A First Dance

If I were a carpenter

And you were a lady
Would you marry me anyway?
Would you have my baby?

Growing up, I was never the kind of girl to fantasize about my wedding day. In fact once Mike and I did decide to marry – nearly 8 years dating and one baby boy in – I remained fairly casual in pretty much all of the planning that went into it. Which wasn’t a lot. I bought a 200$ dress online, and we decided right away on a simple ceremony in the backyard of Mike’s parent’s house which meant that I didn’t stress about too much. Except, the music.

I spent hours picking our what songs were to be played. I made specific play lists for the hired DJ to follow. A repertoire that included everything from Tina Turner, to Dwight Yoakham, to Neil Young to Muddy Waters to Springsteen to a whole lot of even older favorite “oldies.” It was the only aspect of the wedding that I felt neurotically obsessed about. I was to walk down the Isle to Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California, and we would exit as new husband and wife to Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” – a long time favorite of mine since childhood.

And so, the only bridezilla moment I can recall of that day happened when the poor, some how misinformed DJ mixed up songs and wrongly played our designated exit song just before I walked down the Isle. I don’t recall exactly what I did, or said. But I do remember that it wasn’t pretty. Luckily, I had seven bridesmaids by my side to calm the furry, and in the end, it all worked out just fine. Our exit song was replaced by the Stone’s “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and I remember thinking that that was the very best backup choice I could have hoped for so all was forgiven in the end.

The other song of significance would be the one played for our first dance. One we both put a lot of thought and consideration into because we each had so many ideas as to what the song should be. Mike liked John Lennon’s “Our Life Together” and I naturally had a number of Dylan songs in mind but in the end it was Bobby Darin’s “If I Were a Carpenter” that made the final cut. I’m not sure how, or why it was that song that we both agreed on but I do know that to this day when I hear it occasionally on the radio it makes my heart heavy with old, familiar sentiment. And still seems, without a doubt, the very best song to mark our dance as new husband and wife.

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to ask a few of my friends to share a wedding photo and their song choice for their first dance. A contribution I will urge you as readers to open up and share as well. Either here in the comment section or via Instagram for a throwback / flashback game using the hashtag: #afirstdancefirstsong

Because, one: hashtag games are fun.
And two: everybody likes an excuse to share old wedding photos.
So guys, let’s see ’em!

     Lex & Tony (left) : “Sleepwalk” – Santo and Johnny
     Kate & Rob (top right) : “Tonight I’ll be Staying Here with You” – Bob Dylan
     Anne & Ruben (bottom right)  “Perfect Day”  – Lou Reed
    Michelle & Jason : “Make You Feel My Love” – Adele
    Alyce & Edward : “Please Tell Me Again” – Ron Sexsmith
    Ashely & Willie : “Catch the Wind” Donovan
    Mother and Father in Law: “You Are So Beautiful To Me” Joe Cocker
     Mom & Dad:
“I met my husband on April Fools Day 1972 , the day before Easter. I was a waitress at La Fiesta and had worked a very long shift that day and was checking out to leave and my boss asked me to take one more table. I went to take their order and they ordered Margaritas so I carded them. Richard’s driver License said divorced and I remember smiling when I read it. Richard and his cousin,Bill, invited me and my 4 year old son to color Easter eggs with them. That was the beginning of our relationship. We married 2 years later. We had a very small wedding and reception. We didn’t have a wedding dance but our song would have been “the First Time Ever I saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack.  It had come out when we met and I remember it always being on the radio in the morning when the alarm went off. I still smile and sometimes cry when I hear our song. It holds so many memories of our love.”


12 Responses

  • My husband and I eloped in Vegas when we were 19 and we never had a reception. I sometimes wonder what our first dance would have been to. We both like Cat Power’s Sea of Love. We will celebrate our tenth anniversary next August and we’re hoping to throw a party. Maybe we’ll get the chance to have our “first dance” then.

  • We eloped. I never had big dreams of the perfect wedding but I did have my heart set on one detail. It was our exit song, “Strangers” by The Kinks. Eloping was the best, I think it is so romantic! The only thing I had a hard time letting go of was this song playing as we exited, beaming at all of our friends and family as husband and wife.

    “Strangers on this road we are on. We are not two, we are one” How perfect is that!!

  • Oh, I love this post. Music can really set the mood and there’s nothing better than great tunes, especially when love is being celebrated. Love all the songs you mentioned for your wedding. Also, typo noted… “catch the wind” (not chasing). And your parents are too cute. xo

  • I love this! It’s always sweet to hear about people’s weddings and to look back on my own. Plus, I love music! We danced to Can’t Help Falling in Love by Elvis. Another typo to note, it’s Sleepwalk by Santo and Johnny, not Sleepwalkers. That’s my favorite song of all time 🙂

  • I am unmarried, but dream of marrying The Janitor one day (in the not too distant future)…Who knows what song we will dance too. I hope I can share it with you one day. I love looking at peoples wedding photos and hearing their stories. I want to see more please!! x

  • My future wife and I will most likely elope or have a very small wedding with no dancing…which is probably for the best, because we are both hideously bad dancers and whenever we try to dance together (in our living room or kitchen), we can’t keep straight faces and dissolve into fits of laughter. However, I thought this post was wonderful and I loved your mother’s story about the Roberta Flack song (my dad’s favorite!), and how it was their song, even if they didn’t dance to it at their wedding (where she looked stunningly beautiful, by the way!). Loving the content of this blog, it makes me keep coming back and I feel so at ease in this online space.

  • We had a backyard wedding too. And I wore a short, short dress from Macy’s prom section 🙂
    We didn’t have a reception, we went on a bar crawl down at the beach afterwards, but the song I walked down the aisle too was Sea Of Love by Cat Power.
    Your first dance song was a great choice by the way, If I Were A Carpenter has always leaves me with goosebumps and a lump in my throat. It’s so good.

  • Jessica, you have such great taste in music! Are you on Spotify? I would love love love to follow you there if you are. Also, I think you should do more music posts. Like, share playlists for certain occasions or something like that. I love your taste in music and you always mention songs I love but don’t think to play normally.


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