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Top 30 Most Popular First Dance Songs in 2021

Wedding songs & playlists

Wedding songs & playlists

If you’re struggling for first dance inspiration, there's no shame in choosing a tried-and-tested classic that's guaranteed to put a smile on everyone's faces.

Top 30 Most Popular First Dance Songs in 2021

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, here are the most popular first dance songs with our brides and grooms over the past couple of years. Listen on Spotify here.

Once you've chosen your song, book a wedding band and ask them to perform it live.

1 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.

2 Shallow – Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper

The standout smash hit from 2018 movie A Star Is Born, this song topped the charts in 20 countries as Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper stole hearts around the world with this romantic and gritty ballad.

3 Shut Up And Dance – Walk The Moon

This upbeat floor filler will have all your friends and family itching to join you and your partner on the dancefloor, so if you’re nervous about all eyes being on you during the first dance, a song like this might help take the pressure off.

4 Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran

Winner of Song Of The Year at The Grammys in 2016, this number 1 single from Ed Sheeran has been hovering near the top of our first dance list ever since. 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.

5 Rewrite The Stars – Zac Efron, Zendaya

Zac Efron and Zendaya performed this powerful song in The Greatest Showman (2017) during an aerial rope rehearsal for the circus. With lyrics about forbidden love and love overcoming all obstacles, this was an instant hit with the public.

6 Your Song – Elton John

Originally released in 1970, featured in Moulin Rouge in 2001, then in Rocketman in 2019, this is a true song of the ages. An enduringly popular first dance wedding song, it's also a beautiful way to start your married life together.

7 Grow Old With Me – Tom Odell

A mainstay of our top 30 first dance list, "Grow Old With Me" is a fantastic sentiment to start your married lives with. Don’t worry, our bands will perform the clean version if preferred!

8 Loving You – Paolo Nutini

This has has a similar grit and edginess to it. The lyrics are gorgeous (“pack up loneliness, hello tenderness”) and it’s an easy tune to pick up, so those who haven’t heard it before will soon be singing along.

9 Only Love – Ben Howard

The fourth single from Ben Howard, Only Love, was his first big hit, making it to number 9 in the UK Singles Chart. His unique vocals and powerful lyrics have so far made Only Love a very popular choice for newlyweds!

10 Say You Won't Let Go – James Arthur

It’s not surprising that this huge 2016 hit is still proving really popular for first dance requests. It’s 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.

11 At Last – Etta James

Timeless lyrics and stunning vocals make this a firm first dance favourite that will be on this list for years to come. Her voice is passionate and sultry and the lyrics powerful. There’s a reason people keep requesting this year after year.

12 You Are The Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne

For a big feel-good intro as you both walk onto the dance floor, Not too slow but still effortlessly romantic. "You are the best thing that ever happened to me", should really sum up why you’re marrying each other.

13 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.

14 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.

15 I Won’t Give Up – Jason Mraz

This one has replaced a first dance favourite from previous years by Jason Mraz, I’m Yours. The lyrics are very well suited for this moment of your big day; "I won’t give up on us, even if the skies get rough".

16 Real Love – Tom Odell

Evoking memories for some of the 2014 John Lewis Christmas advert with Monty the penguin, this is also a perfect first dance song. It’s a tender chorus, but also just two minutes, so perfect if you tend to feel a bit awkward about dancing for too long.

17 Is This Love? – Bob Marley

A joyful number that will get everyone in high spirits – guaranteed to have everyone from your great aunt to your nieces and nephews dancing to the beat and singing along. It oozes uncomplicated happiness, coupled with the best of romantic lyrics.

18 Let's Stay Together – Al Green

Originally released in 1971, and ranked the 60th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine, a classic upbeat love song like this will never age. Easy to dance to, well-known and fun, this one won’t let you down during your first dance! For an even more passion-filled and energetic take on the song, go for the legendary Tina Turner's 1992 version.

19 Tenerife Sea – Ed Sheeran

A slightly more obscure choice from Ed Sheeran; Tenerife Sea is an unreleased track from his 2014 album, x. This song made it into the UK Top 100, peaking at 62, despite the fact it has never been released as a single.

20 Marry You – Bruno Mars

Although it may seem an obvious choice, the quirky charm behind this early Bruno Mars song from his debut album is a fun and uplifting first dance song! It has a vibrant celebratory vibe, and is guaranteed to fill the dancefloor after your big moment.

21 Make You Feel My Love – Adele

Bob Dylan's Make You Feel My Love has been covered by numerous famous faces including Billy Joel and Kelly Clarkson, but Adele's powerful and memorable version has really stood the test of time. Easy to dance to, heartfelt and timeless, it's a great first dance choice!

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 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 well used in film and TV. L-O-V-E features a very gentle pace for an easy two-step and a poignant message about an extraordinary love.

24 How Long Will I Love You – Ellie Goulding

This was originally written by folk-rock band The Waterboys and covered by Ellie Goulding in 2013 and featured on the soundtrack of 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 is still being requested today.

26 Can't Take My Eyes Off You – Andy Williams

A true classic, this is perfect for a slow, romantic start and a rousing, crowd pleasing finish! All generations will know this one, and you can sing along with the chant even if you don't know the words. An all round winner and one of the most popular first dance wedding songs of all time.

27 Symphony – Clean Bandit ft. Zara Larson

A more modern hit from 2017, this light-hearted and danceable choice has been a surprise favourite at weddings over the last few years. You'll need a talented female vocalist in your band to hear this one live!

28 Everything – Michael Bublé

This was written for Bublés then girlfriend, Emily Blunt, and is ideal for first dances. It's upbeat, but slow enough to make for an easy two-step with your new husband or wife, and everyone will know this one!

29 Love On Top – Beyoncé

A classic romantic upbeat pop song from the Queen Bey, this is always a crowd pleaser! Cheerful, fun and sexy, Beyoncé's lyrics and riffs are loved by all, and if that's not enough, the endless key changes at the end will have everyone smiling and singing along.

30 Come Away With Me - Norah Jones

From her debut album by the same name released in 2002, this song was an instant wedding song classic! The lyrics depict escaping with your lover and promises of everlasting love. Its slow pace and gentle waltz-like feel, Come Away With Me is a great choice if you've got two left feet - a very easy song to sway along to.

Listen to our top 30 first dances on Spotify

First dance FAQs

What should I choose for my first dance?

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 30 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.