First dance songs that haven't been done to death

Dancing between the rows
Photo by Melissa Doyle of Casting Memories

Not that I have anything against Etta Jame's "At Last" or Michael Buble's "Everything," — they're both perfect first dance songs — but I've heard them both WAY too many times at weddings. So, combining my database of musician friends (some of whom made the list) with the Offbeat Bride editorial team's tastes, we've compiled a list of totally not overused first dance songs… from the silly, to the romantic, to the extremely controversial!

Oldies but Goodies — along the same lines of "At Last"

  • The Beach Boys "God Only Knows" (hear it)
  • Shuggie Otis' "Strawberry Letter 23" (hear it)
  • Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On" (hear it)
  • Otis Redding's "That's How Strong My Love Is" (hear it)
  • Van Morrison's "Sweet Thing" (hear it)
  • The Zombies' "This Will Be Our Year" (hear it)
  • The Kinks "Waterloo Sunset" (hear it)
  • Toussaint McCall's "Nothing Takes The Place Of You" (hear it)
  • Al Green's "Love and Happiness" (hear it)

Sexy Romantic

  • (Ariel's) Me'Shell Ndegéocello's "Love Song #1" (hear it)
  • Ben Folds' "The Luckiest" (hear it)
  • Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" (hear it)
  • Massive Attack's "One Love" (hear it)
  • Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You" (hear it)
  • Portishead's "All Mine" (hear it)
  • Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" (hear it)

Wonky 'n Fun

Indie

  • (Megan's) Pavement's "We Dance" (hear it)
  • Jon Brion's "Here We Go" (hear it)
  • Neko Case's "This Tornado Loves You" (hear it)
  • Sufan Stevens' "The Dress Looks Nice On You" (hear it)
  • Wilco "I'm the Man Who Loves You" (hear it)
  • The Cure's "Friday I'm in Love" (hear it)
  • Bright Eyes' "First Day of my Life" (hear it)
  • Nick Drake's "Northern Sky" (hear it)
  • The Pixie's "La La Love You" (hear it)

SUPER Indie

  • Bird and the Bee "My Love" (hear it)
  • Obi Best "Nothing Can Come Between Us" (you can get a free mp3 here)
  • The Moldy Peaches' "Anyone Else but You" (hear it)
  • The Mountain Goats' "No Children" (hear it) — yes, some people find this song controversial!
  • Jeff Mangum's "I Love How You Love Me" (hear it)
  • She & Him's "I Was Made For You" (hear it)
  • Captain Beefheart's "I'm Glad" (hear it)

Jazzin' — along the same lines of Michael Buble

  • Sara Gazarek's "Makes Me Feel This Way" (hear it) or her version of "You Are My Sunshine" (hear it)
  • Harry Connick Jr.'s "Come By Me" (hear it)
  • Kurt Elling's "I Feel So Smoochie" (hear it)
  • Jamie Cullum's "I Think, I Love" (hear it)
  • Renee Olstead's " A Love That Will Last" (hear it)

Upbeat Swingin'

  • (Shrie's) Chuck Barry's "You Never Can Tell" (hear it)
  • Barry Louis Polisar's "All I Want Is You" (hear it)
  • Sly & the Family Stone's "You Can Make It If You Try" (hear it)
  • Huey "Piano" Smith's "Little Liza Jane" (hear it)

Laidback Easy-Peasy

  • Mayer Hawthorne's "Make Her Mine" (hear it)
  • Cat Power's version of "Sea of Love" (hear it)
  • Peter Gabriel's "Book of Love" (hear it)
  • Air's "Playground Love" (hear it)
  • The Fruit Bat's "When U Love Somebody" (hear it)

Dark and Romantic

  • Judas Priest's "Angel" (hear it)
  • Rammstein's "Ohne Dich" (hear it with English translation)
  • Type O Negative's "Love You to Death" (hear it)
  • Stone Temple Pilots' "Still Remains" (hear it)
  • Incubus' "Monuments and Melodies" (hear it)
  • Killswitch Engage's "My Curse" (hear it)
  • HIM's "Join Me In Death" (hear it)

Oh, you want more?

  1. I kinda want Magnetic Fields' "let's pretend we're bunny rabbits"…. (hear it)

    1 agrees
  2. I'm doing The First Day Of My Life by Bright Eyes! It always makes me cry, lol. (hear it)

    Also try
    -You and Me by Plain White T's (hear it)
    -Nothing With You by The Descendants (hear it)
    -The Dolphins Cry by Live (hear it)
    -Here In Your Arms by hellogoodbye (hear it)

    1 agrees
  3. We're using "The Way I am" by Ingrid Michaelson. It's sweet, and I love the line about rogaine. (hear it)

    1 agrees
    • We are, too. In addition to being adorable and just quirky enough to fit our relationship, it's also short (2:15!), which is easier on my non-dancing FH. ;)

    • My fiance and I are dancing to a tango song, cuz that's how we met. But if we were doing a song with english lyrics, it would be "You and I" by Ingrid Michaelson

      "…I wanna do what bunnies do with you if ya know what I mean…"

      =)

      1 agrees
  4. Used to Be- Olu Dara (hear it)

    "Used to be an apple, now you're an apple pie. Used to be, used to be the one, now you my baby."

    Tell Me Why You Love Me- Chris Smithers (hear it)

    My grandparents' song is Cheek to Cheek, the Fred Astaire version. I would love to have that as a first dance.

  5. If you are looking for CUTE & GEEKY try "Mario Kart Love Song" by Sam Hart. And for all my fellow She & Him fans don't forget about "Never Had Nobody Like You" from M. Ward's solo album. But it features Zooey so it might as well be She & Him. We haven't decided which to use yet for our first dance, but both will be in there somewhere.

    1 agrees
  6. My fiance and spent all summer trying to come up with our first dance song, as we had been together for awhile and had a long list of "our song" titles. We were at a Ziggy Marley concert in July and as soon as he started playing "Is This Love," we looked at each other and knew that had to be it! We used his dad's classic version. It was a little hard to dance to reggae, but we had a blast and it really represented *us* in a wedding full of compromises with our traditional families.

    1 agrees
  7. You do realise that "Friday I'm in Love" is about partying and taking drugs, don't you? Not exactly right for a wedding dance…

    • Actually, depending on the couple… it could be the a PERFECT song!

      17 agree
    • Yeah, for some of us, our weddings are about partying and taking drugs. Just cuz it's not right for your wedding doesn't make it wrong!

      20 agree
  8. Thanks for the link to Sara Gazarek – you are my sunshine. I have been searching for a classy version of that song. We love the muppets version but its not exactly danceable to! We are supposed to be dancing to Somebody by Depeche Mode but that could change now!

    1 agrees
    • You are MORE than welcome. Sara is actually a friend of mine (getting married really soon) and I'm glad that I could turn you on to her! Her voice is incredible.

  9. We've always been long-distance, so we're torn between "Gunslinger" (hear it) and "Dear God" (hear it), both by Avenged Sevenfold.

    • We LOVE Avenged Sevenfold. Our current plan is for me to walk up the aisle to "Warmness on the Soul" and we keep talking about doing Dear God as our first dance. (hear it)

    • those songs actually make me wish the hubs and i were long distance so we could use them!

  10. Queen's "You're My Best Friend" is going to be our song… Besides the fact that we love Queen, it's also featured in one of favorite movies– "Shaun of the Dead"!!!! :-) (hear it)

    3 agree
    • Please please tell me you're also going to use "Don't Stop Me Now." And choreograph a dance with pool cues and zombies. (hear it)

      7 agree
  11. our first choice was "perhaps perhaps perhaps" by doris day, but we ended up dancing to "these arms of mine" by otis redding – very sweet song :) (hear it)

    4 agree
  12. I'm considering "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" by Death Cab For Cutie (morbid, but sweet) (hear it), an acoustic version of "The Good Left Undone" by Rise Against (hear it), and "Good Enough" by Evanescence (hear it). My friends chose "Swing Life Away" by Rise Against, which I think is a great choice. (hear it)

    • I love dcfc's "I will follow you into the dark". It's such a beautiful song.

      2 agree
      • a friend of mine who is
        super talented sang it when his friends got married,for the processional. the couple got married in a backyard in new hampshire i believe, and he had his acoustic and sang. i watched a video of it and it was AWESOME.

        1 agrees
    • Lily, I've been looking for the perfect 1st dance song and I think that I've found it with your Rise Against suggestion. Do you have any idea where I'd be able to find a good acoustic recording of the song?

    • My boyfriend played this song for our friends a few months after we met and I intend on using it for our first dance!

  13. Oooh, how about "In My Life" by the Beatles? That's a classic.

    4 agree
    • We danced to this song with our parents. It was sweet.

  14. I wonder if my husband and I were the only ones to ever use Rancid's "Who Would've Thought" as a first dance song. And the only compromise we made in our whole wedding was to bleep the swear words because we had several children as guests. (hear it)

    3 agree
  15. Megan – Thats Cool! I tried to purchase the song but as I don't live in the US amazon wouldn't let me – boo! :( Anywhere else we might be able to get it?

  16. It's definitely not for everybody, but we danced to "I Love You Too" from the movie Pete's Dragon at our wedding. Yes, it's a love song between a boy and his dragon. Our guests loved it and my 26-year-old flower girl cried. :o)

    Check out this link to relive your/my childhood (song starts @ 1:45):

    9 agree
  17. @Leigh: I LOVE Adele's cover of "Make You Feel My Love"! Not at all trying to be a downer, but if I may ask, how did you get around/resolve the line that goes, "I know you haven't made your mind up yet"? That one silly line has (for now) crossed it off the list for us.

    We're looking at "Brighter than Sunshine" by Aqualung. You could probably file that one under "Dork Central." (hear it)

    One of our dark horse candidates is "Ring of Fire", by Johnny Cash. (hear it)

  18. @Nelle – That's our song too!!! We are big Queen fans, and that song is so sweet but not overly lovey dovey. Yay Freddie!

    1 agrees
  19. I have, on average, two thoughts a day…. and I am going to waste them both on this reply.

    In no order of importance:

    Thought #1: I don't think the people taking offense to the suggestion of "No Children" understand the song "No Children". Don't get me wrong, I understand why you don't get it. This world would be for the worse if everybody understood why that is one of the most powerful love songs ever written. Crazy… I know… but here is why I think so: It is the most powerful love song of all time for one simple reason…. it puts into words the most challenging aspect of love- complete and utter devotion. This song has nothing to do with a break-up (as suggested). It is about a couple, bonded by their flaws… who are willing to sink together. Granted… not going to make the cut for the soundtrack of a Disney movie…. but Disney movies suck. It is about the other side of love and connection… the side that keeps you there when the other person is getting on your last nerve, or you are having trouble finding anything to love about that person. Sure… its a gross exaggeration, maybe even comical…. but the message is deadly serious and poignant. It may not speak to you, or most people for that matter, but there are couples who this song speaks very directly to and is a great anthem for Love and Devotion. Before you discount it as such….. ask a couple that has been married for a while if this line means anything to them:

    "I am drowning
    There is no sign of land
    You are coming down with me
    Hand in unlovable hand"

    #2: The great thing about a LIST of songs….. is that you get to choose which one to use (or not use). I am fairly certain these recommendations were not intended as a 7-hour medley first dance (I will make my own recommendation that you DO NOT attempt this…. as it will be silly, your legs will get tired, your open bar tab will be extravagant…. not to mention that the 2 weeks of dance lessons you signed up for before the wedding have not prepared you with 7 hours worth of moves). SO…. that being said…. rather than dis someone else's choice (a great one, btw), just pick another song… or don't, it's up to you really.

    Best to you all….

    18 agree
    • I realize I'm responding to a super-old comment and this is going into waaaay too much detail, but…

      I don't think any of the Mountain Goats songs about the Alpha Couple are love songs, not even Old College Try, and especially not No Children, specifically because they're Alpha Couple songs. Those lyrics, the song even, can definitely be taken out of context and made to work, but I really disagree that anyone who says No Children isn't a love song just doesn't understand it. In fact, John Darnielle kinda says just that: http://www.timmcmahan.com/mountain.htm

      So for sure, anyone who wants to use it, I doubt the guests at their weddings are going to know all this back story. But I personally would hold off on No Children until I'm actually in an old married couple. Seems a little too soon to be emulating a toxic, alcohol-fueled relationship that's about to burn to the ground :D

      3 agree
  20. me and hubby have a song already- "My Curse" by Killswitch Engage, which we'll use when we get married (one day lol). (hear it)

    other ideas, from a mostly metal/rock perspective:
    – Everything I Do (I do it for you)- Bryan Adams (altho is probably done a lot) (hear it)
    – So Beautiful- Darren Hayes (hear it)
    -Angel- Judas Priest (for serious) (hear it)
    -Hysteria- Def Leppard
    -Mama I'm Coming Home- Ozzy Osbourne (hear it)
    -Ohne Dich- Rammstein

    For a funny/smart alecky-type song I think "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" by Meatloaf would be great. (hear it)

    1 agrees
  21. What a great list!
    Some of my favorite songs are on there
    (LIKE THE ZOMBIES! WOOO!)

    ME and the FH are dancing to Friday I'm In Love -Cure
    Since he texted a lyric from that song early on in the relationship and totally werded me out…"What? he loves me…ugh…"

    BUT how does one dance to a song like this?
    I don't really dance at all,
    and we've never danced together before.
    But I like the idea of being held by him and having fun… hmmm

  22. Neither of us is a fantastic dancer, so we decided to high-school-prom-slow-dance to Norah Jones' "Painter Song". (hear it)

    Our relationship was Long Distance for a good long time, so a song about being together meant a lot to me. Plus, I'm an artist — so it worked out great :-)

    1 agrees
  23. Upbeat: Lamb – Sweet
    Indie (I guess?): Voltaire – Anniversary

  24. We haven't talked about first songs yet, but one I will be pushing if we do have a "first dance" will be "Never Doubt I Love" by Melanie Doane. It's one I repeat to him when he forgets. Very low key, but a gorgeous song about the fact that the world is far from perfect, and life may be hard, but the one thing that cannot be doubted is the love the singer feels. It's kinda sappy, but it fits us. And it is more parent-friendly than Nin Inch Nails "We're in This Together." (hear it)

  25. We're probably using Old College Try by The Mountain Goats. I love that song so much. (hear it)

    1 agrees
  26. Ours was Elton John's "Your Song." To be honest, the song itself isn't particularly meaningful to us personally, but he's one of Jason's favorite musicians. We used mine (Queen – "You're My Best Friend" and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love") for the cake cutting, so it evened out. =)

    2 agree
  27. My partner and I were considering Leonard Cohen's 'Dance me to the end of love'. I haven't been to enough wedding to know if this is way overdone… any thoughts? (hear it)

    thanks for the morning playlist. It put my day on the right track!

    1 agrees
    • There's a great cover of that on the "Strange Days" soundtrack that might be easier to dance to. I love that song!

    • You really, really need to hear The Civil Wars' new-ish cover to "Dance Me to the End of Love." It's brilliant, and we have it in the first dance rotation, but it will at the very least be a major dancing part of our wedding.

  28. From one of my favorite albums, Closing Time by Tom Waits – Little Trip to Heaven (On the Wings of Your Love). (hear it)

    1 agrees
    • That's one I have high on my list too. Beautiful song and you really can't go wrong with Tom Waits. Ever. Waits is never wrong.

      1 agrees
  29. Some of my friends used: Nick Cave "Into my arms" , which I thought was an awesome choice. I think there are probably many many good romantic Cave songs. (hear it)

    Jens Lekman "Higher Power" would be good for some… (hear it)

    1 agrees
    • Oh yeah to the Jens. Funny story: the first time I heard this, I thought the line was "You had a black shirt on with a big picture of Peaches". (actual line said "Nietzsche") LOL!

      1 agrees
  30. Oh, and for us, this is the subject of much, much debate. We're both music people with, er, strong held opinions.

    My current ideas are

    Jesus, etc–Wilco http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcRWZ3yvxVo (my favorite song ever)
    Dance me to the end of Love–Leonard Cohen (yes, I know it's inspired by the Holocaust, it's still a ridiculously beautiful song) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_PIadFsvDk
    I Will Follow You Into The Dark–by Death Cab for Cutie (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYF8cUlbs3I)
    Tougher than the Rest–by Bruce Springsteen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_91hNV6vuBY
    Light as the Breeze–Billy Joel (written by Leonard Cohen and probably waaaaaay to complex to be a wedding song, but it's so very, very pretty) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kakz1WnHL14

    This will probably change and alter over the whole planning process.

  31. Jigzag – "Melt into you" (hear it)

    or "Jericho" (hear it)

    or "Over the Fence" (hear it)

    actually Jigzag have some really kick ass songs for offbeat weddings. They are an aussie folk band range from melodic ballad type songs right through to jazzy swing and blues music. "Over the fence" is a really swingy and fun song.

  32. You And Me by the Wannadies (I was going to have this…with my ex *ahem*) (hear it)

    Our current frontrunner is This Is The One by the Stone Roses. (hear it)

  33. My inner 90s alt pop lover likes these two songs –

    Simplicity is Beautiful by Juliana Hatfield (hear it)
    Hey You, Get Off My Moon by Velocity Girl (hear it)

    Simplicity is Beautiful is my pick for our first dance. I might walk down the aisle to Hey You, Get Off My Moon.. We'll see…

    Also, this list doesn't have a lot of R&B choices. Why the snub??

  34. we did frank sinatra covering the beatles "something"…
    i love the beatles and he loves frank sinatra…it worked well for us!

    1 agrees
  35. My views on first dance songs may be kinda weird, but I've been toying with how fun it could be to start off with an energetic dance…say, Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You"
    Speaking of the 'without you' but on a more traditionally slow song, I've always liked the idea of using Rammstein's Ohne Dich… I find the sentiment of "Ohne dich kann ich nicht sein" very lovely.
    But…I might be crazy. XD

    • JD, I like your views on first dance songs. In fact "Ohne Dich" is one of the choices!

  36. We're Dancing to "I'm in the Mood for Love" by Lord Tanamo, an old ska/reggae track. It's awesome. (hear it)

  37. hah! i have a whole site dedicated to this :)

    i might just have to blog about your post cause there are some good songs on here! of course i'll link back here and provide proper credit.

    xo – from one music lover to another!

  38. I LOVE this post–I feel like half of our reception playlist is finished :)

    A few additions, some good for first-dance songs, others maybe less so:

    The Weepies, Somebody Loved (hear it)
    Feist, Brandy Alexander (hear it), Mushaboom (hear it), etc
    Johnny Cash, Rose of My Heart (hear it)
    Stevie Wonder, I Believe (hear it)
    btw, I too love Neko Case, and I tend to agree with the comment that she's a tough fit into a happy wedding, but I might sneak "That Teenage Feeling" in any way. (hear it)

    Maybe it's super obvious and perhaps overplayed by now, but I still think Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" is a great love song :)

    and THANK YOU to the commenter who found a Tom Waits lurve song!

    1 agrees
  39. I'm trying to convince my gal to go for one of the following:

    "They All Laughed" (the Gershwin classic) (hear it)
    "I Won't Dance" – Jane Monheit version (hear it)
    "When You're Dancing" – Danny Kaye version from White Christmas

    I HATE to dance. But if I have to, it's going to be to something classy, fantastic, and kinda funny

    2 agree
  40. My FH and I both made each other mix tapes (yes, 90 minutes!) of potential first dance songs that we've shared or that make us think of one another. The verdict: Tom Waits- Shiny Things (gruff and swoon worthy- go have a mini cry) (hear it)

  41. With all the geeks, Pagans, and/or GLBT folk around here, I'm amazed nobody's mentioned the ultimate geek sing-along love song – "Under Your Spell" from Buffy! (hear it)

    Admittedly, for our first dance my fiance and I are planning to either ask a talented friend to write & perform a song for us, or dance to "All About Soul" by Billy Joel (because we're not just geeks … we're dorks, too). But "Under Your Spell" definitely has to be the final dance of the night. Not only is it beautiful, meaningful, geektastic, and incredibly appropos for our relationship, it's also an under-the-radar way to reference my fiance's Paganism during our wedding, without "outing" him to the conservative family members of his who will be in attendance.

    2 agree
  42. we are dancing to "your eyes" by the B Foundation!!!! they are my favorite band and my fiance actually proposed to me on stage at their show! the band was so stoked that they are now actually coming up from L.A (we live in Vancouver Canada) to play at our wedding and we will get to dance to our song live! (hear it)

    1 agrees
  43. Folk: 'Forty-five Years' by Stan Rogers, it's one of my absolute favorite love songs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BeAL9vmcv0 (Guitar players, you could pull this one out and have everyone sniffling)

    In the old school jazz category,
    Billie Holiday's 'Come Rain or Come Shine'
    http://www.last.fm/music/Billie+Holiday/_/Come+Rain+Or+Come+Shine
    or 'For Sentimental Reasons' which has been sung by a lot of people, including Nat King Cole http://www.last.fm/music/Nat+King+Cole/_/I+Love+You+For+Sentimental+Reasons

    And from way out of left field, if you happen to have a connection to 1980s South African rock, Johnny Clegg & Savuka's 'It's An Illusion' http://www.last.fm/music/Johnny+Clegg+and+Savuka/_/It%27s+an+Illusion

    Not first dance, but I ran across this song and I'm amused enough to share: Smash the bride's face with the wedding cake, by Signal Burden http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kd_xPSM38f8

  44. Wow, The Zombies' "This Will Be Our Year" IS our song. We decided on it after he'd been hit by a car and needed me to take care of him about 2 years into our relationship. Awwww. (hear it)

  45. My partner and I sometimes speak almost exclusively in Simpsons quotes (try it, there's one for every occasion and a few for occasions that will never arise). That's why early on we decided the B Sharps song "Baby on board" was "our" song. It's probably silly to dance to a song from a cartoon, but if you know the lyrics, it's a song about being happy because somebody you love is beside you.

    2 agree
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