How to Choose Your First Dance

How to Choose Your First Dance


“Nobody puts baby in a corner.” And you’ll be damned if that first dance ends up with a faceplant, smashed toe or dropped bride. Choosing the first dance is one of the most important things you will do for your wedding. And unlike the wedding cake, the color of your tux or the invitation list, guys might actually get some say in picking this one… after all, it takes two to tango.


Do your Research

Unless you’ve got some serious dancing with the stars cred, you probably have no idea what a first dance should include. Man code gives us a few simple truisms: keep it classy (unless classy just isn’t your thing), keep it short, and never, ever take your clothes off (like they did here in No. 12). What type of dancer is your bride? Is she the kind that will never let you lead (a dangerous precedent from the get-go), is she too shy to dance in public, or is she so bold that you’ll need backup dancers to turn this mother out?


Pick Your Style

This is as much about style of music as it is the dance steps – and your ability to pull them off. Are you a slow-dance-double-clutch classic, old-school hip-hopper, big-hair rocker or independent free spirit that “just needs to dance”? Your style and her style are going to define the dance – and define your marriage. So talk about it. Hit the clubs, browse youtube for stupid wedding dance videos and be true to thy own inner dance diva.


Putting it Together

We’ve put together a master combo to match the perfect song with the perfect look and the perfect dance. The Knot picks “Thinking Out Loud,” “Coming Home,” “A Sky Full of Stars” and “Uptown Funk” among its top 11 hottest wedding songs for 2015. But who wants a wedding like every other.  Remember John Cusack awesome top-five lists in High-Fidelity? Try this top-five list on for size: “Top five wedding first songs ever.”


  1. Welcome to the Jungle, Guns and Roses. Big hair, Slash in a leather top hot, and the song is on the Appetite for Destruction album… that says a lot. We’d match this with a Burgundy Velvet Dinner Jacket – it screams rock and roll – add a guitar tie bar and skull-and-crossbones links to round out the offering. But how do you dance to it?  We suggest at least one jumping karate kick. Never-ever lip-sync unless you have the entire choreographed routine put together.
  2. I Can’t Stop Loving You, Ray Charles. You want forgiveness worked right in from the outset… ‘cause you’re gonna screw up eventually. Ray Charles was an original OPP man* and addicted to horse… he had his faults, and still we love him. The nice thing about this song is you can match it with anything. It’s classic. We recommend, however, not wearing sunglasses during your wedding dance. A little rose label pin is the perfect understated flair. The dance is as easy as easy could ever be. Start in Closed Position (that’s the industry standard with your arm at her waist, the other clasped and extended slightly out). Sway back and fourth. Halfway through, double-clutch and kiss.  No grinding or twerking until at least after the first toast.
  3. At Last, Etta James. Mom will approve… hell, even grandma will approve. This song makes it into a lot of weddings. And for good reason. Etta James spans generations with her soulful blend of R&B, gospel and blues. We think this conservative choice marries itself perfectly to a black notch lapel suit paired with a skinny tie (to give it that mid-mod Madmen vibe). Your pocket square will tie it all together. This one might require a bit more choreography. You definitely want to include at least two twirls and one dip.
  4. Good Vibrations, Marky Mark and one extremely Funky Bunch… plus the chance for some serious choreographed hijinks… need we say more? You can pump up your stylings here with a midnight blue peak lapel tux, expect to take your jacket off halfway – either a vest or suspenders are gonna kill that look. Nope, no cummerbunds with this one.
  5. Maps, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. There’s a bunch of new-gen indie songs that lend themselves perfectly to a first dance. Florence and the Machine, the Lumineers, Imagine Dragons. Take your pick. Since you’re going the non-traditional route with your song, we thing you can go non-traditional with your dress. Mishmash your outfit using the refined and hard-to-master Italian art of spezzato dressing – and you thought it was a pasta sauce. Dancing to these tracks can be a challenge. Practice a lot. If all else fails, suggest U2 or Coldplay. They’re easy as hell to dance to, and everybody loves them.


* Songs to avoid include Stevie Wonder’s “Part-Time Lover,” “OPP” by Naughty By Nature, the entire 2LiveCrew catalogue.