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58 Alternative First Dance Songs to Kick Off Your Celebrations

Wedding song ideas

Wedding song ideas

Stand out from the crowd! These alternative first dance songs strike a balance between wedding-appropriate and unique.

Emily Deane
58 Alternative First Dance Songs to Kick Off Your Celebrations

One of the things we love most about weddings is seeing how couples have incorporated their unique personalities into their day. From the colour schemes selected to the fashion choices and the food, there are plenty of ways to personalise your nuptials.

Naturally, one of our favourite ways to give a wedding a unique spin is through music choices. There is a vast array of options out there when it comes to wedding songs, including many tried and tested classic wedding songs, but there are also plenty of offbeat options too.

Unusual first dance songs can add a fun and unconventional feel to the time-honoured tradition of newlyweds taking to the dance floor for the first time. They’re also a great way to create a memorable moment for your guests and kick off your evening reception in style. (Of course if you'd rather go the tried-and-tested route, there's no shame in choosing one of the most frequently requested UK first dance songs.

In need of a little inspiration? Check out our round-up of alternative wedding songs below.

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58 Alternative First Dance Songs to Kick Off Your Celebrations

Indie First Dance Songs

Move over Ben Howard’s Only Love and Bright Eyes’ First Day of My Life and make way for some more alternative first dance songs within the indie genre. If you like the vibe of popular indie love songs but are in search of something a little less played, look no further.

1 Sweet Disposition – The Temper Trap

These ambient Aussies deliver a driving but delicate indie-festival-style first dance as they blend soaring falsetto and stadium-worthy drum beats ready to kick start your evening party in style.

2 Lovesong – The Cure

Written and recorded for their later, 1989 ‘Disintegration’ album, The Cure offer their own Gothic, post-punk spin on the classic love song. Brooding, moody and packed with declarations of love and commitment, this could be the perfect alternative first dance choice for classic Indie fans.

3 Medicine – The 1975

There are any number of first dance options that you could prescribe for a first dance from the back catalogue of Matthew Healy et al. but this graceful, medicinal track literally includes the line "I wanna marry you" so why look any further?

4 Toothpaste Kisses – The Maccabees

This intimate, scratchy anthem from London's now disbanded, indie rock favourites paints a picture of the day-to-day life of love and offers a beautifully authentic way to celebrate the start of your married life together.

5 XO – John Mayer

Mayer takes Beyonce’s original and delivers a heavy dose of his characteristic guitar-led, vocal intimacy on this beautiful, yearning track that demands you and your new spouse stare deeply into each other’s eyes under a spotlight on the dance floor. Watch out for that pesky harmonica making a return though…

6 Such Great Heights – The Postal Service

This quirky electronic beat expresses some seriously romantic notions, all without sounding cliché or cringey – no easy feat! Plus, is there a greater high than the day you marry the love of your life? This ideally titled song is the perfect way to express just that.

7 Cosmic Love – Florence and the Machine

While You’ve got the Love might be the first hit that springs to mind when it comes to first dance songs from this indie outfit, we think Cosmic Love deserves to be considered too. This joyful, romantic and positively out of this world tune will begin your married life with a fantastical flourish.

Unique First Dance Songs

If unique and unusual is what you’re looking for when it comes to your first dance backing track, check out our list of often overlooked alternative first dance songs. This unique selection features covers many of your guests won’t have heard before, popular hits that you may never have considered for your first dance and some B-side gems.

8 You & Me – Dave Matthews Band

One of the kings of modern narrative ballads, Dave Matthews delivers this irresistible, acoustic foot-tapper to celebrate your limitless potential as a couple. Good for a couple who don't want to dance alone for too long.

9 The Wedding Song – Angus & Julia Stone

This Aussie brother and sister have nailed the perfect balance of authenticity and CUTE. Plenty of future-focused declarations of love with a delicate acoustic accompaniment - why aren’t more people having this as their first dance?

10 You Send Me – Sam Cooke

Later covered by the great Aretha Franklin, this 1957 silky smooth, soul track was a huge number 1 in the States despite barely breaking the top 30 in the UK. But don’t let that put you off, it’s full of enough genuine sentiment to set some tears off around you on the dance floor, for sure.

11 Crazy In Love – Oh Wonder

Bring Queen Bee into your first dance formation with this tender acoustic cover of her 2003 banger, performed by the constantly melodically brooding married couple Josephine and Anthony Vander West - better known as Oh Wonder. Delicious.

12 By Your Side – Sade

Covered by The 1975 to raise money for War Child in 2017, this ambient original is a forgotten gem when it comes to original first dance choices. With its vow-like lyrical content as its greatest strength, there won’t be a dry eye in the house after you’ve had your first dance to this one.

13 Nine Million Bicycles – Katie Melua

Full of fun facts, delicate melodies and lots of love, this pensive, airy track from Georgian-British singer-songwriter Melua offers a beautiful accompaniment to the well-travelled couple’s first dance together.

14 When The Day Met The Night – Panic! At The Disco

Let Brendon Urie soundtrack to the start to your married life with this trumpet-enhanced, bouncing interplanetary anthem that is guaranteed to bring the feel-good factor to your first dance.

15 Unison – Björk

Sprinkle some legendary Icelandic magic on your first dance with this ethereal celebration of romantic unity. Embrace this metaphorical and quirky track for a more avant-garde feel to the start of your evening’s proceedings.

16 Finally – CeCe Peniston

The first and biggest hit from the soul sensation of Phoenix, this timeless soul favourite is drenched in sass and celebration alike. Fitting lyrics, funky hooks and feel-good funk. What more do you need!?

17 Mr. Blue Sky – Electric Light Orchestra

If you’re a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy, say hello to E.L.O and their enduring sunshine-infused track from January 1978. Walking the fine line of catchy and quirky for your first dance, this is a guaranteed crowd favourite for your special day.

Tongue in Cheek First Dance Songs

If performing a slow dance to a ballad sounds a little cringey or simply out of character for you as a couple, why not opt for something tongue in cheek? Funny first dance songs can add some light relief after the seriousness of the vows and the emotion of the speeches and provide a fun surprise for guests.

18 Adam Sandler - Grow Old With You

You can’t put your first dance in many safer hands than the original ‘Wedding Singer’ himself. With its (almost too) down-to-earth lyrics and lilting melody, this track nails the first dance tone but with plenty of LOLs along the way.

19 500 Miles - Proclaimers

This timeless, Scottish anthem of perseverance and devotion is guaranteed to have your guests clapping, marching and chanting along before the first chorus even arrives.

20 It Must Be Love – Madness

Why all the emotional intensity around first dances? Get yourself a full dose of reggae pop and bring some Madness into the situation with this 1981 cover of Labi Siffre’s original.

21 Africa – Toto

A song that truly needs no introduction. Interestingly, it was initially the last song listed on the band’s fourth album before its release as a single and entry into the worldwide music Hall of Fame for ever more.

22 Sexbomb – Tom Jones

An unlikely collaboration with German DJ ‘Mousse T.’ produces the iconic Welsh singer’s final single of the last millennium - and the perfect soundtrack for an 18+, cheeky first dance. Take the shackles off the formalities of the day and have some fun with this one.

23 You Sexy Thing – Hot Chocolate

From its immediately recognisable introduction through to its dirty synth line and adoring lyrics, you could do a lot worse than pouring some of that sweet, 1975 Hot Chocolate all over your first dance - and embracing the dance moves that inevitably follow.

24 Summer Nights – Grease Soundtrack

Bridesmaids and female friends on one side. Groomsmen and male guests on the other. Bride and groom in the middle. You know how this goes. Shoo-de-bop-bop.

Alternative Pop First Dance Songs

While many of the artists below have better known hits, we think overlooking this selection would be a mistake – particularly if you’re looking for alternative first dance songs. From retro tunes to pop beats you may have forgotten, there’s something for everyone here.

25 Teenage Dream – Katy Perry

The under-rated, title track from her globe-conquering third studio album, this track can give car-windows-down, road trip energy to your first dance. Perfect for the couple marrying their teenage sweetheart too.

26 Somewhere Only We Know – Keane

Take a few minutes in your first dance to escape together into Tom Chaplin’s piano-saturated world with this 2004 ballad that will give the two of you a much-needed moment to escape the polite conversation and formalities of the day.

27 This I Promise You – *NSYNC

Dig up a polo neck and dye those tips blonde because early Timberlake (and friends) are back to save your first dance with this sickly sweet love song that will make you cringe and then cry in equal measure.

28 I Turn To You – Christina Aguilera

Before she got dirrrrty in the new millennium, Christina had a number of emotive, passionate ballads to her name - and none more fitting for an ‘awwwww’ first dance experience than this 1999 classic.

29 Adore You – Miley Cyrus

You never know what’s coming next with Miley. Having jumped down off her wrecking ball, she churned out this monumental love song with her unmistakable rasping, soaring vocals that will bring any wedding guest to tears.

30 Like a Star – Corinne Bailey Rae

Nominated for Song of the Year at the 50th Grammy Awards, this gentle, meandering, dream-like ballad sounds as gorgeous today as it did on its release in 2005. Guaranteed to create a truly tender moment in what will inevitably be a whirlwind of a day.

31 Always Be My Baby – Mariah Carey

It doesn’t need to be December to unleash the Queen of Christmas – year-round you can treat your guests to the endless ad libs and feel-good “schoo-bops” of this bubblegum bop from New York’s vocal finest.

32 The Luckiest – Ben Folds

Pure, unfiltered piano ballad energy on this one - Folds’ reflective, thoughtful lyrics provide the perfect declaration of gratitude and love to mark the first dance and take stock ahead of the rest of your lives.

33 I’ll Be There – Jess Glynne

If tight harmonies - and a touch of near-yodelling - is your thing, look no further than repeat UK hit machine, Jess Glynne's 2018 chart-topper. A pop-ey, feel-good first dance for the win.

34 Rewrite The Stars – James Arthur & Anne-Marie

Step aside Zac and Zendaya, James and Anne-Marie have arrived. Covering the gymnastic 2017 ballad from the enormous original hit film ‘The Greatest Showman’, this euphoric duet screams of love and destiny for a near 4 minutes. Perfect for a couple up for trying a routine to impress their guests.

35 Cannonball – Damien Rice

Given a second lease of life when it was commissioned as the winning single for Little Mix in the eighth series of X Factor, Rice’s original, melancholic track gives off first dance, tear-jerking energy - if not the uplifting lyrics you might want to accompany it.

36 Accidentally In Love – Counting Crows

On the other end of the uplifting spectrum, this jaunty, care-free song featured on the Shrek 2 film soundtrack and will have your guests’ hands clapping and feet moving in no time. Found your princess - or ogre - for life!? This one could be for you.

37 She’s So Lovely – Scouting For Girls

Roy Stride's piano-led, bubblegum pop wastes no time at all and hits the first chorus with 26 seconds - so if you're not in the mood for being gawked at by friends and family, get them singing and dancing to this before they've even had a chance.

38 Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley

Surely the ultimate way to RickRoll all of your wedding guests!? And if that's not enough, it's also a legit 80s banger with a bunch of fitting wedding day sentiment. So whether it’s a troll or not, this iconic 1987 bop has to at least make the shortlist.

39 Waiting For A Girl Like You – Foreigner

An immersive power ballad with the dynamite vocals of Lou Gramm that celebrates the long-awaited arrival of love. Get ready for plenty of air grabs as you and your guests belt the words along with this 1981 chart-topper.

Rock First Dance Songs

When it comes to romantic tunes, rock probably isn’t the first genre that comes to mind, but we think it’s certainly one that needs exploring when searching for alternative first dance songs. Relive your teenage angst or go back to your emo roots with these gems.

40 The Only Exception – Paramore

The third single from the band’s third studio album is a surprisingly soulful offering from the presidents of punk themselves. For a couple wanting to stick to their ‘emo’ roots, this four and a half minutes of Grammy-nominated soft rock might just hold the answer.

41 Tennessee Whiskey – Chris Stapleton

Pour a whiskey and pull out a tissue, this 2015 version of David Allan Coe's original is going to have you and your guests requiring a few of each by the time the final chorus is over. Stapleton at his best.

42 Last Night On Earth – Green Day

A rare acoustic offering from their eighth studio album, Billie Joe Armstrong delivers his inimitable vocal over this delicate musical love letter of a song that is the perfect choice for any couple still living their 2009, pop-punk (green) days.

43 The Reason – Hoobastank

Overflowing with alternative American rock stereotypes - from driving guitars, elaborate drum fills, husky vocals and dodgy hairstyles - buried in this 2004 smash hit is a huge heart of genuine sentiment that would give your wedding reception an epic start.

44 100 Suns – 30 Seconds To Mars

Jump on board the Californian supersonic hype train with the Leto brothers and indulge in just over two minutes of breathy nihilism to block out the rest of the world for a moment in the madness of your wedding day.

45 I’m With You – Avril Lavigne

As emotionally triggering today as it was on release of the Canadian’s debut album in 2002, this epic, emo rock ballad is a guaranteed tear-jerker for every single one of your friends and family - no exceptions. Not even that uncle you forgot you invited.

46 Little Wing - Jimi Hendrix

With plenty of characteristic guitar riffs, overdriven amplifiers, a heavy touch of the blues and a rogue glockenspiel making an experience, this is about as first dance friendly as The Bat gets. One for the lifelong Hendrix heads.

47 Nothing Else Matters – Metallica

Love heavy metal but want a more broadly accessible first dance moment for you and your guests to all enjoy at your wedding reception? Leave it in the hands of this slow tempo but heartfelt offering from James Hetfield and friends.

48 Tonight, Tonight – Smashing Pumpkins

If mid-90s alternate rock was your scene, you can’t do much better than browsing the back catalogue of this fruit-based Chicago collective. Psychedelic, ambient and heartfelt, this will be a first dance to remember!

49 All The Small Things – Blink 182

Arguably the Californian punk group's most famous release, this is the choice for jumping straight into the party deep end at your wedding reception. Air guitars and American accents at the ready.

50 Everlong – Foo Fighters

The last song ever performed live by the band's former drummer Taylor Hawkins, this raging rock track was also used in Scorsese's 'Wolf of Wall Street' so can be a fitting ode for Foo Fighters fans or a real party starter for rocky wedding couples.

51 You Really Got Me – The Kinks

The Kink's enduring third single, released in 1964, with its raw vocals and messy guitar solos offers the perfect invitation to let your hair down for a first dance that leaves the etiquette of the day behind and ushers in the rest of the (more raucous!) night.

R&B First Dance Songs

There are countless R&B love songs that are guaranteed to hit guests right in the feels, but these ones might just give them a nostalgic surprise too. From R&B legend Usher to relative newcomer, Leon Bridges, we think you’ll agree that these alternative first dance songs will add soul and sexiness to your big moment.

52 Stickwitu – The Pussycat Dolls

This three and a half minutes of feel-good, sultry R&B has slipped off the first dance radar since its release in 2005 but is definitely due a resurgence. Raise the temperature and release your inner Pussycat Doll for a first dance to remember.

53 My Boo – Usher (ft. Alicia Keys)

This 2004 powerhouse duet from R&B royalty, Usher and Alicia, is a groove-laden tribute to enduring teenage love. Confession - it's the only way we know how to rock.

54 Hold On, We’re Going Home – Drake

For the smooth R&B, synthpop lovers, Aubrey "Drake" Graham has you covered with this mellow 2013 global hit. In an interview with MTV News, he said this was a song that he wanted still being played at weddings in 10 years’ time, so we better give the man what he wants!

55 Coming Home – Leon Bridges

The title track of his 2015 debut album, this gospel-infused, R&B ballad nods to Motown traditions and Bridges’ soul singer influences to create a track that combines more genres - and declarations of love - than you could dream of cramming into four minutes of your first dance.

56 Angel – Shaggy (ft. Rayvon)

Now we’re talking! King of the bombastic, Orville Richard Burrell (aka Shaggy) is a cheeky choice for a Reggae-infused, dancehall first dance. You’ll be surprised how many of your friends can still sing-along to every single word too.

57 Angel of Mine – Eternal

Continuing with the angelic theme, throw your wedding guests back to the mid-late 90s with this seriously romantic hit from girl group Eternal. The song expresses meeting the one and realising you’ve found something you never thought you would – pretty perfect for a first dance!

58 Right Here (Human Nature Remix) SWV

Let your new spouse know just where you’ll be with this nostalgic 90s R&B tune. If some of the additional vocals sound familiar, it’s because SWV sampled Michael Jackson’s 1982 song, Human Nature.

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