Non-Traditional First Dance Songs

Non-Traditional First Dance Songs is a topic that has popped up in my mind the more weddings I document. There are SO many songs out there. Why do we gravitate toward the same few songs, when we could have something totally unique as a "big moment" song instead? I think weddings should radically relate to the couple we're celebrating. Sometimes, that means leaning toward non-traditional first dance songs, like this post will discuss.

With so many overused songs out there, it can be hard to find a first dance song that feels truly unique and unexpected. In this blog post, I want to explore some alternative choices so you can find the perfect first dance song that matches your personalities and love story.

As you're planning your wedding, the first dance can be thought of as one of the most important moments. Choosing a song for this moment can be incredibly difficult! It’s the moment where you and your partner get to shine, and the lyrics of the song chosen can be a reflection of your love story. This is easier said than done!

Psst did you know I created the playlist for our entire wedding? Home-y feeling and coffee shop vibe songs that might compliment your day too. You can check it out on our Spotify playlist, #OchoaYearsAndCounting

I know it can feel awkward to dance alone in front of all of your loved ones. Not everyone expresses themselves through dance, but the first dance is a moment for the two of you to share together and I find it so sweet. Don't worry though, you don't have to actually know HOW to dance to make this moment powerful.

For myself and my husband, you could say we both have two left feet. Our first dance was one of my favorite parts of our wedding day because we essentially just held each other and cried, haha. From there, we didn't have an open dance floor but rather went straight into our grand exit (flower petals and all). It was wonderfully "us." I use this story to encourage couples to think of their wedding day in the same way - it can be whatever you want it to be, and we should always strive for it to FEEL like YOU.

All of the photos here were taking by me, a local Seattle Wedding Photographer who travels the world to document love stories.

non-traditional first dance songs, pine creek nursery, seattle wedding photographer

Non-traditional slow first dance songs:

This section is for those who love the traditional feel of first dance songs but don't want an overplayed song. If you're looking for a more unique, non-traditional songs, you've definitely come to the right spot. These all share the same romantic and slow tempo vibe but still surprise your guests.

"I Melt With You" by Modern English: This song is a classic new wave hit from the 80s, but its romantic lyrics and dreamy melody make it a perfect choice for a first dance. It’s unexpected, yet still familiar, and it’s sure to be a hit with all your guests.

"Passionate" by C-Trox: a rap song with a smooth and sensual vibe. The song is characterized by a slow and steady beat, with deep bass and electronic accents. The verses are delivered in a laid-back, conversational flow, while the chorus features a soulful and melodic vocal hook that adds a touch of romance and sensuality. I actually did have a couple use this song personally for their first dance and I immediately shazaam'd it, haha.

"Leave The Door Open" by Silk Sonic (with Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak). On a similar note as "Passionate" but with a more familiar voice of Bruno Mars. This is a smooth and soulful song with a classic sound that's perfect for a romantic first dance.

"Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac: This classic 70s song is a beautiful choice for a first dance, with its slow and dreamy rhythm and heartfelt lyrics. The song's mellow and calming instrumentation adds to its reflective and contemplative mood, making it a great choice for a couple who wants to slow things down and savor the moment during their first dance.

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"Stay With Me" by Sam Smith: I love a soulful ballad. This modern classic has a soulful and emotional tone that would be perfect for a first dance. Sam Smith's soaring vocals taking center stage. The chorus features a memorable and stirring vocal hook, with the lyrics pleading for a lover to stay the night. Very on brand, don't you think?

"Under Your Spell" by Desire: This song is from the movie Drive and was used by a couple of mine. I love the hauntingly beautiful melody. Ultimately when you connect with a song, it can be yours to dance to, no question.

"1200 Days" by Erick Baker: This song was my own first dance song, actually. We had a singer/songwriter sing it acoustically for us. It's a heartfelt ballad and I'm (obviously) a big fan.

groom swings bride around on dance floor at Maplehurst Farm wedding, non-traditional first dance songs

Playful and upbeat first dance songs:

If you’re looking for non-traditional first dance songs that are fun, upbeat, and full of energy, consider these songs. The upbeat rhythm and catchy lyrics will give the opportunity to have everyone get on their feet too. One of these songs is perfect for a couple who doesn't like to take themselves too seriously. These would be a great way to set the tone for the rest of the night.

"I Believe in a Thing Called Love" by The Darkness. This song is a classic rock hit that’s perfect for couples who want to dance the night away and let loose.

"You Make My Dreams" by Hall & Oates. This song is well known and definitely more "pop." Catchy lyrics and a fun, danceable rhythm.

"Take on the World" by You Me At Six: This song has an upbeat, anthemic feel that’s perfect for couples who want to celebrate their love with their friends and family.

"Adore You" by Harry Styles: A romantic and playful song including a catchy guitar riff and upbeat rhythm will allow your first dance to feel more free and fun.

"You Are The Best Thing" by Ray LaMontagne: Much more of a soulful note but a classic that is so joyful and romantic.

Non-traditional first dance songs for the non-traditional couple

"Electric Love" by BØRNS: If you want to keep the song more "current" this song is dreamy and whimsical with a catchy chorus and a playful vibe that's perfect for a fun and upbeat first dance.

"Better Together" by Jack Johnson: For the acoustic pop lover, this song is sweet and intimate. Allowing a laid-back groove and heartfelt lyrics.

"Happier" by Ed Sheeran: I personally love this one, it's bittersweet and emotional with a catchy melody and promising lyrics. Ed Sheeran is not a one trick pony, so if you love his voice but don't want "Thinking Out Loud" this might be a great contender too.

For the pop-punk-loving 90's kid at heart like me:

You may connect with the love the emotional and romantic tone of these non-traditional first dance songs. They can perfectly capture the depth of your love for each other. While some may view certain genre of songs as unconventional choices for a first dance, I disagree.If you are wanting to make your wedding truly your own, I encourage you to incorporate music that is meaningful to YOU. My guess is that your family and friends would love to celebrate your new life together with songs that truly represents who you are as a couple.

"I Will Follow You Into The Dark" by Death Cab For Cutie: This hauntingly beautiful song has a romantic and melancholy feel that makes it perfect for a first dance.

"Always" by Blink-182: I couldn't do a pop/punk list without including these legends. I would love to see "Always" as an alternative option for a first dance.

"First Day Of My Life" by Bright Eyes: This acoustic ballad is a sweet and simple love song that is sure to tug at the heartstrings of you and your partner.

"The Only Exception" by Paramore: This pop-punk ballad is definitely an unexpected choice for a first dance, but its romantic lyrics and slow tempo make it a great option.

"1435" by Selfish Things: This song has a slow, romantic build-up that culminates in a powerful, emotional chorus that’s just a chefs kiss option.

"You and Me" by Lifehouse: A simple and heartfelt song that celebrates the beauty of a shared life and love. The slower tempo and sincere lyrics make it a great choice for a sentimental moment.

"Never Stop" (Wedding Version) by Safetysuit: This song has a powerful, emotional chorus that’s just perfect for a moment as powerful as a first dance.

Non-traditional first dance songs for the Taylor Swift fan:

Yes, I definitely dedicated an entire section to my Swifties out there. Why not? It's your wedding day and you can play whatever song you want. If you want Taylor Swift? You can have Taylor Swift. There are plenty of love songs in her catalog that would make great first dance songs. Here are a few to consider:

  • "Invisible String"
  • “Peace”
  • "Wildest Dreams"
  • "Lover" (w/ Shawn Mendes)
  • "Delicate"
  • "This Love"
  • "Enchanted"
  • “Paper Rings”
  • “Run”
  • “Sweet Nothings”
  • “New Year’s Day”
  • “King of My Heart”
  • "Two Is Better Than One" (w/“ Boys Like Girls)
  • "Everything Has Changed" (w/ Ed Sheeran)
  • “All of the Girls You Loved Before"
  • "Today Was a Fairytale"
  • "You Are in Love"
  • “I Think He Knows”
  • “Mine”
  • “Ours”

Remember, the most important thing when choosing a first dance song is to pick something that is meaningful to you and your partner. Don't be afraid to think outside the box and choose a song that is unique and unexpected! It will make your first dance that much more memorable.

Side note, if you choose one of these non-traditional first dance songs, I'd be so stoked to hear about it!

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