14 Inappropriate First Dance Songs You May Want to Avoid
From the ceremony procession to the reception exit, plenty of important wedding moments are accompanied by music. Your wedding songs are some of the most personal ways to customize your big day. Music helps represent your relationship in a special way other details can't, and it'll leave a lasting impression on your guests. Not only do your ceremony and reception songs define who you are as a couple, they also set the tone for your wedding. Of all the tunes you'll pick, though, perhaps the most important is your first dance song. While there are plenty of great options, there are also select inappropriate first dance songs to avoid. These hits may sound romantic; however, the lyrics and underlying meanings are anything but.
Sometimes songs that sound perfect for your first dance may not have the lyrics that match the romantic, celebratory feeling you're trying to convey. Of course, if a song speaks to you, the couple, in a sentimental way, you should still use it. But a few songs that sound pretty aren't actually as positive as they seem. Here, we share down 14 inappropriate first dance songs you may want to skip, along with similar alternatives to consider instead.
"Stay With Me" by Sam Smith
Questionable lyrics: "This ain't love, it's clear to see/But darling, stay with me"
This slow Sam Smith hit was all over the charts after its release—and while it's a painfully beautiful song, it's seemingly about a doomed relationship that won't work out. Not really an ideal vibe for your first dance, right?
Instead, try an acoustic version of "Latch" by Sam Smith and Disclosure. Or, go with the original for a unique first dance tune.
"You're Beautiful" by James Blunt
Questionable lyrics: "It's time to face the truth/I will never be with you"
There's a chance all of your guests will know the lyrics to this popular ballad, but that doesn't mean it's a romantic option. The song is actually about two people who catch each other's eye, knowing they'll never see each other again. (Kind of sad, right?)
Instead, try "You Are So Beautiful" by Joe Cocker. It has a similar sound to Blunt's song, though the lyrics are much more first-dance-worthy.
"Marry You" by Bruno Mars
Questionable lyrics: "It's a beautiful night, we're looking for something dumb to do/Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you"
This isn't the most inappropriate first dance song ever, but there are some more romantic options from Bruno Mars. After all, this song is about a couple looking for something "dumb" to do, and we'd like to think your wedding day is anything but.
Instead, try a sweeter Mars song like "Just the Way You Are."
"Love Me Now" by John Legend
Questionable lyrics: "I don't know who's gonna kiss you when I'm gone/So I'm gonna love you now, like it's all I have/I know it'll kill me when it's over"
Just like Mars' hit above, this catchy tune by John Legend isn't the worst option, but some of the lyrics have sad connotations. Given Legend's catalogue of wedding-worthy songs, there are plenty of options that better match your wedding day vibe.
Instead, try "All of Me," "You & I (Nobody in the World)" or "Made to Love."
"Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler
Questionable lyrics: "Once upon a time I was falling in love/But now I'm only falling apart"
Sure, this is a classic '80s hit that almost everyone can sing along to. But did you know the lyrics are actually about a vampire love story? In 2004, the song's producer, Jim Steinman, admitted that the song was originally meant for a vampire musical, hence the dark and mysterious undertones. The musical never came to fruition, though, and the song instead became Tyler's iconic hit.
Instead, try another '80s love song like "I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner. For a modern twist, use Mariah Carey's cover.
"Hey There Delilah" by Plain White T's
Questionable lyrics: "Listen to my voice, it's my disguise/I'm by your side"
Upon first listen, this sounds like a swoon-worthy love song about a long-distance relationship. Sadly, the real-life Delilah spoke out in 2013 and confirmed she was in another relationship when this song was written for her. In reality, this song was written for a fictional relationship that never worked out. Kind of a bad omen for a wedding, right?
Instead, try "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. It's another mid-2000s pop love song that's a better fit for your first dance.
"Ho Hey" by The Lumineers
Questionable lyrics: "I don't think you're right for him/Look at what it might have been..."
There's no denying that this folksy song from The Lumineers is catchy. In fact, you'd probably get everyone to sing the words if you played this at your wedding. Despite this, it's actually an inappropriate first dance song since it tells the story of someone asking their flame to leave their current partner.
If you like The Lumineers' indie vibe, try their 2016 tune "Sleep on the Floor" about a couple starting a brand new journey together.
"Make You Feel My Love" by Adele
Questionable lyrics: "The storms are raging on the rolling sea/And on the highway of regret"
You may love Adele's cover of Bob Dylan's 1997 classic, but some of the lyrics lean on the sad side. While it's not explicitly an inappropriate first dance song, it may not be the exact feel you're going for.
Instead, try "Remedy" by Adele. While the Grammy-winner is known for her painful tear-jerkers, this is a rare (and powerful) song about everlasting love.
"Marry Me" by Thomas Rhett
Questionable lyrics: "Yeah, she gonna get married/But she ain't gonna marry me"
Thomas Rhett is known for making wedding-worthy country songs, but this one doesn't make the cut. After all, he sings about a man showing up to a wedding knowing his true love is marrying someone else.
If you want to use a Thomas Rhett song for your first dance, there are plenty of other options. Instead, try "Die a Happy Man" or "Look What God Gave Her."
"I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton
Questionable lyrics: "Cause we both know that I'm not/What you need"
Whether you're considering Dolly Parton's original or Whitney Houston's cover, keep in mind that this song is actually a breakup ballad, making it an inappropriate first dance song. Given the somber nature of the song's meaning, we recommend steering clear of this one for your first dance.
Instead, try "From Here to the Moon and Back" by Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson and Jeremy Jordan.
"God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys
Questionable lyrics: "I may not always love you…./If you should ever leave me/Though life would still go on, believe me"
Ideally, your first dance song shouldn't include any breakup references like this tune from The Beach Boys. After all, your wedding day isn't the place for that.
Instead, try a different song from the band, like "Good Vibrations." This upbeat track is ideal for couples who want a high-energy first dance moment.
"My Heart Will Go On" by Céline Dion
Questionable lyrics: "You are safe in my heart and/My heart will go on and on"
If you can't hear this song without envisioning the heartbreaking scene from Titanic, you're not alone. Consider skipping this one to avoid giving your guest Leonardo DiCaprio flashbacks. Céline Dion has plenty of powerful love songs, and some may be better options than this somber tune.
Instead, try "The Power of Love" by Céline Dion.
"Skinny Love" by Bon Iver
Questionable lyrics: "And now, all your love is wasted/Then who the hell was I?/'Cause now I'm breaking at the bridges/And at the end of all your lies"
Sure, "love" is in the title but this Bon Iver song is far from an ideal ballad for your first dance. Further investigation into the lyrics proves this song is really about a painful breakup.
Instead, try "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by Sleeping At Last. This cover of The Proclaimers' 1987 hit has a romantic folk vibe just like "Skinny Love" without a sad underlying meaning.
"Every Breath You Take" by The Police
Questionable lyrics: "Every breath you take and every move you make/Every bond you break, every step you take, I'll be watching you"
In theory, this song's title makes it sound like a romantic option for your first dance. In reality, it's not as swoon-worthy as you think. In fact, The Police have even admitted their 1983 hit is actually about a possessive lover. We suggest picking a different song that encapsulates your emotions a little better.
Instead, try a different '80s love song, like "You're The Inspiration" by Chicago or "Eternal Flame" by The Bangles.