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Committing to eternity is substantive and sentimental, as is finding the best song to encapsulate that forever feeling. When it comes to selecting the best tune for your first dance together, consider songs that you connect with as individuals and as a couple. Whether it is from a movie you watched together, was played on your first date, or has meaning within your family, opt for a song that will withstand the test of time.
Stay away from anything cliché; opt for something outside the box if you’re not a duo who plays by the status quo. From the likes of John Legend, Alicia Keys, Al Green, Halsey, and more, here are the best classic, contemporary, and nontraditional first dance songs for your wedding day—and to enjoy on each anniversary to come.
“Beyond” by Leon Bridges
Sexy and smooth, without feeling the least bit nontraditional, Leon Bridges's "Beyond" is a cheeky, contemporary first dance pick that is sure to bring out your best moves.
“By Your Side” by Sade
In this song, Sade casts away any doubts about your intentions for one another, leaning in with comforting reassurance via her signature, cool delivery.
“You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne
The hook of this song says it all, and the smooth tone of Ray LaMontagne's voice is sultry yet sophisticated.
“Conversations in the Dark” by John Legend
If you want the John Legend effect (and who doesn't?!) but don’t want to be one of the thousands who first-danced to “All of Me,” this closing cut from the singer’s seventh studio album, Bigger Love, is a sexy and meaningful choice.
“I Found You” by Alabama Shakes
With a casual, distinctive, and soulful sound, this song has lyrics like, "I finally found you," which suit a wedding setting and make it a unique—and bluesy—option for a first dance.
“XO” by Beyoncé
This Beyoncé bop starts with lyrics like, "Your love is bright as ever / Even in the shadows." Trust us, there won't be a dry eye in the crowd.
“Love You for a Long Time” by Maggie Rogers
This song is all about commitment and for the couple who’s looking for an upbeat country-meets-pop vibe.
“Your Song” by Elton John
This 1970 classic is heartfelt and honest in all the best ways. Looking for a more modern rendition? Opt for the crisp, stripped-down version by Ellie Goulding.
“Make You Feel My Love” by Adele
Adele’s magic lies in the way she can make any hyperbole sound convincingly commonplace. “Make You Feel My Love,” the British singer’s version of Bob Dylan’s 1997 original, is so serious that it carries a seemingly somber undertone, but lines like, “Go to the ends of this earth for you / To make you feel my love,” make it a piano-laced love anthem for the ages.
“Loving You” by Seafret
“This year has been chock-full of challenges, and Seafret’s ‘Loving You’ is a hauntingly beautiful, string-heavy melody that will have everyone in attendance counting their blessings,” Ray Jarrell of Jarrell Entertainment recommends.
“Only You” by Yazoo
This quirky torch song is as honest as it is quintessentially romantic. Opt for the original 1982 version (listed here), the Alison Moyet Live for Burberry EP release, or the Joshua Radin cover for a slightly more modern approach.
“Can't Take My Eyes Off of You” by Ms. Lauryn Hill
A classic rendition-turned-R&B anthem, this arrangement of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” is casual, cool, sexy, and undoubtedly romantic.
“All of Me” by Billie Holiday
“You took the part that once was my heart / So why not take all of me” is a not-so-subtle love song that feels dreamy, genuine—and sets a sultry mood.
“Endless Love” by Lionel Richie & Diana Ross
This '80s declaration of love by the powerhouse vocals of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross makes it one of the greatest duets of all time—ideal for a couple looking for an epic entrance.
“They Can’t Take That Away from Me” by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
Introduced originally by Fred Astaire in the 1937 film Shall We Dance, this 1956 version by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong is full of soul and feels both cool and classic.
“For Once in My Life” by Stevie Wonder
An up-tempo arrangement from the legendary Stevie Wonder, this Motown masterpiece will set the tone for a fun evening of dining and dancing.
“Blessed” by Thomas Rhett
A top pick for first dance requests from DJ Tommy Elliott, this soulful song with a country flair is highlighted by a backup gospel choir and promising lyrics that are sure to guarantee all eyes on you.
“Groove Is in the Heart” by Deee-Lite
As the top first dance pick by Hannah Bronfman for BAZAAR Bride, this dance band ditty is unconventional and unexpected for the couple who is just looking to have a good time.
“With a Girl Like You” by The Troggs
Lyrics like “I want to spend my life with a girl like you / Ba ba ba ba, ba ba ba,” speak for themselves. This popular, mid-tempo sing-along by the English rock band that brought us “Wild Thing” in 1966 is first dance approved.
“Put It All on Me” by Ed Sheeran featuring Ella Mai
Sheeran's "Perfect" had its run at weddings, and this tune offers something new. Opt for one of the chart-topper's latest collaborations with soulful singer Ella Mai for a sensual—yet high-energy—first dance pick.
“Big Jet Plane” by Angus & Julia Stone
Calling all travel lovers. This sexy song is a not-so-basic select that you'll love hearing in the most unexpected places—starting with your entry to the reception.
“Our Love” by Gary Clark Jr.
Sultry lyrics like, "You are my lady / I am your man," is the vibe that this sway-inducing song is all about.
“You’re My Best Friend” by Queen
A fun alternative to something overtly romantic, this song describes best friends rather than lovers but still feels right to kick off your night on the dance floor.
“Forever” by The Beach Boys
Dance into forever with this apropos tune by The Beach Boys. Trust us, everyone will sing along to this one with you.
“Love at First Sight” by Jordan Mackampa
"Oh how you changed my life" is just one of the transparent lyrics that "Love at First Sight" boasts in this perfectly pop wedding-worthy song.
“Skin & Bones” by Eli Young Band
Raw and real, this sentimental country banger describes the grittiness of a loving relationship—from skin and bones.
“Better Half of Me” by Tom Walker
Opt for a first dance song that puts your feelings into words. Case in point: this beautiful ballad.
“Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone
With an upbeat and albeit funky disposition, this 1973 classic is a true crowd-pleaser.
“Forever” by Ben Harper
This singer-songwriter fan favorite is raw and real. Simplistic in its delivery, the song features sweet lyrics—"So give me your forever / Please your forever / Not a day less will do, from you"—that are sure to make even the most serious of your guests swoon.
“At Your Best (You Are Love)” by Aaliyah
With a recent rendition from Frank Ocean and original takings by The Isley Brothers, “At Your Best” is an ever-evolving R&B staple. Somewhere in all of that lies Aaliyah’s ethereal take on the track—a silky-soft reimagining of reaffirmation.
“If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys
In one of the most iconic, lasting vocal performances of the past few decades, “If I Ain’t Got You” is a commanding surrender to vulnerability.
“I Won't Back Down” by Johnnyswim
This singer-songwriter rendition of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" is rooted in tradition and is a true ode to love.
“Dontchange” by Musiq Soulchild
“Dontchange” is quintessential early-2000s R&B. Musiq Soulchild is up-front, wind-in-the-hair (and shirt unbuttoned) soul music. While it may border on heavy-handed, there’s something to be said about being this explicitly romantic on your big day.
“At Last” by Etta James
At its core, “At Last” is a song that’s about finding the right partner after years of awful dating—it's an uber-romantic sigh of relief. Etta James floats above a humming string section, celebrating the “dream that I could speak to / A dream that I can call my own.”
“To Know Him Is to Love Him” by Amy Winehouse
For all the times Amy Winehouse sang of tainted romance, there lies the handful of tracks that prove just why she believes in love. On “To Know Him Is to Love Him,” she took a song that originally came out in 1958 and delivered a hauntingly stripped-back, lullaby-like version.
“First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes
“First Day of My Life” leads with its lyrics. Paired with nothing but some light, acoustic guitar strums, front man Conor Oberst’s delivery is closer to a soft-spoken speech than it is to singing when he delivers lines like, “This is the first day of my life / I'm glad I didn't die before I met you.”
“Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green
An omnipresent classic with a steady drum line leading Al Green’s vocals, “Let’s Stay Together” is an obvious first dance choice that doesn’t spare its groove for lofty romanticism. It’s a convincing confession that’s everlasting, from the king of all things love.
“It Had to Be You” by Ray Charles
For something a bit more retro, “It Had to Be You” is Ray Charles’s shining, swinging take on a classic jazz standard.
“The One” by Kodaline
"Tell me, tell me that you want me / And I'll be yours completely / For better or for worse" are the first lyrics to this indie alternative jam. Enough said.
“The Makings of You” by Curtis Mayfield
With a fairy-tale-like opening—complete with dazzling piano ripples and topped off with smooth horns—“The Makings of You” is a dreamy ode to Mayfield’s one and only, captured by some of this century’s best songwriting.
“Send It On” by D’Angelo
D’Angelo as a first dance song isn’t necessarily a shy couple’s pick. Backed by Questlove on drums, “Send It On” is a soaring classic that swings in and out of rhythms, all while holding a certain sensuality.
“Better Together” by Jack Johnson
With lines led by harmonica notes and hums, “Better Together” is a simple, beachy love song that’s not doing or trying to say too much. It's subtle and speaks to the couple who are just as delicate in their love for one another.
“That’s How Strong My Love Is” by Otis Redding
There are moments that Otis Redding sings with the enthusiasm of a near shout on “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” but he always seems to pull himself back into his classically sweet, softer-spoken energy.
“How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” by James Taylor
With an almost elementary-like effect, “How Sweet It Is” is a wholesome, jangle-y rendition of a Marvin Gaye original. Plus, iconic sing-along lines like, “I wanna stop and thank you, baby,” make it open for audience involvement.
“Best Part” by Daniel Caesar featuring H.E.R.
The effortlessly ethereal pairing of H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar tackles a rare, non-corny duet on “Best Part,” a stunning exchange between two of modern R&B’s best voices.
“For the Love of You, Pts. 1 & 2” by The Isley Brothers
“For the Love of You” is a potent mix of sultry and sweet, a combination perfected countless times by The Isley Brothers. This is a family party staple that works just as well when played at a black-tie affair.
“The Point of It All” by Anthony Hamilton
This Anthony Hamilton cut is for couples looking for something a bit more up-tempo on their big debut. Meant for swaying and snapping, “The Point of It All” opens up a first dance to styles beyond the three-minute slow embrace.
“The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson
Effortless sweetness is the best way to describe this 2007 hit, with real yet quirky lyrics like "If you are chilly, here take my sweater / If your head is aching, I'll make it better."
“Honeybee” by The Head and the Heart
This truthful and refreshing melody has lyrics like, "You're the one / You are the only one," and speaks volumes through music.
“Finally // beautiful stranger” by Halsey
Written as a first dance song, Halsey's "Finally // beautiful stranger" hits home as a new wedding classic as it reminiscences about falling in love and growing in that new relationship. This beautiful tune is simplistic and downright perfect.
Listen to the songs in the playlist below and follow BAZAAR on Spotify.
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