The First Dance Song.  Notice those words start with capital letters? I’m sure I don’t have to explain why.

Being passionate about music and having had the pleasure of DJing for the past 20 years or so, I’ve played my fair share of weddings. Once I performed at an amazing wedding at Forum Homini in the Cradle of Humankind. This incredible couple – proper head over heels with each other – were serious jet setters. The groom, who is probably one of the friendliest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, had literally swooped in from Germany two days prior. So Time was not on his side.

We’d met for a chat months before and in the back of my mind I knew they hadn’t chosen the all-important First Dance Song yet. Thus it came to pass that on the day, after the ceremony, he came up to me and said what every DJ prefers not to hear… “We don’t have a first dance song yet. Do you have any suggestions?”

Most DJs would react in two ways when faced with such a question… the first way would be to use your pre-planned escape route and run screaming into the night! Anyone who’s had the pleasure of visiting Forum Homini will know the setting includes a huge deck that runs the length of the venue, overlooking a beautiful and rather epic natural pool. Earlier that day the staff had chased off a massive, eat-you-alive python – or something similar – that was swimming in said pool. So I didn’t really have the option of swimming as my escape route…

The second is to go with the tried and tested options… to my mind, songs that are beautiful, heartfelt, and have a rhythm and swing.

So I went with a song that I personally love – a tune my wife and I used as our First Dance Song – the wonderful At Last, originally by Etta James, but in this instance sung as a duet by Lou Rawls and Dianne Reeves.

Why is it such a great First Dance Song?

  1. It’s beautiful. It has a lovely, iconic piano intro that is instantly recognisable.
  2. It’s heartfelt. Just give the lyrics a listen. Of course it being a duet is a bonus because there’s an interaction in the song that translates to the dance floor.
  3. It has rhythm and swing. And this is perhaps one of the most important aspects of your decision when finding deciding on this song!

Rhythm and swing is not always the first thing a couple consider when making a First Dance Song choice. Of course many a bride and groom-to-be are thinking of the more obvious idea about such tunes… what the song means to them, what kind of message they want to send, and so on.

These ideas are all very important… but what’s also key with First Dances of all shapes and sizes is atmosphere. A First Dance is a celebratory moment during the reception… a time when everyone has that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with having spent an awesome day celebrating love, joy and happiness.

The point really at this moment in time is to continue that trajectory and open the floor so everyone can do some boogying! Try then, if you can, to find a song that that will allow you to sway your hips happily with your partner while also being heartfelt and have that “awwww” factor (cue flashing of cameras etc), while also give your in-laws and groomsmen and maids of honor the opportunity and confidence to breeze onto the dance floor with you in a comfortable and easy manner.

Remember that wedding where by the end of the First Dance Song the floor was full and the DJ dropped straight into a foot stomper and five hours later the entire place had danced their socks off? It’s because that first song was iconic, beautiful and was great to move to!

Of course your first dance as a married couple is a moment you want to make count… sometimes not all of the first dance rules will be applied. You might want to for Unchained Melody… and that’s okay! Because there’s a way to make such songs work, and that’s what I’ll be talking about in part II of wedding songs and how to pick the perfect ones for you!

– K –

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