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The First Dance

The First Dance

In modern times newlyweds open the dance floor with the appropriately named first dance, followed by parent dances, (if you choose to have them) and the party continues with open dance.


The origins of the first dance are difficult to trace. Some sources claim that the dance originated in ancient times when a man would hunt down his choice of mate and dance around a fire with her over his shoulder, starting the wedding celebration. We can find evidence of the first dance in 16th-century European royal weddings when the newly married king and queen would share a dance while an audience watched. Festivities in 17th century Europe began when the guest of honor or the person with the highest social standing would lead the first dance.

We don't know when the American tradition of the first dance started but Emily Post wrote about the wedding day first dance in her book Etiquette published in 1922, “On leaving their table the bridal party begin the dancing—or possibly join the dancing which by now has started in the living room or wherever the wedding group received. The bride and groom dance at first together.”

Dancing Today

Wherever the tradition started the first dance is one of the most anticipated events on any wedding day. You have so many options for the style of dance on your wedding day, you can slow dance, choreograph your first dance, or take lessons to tango, salsa, waltz, or any other ballroom style dance. Fun fact, in the 18th century the waltz was considered scandalous.

Not every couple is enthusiastic about cutting a rug on their wedding day. If three minutes seems like a long time to shuffle side to side on the dance floor with an audience your DJ or band can help you by abbreviating your first dance song.

Choosing Your Song

How do you choose your first dance song? Ideally, you would want something that has sentimental value to the two of you. If you don't have a song that is already yours start by deciding what you want your first dance style to be, do you need something you can stay and sway to, are you going to choreograph? Do you want your song to be classic or modern? It doesn't have to be sentimental or romantic, we've had couples dance to "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," by The Proclaimers. There is also a slow version of that same song by Sleeping at Last if you are looking for something a little more unique.

Popular First Dance Songs

  • “Unchained Melody,” by The Righteous Brothers
  • “All of Me,” by John Legend
  • “The Way You Look Tonight,” by Frank Sinatra
  • “Thinking Out Loud,” by Ed Sheehan
  • “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” by Elvis Presley
  • "Yours," Russel Dickerson
  • "From the Ground Up," Dan + Shay
  • "Better Together," Luke Combs
  • "Marry Me," Train
  • "Make You Feel My Love," Adele

Non-traditional option

Have a friend or family member sing your first dance song or play it on a guitar.

Photographing Your First Dance

Your DJ is the expert on the music for your first dance and we are the experts on photographing it. When photographing this important moment we are capturing the interactions you are having with your new spouse and the reactions from your friends and family as they watch. We capture shots up close and large overviews that show off your reception space. We are always looking for a spin or dip, a tear from your mom. You may not remember those small details but when you see the photo you will go right back to that moment.

Because we have a second photographer on every wedding day your wedding gallery will feature perspectives of every moment on your wedding day including your first dance. Brian and I use two different lenses so that even when we are standing side by side we see the scene in different ways.

We always want to give our couples something a little different. One of the ways we do that during this wedding tradition is by using backlighting techniques. Backlighting creates a pretty halo of light around you and allows us to make creative and beautiful images of your first dance.

We aren’t cookie-cutter photographers. Before your wedding day, I send out a wedding photography questionnaire that includes questions about your first dance so that we capture it just for you.