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Hudson Valley Wedding DJ Bri Swatek First Dance Highlands Country Club Kimberly Coccagnia Photography

5 Easy Ways to Choose Your First Dance Song

Choosing your first dance song can be a challenging task and it was not easy for us, at all. We didn’t have “a song”, and we just kept pushing it off and pushing it off until it was almost the last thing to cross off on our to-do-list. Now, we were panicking!


We scoured for hours and hours trying to find a song we both liked, that had lyrics that meant something, that was danceable and that wasn’t too long. It seemed like the only thing we could agree on was that we didn’t want a song that was overly played on the radio.


We had 4 songs in the running that we really liked, but couldn’t really commit to as a first dance…


“Marry Me” by Train…great song, especially live, but we didn’t meet at a café.


“A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri…beautiful, but had never seen The Twilight Saga and it was on the radio all the time.


“You are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne…loved that it was unique, but was a little fast and would require us to take dance lessons, which we didn’t have time for.


“The Way You Look Tonight” by everyone and anyone…classic, but overdone.


Then we heard “When You Say Nothing at All” by Ronan Keating. It was, PERFECT for us!! I cried the moment I heard the opening guitar notes. It transformed me to a place I can’t explain and we both felt like the song was written just for us.


While we couldn’t have been happier with our first dance song, we only wish we knew how to choose one in a better, faster, and less stressful way.


So, I asked Hudson Valley DJs what advice they have for choosing your first dance song, and it really comes down to five easy steps (NOTE: Some of the links in this post are to partners that advertise with us).



STEP 1 – What kind of music do you normally listen to?


The first way to narrow down your choices is to look at the type of music you listen to. Do you listen to Country Music? R & B? Top 40? Pop? Once you narrow down your genre, then you can start to look at music choices. But the most important thing is to not put so much pressure on yourself. DJ Bri Swatek, owner of Spinning with Style in Wappingers Falls says  “I don’t think you need to put that much pressure on yourself. A lot of couples don’t have a song that’s ‘their’ song…and so if you don’t, pick something that’s in your wheelhouse, that’s the kind of music you like – like country or top 40. Try dancing to it in your living room…and say ‘is this something we even can dance to?’”.  Which brings me to step number two.


STEP 2 – What kind of dance do you want to do?


DJ’s can tell you by the BPMs (beats per minute) how danceable a song is, and you can also tell by practicing. But before you start practicing the danceability of a song, you first have to figure out what kind of dance you want to do.


Weddings are full of tradition but are also a great opportunity to buck tradition and really use it as a blank slate to showcase your personalities. If formal slow songs aren’t your thing, don’t worry about it. “The first dance song itself, typically is a song that at some point has either meant something to them (the couple) or they relate to that song…so that’s how they end up deciding on that.” Says Joey Garcia (DJ Joey G.), owner of Jade DJ Entertainment in New Paltz. That means it could be fast, slow, or a mixture of both. “Sometimes couples take the first dance as an opportunity to do some fun stuff where they start with a slow song and then they want to…mix in some fast songs with that.”



STEP 3 – Ask your DJ


If steps one and two still have you stumped, ask your DJ. Do this before you do a Google search. Here’s why? First, the trend today is to go with songs that you don’t hear on the radio every day. Second, when you search for first dance songs, more often than not, you are going to get a list compiled by a music agency based on popularity and if they are considered a “romantic” song based on the way they play (music and beat), their title, and not so much the lyrics. DJs hear first dance songs all the time and music is their business. If you’re stumped, chances are they can help. David Fischer, DJ and president of M. C. Fish Entertainment, Inc. in Fishkill gives a good example. He says “For example, “I Will Always Love You” is in some streaming music channels as a possible first dance song, but it’s a breakup song.” I, myself, as a fan of Sting and The Police know that the song “Every Breath You Take” has made it to some dance floors as a first-dance. Though the music is beautiful, when you listen to the lyrics, it’s not very appropriate (Sting has even made reference to that irony as well). That leads me to step four.


STEP 4 – Listen to the lyrics


Once you found a song you think you like, listen to the lyrics. Fisher says “The first thing I tell couples is if you need help, call the DJ. The second thing I tell people is if you think you have something (a song), print out the lyrics, and speak it out loud, not in your head like you’re reading a book.” He says, “If it doesn’t sound right when you read it, there’s nothing music is going to do to make it any better. If it (the lyrics) sound good, then listen to it with the music. If the lyrics mean something to you, you have a winner.” Listening to the lyrics also help you understand the context a little more. Is the song about a breakup? Is it about an affair? With songs having so many hidden meanings these days, you want to make sure it’s meaning is wedding appropriate…slow or fast. That leads me to my last point.


STEP 5 – Go with your gut


Wedding appropriate means different things to different people. Mostly, it needs to represent who you are as a couple. Domenic Trocino, owner of DJ Domenic Entertainment in Poughkeepsie says a lot of people don’t have a connection to a song. He says  “Don’t get wrapped up in trying to find the perfect song that has the lyrics that explains your relationship… Pick a song that you can dance to. Pick a song that you like” Take it from me, trying to find a song that embodies your relationship perfectly is never going to happen (unless you have a song written for you), or if it does, will take forever to find.


Donnie Lewis, owner of Your Event Matters and Illuminate Event Lighting in Hopewell Junction says “If you hear a song and it gives you goose bumps, that’s the song you should be going with” He actually says that he doesn’t help couple choose their first dance song, he just guides them in a direction that helps them, together as a couple, choose a song that’s best for them. “I want them to have some kind of feeling towards the song that they hear. I’ll show them different styles of music from traditional to something completely out of the ordinary. We used a song once about (the video game) Mario Kart, it was called “The Mario Kart Love Song” and the couple was looking for something specific that was geared towards them and they were both gamers, and it was a song that as soon as they heard, they fell in love with it, and that was the song they wanted to use”


Have you chosen your first dance song yet? If so, let us know, this way you can give inspiration to couples who are searching for their song.

Featured Photo Credit: Kimberly Coccagnia

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