15 Ways to Make Your First Dance More Memorable

In the age of viral videos, “surprise” first dances are no longer very surprising. But that doesn’t mean your only other option is to stick with a traditional first dance for your wedding.

wedding first dance
Photo Credit: Rodeo & Co.

If you want to make your first dance unique and memorable, there are plenty of ways to do so — that aren’t already represented in thousands of YouTube videos.  

1. Commission a custom song

Why pick your first dance song from the Billboard charts when you can have a brand new one created especially for you? Websites like Custom Song and Custom Serenade will create a number — complete with unique, personalized lyrics — for you based on information you provide and your feedback. 

2. Do a costume change 

Plenty of brides opt to change into a separate “reception dress” after their wedding ceremonies. But, even if you want to wear your one wedding dress the whole night (after all, you may as well get as much use out of it as you can!), you can still do a quick costume change for the first dance only. Throw on silly matching sweatshirts over your formal wear, or don themed head-to-toe garb that relates to your song or dance — the possibilities are endless. 

3. Go local

“Choosing a favorite song that means something to them as a couple — like a regional or school or college them — really makes the friends and family crowd go wild,” says Debi Lilly, the “Chief Eventeur” at Chicago-based A Perfect Event. Some big first dance hits Lilly has been privy to include "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra at a wedding in Brooklyn and "Sweet Home Alabama" at a wedding on a southern plantation. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be a song about a location; it can be a song that’s special to your hometown. Are you and your groom (and most of your guests) diehard Chicago Bulls fans? Choreograph something unique to the infamous starting line-up song. Think about any music that unites your community, city, or state. 

wedding first dance
Photo Credit: Bartlett Pair Photography

4. Add your own voiceover to the song

Peter Merkle of Chicago Wedding DJs gives his couples the opportunity to come into the studio prior to the wedding and record themselves talking about their feelings for each other. He takes the sound bites and edits them into the first dance song for a truly unique take. “There’s nothing better than hearing the sweet, funny, sassy, heartfelt comments as a bride and groom dance their first dance together,” he says. And the guests love it, too. “Guests will burst out laughing to the funny stuff,” Merkle says. “They’ll shed a tear and smile for the romantic expressions. And most of all, they’ll have this look of awe because we’ve taken what we can sometimes be a standard moment and made it something extraordinary.”

5. Make it a medley

Can’t decide on one song? Well, who says you have to? There are plenty of programs out there, like Apple’s Garage Band, that allow even novices to easily “mash-up” multiple songs to make one monster tune. Choose a few different songs that can flow into each other well, and you’ll pretty much guarantee your final track will be different from any other first dance songs you’ve heard. Plus, the change-ups will keep your guests interested and entertained, while they’re gleefully guessing what might be next.

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