I’m happy to give you my suggestions, but first, let’s make sure to avoid these first song “classics” that are overused and overdone or just plain lousy:
“At Last” by Etta James: Don’t get me wrong. I love this song. I love Etta James. But “At Last” has become like the National Anthem of weddings. At last it’s time for some original thought, people. Pick a new song.
“Every Breath You Take” by Sting featuring The Police: It’s about a stalkerish dude who won’t stop thinking about his ex. Why on Earth do people mistake this song for a love ballad and then play it at weddings? Because the word “heart” and “aches” are used in it? Make sure you read the lyrics, ladies.
“Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole: Even worse if you choose the version where Natalie Cole has mixed in her vocals with those of her dead dad. Creeptastic. If you choose “Unforgettable” as your first dance song the moment will most definitely be forgotten by many. Yawn.
“Here and Now” by Luther Vandross: For some reason, this song makes me feel like I’m hanging out alone in a Holiday Inn bar circa 1989, sipping a watered down gin and tonic. Which is crazy, because I was 13 in 1989. But still, it just has that vibe to it.
“I Swear” by All-4-One: First off, there’s something really lame about picking a song by a band who writes its name using a numeral. Secondly, there’s something really lame about picking a song that is a remake of an already lame song by John Michael Montgomery. Thirdly, there’s something really lame about picking such a craptastic song to dance to at your wedding.
“My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion: Just don’t. This also goes for any song by Peabo Bryson or Julio Iglesias. Just. Don’t.
Now here are some song choices that might really get the party started. Granted, they’re my personal picks, but I thought I could at least suggest something:
“It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones: I once attended a wedding where the bride and groom choreographed their own dance routine to this diddy. It was hilarious, original, sweet, and fresh all at the same time. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention they did end up divorcing, but still. The wedding was awesome.
“Superfreak” by Rick James: Oh come on, just try it. Shock your grandmother. Be the couple who used “Superfreak” as their first dance song. You know you want to. Seriously. It would be hilarious if you did.
“A Groovy Kind of Love” by The Mindbenders: This little chestnut has the simple lyrics (When I’m feeling blue/All I have to do/Is take a look at you/Then I’m not so blue) and the can’t-get-it-out-of-my-head melody. It’s guaranteed to give your wedding a slightly retro vibe to it and will get all kinds of “oooohhs” and “aaaahs” as you hit the dance floor. WARNING: Do not play the 1988 Phil Collins version. Icky.
“Hey Good Lookin’” by Hank Williams: Rustle up yer kinfolk and throw yerself a real weddin’ with this tune. Okay, I’ll cut the corn pone act and say that this song would be an awesome first dance tune not only because it’s an original pick, but it’s perfect for the couple that doesn’t want to slow dance in front of everyone they know.
“Love is All Around” by The Troggs: Its sweeping strings, tender lyrics, and dreamy quality will transform your wedding into a 1960s be-in type affair. By the end, someone’s gonna have to check and make sure no one’s tokin’ up in the bathroom.
“We’ve Only Just Begun” by The Carpenters: Now I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t I relay a story last week that centered around the lameness of this song as a first dance choice? True, I did. But it was a lame first dance tune in 1973. To choose it now would be to show a level of ironic sophistication and tongue-in-cheek humor. So go ahead and have at it. Just be aware that in 20 years, someone’s gonna be doing the same thing with Kenny Chesney’s “You Had Me From Hello.”