April 26, 2021


Black and white photo of a groom twirling his bride during their first dance. Photo by Kayla Lee.

The first dance. Generally considered the final official event–the last thing you *have* to do on your wedding day–it kind of bridges the formality of your celebration with the fun portion left to come. It can serve as one more time you can express who you are. Like they say in “Bride Wars,” it is a way for you to show your couple status…whatever that means to you.

The tradition of this part of the wedding day waltzes all the way back to the seventeenth century. When wealthy families would host their extravagant parties or a ball, it was customary for the guests of honor to have the first dance of the evening; fellow guests and attendees would circle around the floor, allowing the duo to twirl their way around the room before joining them on the floor for the evening. This is effectively what this part of the day achieves on your event, too.

Unlike the formal dances from back in the day, however, your first dance can be as formal or funky as you would like! There are no rules, just YOUR way when it comes to your first dance. In my time as a wedding photographer, I have seen first dances that have ran the entire cavorting spectrum–there have been bopping poppy dances, and there have been formal frolicing. I have seen things that are swingy and flingy, and I have also witnessed intimate sways where the two moved to the music as if no one else was in the room. There is no right or wrong way to first dance; you just need to move to the rhythm of your heart, you mood, your day.

How do you know how you should dance? There’s a few ways…


Some couples use their first dance to represent other parts of their day. The movements replicate a part of their theme or the lyrics of the song work with their vibe or they tie together some other way. 


Do you two have a song? One that you crank up when in the car together and it comes on the radio or over Spotify? Perfect choice.


To pump up the crowd and prime them for dancing, you could use your first dance song to get them going. A song you can not only dance to, but one they could sing along with to get them ready to get their booty out on the dance floor. 

Need further inspiration? Here are a few of the first dance songs I have seen my brides and grooms groove to for their first dance:

  • “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz
  • “Something Just Like This” by The Chainsmokers featuring Chris Martin
  • “Moondance” by Van Morrison
  • “At Last” by Etta James
  • “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton 
  • “Marry Me” by Train 
  • “You’re Simply The Best” by Tina Turner
  • “All Of Me” by John Legend
  • “Amazed” by Lonestar
  • “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” by James Taylor

What is/was/would be YOUR first dance song? Care to share??

Kayla Lee is a Minnesota-based wedding and elopement photographer. She provides services to elegant, authentic, sentimental couples who not only choose their own adventures, but also live them to the fullest! See more about the KLP Wedding Experience!

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At home on the road. Forever-focused on authenticity and the thrilling art of creation; always found in the moments that leave me breathless and in awe. 

After fourteen years as a high school educator, I stepped back through a door I thought was closed. Journalism came back into my life. Armed with a Masters of Arts in Communication, I was again challenged and prepared to tell the stories that would become history, but with a twist: It is now your legacy of love that I document. The tension I seek is that from every tear, smile, laugh, and moment of love on your wedding day. 


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