Selecting first dance wedding songs is one of the longest wedding traditions going back to the 17th century. Different traditions come and go, but the first dance seems to be the longtime tradition everyone does. It’s the first dance as newlyweds, and it’s usually seen as the launching pad into the dancing portion of the evening… if you have your first dance after dinner.
Having DJed weddings in Toronto for a decade, we have curated a list of commonly chosen first dance wedding songs.. The list is vast, but in our experience these seem to be the go-to songs. Although Toronto is a multicultural city with over 200 cultural groups, the first dance song is usually a Billboard top 40 song, past or present.
But what makes good first dance wedding songs? And how do you choose the first song? Surprisingly, this is a dilemma for some couples and some will even ask for suggestions. The first song for a couple should capture some of those initial moments when you first met. You want something that represents the both of you. Sometimes couples want to establish their first dance with a rehearsed routine and some will even make a mini production out of it incorporating props. First dance wedding songs are a symbol of you and your partner going into the next chapter of your life.
If you do a google search of, first dance wedding songs, you’ll come across various lists with different themes. Here’s a list we’ve put together consisting of songs we’ve come across in the past 10 years from the classics to newer songs. We’ve also put our own twist on these lists so they can edutain (educate + entertain) you. We hope you have fun with these lists and if you’re looking, we hope there’s a song that fits you both perfectly. Enjoy!
The Go-To 1st Dance Songs (New School)
First dance wedding songs represent the tune that bonds a couple. Some couples know their go-to song because sometimes an event or incident happened and a certain song represents or is a reminder of that time. Some couples are open and feel a song from the go-to list is fine. There are so many more, but these songs, in our experience, are some of the more commonly chosen songs for the first dance.
Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
- This romantic ballad was intentionally written for ceremonies and Sheeran calls it the “Walking down the aisle” song. (Click to Listen)
Latch – Disclosure ft. Sam Smith
- The female vocalist at the beginning of the song is award winning singer and actress, Janelle Monae. (Click to Listen)
A Thousand Years – Christina Perri
- This single from the Twilight Saga is one of the most watched videos on YouTube. (Click to Listen)
Wanna be that Song – Brett Elderidge
- Eldredge wrote this song because he wanted to have a song couples fall in love to. When couples say, “That’s my song!”, he wanted that song to be his song. (Click to Listen)
You’re Still the 1 – Shania Twain
- Twain’s biggest Billboard Hot 100 single spent 42 weeks on the charts and nine of them at #2. (Click to Listen)
Free – Zac Brown Band
- Inspired by climbing Mount Warning on the east coast of Australia while on tour, this mountain is famous for being the first spot in Australia to get sun in the morning. (Click to Listen)
Hold My Girl – George Ezra
- Hold My Girl was the fourth single release from Ezra’s second album, Staying at Tamara’s. The album was named after the host of an AirBnB he used to stay at. (Click to Listen)
I don’t want to miss a thing – Aerosmith
- After selling millions of records and having sold out tours for two decades, the veteran Boston band had their first number 1 song with this track from the 1998 soundtrack to the blockbuster hit film, Armageddon. (Click to Listen)
Can’t help falling in love – Hailey Reinhart
- This song has been covered over 500 times since Elvis Presley recorded it in 1961. (Click to Listen)
Forever After All – Luke Combs
- The first song he wrote with his wife (Nicole Hocking) when they moved into their new home in 2019. (Click to Listen)
I Choose You – Andy Grammar
- Before turning into a chart-topping country star, Grammar estimates he logged about 10,000 hours of street busking in his home city of Los Angeles. (Click to Listen)
All of Me – John Legend
- John Legend’s first number 1 song (co-written with Toby Gad) was written in three hours. (Click to Listen)
Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
- One of Clapton’s biggest hits was originally released in 1977, but it’s the live version (1991) that charted and made it a hit. (Click to Listen)
The Go-To 1st Dance Songs (Old School)
As more millennials marry, not all of them are quick to choose a modern day track. Sometimes, due to their parents, their musical palette has been curated to appreciate old school sounds. For those with an old soul that appreciates a waayback vibe, these are some of the go-to tracks that are big favourites.
Your Song – Elton John
- Elton John’s first big hit was written by his writing partner, Bernie Taupin, when he was 17 years old. (Click to Listen)
Endless Love – Lionel Richie & Diana Ross
- The single, same as the movie title, starring teen sensation at the time, Brooke Shields, was a commercial flop, but the song went on to be one of the biggest selling love songs of the 1980s. (Click to Listen)
Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
- It took two days for Green to be convinced that the song was worth recording and even after a 100 vocal takes he was still not satisfied with it and had to be convinced “magic” ’was caught on tape. (Click to Listen)
That’s how strong my love is – Otis Redding
- A song that’s been covered many times by various artists, including the Rolling Stones, Redding was the first to bring this ditty to the pop culture zeitgeist in 1965 hitting the Billboard top 20. (Click to Listen)
Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler
- Even though this love song was Billboard’s song of the year in 1989, (and Middler’s biggest hit), it is in the top 10 funeral songs on The Funeral Music Chart according to Co-op Funeralcare. (Click to Listen)
Somewhere Over The Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo Ole
- This stripped down version by Ole with only vocals and ukele is a huge favourite with couples choosing their first dance. (Click to Listen)
Just the two of us – Grover Washington Jr. ft/ Bill Withers
- Grover Washington Jr. and Bill Withers barely knew each other and met for the first time in the studio recording this song. (Click to Listen)
How sweet it is to be loved by you – James Taylor
- Originally released by Marvin Gaye in 1964, the version by Taylor in 1975 was the most successful version hitting the top 10 on the pop charts and top 5 on the RnB charts. (Click to Listen)
My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
- Not only was this song written specifically for the movie Titanic, making it Dion’s signature song, but it also became one of the best-selling love songs of 1998, winning almost every award it was nominated for.. (Click to Listen)
Maybe I’m Amazed – Paul McCartney
The Go-To 1st Dance Songs (Classics)
Then there are those who feel they were originally born in another era. Dressing up, sipping martinis, and looking like extras from Mad Men. For those who want to class up their first dance and appeal to their sophisticated side, these tracks are great options.
The Way You look Tonight – Tony Bennett
- Since Fred Astaire popularized it in the 1936 film Swing Time, Tony Bennett is among 683 artists who have recorded this song.. All versions recorded between 1936 and 2020. (Click to Listen)
The Best is yet to come – Frank Sinatra
Sinatra’s final live performance took place on February 25, 1995, and three years later, when he passed away due to a heart attack, the phrase was engraved on his tombstone.
. (Click to Listen)
At Last – Ella Fitzgerald
- After signing to Chess Records in 1961, she released the original version of this beloved track and due to her crossover appeal, the song made it to number 2 on the RnB Charts. (Click to Listen)
Can’t help falling in Love – Elvis Presley
- This song, taken from his 1961 film, Blue Hawaii, was so popular, it went to number one in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Sweden, New Zealand, France and Spain. (Click to Listen)
Stand By Me – Ben E. King
- This song has been fortunate to strike gold twice. It originally was a hit song in 1961. Then, in 1987, director Rob Reiner released Stand by Me starring the late River Pheonix. The song’s inclusion in this film and a Levi’s jeans commercial propelled it back into the pop culture zeitgeist, resulting in a number one hit in the UK and a top 10 position in the U. (Click to Listen)
Nothing Can Change This Love – Sam Cooke
- This classic hit from 1962 got injected with a second life after appearing in the Stephen King series on Hulu, 11.22.63. (Click to Listen)
L.O.V.E.- Nat King Cole
- Not only was this released on his last album before his death in 1965, but he also recorded a version in French, German, Italian and Japanese. (Click to Listen)
Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
- Like many old school tracks, this was also a cover, but this is by far the most popular version and became synonymous with the pottery scene in the 1990 Academy Award winning sleeper hit film, Ghost, with Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. (Click to Listen)
La Vie En Rose – Edif Piaf
- Piaf wrote this song in 1945, and it gained popularity in 1946 before its official single release in 1947. This timeless classic has been covered by artists such as Bing Crosby, Donna Summer, and Grace Jones.. (Click to Listen)
I Fall to Pieces – Patsy Cline
- Although this song is now regarded as a country classic, it was largely overlooked upon its release in 1961 by both country and pop radio, as they believed it deviated from her earlier recordings.. (Click to Listen)
What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
- On release of this single in 1968, the song lived out two fates. In the US, the the record company didn’t like it, so they didn’t promote it, selling less than 1000 copies. In the UK, it went to number one and was the song of the year. Armstrong was also the oldest person to hit the (UK) music charts at the time. He was 66 years old. (Click to Listen)
You Send Me – Sam Cooke
- Originally written by his brother, Charles “LC” Cook, the song holds a special significance for Sam. Interestingly, the “E” was added to Sam’s last name, as his business partner believed it added a touch of class. Furthermore, Sam and Charles sang together in their family gospel group called the Singing Children during their upbringing.. (Click to Listen)
When a Man Loves a Woman – Percy Sledge
- This song was recorded at the legendary studio, Muscle Shoals, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The studio recorded legends like Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon and the Rolling Stones. There’s an excellent documentary (Muscle Shoals) on this iconic studio. Do yourself a favour and see it! (Click to Listen)
The Go-To 1st Dance Songs (Dance-y)
Every so often, we come across a couple who are really uninhibited. Very expressive and every moment is a party. They tend to be the ones who have a rehearsed routine for their first dance and this is the moment they want to shine. Here’s a few tracks where we’ve witnessed some fun and outrageous dance moves here in Toronto during the first dance.
Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen
- The first song Freddie Mercury wrote on guitar (he wrote his songs on piano), which took him about 10 minutes. (Click to Listen)
Crazy In Love – Beyonce ft. Jay
- The only song that came out in 2003 that went to number one in the US and the UK. (Click to Listen)
Kiss Me – SixPence None The Richer
- This was the most played song on radio in 11 different countries in 1999 including Canada, UK, Australia, and Japan. (Click to Listen)
Dancing In The Moonlight – King Harvest
- This catchy song about joy and harmony was the band’s only top 40 hit. (Click to Listen)
You Sexy Thing – Hot Chocolate
- Apart from its extensive use in TV shows and movies, this tune stands as the sole song to achieve chart success in the UK throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s.. (Click to Listen)
I’m a believer – The Monkees
- The vocals on this Neil Diamond penned track is sung by the band, but the music was performed by session musicians. (Click to Listen)
Home – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
- Although the song resonated widely in 2010 and featured in numerous commercials, it never made it to the top 100 music charts.. (Click to Listen)
Nothin’ On You – B.O.B. ft. Bruno Mars
- This song was inspired by the 1950s classic doo-wop track, “I Only Have Eyes For You” by the Flamingos. (Click to Listen)
You Make My Dreams Come True – Hall & Oates
- This song has turned into a go-to song for commercials, TV, films, business campaigns, as well as, the song played after NHL hockey team, Toronto Maple Leafs, score a goal”. (Click to Listen)
This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) – Natalie Cole
- In the early-mid 2000s, the eHarmony dating site launched a print, TV, and radio campaign using this song to lure in single folks looking for love. (Click to Listen)
Like we’ve mentioned in our opening, our first dance wedding songs lists are based on our experience DJing various weddings over a decade in Toronto. First dance wedding songs should always resonate with you and your partner regardless of how silly or serious the song is. It’s YOUR song. There might be songs that you’ve heard at other weddings in Toronto that should be on this list. Let us know in the comments below. We’re always looking for new and old songs to suggest to clients. Generally, it’s the one song couples know, but like we’ve mentioned before, we’ve come across a few who didn’t know what their first song was going to be. If you’re in need of assistance in picking your first dance song, we would love to chat with you and discuss what song best suits you and your partner. Click here to connect with us.
If you’re looking for a DJ and you want to make your wedding and first dance a success, here are some pointers to keep in mind. If you are looking for a great wedding venue in Toronto, rest assured, then we have your back.
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At Britton DJ Service, we have over a decade of wedding and event experience. We’ve played many of the venues in Toronto and around the GTA and know the A – Zs of events, especially weddings from the pre-ceremony to the end of the reception. Please feel free to contact us for a free consultation and let us take care of all your musical needs.