A friend recently told me that she got teary eyed watching an advertisement for a coffee brand. Safe to say she doesn’t generally get emotional about caffeine. It was the music in the background that triggered the response. She could just about make out the feint beat of “stand by me” by the Ben E. King and this was the song that played while she and her husband had their first dance. Their wedding day was a couple of years ago, but the mere suggestion of that song makes her heart race and her eyes fill. This anecdote says it all really.
So how important is the first dance at a wedding? Well, the dancing itself is probably the least important thing. I’ve personally seen everything from ballroom dancing and waltzing right down to Irish Dancing and a hip hop dance routine. What is important is the sentiment. You see, so much of a wedding is about inclusion. It’s about sharing a personal and poignant experience with those you love the most. You want everybody to be comfortable. You want to ensure that everyone enjoys the food, the music and the atmosphere. But the first dance? It’s about just you two. Apart from the ritual element of the wedding ceremony (at the alter or otherwise) this may be the only other moment that is specifically for you and your new spouse. The spotlight is on you and the person you have just married. It’s a couple of minutes to lock eyes, stand close and connect. To celebrate what has actually just happened. You’ve just taken the biggest step in your journey of love. You have united in marriage in front of your family and friends.
The timing of the first dance is quite appropriate too. The ceremony is over, the meal has been enjoyed the you have just about fixed your make-up after the beautifully emotional speeches. The first dance is an opportunity to focus on the couple once again and take it right back to basics. It’s a chance to watch and appreciate a special moment between the couple who have just promised a life of love together. It’s an opportunity to have a glimpse at where it all began. To where the story once started. It started with just two people and here we can appreciate the simplicity and magnificence of them sharing a dance together surrounded by those who love them most.
For some couples choosing a first dance song couldn’t be easier. They may have always had “their song” and it is the obvious choice. It may be so obvious that their friends and family know in advance too. It could be a song that they notoriously dance to on a night out or share on social media.
For others it takes a little more consideration and it can feel a bit pressurising to find THE perfect song for their big day. Let’s face it, the first dance happens once and once only.
Rather than making it a stressful task, many people have great success when they simply keep their ears open in the lead up to their wedding. The wedding planning stage might be eighteen months and for that eighteen months they make a list of songs that speak to them. They may have heard the song on the radio, at another function or come across it on a TV show or ad. If a song speaks to you and evokes an emotional response then it’s probably going to be a contender. Especially if the emotion is connected to your partner and the relationship and life you share.
For others the song is a tribute to a time, person or experience they may have shared with their other half. It seems fitting to play it and experience it in the presence of their loved ones.
The important thing to remember when choosing a first dance song is that you make the rules. It doesn’t have to be a slow song. It doesn’t have to be a ballad and it absolutely doesn’t have to be a song that the wedding party will recognise. If you want to head bang to Metallica then you should absolutely do that. If you want to quietly slow dance to ‘My Heart Will Go On’ then you should do that proudly too. 2018 has seen a rise in weddings using songs from The Greatest Showman as their first dance.
At the end of the day(or start of the night) it is your song choice. Pick the song that whenever you or anyone else hears it, you and they know that it was the song you had your first dance to on your wedding day. In essence, IT'S YOUR SONG.