Weddings have so many wonderful highlights. And one of those is, undoubtedly, the first dance, where the newlyweds take to the floor for the first time. It’s a massive moment and one that requires just the right tune to capture the mood and sentiment – and to last through the ages. Here are some epic selections that work perfectly…
At Last, Etta James
Some songs need no introduction; and this is one of them. A complete and utter expression of romance, Etta’s rich and soulful voice tells the story of love, and how wonderful it is to finally find it for yourself after years of loneliness. Timeless for all the right reasons.
When a Man Loves a Woman, Percy Sledge
When everyone from Michael Bolton to Jimmy Barnes has covered your song, you know you’ve hit a cultural sweet spot. And so it is with Percy Sledge’s romantic yet realistic ode to matters of the heart. Perfect, too, for those whose dancing skills are better suited to a sway than a samba.
Always and Forever, Heatwave
This beautiful slow jam brings a wonderful element of surprise to the moment since it isn’t as widely known or used as other ballads. Even the lyrics are perfect for the moment: “Always and forever, each moment with you. Is just like a dream to me that somehow came true.”
Unforgettable, Nat King Cole
Beautiful way to make a special moment even more unforgettable. And best of all, you can choose from two versions – Nat’s original song or the one refashioned decades later to turn it into a duet with daughter Natalie. Both hauntingly gorgeous.
The Way You Look Tonight, Tony Bennett
You couldn’t have a list such as this one without an appearance by smooth-voiced crooner Tony Bennett. He’s known for his collaborations with modern performers, such as Lady Gaga, but this duet with Faith Hill is one of his best.
God Gave Me You, Blake Shelton
Like the title suggests, this is one song that recognises a higher power in bringing two people together, and pays tribute to wedding vows being for better or for worse, because ultimately: “On my own, I’m only half of what I could be.”
Thinking Out Loud, Ed Sheeran
This modern love song has been enthusiastically embraced by couples worldwide, not least of all because it has the perfect beat for a choreographed routine. And if you need inspiration, Ed’s own moves in the video are the perfect place to start.
From This Moment On, Shania Twain
Country music stars have a knack for great love songs. And this enduring ballad is Exhibit A. In fact it’s so beautiful couples sometimes take it beyond the dance floor to inspire their vows: “I give my hand to you with all my heart. Can’t wait to live my life with you, can’t wait to start.”
All of me, John Legend
John Legend dedicated this song to his own wife, Chrissy Teigan, who appears in the video clip. And it doesn’t get much more romantic than when someone acknowledges it’s about loving someone wholly, including their “perfect imperfections”. Now that’s real life, and real love.
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Frankie Valli
Would it be wrong to reference 10 Things I Hate About You at this point? After all, Heath Ledger did a pretty bang-up job of this song in his pursuit of Julia Stiles. But for the original, the romantic and the best, you really can’t go past the romantic intonations of Frankie Valli.
Can’t Help Falling in Love, Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley had many No 1s in a career that reached from Hound Dog to Blue Suede Shoes. But this is the perfect showcase of his unique voice and a showmanship that invites you to: “Take my hand, take my whole life too.” Added bonus is that your older guests will love it too.
My Heart Will Go On, Celine Dion
Yes there’s ongoing debate about whether Rose could have made room for Jack on the plank. But that aside, theirs truly was a Titanic love story. And this captures it impeccably with some of the most beautiful lyrics ever put to music. As Celine says: “Love can touch us one time and last for a lifetime.”
Marry Me, Train
This song is an elegant and eloquent reflection of how magical it is when love comes into your life, whether you’re 20 or 50. Beautiful guitar work and a lilting melody make it perfect for that slow turn around the dance floor.
Mirrors, Justin Timberlake
JT, as he’s known, drew inspiration for this song from the marriage of his own grandparents. And there’s something really beautiful about a ballad that talks of the wonderful decades to come and does it with just the right tempo for a newlywed first dance.
A Sky Full of Stars, Coldplay
Coldplay knows a thing or two about romance – look at the monster ballad Yellow that launched their career. But these days, they’re a little more funky about love, making this the perfect choice for a couple who want a first dance that will really get the party started.
A Thousand Years, Christina Perri
This song came to global prominence with the Twilight saga. And if you consider the sentiment, it’s easy to see why. After all, most couples don’t have 1000 years together, but the idea of a love that never ends? That’s timeless, everlasting and oh-so romantic.
Endless Love, Lionel Richie & Diana Ross
Some songs are all about the melody; others the lyric. This one is about both. Not only does it have the artistry of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, it also has beautiful insights such as this: “Two hearts, two hearts that beat as one, our lives have just begun.”
Unchained Melody, The Righteous Brothers
To some people this will always be the love song from Ghost, but this ballad has been around a lot longer than that. It has one of the most instantly recognisable introductions, making it perfect for a first dance that is as timeless as it is beautiful.