The most challenging aspect of planning can sometimes be picking the perfect first dance song. I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground, listening for newer, special songs that can work for your first dance.
1. Coming Home – Leon Bridges. This song is deceptively simple…but it pretty much says it all about love. Being with your true love really is like coming home, a place of comfort that is always there for you.
Photo by Brady Puryear
2. Flaws – Bastille. This may sound counterintuitive to the couple blissfully inlove, but I learned after a few years of marriage is how the single most important concept of couplehood is admitting your flaws and working on them, but accepting your significant other’s imperfections, and, even embracing them. It’s called a “wonderful mess” in the song, and I love that idea – perfection is overrated!
Photo by Brandon Kidd Photography
3. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Here’s a classic song that I have not heard at a wedding until just recently, and deserves a second look. A dear friend of mine got married recently and they had talented friend of theirs sing this song (originally sung by Roberta Flack). It’s beautiful and truly timeless. This version is a live version sung by Leona Lewis.
Music can be a divisive subject when it comes to weddings. Mention Black Eyed Peas during a planning meeting, for example, and you’ll either get a major eye roll or unfettered delight. But in practice, a carefully chosen and used BEP tune can make the night (This doesn’t change the fact “My Humps” is the worst song ever written.) Based on a few conversations with event planners and DJs – and of course years of experience observing weddings of all sizes – here are our 2c about your wedding playlist.
Gettin' Down at our Ozumo wedding last year. Kris Dahl Photography.
The fine line between something unique and catchy must always be navigated carefully. Your wedding is not the time to show off your rock snobbery. And focusing on just one genre will backfire too. Even the snootiest music snob will – particularly after a cocktail or two – dash to the dance floor when the latest pop hit starts up.
There are certainly some more sophisticated top 40 hits like Jessie J’s “Domino,” Ellie Goulding’s “Lights,” or Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie” that work for just about everyone. If you’re sensitive about seeming too mainstream, but know you need the boffo hits to keep the party going, whipping out Ke$sha and Lady Gaga later in the evening – when inhibitions have all but been abandoned (read: Alcohol has been drunk) – is a smart strategy.
One of my favorite DJs, Graham Silver from Silvertunes Entertainment, says: “When choosing the right style of music to play for your guests at your wedding, keep in mind that the age range tends to be very diverse and you will need to select songs with your DJ that will appeal to all generations. The first dance set may be the classics: Motown, funk, Disco etc… then typically after the cake, you can go more current and top 40 for the younger crowd. Be sure to not take your wedding day as an opportunity to introduce your guests to an eclectic style of music. The songs you listen to on your ipod, may not be the style or tone that will encourage your guests to want to tear it up on the dance floor.”
(If you’re shy about being up there awhile for your first dance – or if your tune is more than 3 minutes long – ask your DJ to edit it down.)
Some unique songs that strike a balance between sentimental and sophisticated… Maybe by Ingrid Michaelson
Under Your Spell – Desire (needs a little editing; find it on the Drive soundtrack)
(Baby) You’ve Got What It Takes– Michael Buble with Sharon Jones – This duet has more energy and beat than a typical first dance, and has tons of spunk and charm.
Mirrors by Justin Timberlake – Acoustic. Tons of covers on Youtube – this one is a duet featuring female as well as male leads, perfect for the first dance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvEZUbzqqyM
Smile by Uncle Kracker – Not generally a listener of this artist, but this song is so dang sweet, and has a country feel if that’s more your vibe. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffej15-Dgl0
Mother/Son and Father/Daughter Dances
Blessed by Elton John
In My Life by the Beatles
You Make Me Feel So Young by Frank Sinatra
In the end, think about your guests, as well as your own tastes, when it comes to songs. The one thing that’s inescapable at every wedding is music, thus, I honestly feel it’s the most important element of your event. Do your homework, consult the pros (DJs, band leaders – the ones who know wedding crowds better than anyone!) and you’ll create an atmosphere that works for everyone. More of our favorites include Patrick Belton of Dubgypsy Entertainment,Red Shoe LA, and Andrew Veeder / DJ Bumbaclot !