15 Modern Love Songs To Steal For Your First Dance


Who knows, maybe it will be a classic one day!

by Lucy Bennett

Every so often, while riding in the car, listening to modern love songs, and I will remark that one or another of them would have made a good first dance song.

A couple dancing to a modern love song in shadow

It’s not that I didn’t love our first dance song—in fact I still do. But sometimes you hear a song that just perfectly encapsulates your relationship, and you get to be a little disappointed that it didn’t exist when you were making your original picks. (Or you file them away for possible vow renewal use, naturally.)

Related: 75 First Dance Songs That Will Make You Feel Everything

I’m of the opinion that the song you choose for a first dance doesn’t have to be timeless or even a love song, you just have to love it. (Besides, what’s timeless anyway?)  Today’s playlist is a roundup of modern love songs from the last five years that make excellent first dance songs, as chosen by the APW staff. Maybe they’ll be classics, maybe they won’t, but if you love them, then who cares?

Related: 75 Songs Guaranteed To Pack The Dance Floor

And of course, we want all your picks for best modern first dance songs (or just what you’re using for your own song) in the comments.

15 Modern Love Songs For Your First Dance

1. “XO” by Beyonce

2. “All of Me” by John Legend

3. “She Keeps Me Warm” by Mary Lambert

4. “That’s What’s Up” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros as covered by Lennon & Maisy

5. “400 Lux” by Lorde

6. “Marry You” by Bruno Mars

7. “Somebody to You” by the Vamps (featuring Demi Lovato)

8. “Cray to Love You” by Leonard Cohen

9. “You Song” by Lil Wayne ft. Chance the Rapper (NSFW)

10. “My House” by Kacey Musgraves

11. “I Found You” by Alabama Shakes

12. “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran

13. “Marry Me” by Train

14. “Closer” by Tegan and Sara

15. “One And Only” by Adele

Got a modern love song you love, that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Lucy Bennett

Lucy a freelance designer/writer hybrid. When not coming up with weird self-challenges, she can be found marathoning TV shows or playing board games. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, her moderately internet-famous pup, and two cats. She takes herself very seriously.

Staff Picks

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  • Guest

    We’re using “Hysteric” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs :)

    • pajamafishadventures

      Such a great song!

  • abdouglass

    We are currently planning on Oh by Sleater-Kinney, which means our first dance will be more jumping up and down and acting ridiculous, but that works for us.

    • MC

      Awww I’m so jealous! S-K is my favorite band and I think that song is one of the cutest love songs EVER. My husband is unfortunately not an S-K fan but I did sneak it onto our reception playlist and it played right as we were sitting down for dinner :)

  • Jade

    I have a wedding playlist on YouTube and already have most of these bookmarked! A few more additions:

    Taylor Swift & Ed Sheeran – Everything Has Changed
    Boys Like Girls ft. Taylor Swift – Two Is Better Than One
    Christina Perri – A Thousand Years

    FH wanted All of Me by John Legend, I wanted Halo by Beyonce, we’re compromising with Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran. :) (Although Mirror by Justin Timberlake came close)

    • Amanda

      We had A Thousand Years as the second dance where we asked other couples to join us.

    • Angela

      PSA: If anyone hasn’t seen the music video for Everything Has Changed, GO WATCH IT!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1oM3kQpXRo

      I have the hugest crush on Ed Sheeran…

  • Charlene Ericson

    We used “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz.

    • joanna b.n.

      We would have, if it had come out before we got married five years ago!

  • Katarina

    We’re using “All I’m Thinking Of” by Tyrone Wells. We also considered “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz, “Tenefrie Sea” by Ed Sheeran, “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri, and “Everything” by Michael Buble.

  • Kayjayoh

    Beyonce’s XO was not our first dance, but it was the last song the DJ played as we were starting to clear out (at my request) and it is the song I will *always* think of in association with our wedding. It really is amazing.

    (One of my favorite things about it is the reminder, from the very first moment of the song, of how quickly things can change and loved ones vanish forever, and how we need to love them as hard as we can while we can. It makes me want to hug everyone.)

    • Kayjayoh

      “I’m of the opinion that the song you choose for a first dance doesn’t have to be timeless or even a love song, you just have to love it.”

      We had two songs in the running for a while. Both waltzes from the same Jay Ungar and Molly Mason album. We eventually picked “Give Me Your Hand”, but our friend the DJ accidentally played the other one, which was “The Lover’s Waltz” and it didn’t make a lick of difference. We laughed and smiled and waltzed together, and I would have been just as happy with either. (Honestly, since they are waltzes with lyrics, I often mix up which song goes with which title.)

    • Lauren from NH

      SUUUSH! Kayjayoh! Lucy! XO is Beyonce’s best kept secret! You can’t go telling everyone about it!

      I love this song so much! It is instant emotion for me. We are probably going to walk down the isle to it, that’s been the plan anyways since before we even got engaged.

      • Kayjayoh

        I know some folks are also fond of the John Mayer acoustic version. Let’s just say that I am…not. :)

  • Natalie

    We danced our first dance to “Emmylou” by First Aid Kit. The next two songs on our playlist were close 2nd and 3rds for our first dance choice: “Fade Into You” performed by Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio from the Nashville cast, then “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. “Fade Into You” is a waltz, so it works really well for a romantic dance. Then “Wagon Wheel” got lots of our guests onto the dance floor and began to pick up the tempo.

    • macrain

      OMG, I LOVE IT. We strongly considered Emmylou, it ended up on our dinner music list.

  • MC

    Our first dance was a Beyonce song – Love On Top – which has always been really meaningful to us because the first few years of our relationship neither of us really prioritized our relationship – and around the time we said, “This is it, we’re in it for good and our relationship is a priority” was right around the time that that album came out. Plus, it feels cool as hell to say that our first dance was a Beyonce song.

  • Peekayla

    Our first dance song was “How Long Will I Love You” by Jon Boden, Sam Sweeney & Ben Colema, from the About Time soundtrack.

    Our last song was “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish” from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy soundtrack.

    • Natalie

      that is a fantastic last song!

    • Erica

      We’re considering How Long Will I Love You also!! Probably 3rd choice for us.

    • Grace

      Ellie Goulding also does “How Long Will I Love You.” I’m planning on using it as my Processional. It makes me tear up just imagining walking down the aisle to those lyrics.

      • Peekayla

        Ellie Goulding does a good job, but I love the version from the movie. Having it as your Processional is a great idea! I used an instrumental guitar version Story Book Love, as a nod to my dad and his favorite movie, The Princess Bride.

  • How modern are we going? Because I always get the feels when I listen to “Latch” by Disclosure….

    • Ilora

      I tried so hard to convince K to have Latch as our first dance! He didn’t like the tempo of either the regular or the acoustic for a first dance though :( It’s too bad though, because the lyrics are actually really lovely.

    • Deb

      Have you heard the acoustic version by Sam Smith? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUK6HlzNWEg

      • I have! It’s amazing.

      • Shannon

        This was our first dance song! “Mashed up” with What I Wouldn’t Do by Serena Ryder, sang by a dear friend of mine! Such a lovely song.

  • Anna P

    Our first dance was Be My Honeypie by the Weepies. We both knew that’d be our first dance, but man, it was kind of hard to dance to. However, our DJ said it was a great pick because it’s easy to shorten. It turns out that unless you love dancing with everyone watching you, you may not want to dance for a full four minutes.

    Our last song (shoutout to my sister for the suggestion) was Signed, Sealed, Delivered. It was the perfect upbeat song to get everyone who was still there out on the floor dancing and singing. It’s now my ringtone for my husband.

    Excuse me, just heading over to Youtube to listen to Stevie Wonder for the rest of the afternoon…

    • Vanessa

      Slightly off topic but Sir Duke is the only way to get me to do karaoke. That song is the sound of pure joy.

      • AP

        Sir Duke FTW!!! I will never not grin uncontrollably when that song comes on.

    • Ann

      Signed, sealed, delivered! Love that for the last song! I may need to steal that.

  • We had a tricky job with the first dance since I’m a dancer and my husband’s gift to me was to learn an actual ballroom dance for our first dance! So we ended up waltzing to a perfect but pretty unknown song “By The Way They Dance” by Jump Little Children. Last-last song was the finale song from the new Muppets Movie. =)

    • rg223

      Our first dance was also “By the Way They Dance”! But Jump, Little Children is my favorite band so for me it was the obvious choice. My husband used some kind of computer program/magic to take the vocals off the track, and my best friend sang over the instrumentals.

      I’ve seen some love for “By the Way They Dance” on APW before. Hope it stays that way, I miss my JLC.

  • Erica

    There’s a great a capella cover of Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up” by Peter Hollens that keeps coming up on our Pandora, and is a high contender for us (particularly because we discovered Peter Hollens together through Pandora and immediately loved his music). Ed Sheerhan’s “Thinking out Loud” is a great runner up and incredibly romantic, but I feel very overdone and not as personal for us.

    • Jules

      I LOVE Peter Hollens. Oh my gosh. We are trying to figure out how to incorporate “Parting Glass” into our wedding somehow; it is just SO so beautiful. We have some relatives that will only be there in spirit. It would be pretty straightforward if we had some more freedom with our ceremony, but since we don’t, I don’t know how to work it in as a dedication.

      • Erica

        Parting Glass seems like a great last song! A way to recognize everyone not there, and to say goodnight to all your guests. Maybe you could design a grand exit around it, if you are doing one?

  • Jules

    Ours is La Vie en Rose – a nod to our French and English speaking selves, to Wall-E, and to HIMYM (Cristin Milioti’s ukelele song). Our last dance is Thinking Out Loud; I was 23 when I started dating him.

    One song I love is “Pioneer” by The Band Perry. It’s country, but has more a plain old acoustic song as opposed to twangy. I hear it as a bravery/adventure song…and it builds to the end…

    Excerpt-

    Where are we going
    Oh I don’t know
    But still I’ve got to go
    What will become of us
    Oh I don’t care
    All I know is I’ll go anywhere
    Pioneer

    Let your heart not be troubled

  • Fiona

    Our ceremony and celebration wasn’t really planned. We got married at City Hall and then went out to celebrate. BUT at the end of the night, a friend of ours cleared away some tables in the back of an Irish bar and asked what song we wanted our first dance song to be. We danced to “Besame Suavemente” because that’s the song my husband thought of. It ended up being quite perfect, and we may use it this summer for the more formal community celebration of our marriage (he’s an awesome dancer, and I feel quite fabulous being his dance partner).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ydE-QNj2bA

  • Sosuli

    We’re really far off our wedding, yet this is one of the first things we started discussing. My FH considers himself a bit of a music aficionado and we’re both pretty “indie” (dare I say) in our musical tastes. My current favourite is Arctic Monkeys ‘I Wanna Be Yours’, but FH is thinking something more fast-paced and upbeat. I’m a little concerned no one will have heard whatever we end up with, but actually… the first dance is about just us, so maybe it doesn’t really matter.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4NGoS330HE

    • kate

      maybe it’s just me, but i kind of love when a couple picks a first dance i’ve never heard before, so i say, get down with your indie selves!

    • Ali

      Love this song! We did a Rise Against song for our first dance (Swing Life Away, the acoustic version), which a lot of our friends and family had never heard. We love it and it made me cry, which made a whole lot of other people cry. If you both like it, other people will dig it too

      • Ilora

        I’d forgotten how much I love Swing Life Away, thanks for reminding me!

  • We went with The Luckiest by Ben Folds for our official first dance song but our second song was Danger! High Voltage! by Electric Six https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2a4gyJsY0mc

  • Lisa

    The first decision of our wedding planning (probably within a day of officially getting engaged) was our first dance song! We used “It Only Took a Kiss” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and it was so much fun! My husband introduced me to the song early in our dating, and if I’m having a bad day, he’ll send me a link to it or put it on at home and dance me around the kitchen.

    And if anyone has dance experience, there’s an interlude that’s just begging for a softshoe dance break!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAsthvanBW8

    • chirpygirl

      ours was born of kitchen dancing, too! : )

  • pajamafishadventures

    I totally support the first dance just being a song you like, not necessarily a super romantic tune but I really don’t like hearing Bruno Mars’ ‘Marry Me’ at weddings. It’s the “looking for something dumb to do” line that really grates on me.

    We’re not sure if we’ll be doing a first dance or not, be if we do we want it to be “Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn and John.

    • kate

      love that song! such a fun dance tune too.

      • pajamafishadventures

        Yes! And neither of us are particularly skilled (and I have very little rhythm) so we don’t want something slow that will have us swaying like in middle school, nor do we want something super fast. This seems to have a really good temple to just kinda dance and twirl to.

    • ML

      Yeah, the Bruno Mars song also says something like “if we wake up and wanna break up that’s cool”. That’s definitely a big no for a wedding song in my opinion.

      • researchwarrior

        I was going to mention that exact line! There’s also one about being bored and looking for “something dumb to do” like get married. Ummm…??

        I’m a lyrics-driven nerd, and it always makes me cringe when couples (or commercials or movie montages, etc.) cut and paste songs just because the title seems appropriate. Another big offender is Matt Nathanson’s “Wedding Dress.” Ouch.

        • laddibugg

          With or Without you…….

  • emmers

    we did wagon wheel! And it was so fun!

  • Jess

    Our first dance song was Jason Mraz “Love Someone”. It was the perfect speed, a little uptempo, and had us smiling and singing to eachother the whole time. Our last song, was Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros “Home”. That one was an “all-me” pick. That was always the song that closed the bar my friends and I would go to in college/grad school, so it was kind of symbolic and awesome to end the best party of our lives with that.

  • jubeee

    So it looks I am in the minority here but I am dancing to a classic song. We are dancing to “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young.

    • CJ

      Hey, that was our song too!!! Neil is my husband’s favorite artist and always has been, so that was an easy pick for us.

  • Lauren from NH

    I love this Something I Need by OneRepublic and want to use it somewhere. Maybe last song…? Video is really funny btw.

    https://youtu.be/qKCGBgOgp08

  • macrain

    I love that Ed Sheeran song, it is so perfect for first dance. I think that one’s going to be huge if it’s not already. I love Kacey Musgraves, I wouldn’t have thought of that one for a first dance but it’s actually brilliant, particularly for adventuresome couples! Love love love.

  • C

    Ours was “No Children” by the Mountain Goats.

  • Angela

    A great advantage to having a modern first dance song is that you may get the opportunity to see it in concert! My husband and I used “I Found You” by Alabama Shakes for our wedding last June, and we just saw them perform it live last week when they were in town. It was so special. Highly recommended!

    • KM

      that is a nice way to think of it! Our first dance/song was a recent song by a local band we love, and later realized its a bummer that we’re pretty much guaranteed to never hear it on the radio or played at another wedding. We have, however, seen it performed live a couple times and that is pretty special in itself. Also, its in rotation on our own ipods so there is still an appearance on roadtrips every so often.

    • Susan

      This is a wonderful song and how fun to see it performed live — it is going to be the song I walk down the aisle to!

  • AP

    Ok I totally teared up listening to Thinking Out Loud. Off to start my wedding playlists now, even though it’s months away…

  • Sparkles

    We did “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontaigne. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJ3xTjvj9tw

    • Ann

      That’s the one we’re using too! It’s such a great beat for happy dancing.

    • We did too and it was awesome! Our “song” is Love you madly by Cake, but we didn’t really feel like it worked for a first dance, and our shared music likes are generally more rock-like, and my husband’s music tastes in general aren’t super first-dancy (as in, difficult to dance to), but we ended up settling on this one out of the list (we made a list and tried dancing to them one night). I played it on my phone and sang along to it after we snuggled into bed after the wedding :D

    • Kristina

      Us too! It’s “our song”, and I can’t hear it without ugly crying.

    • Susan

      This was a close second for us and is instead going to be the last dance song at our wedding. I have an unfortunate habit of really just belting out the chorus completely off tune in my FH’s ear so I’m pretty excited that will be the closing to our day!

    • Us too! It won out over “You and Me” by Dave Matthews Band because my husband was literally mad at Dave at the time. Every time I hear those trumpets at the beginning now it puts a smile on my face.

  • leafygreen

    We went through a lot of them before we actually picked one, but we’re not terribly cheesy people and we have a weird shared sense of humor, so Tim Minchin’s “You Grew on Me” was the only one that felt right:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX24lR_UzXE&t=1m13s

    I was a little worried how it’d play, but people laughed at the appropriate points so I think they enjoyed it. I initially didn’t want to use it because most of the versions have audience laughter audible throughout, but we found that orchestra version where you couldn’t hear it and I was sold.

    • Pippi

      Oh gosh, that’s such a great choice! :)

  • Lindsay Rae

    Our wedding song was “Hard to Concentrate” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers – probably not timeless and only a few people knew it (probably none above our own generation…) but it is so US. I was nervous about dancing to it so we took 3 lessons and it was PERFECT.

    All amazing suggestions. I read somewhere that Ed Sheeran is the number one wedding song right now, which just displaced Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years.” We also incorporated “A Thousand Years” into our wedding day (I walked down the aisle to it and it played over an amazing video of the ceremony at the reception) and a lot of people remember that as our song.

  • Allison

    What Would I Do Without You – Drew Holcombe & The Neighbors. We found it in a HIMYM episode one night when we were binge watching together and loved it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFbpKOsNwXA

    • Erica

      So Adorable!

  • sdkicks07

    We danced to “Clear A Space” by Lake Street Dive. We love this band – they are amazing live & we wanted something we could really boogie to! Some of the main lyrics are:
    “Let me clear a space for you to sit beside me

    You don’t need your back against the wall now wait

    Let me figure…Let me figure out how to surrender

    All I wanna do is take the fall oh.”

    I also reallllly love Joss Stone and liked both “Tell me What We’re Gonna Do Now” and “L-O-V-E” but my husband did not knew her that well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dW2KJR4i-mM

  • Janet Simons

    We are going to use “How Sweet It Is” by James Taylor. We are both sucks for the oldies!

  • Ilora

    He wanted:
    Thinking Out Loud (Ed Sheeran)
    You’re the One (Tracey Chapman)
    The Idea of Growing Old (The Features) – I’ll admit this one was close, we both love it and it’s as close to ‘our song’ as a song could get, but the tempo just isn’t what we want to dance to for the first dance.

    I wanted:
    Latch (Disclosure)
    When I Get Up (Tegan and Sara)
    Marry Me (Train) – would have been perfect since he asked me out in the coffee shop that he works in…but he hates the song…

    We Chose:
    Lullaby (Dan Wilson) – he co-wrote the song with the Dixie Chicks but I love his version.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0nHV0qZKgM

    The last dance will probably be You Make My Dreams (Hall and Oates)

  • Aimée Storm

    If we had done a first dance, it would have been “All About Us” by He Is We.
    The first line is “Take my hand, I’ll teach you to dance… I’ll spin you around, won’t let you fall down…”
    Then goes into “The room’s hush hush and now is our moment…” “Lovers dance when they’re getting in love, spotlight shines it’s all about us…”

    • Emma

      I went to high school with Rachel Taylor from He Is We! I always get so excited when anyone mentions them haha.

      • Aimée Storm

        That’s so cool Emma!
        Well, my cousins, my sisters and I all love them down here in the South Island of New Zealand!!!
        <3

  • Susan

    Our first dance will be to the Lone Bellow’s “Tree to Grow.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jffBC1J6-2Q It was this song that we both discovered and really loved right around the time we first met (early 2013) and there was never even a discussion after we got engaged, we both just knew that this would be our song. We’re also getting married in the forest so I am incorporating a lot of tree imagery and I love that this totally works with that!

  • christine

    I think we’re going to go with “Life is Better with You” by Michael Franti and Spearhead.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XEOVl875d0

  • We did “I Choose You” by Sara Bareilles. Makes me smile now every time when I hear it!

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  • Jenna

    “Strictly Reserved for you” by Charles Bradley was ours and it was soo good!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgnQYvzRDiQ

  • Kris

    “My Favourite Book” by Stars! So sweet with an easy breezy groove.

  • Catty

    This made me cry. I have to leave my relationship. I don’t know how to do that. I don’t want to but I do want to.

  • John Mayer has a version of Beyonce’s XO that is better than the Queen Bey’s herself, if I dare say it. It’s better than nearly everything in the world actually.

  • Pippi

    “Closer” is a song that is very meaningful to me in regards to our relationship – considering using it somewhere in the wedding as I just adore the song so much. Glad I’m not the only one! Thanks for posting :)

  • KD

    Our first dance tune was an oldie with a modern twist. We played a slow cover of Hall & Oates “You Make My Dreams” and it was the bee’s knees, my friends.

  • Tonikat

    Late to the party.. However, may I suggest one more song? Fields of Gold, the Eva Cassidy. I love this song.

  • Future Mrs. B

    We are using Wanted by Hunter Hayes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruyaKdPfTN4

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