When choosing a first dance, some couples will already have a song in mind that unlocks magical memories together – perhaps the song which was playing when they first met, went on their first date, or first said "I love you".
But if you're not one of those, fear not – sometimes, just a damn good song will set the right tone, and after your wedding day will forever be "your song".
There are lots of first dances to choose from, so think about tempo, style, genre, and most importantly how a tune makes you feel when you hear it. Jump to our first dance FAQs for more guidance.
To get you inspired, we reveal the most popular first dance songs with our brides and grooms. In our updated list for 2022, Ed Sheeran and Adele are nudged out of the top spots, as old-school classics by Elvis, Etta James and Al Green re-take the lead. Listen to our complete list on Spotify here.
Once you've chosen your song, why not book a wedding band and ask them to perform it live.
1 At Last – Etta James
Uplifting and elegant, At Last is an extraordinary paean to love that will be on this list for years to come. Etta James's gospel-tinged vocals are the perfect vehicle for the song's message: a final deliverance from loneliness. Expect more than a few tears.
2 Can't Help Falling in Love - Elvis Presley
Elvis’ favourite encore in his live shows has been the subject of a number of cover versions, but nothing can beat having The King himself serenade you into married life.
3 Baby I'm Yours –Arctic Monkeys
Sway sweetly to this lilting Arctic Monkeys cover of Barbara Lewis’ classic 1965 hit. It's only two and a half minutes long, so if you find the thought of a first dance awkward, this one's for you!
4 Let's Stay Together – Al Green
Released in 1971, and ranked the 60th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine, Let's Stay Together is a winner. Timeless and loved by all, it won't let you down. For a more energetic take on the song, check out Tina Turner's 1992 version.
5 Just You And I –Tom Walker
Written for his fiancée, this ambient, reggae-infused hit is as full of sentimentality as it is feel-good melodies. If you’re looking for meaningful lyrics but want to avoid the slower tempos of other first dance favourites, this could be the one for you.
6 Stand By Me – Ben E King
Iconic right from its first few notes, this 1961 classic will be both familiar and fun for both you and your guests. This cross-generational, sing-a-long, crowd-pleaser will set your evening off on the perfect footing.
7 A Thousand Years – Christina Perri
Featured in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, A Thousand Years was American singer-songwriter Christina Perri’s second big UK hit. This modern and romantic song brings a bit of ethereal fantasy to your first dance. And younger guests will love it too.
8 Your Song – Elton John
Originally released in 1970, Your Song was given new leases of life by Moulin Rouge (2001) and Rocketman (2019). An enduringly popular first dance wedding song and a true song of the ages, it's a beautiful way to start your married life together.
9 All Of Me – John Legend
Despite only making it to number 2 in the UK charts, this track was a massive hit, and hugely popular amongst the newlyweds of Britain. The romantic lyrics and passionate vocal from John Legend make this the ultimate slow dance song.
10 Better Half Of Me – Tom Walker
Down-to-earth lyrics, soaring melodies and heartfelt emotion – it’s what Tom Walker does best. Drawn from his own experience of a long distance relationship, it's also the perfect soundtrack for any couple that has overcome geography for love.
11 Can't Take My Eyes Off You – Andy Williams
All generations will know this one, and you can sing along even if you don't know the words. With its slow, romantic start and its rousing, crowd-pleasing finish, this is surely one of the most popular first dance wedding songs of all time.
12 Grow Old With Me – Tom Odell
A mainstay of our top 40 first dance list, Grow Old With Me is a fantastic sentiment to start your married lives with. Don’t worry, our wedding bands will perform the clean version if preferred.
13 Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe - Barry White
There is such a thing in the world as "baby-making music" – and this is it. Barry White’s inimitable growl, the climactic chorus and that gentle, funky 70s groove adds up to the sexiest of first dances.
14 Say You Won't Let Go – James Arthur
Arthur's huge 2016 hit is a truly modern take on first dates and a commitment to a future together. The ending is sudden, so you'll need an attentive band or DJ ready to go straight into the next song.
15 Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
This slow-building anthem from 2016 is sure to intensify the emotions the room. From its intimate beginnings to its euphoric final choruses, goosebumps are inevitable.
16 I Won’t Give Up – Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz's biggest hit, the breezy I'm Yours, was once a mainstay of our first dance charts. Not any more. Released in 2012, I Won't Give Up is an altogether more introspective track about persisting with love in the face of adversity: "I won’t give up on us, even if the skies get rough".
17 This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) – Natalie Cole
Kick off your evening celebrations on an upbeat, soulful note. This toe-tapping, 1975 Grammy-winning banger drips with joy and sass in equal measure and is guaranteed to leave you and your guests beaming from ear to ear.
18 Is This Love? – Bob Marley
Is This Love oozes uncomplicated happiness, coupled with the best of romantic lyrics. It's a joyful number and a cross-generational crowd-pleaser; everyone from your great aunt to your nephews will be singing along.
19 Greatest Day – Take That
What more appropriate way to mark you and your newly wed's own Greatest Day? This mood-raising favourite from Take That’s 2008 comeback album is guaranteed to create a first dance memory to last a lifetime.
20 Make You Feel My Love – Adele
Originally released by Bob Dylan on his 1997 album Time Out of Mind, Make You Feel My Love has been covered by numerous famous faces including Billy Joel and Kelly Clarkson. But it's Adele's powerful version which may outlast them all. Easy to dance to, heartfelt and timeless, it's a perfect first dance choice.
21 Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
Winner of Song Of The Year at The Grammys in 2016, this number 1 single from Ed Sheeran still delivers. The lyrics from this instant classic don't promise human perfection, but loving acceptance of each other's faults, and a beautiful sentiment for a strong marriage.
22 Better Together – Jack Johnson
From Jack Johnson's first album, In Between Dreams (2005), this sweet love song was huge at the time and is still one of the most common first dance song requests. Johnson recently performed this live on One World: Together At Home and reminded us how much we love it.
23 L-O-V-E – Nat King Cole
A timeless classic, L.O.V.E. is requested year after year. Short and sweet, this beautiful, jazzy love song is widely know by all as it's still used frequently in film and TV. If your dancing skills are limited, it's rhythmic but gentle pace makes for an easy two-step.
24 How Long Will I Love You – Ellie Goulding
Originally written by folk-rock band The Waterboys, Ellie Goulding covered the song for the 2013 movie About Time. The lyrics speak for themselves, with a message of loving someone forever: "How long will I love you, as long as stars are above you, and longer if I can".
25 The One – Kodaline
Kodaline are an alternative rock quartet from Dublin, and this hit comes from their second studio album, Coming Up for Air, released in 2015. This has been a hugely popular first dance with newlyweds in the years since, and we expect it to feature on our first dance lists for many years yet.
26 Symphony – Clean Bandit ft. Zara Larson
This light-hearted, modern and danceable choice from 2017 has been a surprise favourite at weddings ever since. But take note – if you're booking a live wedding band, you'll need a talented vocalist to pull it off.
27 Perfect – Ed Sheeran
Written for his wife-to-be Cherry and released in 2017, this song is still riding high in the first dance charts today. It was number 1 in the UK, the USA and 16 other countries around the world, and was followed up by duets with Beyoncé and Andrea Bocelli.
28 Everything – Michael Bublé
Written for Bublé's then girlfriend, Emily Blunt, Everything is an ideal first dance which everyone will know. It's upbeat, but slow enough to make for an easy two-step with your new husband or wife.
29 Love On Top – Beyoncé
This breezy pop song from Queen Bey is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. It's also one of the most upbeat and danceable songs on our list. So if you're a shy dancer, it's going to be easy to get guests involved for the second half of the song. The endless key changes at the end are uplifting and fun.
30 Come Away With Me – Norah Jones
This ethereal number from Norah Jones's eponymous 2002 debut is about escaping with your lover, and has "wedding song" written all over it. With its slow pace and gentle waltz-like feel, Come Away With Me is also a great choice if you've got two left feet.
31 The Way You Look Tonight - Frank Sinatra
This jaunty Sinatra classic is the perfect choice for a fun couple looking to keep the moment light. With heart-felt lyrics and huge scores on the cuteness scale, your guests will be swinging and singing along in no time.
32 Unchained Melody - The Righteous Brothers
This 1965, smooth-as-glass British number 1 is just the tempo you need to slightly awkwardly rock side-to-side in true first dance style in front of your friends and family. If your guests can hit the high notes in the final section, they all deserve another drink as well!
33 You Are - Lionel Richie
This underrated smooth groove from the King of Schmooz himself gives you an intimate verse, before pure funk is unleashed in the chorus. A real mood-raiser and a less well-trodden first dance choice that let's you get your friends and family involved too.
34 I Don't Want To Miss A Thing - Aerosmith
There are epic first dances and then there are Aerosmith first dances. The theme song for 1998 sci-fi adventure Armageddon, this song will launch your married life on a truly cinematic scale. And remember, there is no shame in air-guitaring your way through it.
35 Amazed - Lonestar
Whether a sincere selection or a tongue-in-cheek choice, this US number 1 from 1999 has drum fills, air grabs and suitably grandiose lyrical content to make an unforgettable first dance moment for you and your spouse. There will be swaying, there will be tears.
36 Marry Me - Train
For the full-throttle romantics, Train's Pat Monahan has hit the nail on the head with this gentle, meandering, acoustic ballad. It's called Marry Me and it's your first dance at your wedding. Why complicate things? Pass the guitar...
37 Falling Like The Stars - James Arthur
If you're looking for cosmic-scale expressions of love from Middlesborough's finest, then look no further than this raw, soaring 2018 ballad. A poignant, gentle choice for a truly intimate pause in the busyness of your wedding day.
38 I'm Gonna Be (500 miles) [acoustic] - Sleeping At Last
Surprise your guests with this intimate, acoustic spin on this 80s classic from The Proclaimers. If you're booking a band, have them transition into the rowdy original version for the second half of the song – it's guaranteed to get everyone on the dancefloor and singing along.
39 You and I - John Legend
The king of flattery and contemporary love songs, John Legend delivers again with this celebration of true love, natural beauty and his excellent falsetto. Put your bride in the spotlight and lip sync this one to mark the moment in style.
40 Paolo Nutini - Through The Echoes
Returning from an 8 year hiatus, Nutini is back with this lilting instant classic that is guaranteed to become a first dance favourite. It's a soulful choice with a chorus hook to scream together with your friends and family – you won't regret it.
Listen to our top 40 first dances on Spotify
First dance FAQs
What should I choose for my first dance wedding song?
Your first dance is a great opportunity for you to share a special moment with your spouse and your guests. You could choose a song that represents your relationship or has a special meaning to you and your fiancé, or simply a song you both love!
The most meaningful songs might reveal themselves gradually over time and could be as ordinary as a tune you both do the washing up to. It triggers memories of good times spent together and can symbolise your hopes and wishes for your marriage and future together.
If you don't have a special tune in mind though, just browse our top 40 first dance wedding songs above!
Should I ask the band to play the track, or put on the recorded version?
If you've already booked a live band, you'll need to decide whether they perform it live or play the track through their PA system. So think about what you’d prefer – the track exactly as you remember it, or a band who’ll put their own spin on it.
Unless you've chosen a second dance (to dance with close relatives), make sure the band or DJ are ready to start their first set as soon as the song has finished. It avoids awkward pauses and keeps your guests where you want them – on the dancefloor!
If you've booked a band, be aware of how their instruments compare to those on the track. Say you've booked a guitar-based rock band but you really want All Of Me by John Legend for your first dance. The band will likely give you a beautiful arrangement, perhaps with acoustic guitars subbed for electric guitars, but it's going to sound very different without the piano part.
Will the band charge to learn my first dance?
Many wedding bands are happy to learn your first dance song free of charge, unless the song is fairly obscure or needs re-arranging for their line-up and instrumentation. If that's the case, the band may need to make for additional rehearsal time.
If your band aren’t able to arrange your song to suit their line up, or if you’d rather hear the original version, most would be happy to run the song through their PA system.
I'm nervous about dancing in front of people – help!
Perhaps you're the type who wants to put on a show and have even found a choreographer to teach you a dance routine – in which case, great, we're not going to take that away from you!
But if the thought of stepping out onto the dancefloor fills you with dread, choose a first dance which is short and sweet. 'The Nearness Of You' by Norah Jones clocks in at around 3 minutes.
Alternatively, speak to your wedding band or DJ on the day and ask them to make an announcement after the first chorus inviting your guests to join you on the dancefloor. This way, the spotlight will be on you for a shorter amount of time without taking away from your special moment.
If you're seriously uncomfortable being in the limelight even for a moment, and would rather not dance alone at all, choose a classic everyone knows and encourage guests of all generations to join you on the dance floor from the outset. Nina Simone's ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ or 'The Way You Look Tonight' by Tony Bennett are universally loved first dances. For something more modern, a bit of Beyoncé or Bruno is bound to get everyone onto their feet!
How long should the first dance be?
A typical song lasts between 3 and 4 minutes, which is ample time for your first dance! We wouldn't recommend choosing a particularly long song if you're nervous about being the centre of attention, though you could always ask your band to shorten it for you.
Short and sweet love songs are ideal, or a popular song with a well known chorus that guests can join in with can make the time fly!
Should I choreograph my first dance?
Research by the online magazine Chillisauce revealed that 40% of brides and grooms took dancing lessons for their first dance. 6% of couples even organised a surprise flash mob with family members and/or friends.
If you're nervous, it might be helpful to practice with professional help, or choreograph a few simple steps to put your mind at ease for the big moment. If you're a keen dancer, a fully choreographed routine is always a welcome surprise for the guests!
How should I introduce/announce the first dance?
If you have a toast master booked for your wedding, announcing the first dance could be their final task of the day!
Alternatively, your band or DJ will be happy to announce you onto the dancefloor. The band or DJ can also help by inviting your guests to join you on the dancefloor at a previously agreed upon moment of the song.
What does the first dance at a wedding symbolise?
The first dance is a symbolic presentation of the newlyweds to their guests, in the form of a dance! It's the perfect moment for your guests to celebrate the union, and show their enthusiasm and love for the two as a couple.
This is a chance to share a little of your love story with your invited guests, and for them to cheer you on at the beginning of your marriage.
The guests joining the newlyweds on the dancefloor symbolises the joining of two families, and the guests supporting the couple in their marriage going forward.
When should the first dance take place?
We recommend scheduling the first dance for after dinner, as the first song of your wedding band's first set. This is a great way to start the dancing and getting all your guests to congregate around the dancefloor to make the most of your carefully chosen live band!
Your band will be happy to talk through the timings of the night with you, and recommend the perfect time to present your first dance to your guests.
Function Central are a live music agency providing wedding bands and DJs for hire throughout the UK.