The vows have been recited, the rings have been exchanged, the cake has been cut, and now it is time to head to the dance floor. The newlyweds are now about to perform their first dance as husband and wife. This is one moment that has caused much anxiety during the wedding planning. “What song do we choose?” nervously asks the bride. “What dance do we do?” anxiously wonders the groom. This moment can be avoided by meticulous wedding planning. Choosing the song ahead of time along with the appropriate ballroom dance will have the happy couple looking forward to their first dance as a married couple, instead of dreading it.
Cassandra and Matt have been planning their upcoming nuptials down to the very last detail. While deciding not to use a ballroom dancing instructor, they still have gone to great lengths to choose the perfect song for their first dance together as husband and wife. They have also chosen the songs for the father-daughter dance and the mother-son dance. Deliberating as far out as six months in advance of her wedding day, Cassandra has made her decision. She will dance her first dance with her husband to Tenerife Sea by Ed Sheeran. She will also dance with her father to the song I Loved Her First by Heartland while the groom will dance with his mother to Forever Young by Rod Stewart. All it took was a little planning and forethought but now the stress of the first wedding dances is all over but the performance on the big day!
I. Choose Your Wedding Song
Depending on the couple, this step can come very easily or it can be very difficult for the couple to decide. The key is to make the chosen song meaningful for both bride and groom. Additionally, you may choose your first dance song based on the dance style that you wish to perform. Several song examples are given below to help guide you in deciding what type of dance style might be appropriate for the type of song and its melody.
Song selections for their first dance chosen by famous couples instantly make headlines. For example, Prince William and Kate Middleton danced their first dance as the United Kingdom’s newest royal couple to Elton John’s Your Song. Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky blessed their marriage with the song At Last by Etta James. Leaving nothing to chance, the soon-to-be Mrs. Mezvinsky called upon “Dancing with the Stars” professional Maksim Chmerkovskiy to choreograph a routine so their first dance as husband and wife would be flawless. Finally, Jenna Bush and Henry Hager began their marriage with a first dance song called Lovin’ In My Baby’s Eyes by Taj Mahal.
II. Most Popular Wedding Dances
The four most popular dances performed at weddings are the foxtrot, swing, waltz, and rumba. While this list is by no means exhaustive, it covers the vast majority of dances that you will encounter at most weddings. This section will explore each dance style and give song examples for each style.
The foxtrot is a smooth, progressive dance characterized by long, continuous flowing movements across the dance floor. The style is a very popular at weddings because most find it easy to learn. Some foxtrot song selections are It Had to Be You by Frank Sinatra and Unforgettable by Natalie Cole.
Swing dance is a relaxed and grounded dance based on a downward bounce, transfer of center of gravity, and redirection of momentum. While some may find it complicated at first, many find it to be the most fun after learning the steps. Some swing song selections are I Can’t Help Falling In Love by UB40 and How Sweet it is to be Loved By You by Marvin Gaye.
The romantic waltz is one of the most popular ballroom dances of all time. Considered by many dance professionals as the backbone dance of the ballroom, the waltz is the basis for many dances. A truly romantic dance, the waltz is comprised of soft, round, flowing movements. Some waltz song selections are Power of Love by Celine Dion and Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers.
The rumba is often referred to as the grandfather of the Latin dances. It is a dance that tells a story of love and passion between a strong, male lead and a somewhat submissive female partner. Full of sensual movements, the rumba is considered by many to be the sexiest of the ballroom dances. Some rumba song selections include Love Me Tender by Elvis Presley and Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper.
III. Consider Choreographing Your First Dance
After you choose your song, consider working with a professional ballroom dance instructor to perfect your first dance as husband and wife. Ballroom dance instructor and studio owner Kelle Chancellor underscores this point by stating that when a couple has, “Taken the time to learn even a simple routine together, it shows [they] have taken the time and effort to make every moment of [their] wedding special.”
In reference to styles of dance, Kelle believes that one of the easiest styles to learn is the rumba. She describes it as a basic box step with an easy rhythmic sway that comes naturally to most couples. Another popular wedding dance that Kelle teaches is the waltz. Just like the rumba, both dances are slower and fit the romantic style and rhythm of most wedding songs. If a couple chooses a more upbeat tune, Kelle would most likely teach a foxtrot or a swing dance. Regardless of a couple’s song choice, an experienced ballroom instructor can accommodate most song’s tempo with the appropriate dance. So don’t be shy, hire a ballroom instructor and impress your entire wedding party with your fabulous moves!
IV. Father-Daughter Wedding Dance Songs
Another consideration is learning a dance style and choosing the music for the father-daughter dance. This dance occurs directly after the official “wedding dance” of the bride and groom. The same popular dance styles are appropriate for this dance as well. For example, you could do the waltz to Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle or I Loved Her First by Heartland. You could also dance the rumba to the song Father and Daughter by Paul Simon. These are just three examples of popular Father-Daughter Wedding Dance songs. There are hundreds of songs and many accompanying dance styles from which to choose.
Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former United States President Bill Clinton, chose to dance the foxtrot with her father to The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra. On the other hand, Jenna Bush, daughter of former President George W. Bush, danced the rumba with her father to You Are So Beautiful by Joe Cocker.
V. Mother-Son Wedding Dance Songs
Just like with the Father-Daughter Dance, if you choose to include a Mother-Son Dance, you should choose a special song and then learn the appropriate dance style for that song. A popular Mother-Son Dance song and accompanying dance style is What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong where you would dance the waltz. You could also dance the rumba to Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings or Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight. Again, these are just three of the more popular suggestions for this particular dance. The song choices are as plentiful as the choices for the Father-Daughter Wedding Dance songs.
VI. Sum It Up!
Choosing the right song and style of dance are very important decisions that should be given deliberate thought by the bride and groom. After all, the first wedding dance is a memory that will last a lifetime. It also sets the stage for the upcoming dancing and remainder of the wedding celebration by the wedding party and guests. There are so many choices of songs and dances that it is essentially impossible for a couple to go wrong with their choice. As long as the couple chooses from their heart, their choice will be matrimonial perfection.