65 First Dance Songs: From Classic To Right Now

At last my love has come along...

Wading through first dance songs to find the right one for our wedding was easy. At some point shortly after we’d started dating, my normally not sappily romantic husband had suggested we should have a song, and it should be Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.” In retrospect, I think he was trying to circumvent the part where we ended up stuck with a song that he hated. In any event, we picked it early and stuck with it. So when it came to picking first dance songs, we were ready to go.

What is funny is that, looking back, our pre-planned first dance song wasn’t the one that really ended up feeling like our song from our wedding. The song we danced to at our wedding that will forever bring me to tears is Nina Simone’s version of “I Loves You Porgy.” I’d suggested we put Etta James “At Last” into that particular slot on the playlist (and I stand by that choice as always a classic), but David suggested that “I Loves You Porgy” was similar in vibe, but less popular. And it turns out that these lyrics will bring you to tears on your wedding day: “If you can keep me, I wanna stay here / with you forever, I’ve got my man.”

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How To Pick First Dance Songs

When picking a first dance song it’s important to think about the vibe you want: upbeat, sappy, classic? How do you want to start this party? But it’s also important to consider a few other things, namely, length of the song, tempo, and words. First up, think about how long the song is. Three minutes is a long time to dance while everyone is looking at you, and six minutes will feel like an ice age. Beyond that, think about what style of dance you’ll feel comfortable doing in front of a crowd, and what kind of song will lend itself to that. We picked Stevie Wonder because we knew that we wanted to do something a little more upbeat, rather than sway and rock for many long seconds while everyone watched. And finally, while I don’t think you should overthink the words for every dance song on your playlist, first dance songs are the one place where you do probably want to go read all of the lyrics and make sure they say what you think they say.

So while I’m personally partial to a classic for first dance songs, if you want to go beyond Etta James, Sam Cooke, and Stevie Wonder, there are tons of good options. But narrowing down a selection from the seemingly endless options of first dance songs does take some time. So to help you get to the fun part, we’ve whittled down a list of sixty-five of our favorites, from the classics to… Beyoncé. Because Beyoncé is basically a new classic, amiright?

65 Perfect first dance songs

    1. Andra Day: “Forever Mine
    2. James Vincent McMorrow: “Higher Love
    3. Beyoncé: “XO
    4. Midland: “Make a Little
    5. Des’ree: “I’m Kissing You
    6. Diana Ross (& Lionel Richie): “Endless Love
    7. Rihanna: “Love on the Brain
    8. Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers: “Islands in the Stream
    9. Aqualung: “Brighter Than Sunshine
    10. Whitney Houston: “My Love Is Your Love
    11. Ryan Adams: “When the Stars Go Blue
    12. Cyndi Lauper: “Time After Time
    13. Sade: “By Your Side
    14. Chris Stapleton: “Tennessee Whiskey
    15. Luther Vandross: “Here and Now
    16. Joe Cocker: “You Are So Beautiful
    17. Christina Perri: “A Thousand Years
    18. Brian McKnight: “Back at One
    19. Sarah Bareilles: “I Choose You
    20. Eric Clapton: “Wonderful Tonight
    21. John Legend: “All of Me
    22. The Righteous Brothers: “Unchained Melody
    23. Alanis Morissette: “Head Over Feet
    24. Elton John: “Your Song
    25. Keane: “Somewhere Only We Know
    26. Michael Bublé: “Everything
    27. Ingrid Michaelson: “Can’t Help Falling in Love
    28. Ray LaMontagne: “You Are the Best Thing”
    29. Coldplay: “Green Eyes
    30. Landon Pigg: “Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop
    31. Rilo Kiley: “I Never
    32. Beyoncé: “Halo
    33. Van Morrison: “Into the Mystic
    34. U2: “All I Want Is You
    35. Band of Horses: “No One’s Gonna Love You
    36. David Gray: “This Year’s Love
    37. The Zombies: “This Will Be Our Year
    38. The Beatles: “When I’m Sixty-Four
    39. Stevie Wonder: “You Are the Sunshine of My Life
    40. Old Crow Medicine Show: “Wagon Wheel
    41. Ray Charles: “Hallelujah (I Just Love Her So)“.
    42. James Brown: “I Got You (I Feel Good)
    43. Lauryn Hill: “I Can’t Take My Eyes off of You
    44. Marvin Gaye: “Let’s Get It On
    45. Al Green: “Let’s Stay Together
    46. Nina Simone: “Feeling Good
    47. Nat King Cole: “Let’s Face the Music and Dance
    48. The Wombats: “Let’s Dance to Joy Division
    49. Chantal Kreviazuk: “Feels Like Home
    50. Patty Griffin: “Heavenly Day
    51. Norah Jones: “Turn Me On
    52. The Beach Boys: “Wouldn’t It Be Nice
    53. The Beatles: “All You Need Is Love
    54. Etta James: “At Last
    55. Journey: “Faithfully
    56. Sam Cooke: “You Send Me
    57. Peter Gabriel: “In Your Eyes
    58. Stevie Wonder: “I Just Called to Say I Love You
    59. P!nk ft. Lily Allen: “True Love
    60. Mary Lambert: “She Keeps Me Warm
    61. Jason Mraz ft. Colbie Caillat: “Lucky
    62. The Lumineers: “Ho Hey
    63. Adele: “Make You Feel My Love
    64. Neutral Milk Hotel: “In an Aeroplane over the Sea
    65. Otis Redding: “That’s How Strong My Love Is

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  • rg223

    Just want to say ‘thanks’ to whoever on the APW staff is a Jump, Little Children fan and keeps putting my first dance song on these lists :) Another nice version of ‘By the Way They Dance’ is on their live album, Live at the Dock Street Theatre.

  • Erica Klein

    Ours is Tom Petty’s “Built to Last”! Getting married this weekend and can’t wait to dance with my soon-to-be-hubby :D <3

    https://youtu.be/mILcZpDYR_A

  • LydiaB

    Aw, mine was In an Aeroplane over the Sea, I never see it on these lists! It was a wonderful moment and now I’m trying to decide what to get tattooed from it!

    • Her Lindsayship

      Solid choice! :)

  • Jess

    I needed an extra boost of love songs today! We’ve already got our first dance picked out, but these are all ones I would have considered!

  • raccooncity

    Love all these picks. Gonna take a mid-morning swoon break.

  • Deepa

    Alannis Morrissette’s Head Over Feet!

  • CamperHill

    Our first dance is going to be CSN’s “Our House”. I’m walking down the aisle to an instrumental version of The Luckiest! We thought about “Ho Hey,” but isn’t it a song about a guy who can’t get over a breakup? Ha, I veto’d because I thought it would be bad luck!

  • Rebekah

    THANK YOU for the youtube playlist! So much easier to play all the great choices at once.

    • Rebekah

      Quick update on the playlist: “When I’m 64” says it’s blocked in the US

  • Ashlah

    Book of Love was ours, but we went with the original Magnetic Fields version.

    We were originally planning on using Real Love by John Lennon, but husband decided he had memories associated with that song that he didn’t want to associate with our wedding. John Lennon can be a bit problematic, but the song still makes me tear up sometimes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ze7MjZmKZRc

    • karyn_arden

      We used Magnetic Fields’ version of “Book of Love” while we signed the register at our ceremony. And then we exited to the dulcet tones of “What a Wonderful World,” sung by Joey Ramone. ROMANCE.

  • Megan

    We met in college and bonded over swapping music from obscure indie bands. Our first dance song was one that we discovered in that phase of our relationship called “I Will Keep the Bad Things From You” by the Damnwells. I chose not to change my last name after the wedding and there’s a line in the song that goes “You keep your last name if you want to” that I always thought was really sweet. It was perfect. https://youtu.be/KkV6NTzvOn8

    • karyn_arden

      This is one of my all-time favourite songs, by one of my all-time favourite bands. The Damnwells are absolutely wonderful.

  • Anya

    I’m going to throw in “At the Beginning” By Richard Marx and Donna Lewis, as well as “Dance me to the end of love” by Leonard Cohen. First one was our first dance song, and the second one was one that we listen to on repeat now.

  • Specky

    This one is also great! I would use it, but it was a song between my and an ex-boyfriend. I love the Peter Gabriel “in Your Eyes” recommend! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65VLCfiKYI8

    • KitBee

      I would 100% do the Pete Townshend version of this song!

      • Specky

        Excellent KitBee! The Pete Townshend version is wicked. Nothing like some synthesizer to get the dance party started! :)

  • Angela

    While I love alot of the songs on this list it is a bit disappointing to see it skewed so much in way of mostly being songs by male artists or bands fronted by a male vocalist. So here are my picks:

    Etta James – Something’s Gotta Hold of Me
    Corrine Bailey Rae – Just Like a Star
    Beyonce – Halo
    Alicia Keys – Doncha Know the Sky is Blue
    Bic Runga – When I See You Smile
    Eva Cassidy – What a Wonderful World
    Ingrid Michaelson – You and I

    We are probably using the Etta Janes track for our recessional and the Corrine Bailey Rae song as our first dance.

  • Amanda L

    We narrowed it down to three songs, then danced in our living room to each one and U2’s ‘All I Want is You’ was the clear winner. We used David Gray’s ‘Sail Away’ as the Recessional and the Jeffrey Gaines’ version of ‘In Your Eyes’ as one of our pre-ceremony songs. I still love all three of them!

  • Loren

    We just got engaged, but the first dance is one of the few things we have already decided. ‘I’ll Melt With You’ by Modern English has been ‘Our Song’ for years.

  • Michelle

    Ours is going to be “Starship – Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”

  • Keri

    Wagon Wheel is our jam, so that’s what we’re thinking we’ll do, but I’m afraid it’s not super danceable? But then I guess we get out of, you know, dancing, so maybe that will work.

    • Marie

      It’s very danceable if you two-step! :)

      • Keri

        I’ve just learned something! ;)

  • We’re going to be doing “Digital Love” by Daft Punk. The band playing at our wedding (a band my Dad actually heads up) is covering it. Check out the Noah and the Whale cover, it will probably be similar to that.

  • RNL

    Our is “People Get Ready” by the Impressions. Yes, we think our relationship is like the Civil Rights Movement.

  • KimBee

    Ours was Mint Car by The Cure.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08eGLLM27to

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  • Gem S

    Amazing list! There are a few more on this one as well, I still don’t know what I’m going to have!! http://www.functioncentral.co.uk/blog/2016/05/top_10_first_dance_songs_2016/

  • Function Central

    Some fantastic choices here – such a useful list for any bride or groom to be. In case it’s helpful there are a few more suggestions here which I hope are useful – http://www.functioncentral.co.uk/blog/2016/05/top_10_first_dance_songs_2016/. Choosing your first dance is a big moment as that piece will always remind you of your big day – make sure no one pushes you in to your decision and make it a song that makes both you and your other half smile from ear to ear!!

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  • lamarsh

    We did Aretha Franklin’s version of You Send Me, which is on Now, a record I bought just before I started dating my husband so we listened to it a lot when we were first together. It has the added benefit of being pretty short if you aren’t super great dancers.

    I will admit, I am much more into music than my husband, so if I had married myself, I might have chosen something less famous. If you like indie bands and are of a certain age, there aren’t a lot of full-on love songs to choose from, but here are some of my favorites that aren’t listed above: The National – Slow Show, Alabama Shakes – I Found You, Brandi Carlile – Wherever is Your Heart, The Walkmen – Heaven, and Blind Pilot – Three Rounds and a Sound.

  • Annie

    We danced to “When We’re Together” by Joshua Radin which was a ton of fun and also really sweet, but not overly sentimental.

    A few months before the wedding, I came across “Poor Boy’s Delight” by The Infamous Stringdusters which is just SO romantic, and a waltz! I’d have loved to dance to something like that, too – similarly, any version of “Roseville Fair.” For some reason I am very into folky love songs :)

  • MM

    My original first dance choice, on the slow and sappy side, was Ben Folds “The Luckiest”, because I liked the lyrics.

    We ended up going with husband’s superior choice, Cloud Cult’s “Meet Me Where You’re Going”, which is a little more upbeat and generally beautiful and perfect. We did a fade out about 2 and a half minutes in.

  • PAJane

    The most surprising first dance song I’ve witnessed was Death Cab for Cutie: I’ll Follow You Into the Dark. The very first line is, “Love of mine, someday you will die.” It ended up being absolutely lovely.

    • CeCe_R

      My teen 2000s self would have picked that song for sure.

      • Kat

        SAME

  • Emily

    This is so timely! Valentine’s Day evening on the couch listening to songs (“Don’t bother writing it down, we’ll remember!” .. no, no you won’t, late at night after wine pairings).

    We keep circling back to Hall and Oates “Had I Known You Better Then”, which is definitely our song, but perhaps more about a summer fling then a marriage.

    Another choice is Norah’s Jones “Come Away with Me”, but I part of me always thinks of my parents’ relationship with this song.

  • Krate

    The night we chose our song was one of the most romantic of my life. We both prepared a list of songs to nominate and then listened to all of them and practiced dancing (poorly) to them. We spent the night slow dancing to great music. Magical! Highly recommended for all engaged couples.

    • Zoya

      We did this too! Picked out a few songs and then practiced waltzing to them in our living room.

  • ruth

    Our first dance song was “The Rainbow Connection” from the Muppet Movie (which really makes a very lovely waltz! We were lucky to know a singer and banjo player who performed it live – which gave it a more formal vibe (not that there’s anything wrong with Kermit singing it!)

  • Kat

    I’ve been in a real Joni Mitchell mood lately and I love “A Case of You” but it’s got a weird tempo and might be hard to dance to? James Blake has a beautiful but more melancholy cover of it as well.
    I love the line “you said love is touching souls, surely you touched mine, cause part of you pours out of me in these lines from time to time”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YuaZcylk_o