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Choosing a first dance and selecting songs for your wedding
A useful article covering popular, interesting and eclectic suggestions for first dance songs, as well as advice on how to work with your chosen band to select the perfect set list.
Can't help falling in love - Elvis Presley
Part 1: First things first…………
Although many bands may be able to learn a special song just for you, it’s often easiest to pick a first dance song which is already in their play list. Likewise, classical musicians may read sheet music but a well rehearsed tune for your ceremony is far more preferable to putting manuscript in front of them and making the best of it.
Many professional bands perform so regularly that they don’t rehearse more than once in a blue moon and, with the best will in the world, may not be able to book rehearsal space in what little free time they have to learn songs for all their clients.
That said, it is still common practice for a band to learn first dance songs and Alive Network welcomes your suggestions.
Can the band physically play your song?
If you’re booking a jazz band to play at your reception but want your first dance to be ‘Rock DJ’ by Robbie Williams, chances are the band not going to be able to accommodate. Be aware of the instrumentation and style of the band you're booking and realise what limitations this might have on what they can play.
Another good example of this would be a rock/pop party band being asked to perform a tune like ‘Fly me to the moon’ by Frank Sinatra (a popular choice for first dances.) The popular Sinatra version of this song has an orchestra playing on it and whilst your party band may be able to busk the chords on guitar and piano, it won’t sound like the original.
Ask your Alive Network agent for advice if you’re unsure what your band could or couldn’t play.
Get your first dance song on CD
A quick solution is to get your first dance song on CD and have either the DJ or band play the song through their equipment. This is a very popular choice as it’s the least hassle and allows the band to create an impact when they kick off their set immediately afterwards.
Choosing a first dance
Most first dance tunes are songs which mean something special to the happy couple. Maybe a song you both listened to when you we’re first dating or one which reminds you of a special event. Other people may choose songs which fit the theme of the wedding, or which just say something romantic.
Below is a selection of suggested first dance songs which have been put together with the instrumentation of popular wedding bands in mind. Most will be relatively easy to play to a high standard by a 4-5 piece bands, without the use of special backing tracks:
Romantic smoochie songs
Can’t take my eyes off you – Andy Williams
Close to you – Carpenters
Every breath you take - The Police
Every thing I do – Brian Adams
Groovy kind of love - Phil Collins
Have I told you lately - Rod Stewart
How deep is your love - Take That
In my life - The Beatles
It had to be you - Harry Connick Jr
Love is all around - Wet Wet Wet
Love me tender - Elvis Presley
More than words - Extreme
My girl - Temptations
Stand by me - Ben E King
The scientist - Coldplay
When you say nothing at all – Ronan Keating
Wonderful tonight – Eric Clapton
Your song – Elton John
You do something to me – Paul Weller
Upbeat love songs for dancing to
Brown eyed girl – Van Morrison
I got you babe - Sonny and Cher
I’ll be there for you (Friends theme) – The Rembrandts
I’m a believer – The Monkeys
Moon dance – Van Morrison
She loves you – The Beatles
There she goes – The La’s
Walkin’ on sunshine – Katrina and the waves
Power ballads – part soft/part huge!
Angels – Robbie Williams
Baby can I hold you – Tracy Chapman
She’s the one – Robbie Williams
Unchained melody – The Righteous Brothers
Wonderwall - Oasis
Yellow - Coldplay
Classical music for the ceremony
Air (On A G String) - Bach
Ave Maria - Gounod
Arrival of the Queen of Sheba - Handel
Canon in D - Pachelbel
Flower Duet (Lakmé) - Delibes
Hallelujah Chorus - Handel
Jesu Joy of Mans Desiring - Bach
Minuet For String Quartet - Boccherini
Nimrod from enigma variations - Elgar
Peer Gynt - Greig
Sheep May Safely Graze - Bach
Sleepers Awake - Bach
Symphony No.6 - Pastoral - Beethoven
Symphony No. 40 In G Minor - Mozart
The Four Seasons - Summer - Vivaldi
The Four Seasons - Spring - Vivaldi
Trumpet Voluntary (Prince of Denmarks March) - Clarke
Voi Che Sapete from Marriage of Figaro - Mozart
Waltz Of The Cornflowers and Poppies - Glazunov
Water Music in D Alla Hornpipe - Handel
Wedding March - Mendlessohn
Part 2: Working on the main play list
In most cases you’re best leaving the choice of songs for the main play list up to the band. They’ll be well experienced at choosing songs to suit your guests and will often finalise their play list once they get to the event and see their audience. They may even make changes to the play list as they perform, adding extra songs of a type which are being particularly well received.
That said, you should feel free to obtain a copy of the bands set list from their profile page here at the Alive Network web site, and phone/ email through any suggestions you’d like to make. It’s often easiest to note which songs you DON’T want playing and leave the band to arrange the rest.
Remember that the band will suggest songs and want to include songs which they know always go down well. These may not always be your personal favourites but when you see the excellent reaction these songs get from your guests, you’ll soon see why they're included.
If you do wish to suggest a play list to the band, you should use the following as a guide:
15 songs = approx one 45 minute set
The evening is usually best built using lighter, easy listening material first, building towards the bigger, louder tunes at the end of a set or at the end of the night.
5-6 fast songs should be followed up by a slower or lighter tune.
Try not to mix too many songs from the same band together (EG: avoid 5 Beatles songs all in a row.)
The band will also have other considerations when planning a set such as:
Grouping songs in complimentary keys
Grouping songs by use of equipment
Grouping songs by vocal range
All in all, Alive Network’s artists work extremely hard to provide a superb evening’s entertainment which is as personalised to your taste and that of your guests. You can expect an excellent selection of music what ever style of band you hire, with a professional, considerate attitude towards making your event the best it can be.
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