "first dance" genre is the best fit for you? What's your best first dance?

This happily wed couple's first dance is reminiscent of
old Hollywood-style glamor.
Photo Source: In Style Weddings

Always a popular option, many brides and grooms opt for a song that's stood the test of time. There's a long list of these tunes of yesteryear, which are a sweet and sentimental option, especially for couples who may not be interested in investing in dance lessons or coming up with complicated routines. Here are just a few of my favorite classic first dance songs.

"At Last" by Etta James
"Unchained Melody" by The Righteous Brothers
"It Had to Be You" by Harry Connick, Jr.
"When You Say Nothing at All" by Alison Krauss
"In My Life" by the Beatles
"Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole
"Fools Rush In" by Elvis Presley

Some couples opt for more recent songs, especially if the song holds a special meaning for them. Check out a list of 30 popular picks from the Knot for some inspiration along with a list of my own favorites below. Daily Candy Weddings has a fun first dance tool that can help couples choose a wedding song based on the bride's and groom's personalities.

"Come Away with Me" by Norah Jones
"Kissing You" by Des'ree (from the soundtrack of Romeo and Juliet)
"Lucky" by Jason Mraz and Colbie Calliet
"Ever the Same" by Rob Thomas
"Remember When" by Alan Jackson
"Iris" by Goo Goo Dolls
"You and Me" by Lifehouse

Then there are those who decide to skip the slow dance and opt for comical choreography that's often a surprise performance. When else is it appropriate to know all the steps to "The Time of My Life" and to do this dance in front of all your friends and family? Among infamous surprise performances are an irreverent "Baby Got Back" routine, numerous adaptions of "Thriller" and other Michael Jackson favorites and a more recent example in which the bridal party didn't bother holding out for the reception, they danced right down the aisle to Chris Brown's "Forever".

This Alabama couple decided to add some spice to their step for
their first dance. The song selection? A mix of pop, rap and Vanilla Ice.
Photo Source:

Consider creating a dance to a funny surprise song, but be mindful of your audience. Some guests may not share your same sense of humor and may be offended instead of impressed, so choose carefully! Pick dance moves that you'll easily be able to do in your dress and shoes. Does your dress have a train? Be sure that it's not going to get caught up and ruined in your fancy legwork. Is your dress a mermaid style? If so, remember your movement may be much more limited than in your practice clothing. These are all questions to consider when planning out a routine.

Family Tradition
Some couples may choose to embrace a cultural wedding tradition for their first dance. For Jewish weddings, the Hora is a popular first dance where the bride and groom are lifted in chairs in a symbolic gesture as the two are considered to be the "king and queen of the night." For Greek weddings, a circle-style dance is often popular whereas an old Italian tradition is a special dance called the tarantella. Consider how you picture your guests in these more communal style dances. Will only one side of the family know the steps? You can always choose to incorporate some elements of your culture's wedding traditions into your first dance such as a particular song choice or steps without following every rule.

Some newlyweds may want to go with a special dance
that's family tradition like this couple did at their Jewish wedding.

Getting Ready for the Big Moment
If you and your partner aren't the most savvy steppers, consider investing in dance lessons. While the cost varies from city to city and is also based on whether you participate in group or private lessons, it may be worth every penny if it will help alleviate first dance jitters. Most people don't get a do over with the first dance, so lessons can help ensure that you get it right the first time around!

According to, ballroom dance lessons can cost between $55 to $125 per person although I've seen advertisements for lessons as cheap as $25 per person in Charlotte. If you live near a university or college, you may even be able to take lessons for free if there is a student or community ballroom dance club. UNC-Chapel Hill offered free lessons every Monday throughout the school year when I was an undergrad, and they taught everything from the rhumba to the tango, the foxtrot and more! Visit or Access Dance to find a ballroom dancing instructor near you. Or, if you think that you only need minimal help to prepare for that big moment, consider checking out some instructional dance videos on YouTube. Bottom line is practice makes perfect!

And don't forget to be sure that everything is in order with the music! It will be quite a disappointment if you've spent all this time practicing but the band turns out to be terrible, the DJ's sound system doesn't work or if you've left the CD at home in your player. Add this to your wedding day checklist and enlist the help of a family member or friend to remind you of any last minute preparations for music.

Finally, just enjoy the moment! Don't get so caught up in the routine that you let it pass you by. Whichever song or steps you choose, remember that this is just the first of many dances that you'll share with your new spouse for the rest of your life!


Petergaye S. Kisielewicz/ Yahgie said...

Cute blog. :=)

Alejendro said...

Nice post. I always wanted to learn a Ball Room dance... but dancing, is not really me.. :-P

Duffy said...

Hunting for useful sources that can help you to learn dance online is really time-consuming. However, if you are getting tired of searching for such resources over the internet, visit the website and go through dance directories.

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