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If you and your beloved are still looking for a first dance wedding song, you're not alone. Some couples immediately know what their first dance song will be – perhaps it was a tune that played during their proposal or a favorite from an artist they've seen in concert; however, many pairs spend hours and hours listening to playlists of first dance songs and romantic love songs to find the ideal tune for this special moment on the dance floor.
In order to provide inspiration for some of the best first dance songs, we've asked the brides and grooms featured in past issues of Inside Weddings to share their favorite wedding songs in previous posts, and now we're sharing first dance songs selected by esteemed singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson. The singer releases music on the label she founded, Cabin 24 Records, including her gold and platinum hits "The Way I Am," "Girls Chase Boys," and "You and I."
"At almost every meet-and-greet that I do, at least one person will come up to me after and tell me that one of my songs was the first dance song at their wedding. It’s always such an honor to hear those words. To know that I am part of these people’s lives in such a beautiful way is truly humbling," shares Ingrid Michaelson.
From popular first dance songs to unique tunes that may be the perfect first dance song for pairs looking for music that's delightful yet uncommon, the "You and I" singer has compiled a list of her favorite love songs. Take a look at Ingrid Michaelson's picks for classic and modern first dance songs that will make wonderful additions to your wedding, below:
"I know what goes into planning a wedding, and I know how special that first dance has to be... And the song is everything!" confirms Michaelson. "Some people go classic; others want to surprise people; others pick a song that has significance to their story." Many brides and grooms will pick one of the most popular top first dance songs for this momentous occasion, while others will lean toward songs that aren't often on playlists of wedding music. Thankfully, Ingrid Michaelson is sharing first dance songs that will appeal to couples on both ends of the spectrum.
"Because I have such a connection to first dance songs, I wanted to compile a list of songs that I think would be amazing in that coveted spot," she shares. "I have highlighted a few that have a special piece of my heart... Music is my love language. I hope these songs speak to you."
Take a look at a list of first dance songs loved and curated by singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson, below:
"This is the song that seems to make its way into many people’s weddings. I think the fact that it’s just so short and sweet and honest is what draws people to choose it," notes Ingrid Michaelson of her chart-topping hit, "The Way I Am." "It’s about loving someone because of their flaws, not despite them... And that IS marriage."
Singer Lauren Daigle wrote "Hold On To Me" to encourage listeners to come together and remember that being there for one another is what life is truly all about. The last lyrics of the song are absolutely beautiful for a spin with your beloved on the dance floor: "I could rest here in your arms forever, 'Cause I know nobody loves me better, Hold on to me."
Taylor Swift’s earlier music is perfect for couples looking for country first dance songs (like these country wedding songs), while her most recent releases work well for pairs who prefer pop. "Lover" was written by Taylor Swift and produced with Jack Antonoff to sound as though it could have been played on a wedding reception stage in 1970. It's one of those modern first dance songs that can become timeless as time proves it to be.
"Your Song" is one of the best first dance songs of all time, and it consistently makes the list of top wedding songs. The tune has been covered by a number of musicians, so there are additional versions to choose from – all of which have the wonderful Elton John lyrics, "And you can tell everybody this is your song. It may be quite simple, but now that it's done, I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind, that I put down in words how wonderful life is while you're in the world."
"This is a classic," shares Ingrid Michaelson of "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper. "The lyrics and the melody just cut right to the point. And it’s familiar and comforting. I actually got to sing it with Cyndi Lauper once, so I had to put this one on the list!" Ranked in 2021 as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone, it's a timeless choice.
From Paul McCartney's 1997 album, "Calico Skies" is a gentle love song that's a unique choice for a first dance song. Like many of The Beatles wedding songs, the lyrics of this Paul McCartney first dance song are sweet and sentimental, with the notable verse: "It was written that I would love you, from the moment I opened my eyes. And the morning when I first saw you, gave me life under calico skies. I will hold you for as long as you like, I'll hold you for the rest of my life."
This couple shared their first dance to "You and I" by Ingrid Michaelson, admitting it was the best part of the whole wedding. “[It] was an experience you never forget,” David confides. “All of our guests began singing along and clapping around us,” adds the bride. “It was the warmest, most special moment that we will remember always.” Photo by Paul Barnett Photographer; From Real Wedding: Oceanfront Ceremony + Sunset Reception in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Originally written for and performed by The Foundations, bluegrass-country singer Alison Krauss' version of "Baby, Now That I've Found You" became a hit in 1995. The tune is all about knowing someone was special after first meeting, and while the lyrics show the love isn't reciprocated, it's a wonderful nontraditional option for your first dance. We love the lyrics: "Baby, now that I've found you, I won't let you go. I built my world around you, I need you so."
This is such a special song for couples who want to select a very classic, traditional love song for their first dance. With such a beautiful melody and lyrics such as "When I give my heart, it will be completely, or I'll never give my heart. And the moment I can feel that you feel that way too, is when I fall in love with you," "When I Fall in Love" will undeniably be one of the most romantic songs played on your wedding day.
"I sang this at my best friend’s wedding 10 years ago!" shares Ingrid Michaelson of "The Luckiest" by Ben Folds. "I remember being so nervous because I didn’t want to mess up for her special day. Once I tuned into the lyrics, it was easy to let go of the nerves. It is truly one of the most romantic songs I have ever heard. And one of my favorite songs ever." We love the sentimental lyrics: “I love you more than I have ever found a way to say to you” and “And where was I before the day, that I first saw your lovely face? Now I see it everyday, and I know, that I am, I am, I am, the luckiest.”
While not often selected as a first dance wedding song, Sinéad O'Connor's 1990s song "In This Heart" has a very classic, church-like feel to it. With lyrics such as "I am waiting for you, for only to adore you, my heart is for you, my love" and "I will have you with me, in my arms only, for you are only, my love," the entire song is a testament to true love.
From Leon Bridge's Good Things album, "Beyond" has a romantic feel that many couples will love to sway to during their first dance. The lyrics describe the singer's feelings as he may have discovered the love of his life and future wife.
Featured in the movie 500 Days of Summer, "Us" by Regina Spektor is an excellent choice for couples looking for indie and alternative rock first dance wedding songs. The Russian-American singer's lyrics from the song on the Soviet Kitsch album offer a unique, nontraditional option for couples to dance to at the wedding reception.
One of the newer songs on the list, "Me Without You" was released in 2018. Notable romantic lyrics from the amorous song include: "Sometimes in the morning, I wake up before the dawn. Another day is coming, and I know it will be long. But knowing that I'll see you, well, that's what gets me through. I don't know what I'd be if I was me without you."
Though the song may not have the happiest of lyrics, "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" is the ultimate love song about a couple's true love that lasts till death do them part. It's a nontraditional first dance wedding song that's ideal for fans of Death Cab for Cutie or couples who want an alternative, indie-rock first dance song.
This couple shared their first dance to Ingrid Michaelson's cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love" – originally by Elvis Presley. Photo by Jen Lynne Photography; From Real Wedding: A White & Gold Rustic Orchard Wedding in Illinois
"I used to perform this song in the very early days of my career," shares Ingrid Michaelson of "The Book of Love" by The Magnetic Fields. "It’s so simple and beautiful, and not many people know it which makes it have a unique feel. To me it feels like a perfect backyard wedding moment!"
Singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile's "I Belong to You" is another unique tune that isn't on every list of first dance wedding songs. These romantic lyrics will resonate with a number of couples: "I know I could be spending a little too much time with you. But time and too much don't belong together like we do. If I had all my yesterdays I'd give 'em to you too. I belong to you now, I belong to you."
Originally written in 1950 and featured in The Music Man, many artists – including The Beatles in 1964 – have covered "Till There Was You." This version by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston was recorded in 1966 and has a great soulful feel for a first dance with the romantic lyrics: "There was love all around, but I never heard it singing. No, I never heard it at all, 'till there was you."
Though released in 2012, "I've Got You Covered" by Sugar and The Hi Lows has a timeless, 1950s sound to it that will make the perfect first dance wedding song for a classic celebration with a modern twist. It's a sweet song about protecting a special woman and ends with the lyrics "'Cause I've got you covered. Forever starts right here," so finish the entire song if possible!
Featured in the movie Disturbia, alternative rock band Nada Surf's "Always Love" is a nontraditional first dance wedding song perfect for fans of the band or its cool music style. While it's not necessarily a love song, the overarching theme promoting love makes it a great choice for pairs hoping to have a unique song choice.
"My best friend and I would dance around the living room to this song as kids with my grandmother’s wooden canes! My father loved The Beatles and he would put on this record and watch us dance around. I remember how much he loved watching us be so silly. It’s the same way I watch my niece now. With awe and love spilling out everywhere," shares Michaelson of "When I'm Sixty-Four."
"It is a song so near to my heart, but I never saw it as a romantic song until I sang it at an event with my partner a few years ago. The song’s meaning really snapped into place when we stared at each other and sang those words. It’s a fun, upbeat, almost funny song, but the story of enduring love is the real message. It is a message that sets the tone for a wonderful life together."
For more ideas, discover some of the top first dance songs from artists such as Etta James, Ed Sheeran, James Taylor, Louis Armstrong, Stevie Wonder, and more wedding songs selected by real brides and grooms!