How to Pick Your First Dance Song

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if we are besties on instagram/facebook, then you know that yesterday i was running (for exercise, not from the police) and pandora randomly decided to play our “first dance” song from our wedding. however, how to pick your first dance song is no simple task and ours took some time.

Perfect First Dance Song


when my husband and i started dating 7.65 years ago (i did the math), one of the first dates we went on was to an a cappella concert at our university. they did an awesome rendition of “steal my kisses” by ben harper and right on cue, the cute boy next to me, leaned over and gave me a smooch right on my smacker!

it was sweet and unexpected so we considered it to be our song from there on out. about a year later we got engaged, complete with burritos and misspelled names. the best. as we slowly started planning our wedding (we were engaged for almost 2.5 years before we tied the knot), the ‘first dance song’ select came along.

we both immediately agreed that we should be playing ‘steal my kisses’ as we stare into each other’s eyes and pretend like 224 eyeballs weren’t staring at us. as we turned on the song to practice dancing in our tiny apartment, we discovered it was not the most danceable song. like, at all.

trust me, we tried. it basically just consisted of us moving our heads to the beat and me throwing a shoulder every now and then. to be honest, i was pretty bummed because it was not working out the way i thought. we eventually picked the perfect one and this was our process for how to pick your first dance song:

1) do you already have an “our song?”

if you already have a song that both of you love and it makes you think of each other, that could be the one! remember, try dancing to it multiple times and see if it works for you both. also consider slowing it down or finding acoustic versions too.

2) what are special moments in the past?

this could include a concert you went to together, a song your heard while traveling together or even the song playing in the background at a restaurant when you laughed and margarita came out of your nose. relive some of your moments together because i can guarantee there are songs associated with those memories.

3) what’s the feel you want during your first dance together?

there are literally thousands of sites with song ideas but here are a few to get you started:

are you a classic couple that loves those oldie but goodies?

“at last” -etta james
“it had to be you” -dooley wilson
“L-O-V-E,” Nat King Cole

classic but with a modern twist?

“can’t take my eyes off of you” – lauryn hill
“can’t help falling in love” -ingrid michaelson
“sea of love” -cat power

country loving folks?

“then” -brad paisley
“come a little closer” -dierks bently
“it’s your love” -faith hill and tim mcgraw

super publicly romantic?

“when a man loves a woman” -percy sledge
“drunk in love” -beyonce + jay-z (you must invite me if this is your selection)

more modern love songs?

“i won’t give up” – jason mraz
“make you feel my love” -adele
“such great heights” -the postal service
“the luckiest” -ben folds
“thinking out loud” -ed sheeran


amanda called attention to sara bareilles “i choose you” and i hadn’t seen the music video before! watch it and try not to cry:

after we went through this process, we decided to make our grand entrance to ‘steal my kisses’ and then fade into ‘first day of my life’ by bright eyes. i still love it and get teary whenever i hear it, which i will say is inconvenient when trying to run.

we decided this because i told my then-boyfriend/now-husband that bright eyes was my favorite band in high school (don’t pretend you didn’t have an emo phase). he was a DJ for the college radio station and told me to listen in at a certain time. he proceeded to play “first day of my life” by bright eyes for me. this lead me to crying openly in front of my weirded out male roommates. ha! oh college.

as we retraced that story, we discovered that it was indeed perfect for our first dance at our wedding.

hopefully those questions will help get you to the perfect song for your first dance! if all else fails, just throw on “everybody dance now” and start doing the robot.

if you don’t love dancing who says you need to have a ‘first dance’ anyways?! you don’t. do you and have fun with it all!

1) how did you pick your first dance song?
2) what was it?
3) do you have a favorite love song currently?

PS. don’t forget to enter the etiquette book giveaway so you don’t make a fool of yourself at a fancy dinner AND so you can host the most badass parties ever!


  1. Monika

    February 20, 2015 at 8:35 am

    The first time I heard “I choose you” on the radio I was like BOOM this is going to be my wedding song when I get married. Still heavily considering it even though I’m still only in the pre-getting engaged phase haha. And that Bright Eyes song TOTALLY reminds me of high school 😉

    • chelsea

      February 20, 2015 at 10:39 am

      it’s SUCH a good song monika! i’m listening to it again now 🙂 you should definitely continue considering it for when you do get married!
      chelsea recently posted…How to Pick Your First Dance Song

  2. Audrey

    February 20, 2015 at 8:48 am

    I love this and I love your first dance song! It’s such a beautiful song! When you posted your question on FB yesterday I hoped you’d do a post on it!

    Our song is actually “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain, but we decided not to make it our f/d song because we felt like it was a cliche (even though we really do have a history with the song). We entered the room to Dave Matthews (who we both love) and used a Keith Urban song that my hubby picked- which was perfect. Well, one of my bridesmaids (who SHOULD’VE been my maid of honor, but I was dumb) knew that Kyle and I didn’t use our song and why so she requested it at the end of the wedding and it was the last song we all danced to. I’m tearing up just thinking about it. She’s the best!
    Audrey recently posted…I’m Not Good at Skiing

    • chelsea

      February 20, 2015 at 10:41 am

      aww thanks audrey-i am really happy we chose that song! so fun that you entered with DMB and sweet that your hubby picked the keith urban song!

      what a solid BFF to have that song played at the end of your wedding, she’s a smart lady and i’m glad you have friends that know you so well 🙂

  3. Ashlen

    February 20, 2015 at 8:59 am

    I hadn’t seen that Sarah Bareilles video, but it’s adorable! We were the couple that definitely wanted an oldie but goodie, which is why we went with “At Last” by Etta James. If I was getting married right now though, I would have a hard time not picking “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran. I’m obsessed with that song right now, and I was just thinking that it would be perfect for a wedding!
    Ashlen recently posted…Five on Friday

    • chelsea

      February 20, 2015 at 10:44 am

      isn’t it the best, ashlen?! i can’t stop watching it. i love the song “at last” it instantly fills the room with love. also, how does ed sheeran make such music that gets us obsessing so hard?!
      chelsea recently posted…How to Pick Your First Dance Song

  4. Rebecca

    February 20, 2015 at 9:55 am

    I love this story so much! The night Zack and I got engaged there happened to be a band playing “Purple Rain.” I wanted that to be our song but it’s a break up song and nobody wants that kind of message for their first dance. Anyway…we ended up picking “To Make You Feel My Love,” because it was pretty. I wish there was a better reason. lol
    Rebecca recently posted…My Choices For The Best Movies At The Academy Awards

    • chelsea

      February 20, 2015 at 10:45 am

      haha sounds like you made the right choice on not having ‘purple rain’ for your first dance but it’s still a solid song! hey…picking a song because it’s pretty is a legit reason!

      i was half hoping you’d say you recorded a song with your gorgeous voice and danced to that rebecca!

  5. Paula Howley

    February 20, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Well as you know we got married twice and the reception at the first wedding was at a beautiful spot on the ocean and I had spent DAYS, maybe WEEKS making a mix of cds for us to play at the reception. (we only had two grand to spend on everything so a lot of the wedding was home made, including my dress)
    We were making our entrance to U2’s “Beautiful Day”. We had a few songs picked to dance to at first and one of them was a family tradition (and we don’t have many) “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Jerry and the Pacemakers.
    It’s an oldie but it makes me weep like a baby every time I hear it. It’s the Liverpool Football Club’s anthem and it’s world famous.
    so we were supposed to dance to that as well AND “Hey Hey Paula” which starts with the lyrics “Hey Hey Paula, I want to marry you” by Canadian Paul Anka.
    But for some reason, the sound system at the venue didn’t work and we had no music whatsoever. I think I may have told you that my father was angry with me that day also over a misunderstanding so it was a terrible night and I cried a lot.
    I’m so grateful I got a second shot.
    At our second wedding we DID dance to “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and it was a much more humble venue but it was joyful.
    But the things is, I don’t think of that as our song, I think of this one as our song because my husband (who can be romantic once in a while) sent me this song and it’s very beautiful.
    It’s actually by a punk band called The Pogues so you wouldn’t expect it but beauty can be found in the most unexpected places (like in a punker at a seedy strip joint in Brantford Ontario)
    My brother and sister in law entered the room to the Hockey Night In Canada theme song (which is famous here) because she used to play hockey for Cornell and it was pretty cool.
    Paula Howley recently posted…Head Start Public Speaking For Kids Week 16- Public Presentations For Kids!

    • chelsea

      February 20, 2015 at 10:53 am

      oh i feel you on making your own mixes! i spent months going through CDs and then buying songs to be played via my ipod during all parts of our wedding! drove me crazy but was also fun. i hadn’t heard “You’ll Never Walk Alone” before and it is a gorgeous song.

      i didn’t know you and your dad had a spat-sounds like a rough time of it and then you had NO music?! damn.

      glad you got a second shot too and LOVE ‘Love you Til the End.” so sweet!

  6. Paula Howley

    February 20, 2015 at 10:22 am

    p.S. I LOVE your Bright Eyes song. Beautiful and very you guys. 🙂
    Paula Howley recently posted…Head Start Public Speaking For Kids Week 16- Public Presentations For Kids!

    • chelsea

      February 20, 2015 at 10:54 am

      heh thanks! i am very happy to hold that memory close and have a sweet song to go with it.

  7. Jennifer Haston

    February 20, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Oh Chelsea! Another great post!
    1) how did you pick your first dance song? This is kind of embarrassing but I actually picked “our song” and Jeremy went along with it because he is a good guy and didn’t care as much as I did so he said you pick
    2) what was it? “There’s No Way” by Alabama
    3) do you have a favorite love song currently? Yes. It came out about a year after our wedding and I really love it. I just wish we had waited to get married (not really so much haha) but it’s “God Gave Me You” by Blake Shelton, it really encapsulates so much of how we feel about each other and being deeply spiritual it resonates there as well.

    • chelsea

      February 20, 2015 at 4:15 pm

      thank you jennifer- really appreciate you saying that! listening/watching ‘there’s no way’ by alabama now and i will say that’s the sexiest way to awake in the morning! what a good song!

      ohh that’s a really pretty song by mr. shelton! i always keep a running list of songs/things to do if and when we renew our vows so you can tuck it away for maybe later!
      chelsea recently posted…How to Pick Your First Dance Song

  8. Courtney! @ Redefining Athlete

    February 20, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Funny, we used “Steal My Kisses” for our cake cutting song (which we didn’t realize was really a thing until we met our DJ).
    Our “walking in” song was Chasing the Sun by The Wanted because we heard it a TON during our trip to Thailand and it was a fun memory.
    We picked “Banana Pancakes” for our first dance, but I really can’t remember when we first started considering it ‘our’ song.

    I also LOVE “Thinking Out Loud” now… but I don’t think I would have chosen it for our wedding.
    Courtney! @ Redefining Athlete recently posted…Hawaii (August 2014) Part II

    • chelsea

      February 20, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      i didn’t know about the cake-cutting song either until my friend got married a few months earlier! we used lauryn hills’ can’t take my eyes off you’ for that and LOVE that you used ben harper!

      ohhh love that you heard that song so many times during your trip to thailand! banana pancakes is such a cute song-and now i want pancakes 🙂

  9. Jennifer

    February 20, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Hey Chelsea,
    I liked reading your story!
    Our first dance song was Lucky by Jason Mraz. Luckily our first dance was on a raft in the middle of a lake because I hate being the center of attention, and dancing is not one of my talents! Honestly I’m not sure how we picked it. It’s just always been our song. We had our dj play Ben Harper’s “Steal my kisses” at our wedding too. Patrick found “Running around in my dreams” by Tyrone Wells for our cake cutting song. I had never heard it before, but I really liked it.

    • chelsea

      February 20, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      i appreciate you reading, jennifer! ohhhhh ‘lucky’ is such a good one and your first dance was in the middle of a lake?! that’s so amazing and i bet it was crazy beautiful. actually…if this is jennifer from colorado then i’ve seen pictures and i KNOW it was gorgeous 🙂

      listening to tyrone wells right now and totally into. well done, patrick!

      • Jennifer Foltz

        February 21, 2015 at 2:59 pm

        Yeah it is Jennifer from Colorado

        • chelsea

          February 21, 2015 at 4:16 pm

          heh yay!

  10. Devra

    February 21, 2015 at 4:59 am

    This is a funny story for us. We never really had a song prior to our first dance. I really enjoy making a fool of myself by dancing along to whatever song is on. My husband, he shies away from the sixth grade sway he dislikes dancing so much. But we both wanted there to be people dancing and having a ball at our reception. We combined the mother/son and father/daughter dance so all four of us were dancing at the same time. My dad and I stole the show and took the pressure/awkwardness off of Will and his mom. But I still really wanted a first dance. So we made a deal. If Will picked the song, like intentionally picked it then I would not make him dance any other time that night. He was sold.
    One of your tips was thinking about special moments from your relationship, we had several songs that corresponded, but none seemed right.
    When he led me out on that dance floor and music started, I immediately started laughing and smiling. If was Better Together by Jack Johnson. He picked it because in our opposites-attract relationship, we always would say to each other that we’re better together.
    We danced that dance and I didn’t force him to dance any other time. Lol.
    Devra recently posted…Lent: Treasuring an Opportunity for Renewal

    • chelsea

      February 21, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      awww i love that you made it work for you both, devra! i also totally laughed at picturing your husband doing the 6th grade sway 🙂

      SO sweet that he picked that song and surprised you with it! solid compromising on getting that first dance and then he would be a free man the rest of the night!

  11. Kelly

    February 22, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    What a great tip!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

    • chelsea

      February 22, 2015 at 5:51 pm

      glad you liked them kelly!

  12. Vivien

    February 23, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks for the tip chelsea! Something I had actually never considered before.
    My fav love song for the past little while has been Lady Antebellum’s (not sure if I spelled it right) “Kiss Goodnight”. I like it because it explores the beginning of a relationship and that intensity, and the feeling of perhaps (and somehow you magically know) they may be the one.
    PS, the video has me misty eyed every time.
    Vivien recently posted…Speaker’s Showcase: The Morning After

    • chelsea

      February 23, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      ohhh i really like that song too, vivien! it’s so sweet and the video drives it home. ah, relationships 🙂

      • Vivien

        February 24, 2015 at 7:25 pm

        So much for knowing the song title! “Just a Kiss” haha, I got it mixed up with another song I know “Kiss Goodnight” (completely different artist oops). Glad you found the song I was talking about! :
        Vivien recently posted…Speaker’s Showcase: The Morning After

        • chelsea

          February 25, 2015 at 9:11 am

          i knew which one you meant-it’s a good one!