The first dance is the ultimate picture of the wedding reception. Selecting one song out of thousands, however, can be frustrating. Should you go for a romantic memory, a heartwarming tribute for the love story or get your groove on for a rock and pop song?
To make matters easy, we’ve curated a list of the top five alternative first dance songs in every popular genre!
The Best Romantic Alternative First Dance Songs?
You could never go wrong with a romantic song for the first dance. Here’s a list of the sweetest songs that capture love perfectly.
Like a Star by Corinne Bailey Ray
The perfect song to honour the love of two, Like a Star by Corinne Bailey Ray is a classic first dance song. It’s as if the words of the heart come alive.
The sweetest lyrics: “You have appeared in my life / Feel like I’ll never be the same / Just like a song in my heart / Just like oil on my hands / Honor to love you.“
You’re All I Need to Get By by Marvin Gaye
Celebrating the dedication of one’s life to another, the soulful song You’re All I Need to Get By by Marvin Gaye perfectly captures all that a lover wants to say to their partner.
The heartwarming lyrics: “There’s no, no looking back for us / We got love, sure ‘nough, that’s enough / You’re all, you’re all I need to get by.“
Something About Your Love by Mason Jennings
If there’s one song that can get you feeling butterflies in the stomach, it’s Something About Your Love by Mason Jennings. It cherishes the togetherness, emotions of having someone to come back home to and call yours.
The beautiful lyrics: “As all the shiny things in the window fade / All that’s real is the love we made / I’m coming home to be with you.“
Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton
A tribute to the strength of love, the song Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton is a tale about the will of the heart and how amazing it is to have someone to hold hands with.
The perfect lyrics: “You’re as smooth as Tennessee whiskey / You’re as sweet as strawberry wine / You’re as warm as a glass of brandy / And honey, I stay stoned on your love all the time.”
Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap
With sweet lyrics and a catchy tune, the song Sweet Disposition by the Temper Trap is the perfect first dance song if you’re looking for something out of the box but romantic.
The groovy lyrics: “A moment, a love / A dream, aloud / So stay there / ‘Cause I’ll be coming over.”
I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers
This unconventional song with its unforgettable beat by Scottish band The Proclaimers. It’s an old song, released in 1988, and rocketed to popularity when it was used in the original soundtrack to the 2001 DreamWorks’ animated film, Shrek.
The song describes commitment and love in sweet, simple ways. And since the song has become almost synonymous with Shrek, it adds an extra fairytale element to the first dance.
The sweet lyrics: “When I wake up, well I know I’m gonna be, / I’m gonna be the man who wakes up next to you / When I go out, yeah I know I’m gonna be / I’ m gonna be the man who goes along with you.”
The Perfect Alternative Indie Pop Songs for the First Dance
If alternative indie songs are your jam, here’s a list of the best pop songs to move your hips to during the first dance:
Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac
Celebrating young love and affection for one another, the song Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac talks about the sweet obsession with your partner and spending every waking moment with them.
The gorgeous lyrics: “Can you hear me calling / Out your name? / You know that I’m falling / And I don’t know what to say.“
Dancing in the Moonlight by Thin Lizzy
About first loves and loving at first sight, the song Dancing in the Moonlight by Thin Lizzy is the perfect pick for first dances especially for an outdoor wedding reception.
The melodious lyrics: “When I passed you in the doorway / Well, you took me with a glance / I should’ve taken that last bus home / But I asked you for a dance.“
Love You Till the End by Pogues
A sweet celebration of a partner’s love, the sing Love You Till the End by Pogues is a promise to each other to love as much as they can and spend their lives making one another smile.
The heartwarming lyrics: “I love you ’till the end / I just want to be there / When we’re caught in the rain / I just want to see you laugh, not cry.“
After All by the Frank and Walters
As you dance your way into the next chapter of your life, the song After All by Frank and Walters celebrates the promise to love each other through thick and thin.
The perfect lyrics: “After all, I really need you / Don’t know how I’d live without you / Days they go by / And you’re always there at my side / Girl, I’m glad you’re mine.”
All I Want is You by U2
It’s easy to get lost in the materials of the world, especially while planning a wedding. The song All I Want is You by U2 is a reminder that at the end of the day, all that matters is the love you have for one another.
The marvellous lyrics: “But all the promises we make / From the cradle to the grave / When all I want is you.“
Flightless Bird / American Mouth by Iron ; Wine
This soft and emotional song by indie band Iron ; Wine describes pure and unconditional love. While the lyrics aren’t necessarily romantic, the acoustic feel lends a rawness to a first dance that is difficult to come by in other popular wedding songs. Perfect for a slow dance – just make sure to have tissues in your pocket!
The poetic lyrics: “Have I found you? / Flightless bird, jealous, weeping / Or lost you? / American mouth / Big pill looming.
The Best Alternative Rock Songs for the First Dance
If you’d like to dance your heart out, then rock songs are the perfect pick for your first dance:
Dreams by the Cranberries
The next chapter of your life is starting and no song captures the overwhelming feeling as well as Dreams by the Cranberries.
The beautiful lyrics: “You’re what I couldn’t find / A totally amazing mind / So understanding and so kind / You’re everything to me / Oh, my life is changing everyday.“
You and Me by Dave Matthews Band
The freedom of love and marriage, the song You and Me by Dave Matthews Band marvels at the strength of two hands held together for life.
The lovely lyrics: “We’re gonna take a boat to the end of the world / All the way to the end of the world / Oh, and when the kids are old enough / We’re gonna teach them to fly / You and me together could do anything, baby.“
Somewhere Only We Know by Keane
Having someone to love is having someone to rely on and trust with all your heart. That’s the picture the catchy song Somewhere Only We Know by Keane paints.
The amazing lyrics: “I’m gettin’ old, and I need something to rely on / So, tell me when you’re gonna let me in / I’m gettin’ tired, and I need somewhere to begin.“
Stolen by Dashboard Confessional
A lovely song for the ages, Stolen by Dashboard Confessional is sure to steal hearts with its sweet lyrics and groovy tune.
The delightful lyrics: “You have stolen my heart / I watch you spin around in your highest heels / You are the best one of the best ones.“
Crazy Love by Van Morrison
The most romantic lyrics found in a rock song, Crazy Love by Van Morrison is a foolproof pick for memorable first dances.
The powerful lyrics: “I can hear her heartbeat from a thousand miles / Yeah, the heavens open every time she smiles / And when I come to her, that’s where I belong / Yeah, and I run into her like a river’s song.”
I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie
The second entry on our list that will immediately make us reach for our tissues, this song by American alternative rock band Death Cab for Cutie describes love that transcends the grave. It speaks of pure, unconditional love in the face of unspeakable sorrow.
Few can even listen to the song without weeping, so keep this in mind when considering it for your first dance.
The poignant lyrics: “If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied / Illuminate the “no”s on their vacancy signs / If there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks / Then I’ll follow you into the dark
Great R&B Songs for the First Dance
One could never go wrong with soul songs. Here’s a list of the top five hits for first dances:
Kiss by Prince and the Revolution
A little on the scandalous side, the song Kiss by Prince and the Revolution is a risquè song perfect for crazy lovers and memorable first dances.
The alluring lyrics: “I want to be your fantasy / Maybe you could be mine / You just leave it all up to me / We could have a good time.”
Tiny Dancer by Elton John
Unconventional but lovely, if that’s the vibe you’re going for then the song Tiny Dancer by Elton John is the perfect choice for your first dance.
The feel-good lyrics: “Looking on / She sings the songs / The words she knows / The tune she hums / But oh, how it feels so real.“
A Couple of Forevers by Chrisette Michele
The forever kind of love, the song A Couple of Forevers by Chrisette Michele is the finest tune for first dance as partners for life.
The heartwarming lyrics: “Me and you are built like armour / Nothing can’t stop love from loving on us / And I’m not asking for much / Just a couple of forevers.“
Coming Home by Leon Bridges
Marriage is the proclamation of love and the song Coming Home by Leon Bridges celebrates the best part about it i.e having someone to build your home with.
The loving lyrics: “I’m coming home / To your tender sweet loving / You’re my one and only woman / The world leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, girl / You’re the only one that I want.”
By Your Side by Sade
Through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, that’s what marriage promises and the song By Your Side by Sade celebrates the lifelong vow.
The sweetest lyrics: “When you’re lost and you’re alone / And you can’t get back again / I will find you / Darling, and I will bring you home.”
Ribbon in the Sky by Stevie Wonder
When it comes to finding a sensual song to dance to, R;B doesn’t disappoint. Stevie Wonder’s “Ribbon in the Sky” has all the slow, smooth sensuality required of an R;B first dance song. It describes a man finding his soulmate after a long time searching. Certainly, something most couples can relate to when they finally find “The One.”
The romantic lyrics: Oh, so long for this night I prayed / That a star would guide you my way / To share with me this special day / Where are ribbons in the sky for our love
Groovy Alternative Country Songs for the First Dance
If you’d like to seal the deal with a country song, here are the best five picks for the first dance:
Romeo and Juliet by the Dire and Straits
A classic story told with a classic song, Romeo and Juliet by Dire and Straits marvels at the undying love of two and their vow to be with each other no matter what.
The cutest lyrics: “A lovestruck Romeo sang the streets a serenade / Laying everybody low with a love song that he made / Finds a streetlight, steps out of the shade / Says something like, “You and me, babe, how about it?”
Your Man by Josh Turner
For a sweet and sultry first dance, there’s no better pick than the song Your Man by Josh Turner.
The flirty lyrics: “I’ve been thinking ’bout this all day long / Never felt a feeling quite this strong / I can’t believe how much it turns me on / Just to be your man / Ain’t nobody ever love nobody / The way that I love you.“
When You Say Nothing At All by Alison Krauss
Talking about the intimacy of love, the song When You Say Nothing At All by Alison Krauss defines marriage with one word: trust.
The kindest lyrics: “The smile on your face lets me know that you need me / There’s a truth in your eyes saying you’ll never leave me / The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall / You say it best when you say nothing at all.”
Yours by Russell Dickerson
If you’d like to show gratitude to your partner, honour them with love and promise your life to them, then the song Yours by Russell Dickerson is perfect.
The melodious lyrics: “I came to life when I first kissed you / The best me has his arms around you / You make me better than I was before / Thank God I’m yours.“
Blessed by Thomas Rhett
No song could capture a romantic mood more perfectly on the dance floor than Blessed by Thomas Rhett.
The impressive lyrics: “Watching you spin in that dress / Making my heart beat out my chest / I can’t count the times I’ve heard / People say I’m lucky / But lucky ain’t the word, oh, I’m blessed.”
Give it All We Got Tonight by George Strait
This slow, sweet song is about as romantic as it gets. It tells a love story of a man describing special moments with his special lady.
The heartwarming lyrics: “Baby, fall into my kiss / It should just happen like this / Trust it so much that there’s no one else but us and / This moment that says it’s so right /’Cause that’s all we have in this life / Drink up this love, baby, give it all we got tonight’’
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the number one first dance song?
The most popular first dance song for weddings is by far, Thousand Years by Christina Perri.
Can you have an upbeat first dance song?
Absolutely. There’s no restriction on what the first dance song has to be. It could be a romantic tear-jerker, an indie classic, a rock and roll jam, old school country or any other unconventional genres.
Finding good alternative first dance songs can be time-consuming, but with such a comprehensive guide, you can easily pick out your favorite and make your special day memorable.
As a multi-passionate creative and a self-proclaimed frequent flyer of weddings, Kiara combines her love for the wedding industry and experience as a professional wedding photographer with her writing abilities to share tips, tricks, and helpful information with couples. She is the owner of Switech Studios a popular wedding photography business. With tons of insider information from behind her camera lens on how to have the best wedding possible, Kiara’s in-depth knowledge is sure to put you on the road to wedding planning success.