Couples spend countless hours meticulously curating a wedding that will represent their delightful uniqueness and impeccable taste, so the very least we onlookers can do is analyze and speculate about what all these choices say about them. A vegetarian meal? Hippies. A church wedding followed by a country club reception? Have fun driving a minivan in two years. Bridesmaids in matching dresses, shoes, pedicures, manicures, hairstyles, and lipsticks? Umm, control freak?
That first dance that a couple makes provides a ripe opportunity for projection and speculation. If you hear any of these songs at weddings this summer, here’s a completely, 100 percent, unassailably foolproof analysis of what it really means.
“At Last,” sung by Etta James
By most accounts, this is the far-and-away most popular first dance song played at weddings. The bride who chooses this (because let’s face it, it’s probably the bride) has probably been planning her amazing dream fairy tale wedding since she was six years old. She thinks it makes her seem classy and elegant, but it really just makes her seem unoriginal. (Here's a word to the wise...this song is really hard to dance to.)
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
This couple thinks that they're quirky and offbeat. And what’s more offbeat than choosing a song that’s been featured in dozens of commercials, films, and television shows, was ranked by the American Film Institute as the #1 movie song of all time, and has been downloaded over one million times? How delightfully non-mainstream!
“The Way You Look Tonight,” by Tony Bennett or Frank Sinatra
This couple’s parents are paying for their wedding, and if they’re footing the bill, dammit, then that first dance song is gonna be something appropriate that all of dad’s co-workers and golf buddies will like.
“I Will Always Love You,” by Dolly Parton
Although choosing the Dolly Parton version is marginally better than Whitney’s ear-bleeding rendition, it still does not camouflage the fact that this couple does not pay close attention to lyrics. The song is about a breakup.
“Can’t Help Falling in Love,” by Elvis Presley
This couple is in Very Serious Love and they want you all to know it. Their love has been pre-ordained by the heavens, and they don’t shrink from calling each other their soulmates. They engage in too much PDA, have irritating nicknames for each other, and moved in together after only three months of dating. They may cry as they dance.
“Into the Mystic,” by Van Morrison
This couple would never choose an overplayed song like “At Last.” They have impeccable musical taste, and want to be sure that everyone knows it. They wouldn’t dare choose one of their real favorites, because those songs are by indie bands that the guests have never heard (and therefore could not possibly appreciate), but they compromised with this moderately well-known Van Morrison ditty so that everyone would recognize it and realize just how impeccable and urbane they are. But as much as their friends roll their eyes at this pretention, it works. That song is gorgeous.
“You’re the First, the Last, My Everything,” by Barry White
Get ready for a great party, because this couple is fun! They don’t take themselves or wedding silliness to seriously, and they just want to have a good time. And they want you to have a good time to, which is why they kicked the reception off with a love song that actually sounds happy. This is the kind of couple that actually acts as if they like each other.
“Baby Got Back,” by Sir Mix-A-Lot
This couple watches a lot of YouTube. They saw the “Forever” video and the original “Baby Got Back” wedding surprise and wanted to create it themselves. Because they’re kooky! And unpredictable! And they don’t care about stuffy wedding traditions! They just want their guests to laugh! After the wedding, they will be looking for tons of compliments on how amazingly funny and silly they are, so be ready.
“A Whole New World,” from Aladdin
This couple is 19 years old and will be divorced within three years. Or they’re the sort of really sheltered adults who still take their vacations to Disney World. Either way—creepy.
“Let’s Get it On,” by Marvin Gaye
This couple’s parents refused to help pay for the wedding but still insisted on controlling half the guest list. Forcing the entire room to sit through a particularly grindy version of “Let’s Get it On” is how they’re getting their revenge.