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Playlist: First Dance Jamz


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Playlist: First Dance Jamz | A Practical WeddingPlaylist: First Dance Jamz | A Practical Wedding

The classic first dance song is something slow and sweet. It’s designed for the slow dance sway, and some tears. Now, I love a good emotional slow dance. We had some at our wedding, one of which will bring tears to my eyes any day of the week. In fact, I sobbed my way through a couple of them at our wedding, and not in a pretty way. But for our first dance, we picked something happy and upbeat. With the eyes of a hundred people on me, I had no intention of swaying and crying. Instead, David and I clambered out on that floor and cut a rug.

Next week, Maddie is going to compile some songs for the romantic first dance crowd. But today, I’m in charge. These are songs for those of you who don’t want all of your emotions on display in front of a crowd. It’s for those of you who want to kick up your heels and show your movez. It’s for those of you who want to show your happy side. Or, maybe you’re like David and me, and it’s all of the above.

These songs are crowd sourced by you through our first dance song open thread, and your wordless wedding soundtracks. And yup, I snuck our first dance song onto the list. You’ll never guess which one it is, just because so many of them could have belonged to us. (And “Gold Digger”? Well. One of you suggested it, and I. Can’t. Holyhell. Every time I get to that point in the playlist I start laughing so hard there are tears. I love you guys.)

First Dance Jamz from practicalmaddie on 8tracks Radio.

  1. “When I’m Sixty-Four” by The Beatles
  2. “You Are The Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder
  3. “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show
  4. “Excuses” by the Morning Benders
  5. “Hallelujah (I Just Love Her So)” by Ray Charles
  6. “Gold Digger” by Kanye West
  7. “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown
  8. “Think I’m In Love” by Beck
  9. “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” as covered by Lauryn Hill
  10. “Let’s Get it On” by Marvin Gaye
  11. “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green
  12. “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone
  13. “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” by Nat King Cole
  14. “How Does It Feel” by Slade
  15. “Nothing Can Change This Love” by Sam Cooke

Playlist: First Dance Jamz | A Practical Wedding

Unexpected Parent Dance Songs

Last Dance Songs

Modern Love Songs

How To DJ Your Wedding With An Ipod

All of APW’s Playlists

Photo by APW Sponsor Emily Takes Photos

**This post was sponsored by Monogamy Wines. Thank you Monogamy for helping make the APW mission possible!**

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

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  • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

    I’m not even sold on the idea of a first dance (nor planning a wedding, period), but I always think of first wedding dances when I hear:

    Let’s Stay Together (wisely included here)
    Signed, Sealed, Delivered
    I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket (as sung by Ella Fitzgerald)

    Also, At Last, but there’s a good chance I’ll see that on the slow dance list next week!

    • Laura C

      Not doing a first dance myself. But the most memorable one from a wedding I’ve been to was Smashing Pumpkins, “Tonight Tonight.”

      • http://thedilettantista.com The Dilettantista

        That was on my short list for a bit but I was wondering how you dance to that? My fiance and I actually had this very discussion in the car the other day, where we agreed that that song is THE BEST but also agreed that we’d have zero idea how to dance to it.

        • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

          Interpretive dance? Always my default.

          • http://partialto.tumblr.com LIZ (SINCE 1982)

            YES. Picturing “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion” right now.

    • meg

      EXCELLENT ADDITIONS.

      We’ll see about At Last. I think Maddie’s a little over it. I think it’s a classic for a reason, so we might have A Fight. We shall see.

      • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

        What. How can you be “over” At Last?! Especially Maddie, queen of tear-jerking romantic songs?!

        Maddie, girlfriend, I have zero problems with your taste in music. But if you persist in being “over” At Last, it may put a strain on our relationship (in the most loving, I-just-want-whats-best-for-you way)

      • ANDREA

        I thought I was totally over At Last (I play in a band that plays weddings, so.)

        But then, they played it at the Seattle party right after the first marriage equality celebrations, at one of those “let’s all have a reception for all y’all who have been waiting so long to get married” events. And I basically bawled for days.

    • fermi

      I’m not doing a first dance either – just too many eyes on us…but I am doing a father/daughter dance. Is that weird…our dance is going to be a faster New Mexican (Hispanic) song. Nothing slow here.

  • Kat

    I don’t know where ours falls… I wouldn’t say it’s upbeat and it’s not really romantic… Johnny Cash/Bob Dylan “Girl From the North Country”..

    • meg

      I just had a crazy little shiver. That’s my labor song. Long long story, but it helped bring our kiddo into the world, if indirectly.

    • meg

      And also, it’s clearly going to make a playlist now. I don’t know where it falls either, other than the “you have good taste in music” camp ;)

      • Kat

        Woot! that’s so crazy!! Now While we’re dancing I will also be thinking “This song helped bring APW Meg’s baby into the world” lol…and thanks for the “good taste” kudos!

  • http://www.alivingspace.com Julia

    LOVE this! My fiance and I love to dance (especially at weddings… I hold that this makes us the best kind of wedding guests), so we felt like it would be way more “us” to boogie down to an upbeat song for our first dance. We’re going to dance to “Lover” by Devendra Banhart for our first song; it’s absurdly fun, a little inappropriate, and just perfect :)

  • Meredith

    Loved that my friends danced their first dance to the Islands Jogging+Gorgeous+Summer. Upbeat and sweet, “millions of sunsets but the one I remember Is the one where you told me you’d love me forever.”

  • Blizalef

    My fiiance and I are going with “Swing Life Away” by Rise Against, simply because it has been ‘our song’ for years. Unfortunately, while I love to dance, he does not. Otherwise, I would probably go for something more out there. However, I’m thinking I will probably include some of the songs listed in other parts of the reception. :)

    • Lauren

      What a good choice! My husband is not in to Rise Against (or, as he puts it, my “angry music”) so that was a no, sadly.

    • Hintzy

      Awww! yay! We love singing that song to each other too and it’s a front runner for our first dance song. I think it’d be a fantastic little waltz, but we’re thinking of going with a song by our friend’s local band since we go to their shows together often. But you just made me happy that someone else will use it because I think it’s great.

  • http://doux-style.blogspot.com Hannah

    First song played was Talking Heads This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) and we danced in a circle with my sisters and his best friends and I cried and laughed like an idiot.

    • Elena

      Love this!

  • Elena

    Our first dance was “You’re All I Need to Get By” as sung by Aretha Franklin (from her Rare & Unreleased Recordings), which I now totally tear up to, but originally would have considered more in the upbeat and happy category. Highly recommended.

    We also considered “My Cup Runneth Over” from the same album for walking down the aisle, but we ended up convincing my MIL to play the piano for us instead. That would be another great first dance song, though, too. Love me some Aretha.

    • meg

      <3 Aretha. I’m not even sure how she’s not on this playlist. I’m collecting for a new one, since clearly this playlist is bringing out all the Very Best Suggestions (if you ask me ;)

      • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

        Now that this comment thread has my dance-brain turned on, I’d also like to suggest:

        Kiss by Prince
        Big Fine Daddy by Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers (slightly inappropriate, which increases the awesome-factor in my book)

    • Moe

      Aretha was a big part of the day’s soundtrack for me. I walked down the aisle to You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman.

      I never got around to dancing to it but I wanted Night Time Is The Right Time for a last dance.

    • dupiter

      Our first dance was the Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell version of “You’re All I Need to Get By!” I totally second the recommendation <3

      (My runner-up choice was "As Long as I've Got You" by the Emotions, which is also a great, upbeat song)

  • Tess

    So many good ones here! We’re going with “Love Serenade” by the Waifs. Check it out if you don’t know it, very fun and upbeat. We’re working on a swing routine to go with it, we’ll see :) (she says with 11 days and counting!).

  • Lauren

    Our first dance was the “Such Great Heights” by Iron & Wine. Not my first pick. My FIRST first pick was “A Question” by Bombadil, a fantastic local band we both love. However, very non-dancy.

    My now-husband is the life of the party at other weddings, but at ours he was all about the slow sway instead of the cut-a-rug. I am always in the cut-a-rug camp so it was hard to talk me down. We did it somehow.

    I also pushed for “Godzilla” by Blue Oyster Cult as the cake-cutting song but that was nixed. Please, someone do that! I never get to have any fun!

  • tennymo

    Ooooh my first dance song (otherwise known as *the best* first dance song -Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You :)) made the list!

    On the slow jamz tip, I have to give it up by Adore by Prince. Yes, it is mildly explicit – but it is also straight up the most romantic.

  • Brittany

    We definitely went with the upbeat for our first dance (also the silly, cuz that’s what we do!). Ours was “Life’s a Happy Song” from the Muppets. It was awesome.

    • Breck

      That is so awesome.

    • phira

      We’re thinking of using that for the recessional! We love that song!!

  • Sabrina

    My guy and I are all about Tom Waits, so we are dancing to ” Little Trip to Heaven (on the wings of your love)” mostly because I demand Tom to be played for any and all occasions, and its the sweetest song he ever wrote (other than I Want You, but that one is less than 2 minutes long).

    • ANOTHER MEG

      We considered “Picture in a Frame” but ended up with a Mountain Goats song instead. I love me some Tom Waits, but Mountain Goats is just so us.

  • alyssa

    Our song is Strawberry Swing by Coldplay, so we danced our first dance to that. I love it so much! It’s desperately romantic and happy and full of the fun we have together. “People moving all the time inside a perfectly straight line/ Don’t you wanna curve away? / It’s such it’s such a perfect day” :)
    My second choice would have been Baby I Need Your Loving by the Four Tops, because it’s just so happy!

  • http://nycnomnom.com/ Sara

    We used “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” by Blood, Sweat, and Tears. It was so much fun!

  • Lauren

    At our (legal! wonderful!) wedding last month, my wife and I danced to “So Are You To Me” by Eastmountainsouth. It is a bluegrass-y, folky song, exactly the kind of music we love; it’s only 2 minutes long, which was the perfect length; and the lyrics capture our love beautifully:

    As the music at the banquet
    As the wine before the meal
    As the firelight in the night
    So are you to me

    As the ruby in the setting
    As the fruit upon the tree
    As the wind blows over the plains
    So are you to me

    As the wind blows over the plains
    So are you to me
    So are you to me

  • Anon

    My husband and I danced to a Paso Doble (Manizales de mi Alma) for our first dance. We took lesson for 6 months to learn how to dance the Paso Doble, but I also learned salsa, merengue, vallenato – (my teacher also did a little reggaeton). Definitely the most valuable dance lessons of my life being married to a Colombia and living in Colombia. I was sooooooo embarrased to be on display in front of everyone like that but we did it and it was awesome. Huge personal triumph was encompassed in our first dance and my mother in law LOVED it!!!

    • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

      Wow, way to go! Paso is a difficult dance- I still just stomp around the dance floor with dramatic arms and call it Paso. You definitely get kudos!

  • Teatime

    It will be Ain’t That a Kick in the Head, Robbie Williams version for us! Definitely wanted something upbeat and joyful for our first dance. We aren’t ones to sway slowly in front of people and joyful is how we feel about our wedding in general!

  • LMN

    Because everyone here is apparently brilliant, I’m going to request some help with my first song dilemma. I’m, am really not a sappy song type of person (I don’t mind slow, but most slow seems so sappy) but fiance sort of is (he wants music that’s fairly literal). To limit things even more he wants a song that can be done with a soloist and a piano (drums and bass could be acquired, but only piano is preferred). Any ideas?

    After this I think I’m putting my foot down on any other spotlight dances because A) I don’t really like being the center of attention and B) I am complete rubbish at picking music.

    • Marybeth

      I would recommend Henry Mancini’s Moon River. It is beautiful on a piano and it always makes me cry.

    • Leila

      What about “Fly me to the Moon.” During our ceremony we had a soloist/pianist perform it. You could do it a little more traditional like Frank Sinatra or really get the jazz scatting going like Diana Krall’s version

    • Mikala

      I LOVE Adele’s version of Make You Feel My Love. That’s what we’re probably dancing to.

  • Heather

    More for next week than this week – Our first dance was Come Away with Me, by Norah Jones, and it made/makes me cry like a beast every time I hear it or even think about it.

    @LMN: I bet you could do it with just a piano!

  • http://www.smittenchickens.com SarahHoppes

    Our “first dance” (not at our wedding, but at a post-wedding party we had a month later) was of the clutch and sway variety, because he doesn’t enjoy cutting a rug the way I do.

    We went with “This Will Be Our Year” by the Zombies.

  • marbella

    I sadly couldn’t make the wedding of a close friend last summer. Her husband is the lead singer in a band, and sang several songs with his band. One of the funniest was the white middle class English boy rendition of ‘Gold digger’ which they had instead of a first dance. I couldn’t wait to see the video!

    • marbella

      I should note it was a medley, combined with ‘boom shake the room’.

  • One More Sara

    Can I just say with our wedding in a matter of like 25 days (when did that happen?????) and exactly zero songs chosen, I’m so pumped for these playlists. Do we get the next one tomorrow? (Please say yes!)

  • http://partialto.tumblr.com LIZ (SINCE 1982)

    HAHA YES “Gold Digger” will be at our wedding (althought not the first dance … probably?). Without fail, we always both do the Kanye “UNNHHH” and crack up.

    You guys are all geniuses; loving basically every suggestion here!

    • meg

      PLEASE LIZ PLEASE LIZ PLEASE. Send video.

  • Kater

    For our Vermont / hippie-ish / kickin party, we’re going with “How Sweet It is to be loved by you,” the Jerry Garcia band version. http://youtu.be/4om77te6nl4
    … haven’t figured out any dance moves yet, but all in good time!

  • Emily

    Ours (last Saturday! Yay!) was “You are the best thing” by Ray LaMontagne :)

  • Npapaya

    Our first dance will be to “Favorite Adventure” by K’s Choice… it’s obscure, but it was one of the first songs we shared together. It also speaks to how we both feel that finding each other was worth the wait.

    • Sarah McD

      LOVE K’s Choice!

  • Rose

    Bonnie Raitt – Time of Our Lives.

    My fiance was the first person I met in my generation who likes Bonnie Raitt – it was a feature of a very early music swap at the beginning of our relationship. We don’t have anything planned yet – no date, no venue, no bridal party, but I’m pretty sure this will be our first dance. Great lyrics, great for dancing and shows our excitement for the future.

  • http://www.weddingpartyapp.com/blog/ Alisha Vidal

    Haha we love that option number 6! Great post! :D

  • http://texancountess.wordpress.com KendraD

    We’re going to use Calling You by Blue October for our first dance. I’m not sure where it falls on the cut-a-rug versus clutch-and-sway meter, but it’s been our song from the moment he emailed it to me telling me it made him think of me. We’ll probably two step (all he really does) to it, which is fine by me.

    • Hintzy

      I love that song!

  • Emmy

    Our first song will be “I Was Made for You,” by She & Him. We wanted something you could kind of slow-dance quickly to (if that makes sense). We’re not super good dancers, and the idea of swaying and sobbing in front of 100 people for 3 minutes isn’t my idea of fun. This song is also blessedly short! And the best part of all? The lyrics pretty much describe exactly how we met. :)

  • TeaforTwo

    LET’S GET IT ON. In front of grandmothers! I am dying!

  • Rachel

    Our first dance was The Letter by Al Green. Personally I think it’s better than let’s stay together. So much longing! It’s particularly appropriate for couples who have been separated by distance (as we were). And it’s slightly uptempo but still romantic. Finally, it’s short which is great if you want to minimize how long your guests spend watching you dance awkwardly. the perfect first dance song!

  • Sarah McD

    My guy and I decided we want to do a super sappy first song, like Hanging by a Moment by Lifehouse… then have it cut out halfway through and start playing Rick Astley. Yes, we want to rickroll our entire reception during our first dance. And now APW is the only other people besides me and him who know it! We’re not sappy people and we think it would be hilarious. It doesn’t help that “our” songs are not traditionally romantic at all – Devil’s Dance Floor by Flogging Molly and what started out as a joke turned into our other song being Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepson.

    • http://partialto.tumblr.com LIZ (SINCE 1982)

      Things that start off as a joke until, whoops, totally not, are like my favorite genre of thing.

  • Hintzy

    We have a lot of songs… music is something that the two of us enjoy together, a lot. Right now we’re planning on using “Steal my heart” by Fat Daddy Has Been – they’re a local band that we go to see often and one of my friends from college plays saxophone with them. “Swing life away” by Rise Against, “Calling you” or “18th floor balcony” by Blue October have been front runners as well.

  • Victwa

    We had our first dance to “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show (a whole 11 days ago!) and I am glad I did not see this list beforehand, because it was lovely and then my stepson spent the next week singing “Rock me mama like a wagon wheel” over and over again, but I did not know it was such a popular 1st dance number.

    • meg

      I don’t think it IS a popular first dance song. The point of these lists is to pick stuff that isn’t popular, but is interesting.

  • Elemjay

    Hadn’t planned anything til about 30 minutes beforehand (last minute planning gah!) and had 3 minutes to decide. Oh yes and was in Paris with a rubbish DJ who had a pretty limited selection. Went for Harry Connick Jr “It had to be you” and actually it was really good. A bit cheesy but so good for busting the ceroc moves….

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/179626212196077/203217753170256/ Hannah

    I really want Too Legit to Quit for our first dance song. I think it perfectly describes our relationship. FH is not convinced…yet.

  • becky

    This is a great thread. I’m getting married on 11/22 and we haven’t picked our first dance song. He has FOREVER talked about our first dance being Beck- I want to get with you. The entire song is hilarious and we’ll have to incorporate it somehow, but I don’t know about it being the first dance lol. Here are some of my favorite lyrics:

    I met you at j.c. penney
    I think your nametag it said jenny
    I cold step to you
    With a fresh pack of gum
    Somehow i knew
    That you were lookin for some

  • http://www.weddedwanderlust.com Kelly

    My fiance and I are getting married one month from today (EEP!) and our song will be “Is This Love?” by Bob Marley. One of our first vacations together was to Belize and we fell in love with this little reggae bar there that played lots of Marley so it seemed appropriate. I worried at first that it would seem out of place at our mountainside NH wedding, but I guess if it makes us happy it works!

  • http://www.henorstag.com HenorStag

    Wow.. really love these ideas! The first song is definitely a hard one to pick! We have some more ideas over on http://www.henorstag.com!

  • Angie

    We’re going with Michael Franti & Spearhead “So, Hey”. Every time I hear it I can’t help but smile and feel completely happy.
    The more I see
    The less I know
    But I know one thing
    Is that I love you
    I love you
    I love you

  • Jean B.

    So… if I want to use Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September” for our first dance at our wedding in–you guessed it!– I’m not nuts? I’m looking for someone to tell me I’m not nuts, soo… a hand here please?