15 of our favourite first dance songs

15 of our favourite
first dance songs

We’re big believers in the first dance.

You can find out why here. Even if you’re a bit unsure of the whole dancing-in-public thing, your first dance can give you a rare moment to reflect and let your day really sink in. (Read a bit more about our thoughts on this here).

We’ve performed a bunch of interesting, unique first dances over the years. We love getting requests to learn a new special song for a couple – it’s a great insight into who you are, and it’s great fun arranging something that works well with our live jazz band.

With that in mind, here are 15 of our favourite first dances we’ve performed over the years, and how we performed them:

At Last – Etta James

The godmother of RnB, Etta James, sings a yearning ballad about love finally found. At Last is a classy jazz/blues number that sounds really polished with a jazz combo made up of voice, piano, double bass and drums.

Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran’s youthful charm is at its peak in this gorgeous acoustic ditty – but there’s real depth in there too. Thinking Out Loud is perfect for a duo of voice and acoustic guitar.

I Won’t Give Up – Jason Mraz

Listening to the lyrics of I Won’t Give Up, I can’t help but feel that Jason Mraz has earned every little bit of what he’s singing about. This song is stunning when performed just by voice and acoustic guitar.

You Are My Sunshine – Johnny Cash

It’s like a whole new piece of music – Johnny Cash brings out the vulnerability and honesty of this sweet, nearly-100-year-old song. Cash really explores the tenderness in You Are My Sunshine, and boy is it beautiful. (The band can also finish up your version before the kinda-sad final verse too).

Come Away With Me – Norah Jones

Norah Jones’ Come Away with Me is a dreamy, romantic ballad perfect for jazz ensemble. This song is summer, long drives and blissful contentment. It’s also in 3/4 time, which is perfect for a traditional waltz. This is great with vocals and piano, joined by guitar, double-bass and drums at the halfway mark.

All of Me – John Legend

This John Legend song is a timeless classic despite only being released in 2013. All of Me is about real relationships – the ups and downs. The songs vulnerability gives it so much strength. This is beautiful performed just like the original: voice and piano.

Marry Me – Train

I’m the first to admit that I can be a little bit pop-phobic, but Marry Me by Train is just so sweet and simple. A genuine sentiment makes style and genre irrelevant. This is another great song to have performed just by voice and acoustic guitar.

Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley

They called him The King for a reason. Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling in Love is perfect nostalgia. Its romantic melody was based on 1784 French song Plaisir d’amour. This sounds fantastic with a full band, complete with backing vocal harmonies.

This Year’s Love – David Gray

I was a teenager when this song came out (please don’t add that up!), so maybe this is why this song speaks so strongly to that part of me – new love, beginnings, possibilities. This song is in 3/4 time too, which emphasises its emotional intensity. Voice and piano is perfect for this song.

Throw Your Arms Around Me –
Hunters and Collectors

This Australian rock anthem still feels as fresh as the day it was released in 1986. The song has such an uplifting energy. This is stunning performed by an acoustic duo of voice and guitar.

Green Eyes – Coldplay

This might be a lesser-known Coldplay song but it’s filled with that trademark Coldplay warmth and optimism. Green Eyes sounds great performed by voice and guitar, with double bass joining in as the chorus hits.

We Found Each Other in the Dark –
City and Colour

I was lucky enough to be introduced to the music of Dallas Green’s City and Colour recently, when a couple asked us to perform We Found Each Other in the Dark for their first dance. This stunning indie ballad, in 3/4 time, sounds great with a classic four-piece band of voice, guitar, bass and drums.

The Luckiest – Ben Folds

The piano, the lyrics and the pacing of this Ben Folds song are just masterful. The Luckiest has such a sweet sentiment, exploring the crazy serendipity of meeting and falling in love. This is another song great for voice and piano.

Into My Arms – Nick Cave

Penned by iconic Aussie singer/poet/musician/actor/everything-else Nick Cave, Into My Arms holds a special place across generations and musical tastes. This song sounds great performed with a jazz trio of voice, piano (or guitar) and double bass.

To Build a Home – The Cinematic Orchestra

This last song is one of my all-time favourites. We had the pleasure of performing To Build a Home by the Cinematic Orchestra in the Kalaya room at Melbourne Museum – the voice and acoustic guitar blended through the polished two-storey wooden space and felt divine. This song is swirling memories and stirring feelings.
That wraps up our list of 15 of our favourite first dance songs!
Have you heard another great first dance or wedding ceremony song?

Or, maybe you have a song in mind for yours and are wondering if it’s something a band can learn?

Please drop us a line on email or social and keep the conversation going!