Not sure whether to have a first dance at your wedding? Chris Powell from The Band Boutique explains why this charming tradition is definitely worth including
As co-founder of entertainment agency The Band Boutique, which I run with my wife Laura, and as a member of one of the UK’s busiest wedding bands, Mister Kanish, I’ve played at 50 weddings a year for the last 10 years. And in my experience, I’ve learnt that having a first dance can really impact the whole night.
If you’re not sure whether you want a first dance at your wedding reception, you aren’t alone. I have seen and performed countless first dances, and I’ve also talked to loads of brides and grooms-to-be who are nervous about dancing in front of all of their friends, so we know couples can find it tricky.
If you hate dancing, and don’t want to do it with everyone watching – don’t worry, your guests won’t judge! They will just be happy to see you and your new spouse have a little chat for three or four minutes while you sway from side to side – which is what most first dances end up being.
Despite the soppiness of it, a slow first dance is probably your best bet if you are a little worried about dancing. If you’ve got moves, and you want to show them off, something faster can definitely work.
Why is a first dance so important?
Weddings are frantic, and over the course of the day you’ll hardly get a moment to yourself, let alone with your new husband or wife. Everyone there will want to talk to you, and there’s timings and speeches to worry about. The first dance can be a little calm in the storm. A time to take stock and think, “Whoa, I’m married to this person,” before the day is over. First dances are a great way to put a momentary pause on a wedding day.
In addition to this, the first dance is a great ice breaker to move the day from meal to massive party, and 99 times out of 100, the dance floor gets fuller faster when there is a first dance, compared to when there isn’t.
How do we pick a first dance song?
When we got engaged, Laura and I didn’t have a song that was ‘our song’, so we didn’t have a clue what to play for our first dance. We both love music, and there are so many tunes that represent highlights in our relationship. So, we just went for something that was fun and had good lyrics – ‘You Make My Dreams’ by Hall and Oates!
If you aren’t sure which song to pick, try writing down separate lists of at least 10 songs without conferring. Songs that make you smile and think of your other half when you listen to them. The ones that give you goose bumps, or send those tiny little hairs on the back of your neck standing on end.
These don’t necessarily have to be songs you think the other person will like (usually there’ll be some shared ones anyway), just ones you’re happy to admit to yourself that you like (and maybe even one or two you’d never admit to liking – you may be surprised). Put the lists together without judgement. If there’s one similarity – bingo – you have your first dance!
If there’s a few, then make a playlist, and have a listen together. Listen to the words. Do you agree with the sentiment? Maybe google the meaning of the lyrics. It’s always worth checking the theme behind a song. I remember someone asking for Every Breath You Take as a first dance, thinking it was a lovely love song. Actually it’s about obsession, jealousy, and stalking!
If there are none that match, make a playlist of your partner’s suggestions, and get them to make a playlist of yours. Listen to them when you’re not together and see if you get those goosebumps from any of your partner’s suggestions.
Our first dance song is fast, but I’m not a dancer! What do we do?
If you’ve managed to pick a fast song, and aren’t too keen on dancing in front of your guests, see if your band can make an arrangement for you. Lots of our acts are more than happy to make a slowed arrangement of your first dance – Laura and I asked Mister Kanish to slow down the first verse and chorus of ‘You Make My Dreams‘, and it was great. They then rocked back into the second verse and everyone jumped onto the dance floor.
First dance suggestions
You Are The Best Thing – Ray Lamontagne
You’re All I Need To Get By – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
It Must Be Love – Madness
Keep On Movin’ – 5ive
One Day Like This – Elbow
You’re My Best Friend – Queen
Lover Of The Light – Mumford and Sons
Dancing In The Dark – Bruce Springsteen
Mountains – Biffy Clyro
Stand By Me – Ben E. King
Your Body Is A Wonderland – John Mayer
Mean To Me – Brett Eldridge
Still not convinced?
If you still aren’t sold on having a first dance, that’s completely fine – my second piece of advice would be that you shouldn’t let anyone tell you want to do on your wedding day. However, if it’s due to a fear of dancing alone in front of your friends, you can always convince the best man or bridesmaids to join you with their partners, then the dancefloor is already full for the band’s first set.
If you need help choosing a great band to play at your wedding, please get in touch with us at The Band Boutique. We manage seven amazing bands exclusively, acts that you won’t find cheaper anywhere else, and work with a number of other amazing tried-and-tested wedding bands. Our bands have played all over the world and are experts at making memorable first dances.
Check out Mister Kanish performing one of our first dance requests!