Have this dance - Shawn Loughlin editorial
There is something very special about witnessing a couple’s first dance at their wedding. It’s a special day, filled with love and promise, so seeing that happen to the tune of a specific song, holds a bit more weight than simply just hearing a song on the radio.
I realized this when, years ago, Jess and I began working to decide what our first dance song might be at our wedding back in 2017. On one hand, you want to choose a unique song that holds a special place in your relationship, but on the other, it’s easy to remember back to other couples’ first dances you’ve seen and think that magic could be recreated, but with you two at the centre of it.
In the end, we danced to “Moonlight Mile” by The Rolling Stones; my suggestion and one I had been championing for quite some time. I danced with my mother to “Strangers” by The Kinks and Jess danced to “In My Life” by The Beatles with her father. There was a decidedly British theme to the music, I suppose.
But, as I went through my mind’s Rolodex, I found myself returning to songs other couples had danced to at weddings I’d attended.
There were three of them that just hit me in a profound way. “Love Letter” by Nick Cave, “Love” by Kendrick Lamar and “Purple Rain” by Prince all came by way of friends’ weddings. They were all unique enough, but they were special for those couples, not for us.
Funny enough, after our wedding I found that I wasn’t the only one who suffered from this experience. Two friends who were in the process of planning their wedding couldn’t shake “Moonlight Mile” out of their heads, wanting to replicate that experience, but for themselves. They eventually went another way, but it made me feel better knowing that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.
Choosing a song that will be the soundtrack for your first dance is a difficult decision for a couple to make. I remember a friend telling me a cute story about him and his wife, in their small Toronto apartment, trying out songs ahead of their wedding, actually dancing to them at home. You might think a song will be a good choice when you listen to it, he told me, but dancing to it can be entirely different.
The hope, of course, is that you have a song that is so special to you that the choice is obvious when the time comes to choose. No one wants to conduct the dreaded Google search for “wedding first dance songs” and then make a choice from that list, though I know several couples who have done just that.
Funny, Jess and I have already talked about this kind of stuff since Tallulah has been born. Of course, there are a few hurdles to clear before this time comes, but, as parents who didn’t find out our baby’s gender before she was born, with that came the knowledge of who would be tasked with the wedding dance when our child was born. Since then, my mind has been constantly thinking of songs and moments that have been special between me and Tallulah in this first year of her life. Who knows? She could just pick the song herself, choose not to get married, or any other number of options. For now, though, it’s nice to think about that future occasion and no one can take that away from me.
The moral of the story, I suppose, is to eschew anyone else’s experiences or “internet expertise” and lead from the heart when it comes to things like this. “The most personal is the most creative,” is a quote that has been attributed to famed film director Martin Scorsese. He’s talking about filmmaking there, but it’s really a sentiment that can be applied to just about everything, song selection included.