Save the First Dance for Me

This week, we shared a few picks for parent-child dance songs from our colleagues at Renaissance Publishing. Now, we’re sharing our previous article on the brief history of the first dance, as well as a few more song choices from a few years ago.


From bridal attendants to the wedding cake and more, there are countless recognizable elements to a wedding celebration. The couple’s first dance is in that list. It’s elegant, classic and seemingly has always been an understood piece to the wedding puzzle.

Recently, a couple we know opted for a bit of a choreographed first dance. Nothing too eccentric, but it was obvious that they included a turn here and a sway there at specific moments during the song. And that got us thinking – should we put more emphasis on the first dance? Is it still an important moment or is it just another tick off the wedding checklist?

The first dance, it is believed, dates back centuries when flamboyant balls were a regular occurrence – mostly in Europe with kings, queens and other members of the nobility. During this time, it was customary that the hosts of the party, or a guest of honor, would begin the entertainment of the evening by opening with a first dance.

Though we are very interested in European royalty — New Orleans was founded by the French after all — balls and galas aren’t necessarily the dancing extravaganza they were in history’s past. (Kelly here: if we’re being honest, it’s my least favorite part of a wedding. It is however important to getting the night going and for that, I love it and the possibilities it holds). Recently, modern couples have brought different twists to this historic tradition with full on choreographed productions making the moment a little less serious. Some have even made the moment a group affair, including their bridal party into the mix.

No matter which option you choose, many people are focused solely on which song will represent them as a couple in their first dance.

Each year, large bridal magazine and outlets like Martha Stewart Weddings Magazine and report on the top first dance songs of the year. For 2019, John Legend and Ed Sheeran have topped the list once again with “All of Me” and “Thinking Out Loud” respectively. (Kelly here – my personal favorite has also topped the list with the Four Seasons’ “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.”) went a little farther and separated the generations into categories and highlighted their personal favorites.

That list included:

“All of Me” by John Legend
“I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith
“Amazed” by Lonestar

Generation X
“Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers
“At Last” by Etta James
“I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith

Baby Boomers
“Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers
“The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra
“At Last” by Etta James


As with every aspect of your wedding celebration however, the song you pick as your first dance — if you decide to do that at all — is all about your personal preferences and personality as a couple. If there is a song that’s meaningful to your relationship or one that you both just love, go for it!




A version of this article was originally published in 2020.


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