Some couples dread it, others relish it and dad-dancing, tipsy uncles are inspired by it. “It” is the traditional first dance at a wedding, one of the most iconic moments at a wedding reception for the bride, groom, family and guests. For most couples it may be the only time in their lives when potentially hundreds of people are watching their every dance move – a chance to shine and enjoy this unique, romantic moment. In what is undoubtedly an important part of one of the biggest days of your life the last thing you want to become is the next YouTube or TikTok viral video – for all the wrong reasons as a dreaded “First Dance Fail”.
The Origins of The First DanceNobody knows for certain who the first newlyweds were to take their place on the dancefloor but we can be sure that it happened way before Ed Sheeran songs could be heard in marquees across the globe. It has long been traditional for the guests of honour to take the first dance in traditional balls which is likely to have started with royalty and aristocrats and then mimicked by the middle classes and beyond. Originally this was of course a much more formal affair where a waltz was commonly seen. Knowing how to dance a waltz was a skill taught at school so the upper classes were comfortable with this and a well executed first dance would have been met with an appreciative applause whereas there may be some modern weddings where an over-zealous friend might be heard shouting “Go on my son!” after the couple have chosen to mosh together for the duration of a heavy metal song or perhaps opted for a surprisingly touching dance to Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters like this couple who manage to combine a traditional dance with an unlikely song choice. The Significance of The First Dance The bride and groom, dancing in harmony (in most cases) is meant to symbolise a new unity and togetherness. Apparently it is also a metaphor for the couple’s future journey through life together. Taken literally I’m not sure what that says about this couple who surprised their guests with a very different interpretation of a first wedding dance.
The Bride and Father’s DanceAnother tradition on the wedding dance floor is the second dance which is often led by the bride dancing with her father and the father trying not to cry for the 14th time that day. This is also usually the queue for other prominent members of the family to pack the dancefloor to set the tone for the remainder of the reception and really get the party started.
Choosing Your First Dance SongAccording to the First Dance website the most popular first dance songs in the UK in 2019 were as follows but it is also becoming more popular for couples to choose much more obscure songs which mean a special something to the couple rather than more of a more predictable love song which most of the top 10 represent.
- Perfect – Ed Sheeran
- A Thousand Years – Christina Perri
- Everything – Michael Bublé
- All Of Me – John Legend
- Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
- Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Andy Williams
- Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
- Stand By Me – Ben E.King
- Ho Hey – The Lumineers
- L-O-V-E – Nat King Cole