Pick a first-dance song you'll love.
This story first appeared in the Fall/Winter 2018 issue of Columbus Weddings, published in June 2018.
Seth and Sarah Dunn’s first date was to see “Guardians of the Galaxy.” The action flick’s soundtrack has a lot of standouts (we’ll get to that in just a second), but the song the future-Dunns loved most was Blue Swede’s radio immortal, “Hooked on a Feeling.”
“It stuck with us,” Sarah says. “It was the perfect song when it came time to pick [a first-dance song], as it wasn’t ordinary, and frankly, a little weird. Just like us.”
Ooga chaka! Ooga chaka! Ooga ooga ooga chaka!
“Guardians of the Galaxy” also skyrocketed another song into first-dance stardom—“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell—according to David Luke Kurtz, co-owner of D&M DJ Entertainment.
“A lot of influences that happen in the market are from the movies,” he says. “A lot of old music is being used in movies nowadays, and couples are using them in their weddings.”
Once a classic, always a classic. For example, at a recent wedding deejayed by D&M, the brides selected Billie Holiday’s greatest hits as the background music for cocktail hour and dinner.
But that song selection for the first dance can feel nerve-racking for many couples.
“Let’s face it,” Kurtz says, “this is a moment you can’t take back.”
He adds that a good DJ can help guide you to a song that’s just your style. His team starts the communication process long before the couple hits the dance floor.
“I want them to feel like the DJ that’s going to do their show is somebody who understands that and wants to be part of the conversation,” he says.
Many couples go with a song that’s a current hit (“Perfect” by Ed Sheeran has been making the rounds, Kurtz says), a tried-and-true classic (think “At Last” by Etta James or “In My Life” by The Beatles) or a love song from their youth (“All My Life” by K-Ci & JoJo).
“Trends are based off of when a person graduated from high school or college. That’s usually the music they want at their reception,” Kurtz says. “That’s when they don’t have time to listen to music anymore. Everybody lives in a time bubble. … Certain people, though, relate to each other in music. They’ll pick a song that’s not the norm.”
Take Adrienne and Shawn Gruber, who wed on Oct. 6, 2017, and shared their first dance to a reggae version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by UB40.
“I grew up listening to oldies and the Elvis verion,” Adrienne says. “Shawn started listening to more reggae artists after a family trip to Aruba.”
The couple took classes at Arthur Murray Dance Studio and learned a choreographed piece for their first spin on the floor as a married couple. But the song choice was a huge part of making their moment so special.
“Having a song that means something to both of you, versus just a popular song on the radio at that time, made it more emotional for us both,” Adrienne says. “Leading up to the wedding, we would hear the song, whether by chance or by one of us putting it on, and it would just excite us even more.”
Sarah Dunn also recommends picking a song that means something to both of you, regardless of whether you’ve heard it at a wedding before.
“The first dance was memorable regardless of the song choice,” says Sarah, who married Seth on Aug. 16, 2017. “However, I will say the fact that it had something to do with our history was important. Make it count. Pick one you both love.”
Get more first-dance inspiration from our Spotify playlist! Just search spotify:user:columbusweddings on the app. You can add to the playlist, too; tell us what songs you used in your wedding at cbuswedmag.com/Spotify.