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

[related-post]

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'll Catch You" by The Get Up Kids (hear it)

    I love all these suggestions! So much fun!

    1 agrees
  2. I think we've settled on the Deftone's cover of Sade's "No Ordinary Love"…partially because it's a sexy romantic song but partially because its a song that centers on a private joke of ours, so we'll probably laughing the entire time we're dancing. (hear it)
    But here are some others that we have been considering:
    Whole Wide World by Wreckless Eric (hear it)
    Such Great Heights by The Postal Service (hear it)
    Up To the Mountain by Patty Griffin (hear it)
    Lover, You Should Have Come Over by Jeff Buckley (hear it)
    Like a Stone by Audioslave (hear it)

    • oh man i LOVE the deftones and that cover makes me a happy girl!

    • the Iron & Wine version of Such Great Heights is a nice slower version too! (hear it)

      2 agree
  3. We're doing "Wild is the Wind" by David Bowie, loveeee it. Love that the Kinks got included in your lineup! Ray Davies is our hero :) (hear it)

  4. I'm with MsFitz @38. If you're going to choose a Neko song, "This Tornado Loves You" isn't it. Maybe "That Teenage Feeling" (which begins "Now that we've met, we can only laugh at these regrets") (hear it) or perhaps "No Need to Cry." (hear it) Maybe "Honky Tonk Hiccups" if you're feeling silly! (hear it)

    Count me in with those who are kind of horrified that anyone would use "No Children" as their wedding song. o_o

  5. David Bowie's "As The World Falls Down" from the movie Labyrinth (hear it)

    3 agree
  6. OMG, I love that you put Type O Negative on there. I just about shit bricks. JUST CLOSE THOSE EYES AND LET ME LOH-HOVE YOU TO DEAAAATH!

    1 agrees
  7. I wasn't even gonna join this conversation, but hey, it might help somebody…

    Lucky–Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat (hear it)
    Whisper of Angels–Amici Forever (hear it)
    Such Great Heights–Iron & Wine (hear it)
    La Vie en Rose–Louis Armstrong (hear it)
    Sway–Julie London (hear it)
    Ice Cream–Sarah Mclachlan (hear it)
    Songbird–Eva Cassidy (or her cover of Fields of Gold). (hear it)
    Also, Frank Sinatra. I know some of it's totally overplayed, but there are a lot of forgotten gems.

    Hah. Doing this made me realize how little sense most of me and my partner's songs make. Lovin' Arms would probably not figure into any sane person's wedding…

    2 agree
    • I used Sarah McLachlan's "Ice Cream" as my wedding song, a couple of years ago.

  8. For us it could only ever be one of these two songs…

    (my idea…) "Always" by Zug Izland. For starters, I'm a Juggalo so this is a natural choice. But also, seriously, the lyrics couldn't be any more perfect from me to him.

    or

    (his idea…) "Heaven (Little by Little)" by Theory of a Deadman. Yes I know what the song is about, but I have chronic pain issues and was going through a tough time when I met my man, and he's always said that he wants to get rid of all my pain. We both get teary-eyed every time that song comes on our iPods. (hear it)

  9. Our first dane song is Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to The End of Love" (hear it) and the father/daughter is the Johnny Cash/Fiona Apple version of "Bridge Over Troubled Waters."

  10. Mz Fitz, "The Book of Love" is originally by Magnetic Fields – it was on 69 Love Songs in '99. Peter Gabriel's version didn't come out until about five years later, and is slightly better known 'cause it appeared on the almost-finale of "Scrubs."

    We're using Magnetic Fields' version! Excited.

  11. @Leigh: we did Adele's cover too. It was perfect!
    I've been in a musical rut, can't wait to check out some of these artists. Thanks!

  12. The following are songs that are being considered for our first dance. Not sure how to dance to some of them.

    The Sacrament-HIM (hear it)
    What I Really Want To Say-Steven Curtis Chapman (hear it)
    Swing Life Away-Rise Against (hear it)
    If All Else Fails-Matchbook Romance
    Such Great Heights-The Postal Service (hear it)
    Eight Days A Week-The Beatles
    If I Ain’t Got You-Alicia Keys (hear it)
    I Caught Fire (In Your Eyes)-The Used
    Imagine Me Without You-Luis Fonsi (hear it)
    In My Life-The Beatles
    Head Over Feet-Alanis Morissette (hear it)
    Suspention-Mae
    I'm Like A Lawyer With The Way I'm Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You)-Fall Out Boy (hear it)

    1 agrees
  13. Wow – I've just been going through this for my wedding. Started off with about three pages – here's my shortened list – bit of a mixed bag:

    More than Words – Extreme (hear it)
    The Luckiest – Ben Folds (hear it)
    Don't You Think It's Time – Bob Evans (hear it)
    We'll Grow Old Together – Lior
    Forever – Ben Harper (hear it)
    Gorecki – Lamb (hear it)
    First Day of My Life – Bright Eyes (hear it)
    You and Me – Matthew Barber
    If Everything Fell Quiet – Reindeer Section (good parent dancing song too) (hear it)
    Can't Take My Eyes off of You – Muse
    Over the Rainbow – Israel K'AMADA'WIWOOLE (hear it)
    Better When We're Together – Jack Johnson
    You Give me Something – James Morrison
    Unintended – Muse
    Pefect Now – Sarah Blasko
    Brighter than Sunshine – Aqualung
    Sea of Love – Cat Power
    At Last – Eva Cassidy
    Come Away with Me – Norah Jones
    Look After You – The Fray
    Romeo and Juliet – Dire Straits
    Juno Soundtrack

    Enjoy

    1 agrees
    • I felt compelled to comment and say that you've got EXCEPTIONAL taste in music – it's like you've lifted a chunk out of our playlist!!!!

  14. @EstherB I love "I'll Cover You" and considered using it.

    We're planning on dancing to Idina Menzel's "Gorgeous." She's a member of the OBC of RENT to boot. Maybe I could find a way to mash up the two.

    Another meaningful love song by Idina Menzel is "So Beautiful."

    For any gamer geek, the Final Fantasy game series have some great themes:
    "Eyes on Me", "Melodies of Life", and "Suteki Da Ne."

  15. Some awesome New Zealand love songs out there which might not have been heard a million times: Tiki Taane's "always on my mind", Hollie Smith's "by my side" and pretty much anything by Aaradhna are just a few!

    2 agree
  16. my husband and i used "into my arms" by nick cave. none of our older relatives had ever heard it, and i got so many compliments on it!

  17. I almost feel like I don't want to share this one because ever since I first heard this song I've known it's going to be ours whenever we get around to making it legal:

    Valery Gore – Dancing. Hello, Canadian piano player/singer.

    Also, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Hysteric is up there for me.

    Iron and Wine has a ton of amazing folky love-type songs that are not "Such Great Heights," if you're looking for something similar but are finding it a bit overdone (with good reason; it's a great song). (hear it)

    Naked As We Came, the Sea and the Rhythm, Boy With a Coin… all equally wonderful.

    • I think that the best best Iron & Wine wedding song is "Each Coming Night." It is haunting and beautiful. We will definitely use it at some point in our wedding.

  18. We danced our first dance to "Better Together" by Jack Johnson, which is a nice, upbeat, swingy kind of song. That said, we also had a friend sing "Fly" by Sara Groves during the ceremony. It's absolutely gorgeous. However, Sara Groves is a contemporary Christian singer/songwriter, and we, too, are under-the-radar pagans, so we never would have known about it if it weren't for a discussion much like this on Indiebride two years ago.

    (Shout out to Elana- let me know if you're interested in hearing about the ways we incorporated neo-pagan elements into the ceremony without alarming all the Catholics in my family. :)

  19. We had three contenders.

    -If ever by Foo Fighters
    -Sparks by Coldplay
    -Bobcaygeon by The Tragically Hip

    We ended up going for Sparks.

    1 agrees
    • Our song is Sparks by Coldplay. It is hauntingly beautiful! If you are a "Love Realist" check it out. If you think love is always happiness and rainbows- choose something else.

  20. We already have an 'our song' in 'Would you Go with Me?' by Josh Turner.
    However thanks for all the new songs I get to explore this weekend!

    • Also PS. I think that "Grow Old With Me" by John Lennon would be a great 1st dance song, if Derrik liked John Lennon.

  21. a few more suggestions:

    Brandi Carlile – The Story (We used this!)

    Yellowcard – Dear Bobbie (we would have used this but it makes me bawl!)

    Reliant K – Must Have Done Something Right (fun and upbeat)

    1 agrees
  22. We might have a bit of a boogie to Dave Matthews Band – Shake Me Like a Monkey. It's cute and upbeat and the lyrics are quietly filthy. I love it ^_^

  23. We ate using a song I've never heard used before – but I'm surprised it has never been!

    Billy Joel: you're my home

    it's pretty perfect.

    1 agrees
  24. My pick and one that will hopefully get FH approval is "The Hazards of Love 4" by The Decemberists.

    • I never thought of doing that! FH and I both love "The Hazards of Love" and will definitely be putting this on the top list of possibilities.

  25. Arms by Seabear

    Je T'aime, Je T'aimerai – Francis Cabrel

    The Arms of A Woman – Ray LaMontage

    Good call on the Bowie song from Labrynth… childhood obsession!!!!

  26. We're going to dance to "Drinking with You," by Jonathan Coulton. Nerd love ftw!

    2 agree
  27. Also, we love "Waterloo Sunset" but his name is Terry so it's like "Who the eff is Julie?!" hehehe.

    1 agrees
  28. Ours is gonna be a dual first dance.
    -"Come What May" from Moulin Rouge (he sang it to me when we first started dating)
    -"Twisting" by They Might Be Giants (the first time he knew he was in love w/ me was when he was messing around on a keyboard and accidentally played the first few notes. I recognized it and kinda squee'ed.)

    1 agrees
    • We danced to "Come What May" as our first dance song and it was lovely. Are the lyrics not perfect?!

  29. I love these suggestions. I have to two to add:

    Maybe I'm Amazed- Paul McCartney

    and my favorite even if it might come off sad. I think it is beautiful…

    No One's Gonna Love You More- Band of Horses (so beautiful).

    1 agrees
    • THANK YOU for posting this!! I LOVE Band of Horses and couldn't find the right song. I have also had Cee Lo's version of "No One's Gonna Love You More" but it just wasn't quite right. The mix was perfect! I got chills!!

  30. We are getting married in an old theater & having a "movies" theme. Every song on our playlist is featured in a movie we like. For the first dance, I'm torn between "You Never Can Tell" with Pulp Fiction moves, OR "Hip to be Square" (a lá American Psycho). I think it would be funny and a blast to dance to, but I'm not sure if anyone will get the reference. Or if it's even danceable.

    1 agrees
  31. bob dylan – "lay lady lay"
    the black keys – "i'll be your man"
    chuck ragan – "above the flames"
    chuck ragan – "do what you do"
    david bowie – "soul love"
    neil young – "comes a time"
    billy bragg & wilco – "california stars"
    joe strummer – "sleepwalk"
    my morning jacket – "wordless chorus"
    pixies – "here comes your man"
    the cure – "love cats"
    billy idol – "dancing with myself"
    screeching weasel – "totally"

    these are all my significant other and i's "songs", but would use bob dylan's "lay lady lay" as our first dance song. it's so pure and beautiful.

    1 agrees
  32. "No One's Gonna Love You More- Band of Horses (so beautiful)"

    This is the one we are playing for our first dance. My fiance loves Band of Horses, and we went and saw them in concert a couple years ago. Love the song.

    1 agrees
    • we were thinking of this song too! or well, at least anything by band of horses. my fiance got me into them, and when we saw them live we both just fell in love with the band.

  33. Wonderful list and wonderful suggestions! We had first day of my life- bright eyes. Our wedding band ( a local alt country band) did a cover version of it, so so perfect. We had also considered the iron and wine version of such great heights .
    I walked down the aisle to do you realise by the flaming lips and while we signed the register we listened to JoyZipper a thousand christmases.
    Oh and ps. If my husband didn't hate Mountain Goats with a deep seated and wild passion we would of only had Mountain Goats song

  34. Oooh!
    The cover of "We've Got a World That Swings" by They Might Be Giants.
    We're massive TMBG fans.
    "I'd like to take you on this wild, wonderful venture, fly like a kite through space, no strings…"

    1 agrees
  35. OMG, i love this list just for the fact that it has my fav band Incubus in it lol. perfect song.

  36. I love David Gray's "Be Mine" and Death Cabs " I'll follow you into the dark"

  37. Oh My Word My fiance and I were just talking about songs we could do our first dance to/ walk down the aisle to and we hit a blank of sorts. And I log on here and TA DA Solutions lol Love it

  38. For Gothy and Fun couples, Voltaire's – Stuck with you. Is a great song!

  39. Flowers in the Window by Travis.

    Oh wow, look at you now, flowers in the window
    It's such a lovely day, & Im glad you feel the same
    You stand up, out in the crowd, you are one in a million & I love you so,
    Lets watch the flowers grow.

    *sigh*

  40. We are totally doing "As the World Falls Down" from Labyrinth!! Maybe a BIT common, but I never gave a HOOT about my "future dream wedding" as a little girl EXCEPT I knew I needed hair s ridiculously large as my dress, and THIS SONG. Well, I've outgrown the hair and dress ideals, but I still want the song!!

    "Come What May" from Moulin Rouge is a GREAT suggestion. It makes me choke up every time. We are playfully toying around with the idea of singing this to each other at the wedding but I don't know if I'll be able to pull it off. ^_^;; Nicole Kidman has some PIPES.

    1 agrees
  41. I don't know if my honey and I are going to have dancing at our wedding, but even if we don't, I am going to find SOME way to work in Nothing Else Matters by Metallica — it's my favorite Metallica song, Metallica is one of his favorite bands, the lyrics are actually quite sweet, and, hey, it's even a waltz!

    4 agree
  42. We danced to the Checkers version of The White Cliffs of Dover. Awesome doo-wop! So upbeat and optomistic, it was such a totally joyous first dance.

  43. I'm kinda amazed that some posters are using the Cure's Just Like Heaven as their song because to me that song has always been really subtly dark and very depressing, about a love that can't be had for some reason!

    Love the suggestion of the Zombies' "This Will be Our Year". Best oldies band.

  44. we danced to Mason Jennings' 'Keepin' It Real' in part because we used to sing it to each other when we first got together. How can you not love a song that has a refrain like this:

    Oh yes, my oh my, the earth shakes when you walk by
    It's a fairy tale that we made true
    I can't believe that i found you
    And it's oh yes, my oh my
    People turn and look when we walk by
    It's a big fat love we feel in our hearts
    We're keepin it, keepin it, keepin it real

    1 agrees
    • I *love* Mason Jennings. I like the idea of "Darkness Between the Fireflies," because most couples have a past.

      "you should know by now that someone's always been there, long before you. you're never gonna be the only one"

  45. Dogbowl – "Hot Day in Waco"
    M. Ward's cover of "Let's Dance" (Slow and very pretty)
    Depeche Mode – "Somebody"
    Modest Mouse – "Sleepwalkin"
    Smashing Pumpkins – "Take me down"
    Television Personalities – "Smashing Time" (Quirky and fun)
    Velvet Underground – "I love you"

    1 agrees
    • OH! Depeche Mode. Awesome. Can't believe nobody else said it! "Question of Lust" would be great too.

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