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The First Dance

The tradition of a first dance dates back to the 17th Century in Europe. It began at formal balls; the first dance being led by the guest of honour, which was usually the person of the highest social position, (such as a member of royalty or parliament). Their dance signifies the opening of the ball. This custom soon progressed to wedding receptions and has been a focus point for weddings ever since.

The Zoots weddding band perform Lizzy & Cameron First Dance

The first wedding dance was commonly a ‘Waltz’ in the past but in modern times ballroom dancing is not as common as it once was, although it can be something fun for you both to do and learn together in the lead up to your wedding. Some couples opt for a slow dance, or something a bit different, like these guys (wait for about 1:20 – it’s worth it):

It’s always such an honour to sing the first dance at a wedding. It can be quite nerve-wracking as it is such a special moment for couples and it means so much. I am very aware that they may have heard the song hundreds of times so I have to perform it well. If we are asked to perform a first dance we don’t know, we will always invest time rehearsing it until it sounds perfect, and if we don’t feel we can do it justice, (usually because of the instrumentation) we’ll always let you know.

IMG_9685I remember the first song I performed for a first dance was at Bray Cricket Club in Berkshire for a wedding back in 199…anyway…I was surprised that the bride and groom chose ‘You can’t always get what you want’ by The Rolling Stones. It’s a fantastic song to sing but the subject matter still makes me chuckle! Saying that, another first dance request we’ve had is ‘No woman no cry’ by Bob Marley!

First dance choices change over the years, we have some which we play often, and others only once. This doesn’t make them any less or any more special. ‘Wonderful tonight’ by Eric Clapton was very popular for a while and ‘Can’t take my eyes off you’ by Andy Williams is very popular still which I like as it starts slow and builds and eases the other guests on the dancefloor. I have sung ‘Stand by me’ by Ben E King many times, particularly enjoying an acapella (all vocal) version we performed at a wedding in London. ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams is also a popular choice and has stood the test of time.

One of my favourite songs we performed at a wedding was ‘We are the Champions’ for the very lovely Mr & Mrs Champion for their last dance at the Crazy Bear, Stadhampton in 2013. We learnt it especially and performed it towards the end as a surprise. it was just brilliant! Everyone sang along.

First Dance for Kerry-Ann and Rob

We’re always open to suggestions and always happy to recommend songs which we feel might suit. Not everyone has *the* song, that is totally ok. Going with a song that you both like as a couple is a good place to start, possibly a song that you look back on with fond memories. If you’re not sure, have a look through our repertoire, something is bound to catch your eye. Your first dance doesn’t have to be seriously formal, it can be whatever you want it to be! Can’t choose between two? Let us know and we can suggest which one may work better with our line up! It can be a nice idea if you have a friend of the family or a relative who can sing (for reals sing, not just in the shower and on karaoke and stuff), it can be a good idea for them to sing your first dance. In 2013, Lizzy & Cameron had their bridesmaid Hannah sing Blue Moon with us, it sounded beautiful and made it even more special for Lizzy & Cam. Think it though, send us an email and we’ll see if it’s do-able

Don’t fancy being in the spotlight for too long? That’s fine! We’ve had many couples who ask us to invite their guests onto the dance floor quite soon after the first dance has begun.

When choosing a first dance it there are a few things to consider:
1. Can you and your partner dance? If so, to what level?
2. Do you have an obvious song that you like?
3. Would you like it be be performed live by a band or do you prefer the original?
4. Is the song well known enough that the band can do the song justice?
5. Do you want the other guests to join you on the dancefloor or would you like to be on your own?

I would highly recommend having your first dance on as many formats as possible just in case, on your phone, laptop, iPod, on a CD, just in case.

Got a question? Get in touch.

Jamie & Harriet (and some help from Wiki)
(Not pictured below, although that is Jamie…with the lovely bride Bella…not Harriet, just to be clear)

Jamie Goddard from the Zoots

2 thoughts on “Choosing Your First Dance

  1. Katie

    Great article! It took me ages to decide what song to choose! We’ve gone with Stand By Me, it was a lovely track and we really like the lyrics! Getting married in May, very excited.

    1. jamiegodo

      Stand by Me was one of the first songs I sang at a wedding for the first dance. The couple weren’t sure about having a first dance but let the band decide. We agreed on Stand By Me by Ben E King and we perfomed it as an acapella and it was lovely. http://thezoots.com

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