The Most Popular Wedding First Dance Songs The Most Popular Wedding First Dance Songs
Each couples’ love is completely unique. Their first dance songs, though? Not so much. Right on, the universal power of music. Right on. Ever... The Most Popular Wedding First Dance Songs

Each couples’ love is completely unique. Their first dance songs, though? Not so much. Right on, the universal power of music. Right on.

Ever listened to a song that spoke right to your heart and soul? A song that you felt understood you and your deepest feelings in a creepily-accurate way? Have looked over to your betrothed while blasting that song in the car with the windows down, and thought, “This is going to be our wedding song”? Turns out, a bunch of other people probably had the same thought. Weird how that works, right?

Of course, whatever song speaks (or sings?) the truth of your very special love is exactly what you should dance to with your new spouse. But we here at The Black Tux really love the first dance at weddings, almost as much as we love tuxedos. It’s like, the best part, and the most tearjerker-y after vows are exchanged. So we pay extra attention. And we can’t help but feel like we hear the same ones over and over again.

That’s why we decided to survey over 900 married people on the first dance songs at their wedding. We looked at the trends over time, breakdown by generation, and more. So whether you want wedding playlist inspo or a list of songs that to avoid because they’re too mainstream for your flower-crown-and-beard-heavy wedding, read on.

Table of Contents

i. The Most Popular Wedding First Dance Songs
ii. The Most Popular Wedding First Dance Songs for Each Generation
iii. How the Genre of First Dance Songs Has Changed Over Time
iv. Do Couples Do the Traditional Dance with Parents?
v. Wrap Up


i. The Most Popular Wedding First Dance Songs

Ah, love songs. There’s just something about them. “Oh my love, my darling, I’ve hungered for your touch a long lonely time,” begins the most popular wedding first dance song according to our survey, “Unchained Melody” by Righteous Brothers.

Most popular wedding first dance songs

A whopping 6.4% of couples had their first dance to this classic oldie, which was released in 1965, and has permeated pop culture ever since –it even played during that iconic clay-molding scene in GhostBut did you know this version is actually a cover of the 1955 song by Todd Duncan, and was originally written for a movie about prison? No comment on what that means for newlyweds who danced to it. Still, a beautiful song.

Other most popular wedding first dance songs include an eclectic mix of oldies, late 20th century hits, and popular singles of the 2000s and 2010s. There is also an interesting variety of pop, country, and rock, all the way from Tim McGraw to Frank Sinatra, or from Elvis Presley to Christina Perri. All we’re saying is, if we were at a wedding and  a couple danced to any of these choices, including “At Last” by Etta James, “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele, or “Your Song” by Elton John, we wouldn’t be mad about it.

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ii. The Most Popular Wedding First Dance Songs for Each Generation

Of course, a huge indicator of a first dance song choice will be the generation of  the couple choosing it. However, our survey found that some love songs hold up for generations. (Pause for awwwwwws.)

Most popular wedding first dance songs for millennials, generation x, baby boomers

Millennials’ top three choices for a first dance song include a pop, R&B, and a country song—”All of Me” by John Legend, “Amazed” by Lonestar, and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith. The latter song is also a favorite of gen Xers, who also chose “Unchained Melody” by Righteous Brothers and “At Last” by Etta James most often. And those latter two were also a favorite of the baby boomers, with some “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra sprinkled in on top.

Do we as a culture really only add in one or two iconic first dance songs per generation? It appears that way. But listen, this is an elite club. An elite club of universal love and connection symbolized through the incredible power of music, and it is not easy to achieve. Sorry, we just really love first dances. Did we mention that?

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iii. How the Genre of First Dance Songs Has Changed Over Time

Many things about weddings have changed over time—from what people wear to who is legally permitted to be wed (yay for equality!). One change has been the genre of first dance songs over time. Who knew?

The most popular wedding first dance song genre by decade

In the 1960’s, oldies were the most popular first dance song, with over 50% of song choices falling under that genre. (Were they called oldies back then, or… nowies?) The popularity of that genre has steadily declined since to 14% in the 2010’s, with a brief uptick in the 2000’s. Nostalgia, anyone?

The last two decades have seen the genres of country music and alternative/indie rock music rise in popularity as far as first dance songs go. Country music now makes up 23% of first dance songs, according to our survey, compared to 6% in the 1960’s. And alternative/indie rock music went from complete obscurity before the 1980’s to being featured in 13% of first dances today. You hipsters are truly powerful. Well done.

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iv. Do Couples Do the Traditional Dance with Parents?

Some traditions, however, do manage to last the test of time. Many traditional weddings have included a dance between the bride and her father, and the groom and his mother, or some other combination of  the two, for generations. However, our survey found that for decades, nearly half of all weddings have included neither a bride and dad dance or a mom and groom dance, from 58% in the 1960’s to 43% in the last decade.

Trends over time in traditional wedding dance with parents

In  fact, it appears that the dad and bride dance was a phenomenon of the 1960’s and 1970’s, because while it was virtually nonexistent in 1960, by 1970 22% of brides were calling their fathers to the dance floor for a dance at their wedding. Today, it’s more like 6%. And we bet most or all of those dads over the decades were embarrassing dancers. It’s their job, after all.
While the inclusion of a sole dance between the groom and his mother has never gone above 8% in the last 50 years, many weddings, in fact, include a dance with both parents, the percentage hovering around 45% in the last two decades. Because dancing is awesome no matter who is doing it. Now the next question is, what songs did they choose?

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v. Wrap Up

Now, we know we poked a bit of fun, and we know we awwwed and cried our way through this blog post, but that’s just the power of music, baby. Wedding music, from the first dance to the dances with parents to the tunes designed to get everybody out of their seat and on the dance floor, has the incredible ability to speak volumes, to connect across generations and other differing backgrounds, and to inspire everybody in the room to celebrate what we’re all there to celebrate: love.

So, whether your wedding happened years ago or is just around the corner, we recommend making a small playlist of the most popular first dance songs included above, putting it on while taking a drive with someone special to you, sitting back, relaxing, and letting the good times roll.

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