Author’s Note: this is the third in The Spotlight Dance Songs Series of blog entries where I give a little insight and provide a few song suggestions to be considered for special photo opportunity moments at a wedding celebration.

Imagine: you and your new spouse are standing on the edge of the dance floor hand-in-hand.  All eyes in the ballroom, yours included, are focused on the center; dancing there, enjoying a moment that is currently theirs and theirs alone, is a couple that is revered by one, if not both families.  This couple is the last couple left standing after all other married couples in attendance joined them AND you just a couple of minutes ago; this event is serving as a tribute to all of them for being a unified example of the commitment that you’re following on this special day.  This particular couple is the couple in attendance that has been married the longest; as the final strains of the song THAT YOU’VE CHOSEN FOR THIS EVENT fade, you and everyone else clap in their honor.

Steve, that sounds like a pretty sentimental moment.  Can you tell me a little more?

I’ve got you.  One of my growing favorite moments to witness during a wedding reception is what’s known as The Anniversary Dance (some refer to it as the Generations Dance).  Simply put, it’s a nice way to honor all of the couples in attendance that have taken the marital plunge before you.  In a way, you invite all of those couples to share a few moments with you while creating an extra special memento for your wedding scrapbook.

How does it work?  Well, all it really takes is for you to decide that you’d like to honor all of the couples that are in attendance.  Would you like to watch your parents dance together but you’re aware that they don’t want the dance floor all to themselves?  Would you like to create a moment where your grandparents, godparents or a favorite uncle and/or aunt gets a moment to shine in a manner that won’t be viewed as quite so embarrassing to them?  The Anniversary Dance would be a nice way to make this happen.

I like what I’m hearing, Steve.  What would I need to do to make this happen at MY wedding?

The bulk of the weight in creating this moment will be up to your Master of Ceremonies/DJ.  Once you’ve decided that this is what you’d like to do, it’s on them, with your input, to map out your vision.  You should discuss possible options on which couple might be the last remaining couple on the dance floor once the song ends.  Might it be your grandparents or your spouse’s grandparents?  Might it be one of your parents?  Other things to consider as you’re planning out your vision:

  • It should be done earlier in the night, before what I refer to as the more “seasoned” members of the crowd decide to leave (more “seasoned” meaning “mature” or older).
  • ALL married couples will begin, including YOU.  This is a moment that is used to enhance YOUR day, even if it results in momentarily putting the spotlight on a different couple towards the end.  As such, it’s imperative that you’re present from the very beginning.
  • Your presence is also QUITE important once the song ends.  One reason that I enjoy Anniversary Dances so much is it allows me the opportunity to place the spotlight back on the newlyweds; by bringing them together with the couple that’s been married the longest at the end, we’re visually demonstrating the community bond, the family kinship present in the venue housing your celebration.

While I’m at it; I’ve also used Anniversary Dances in lieu of doing a bouquet toss and/or garter throw.  In situations where the families are MUCH more conservative, an Anniversary Dance allows for the presentation of the bouquet and garter, making it more of a ceremonial event during the celebration that gives the tradition a bit more gravitas.

Trust me when I say that it can be QUITE nice to look through the photos taken at your wedding after the fact and see that picture of yourselves with that couple weeks, months, years later.  After all, wedding receptions are all about creating memories that are once-in-a-lifetime.

That said, here’s my current list of the Top 5 Anniversary Dance songs (subject to change as new songs are released and based solely on my own personal preference rather than popularity).

5) It Had To Be You by Harry Connick, Junior
This one has a Big Band or Rat Pack feel to it and will easily be about the fastest paced song on my list.  Given that the last couple remaining at the end of an Anniversary Dance will usually end up being of the age of a lot of newlyweds’ parents or even grandparents, the musical stylings will appeal to couples of that age range.  Being more upbeat, some of the shyness that goes with a slow dance may possibly be avoided (even if you whittle down the number of couples remaining on the dance floor fairly quickly).

4) Could I Have This Dance by Anne Murray
The beauty of this song is two-fold: when you listen to the lyrics, Ms. Murray is speaking of a couple that would like to withstand the test of time.  While a Country song, the beat is essentially that of a Waltz; it will appeal to the “seasoned” couples in the crowd and I can almost guarantee that you’ll see them Waltzing in place, at the very least.

3) Remember When by Alan Jackson
When listening to the lyrics, the entire history of a relationship is laid out for all to hear.  It’s a poignant musical journey through the life cycle of a relationship, from its beginnings to the here and now.

2) From the Ground Up by Dan + Shay
This is easily the newest song on my list; the first time I heard it shortly after it was released, I just KNEW that I HAD to use it specifically for this purpose.  It’s another generational song that basically talks about family and fits QUITE well as a soundtrack for this type of moment.

1) Through the Years by Kenny Rogers
Full Disclosure: despite the fact that I like all of the songs on this list (otherwise, they wouldn’t be here), THIS is my go-to whenever I think of an Anniversary Dance.  Why?  Well, I’ve used it so much that it’s essentially a knee-jerk response when I’m made aware that an Anniversary Dance is desired.  I blame it on the fact that my introduction to Kenny Rogers was The Gambler; his voice is SO smooth, in my opinion.  Outside of that, the lyrics are PERFECT for an Anniversary Dance, so it just fits.

For a more comprehensive list of songs that can be used for an Anniversary Dance, check out THIS LIST from My Wedding Songs.