How to Pick Wedding Songs that Don’t Suck

Lookback Lesson #2

Gig Masters has just posted their Top Wedding Songs of 2012 and I have to say, I find it a bit, um, pedestrian. Not to be snarky (at all!) but Etta James' At Last has been the #1 wedding song since the 1990's. It's a beautiful song to be sure, but is kinda ho-hum for weddings. How many weddings have you been to where that song was played? All of them?

first dance at an outdoor weddingImage from Jessica Velarde Photography via Utterly Engaged via Green Wedding Shoes

Take, for example, this crazy cakes Etta James story. A friend of ours was getting married a month after us. It was her second wedding. Her first was short-lived. She was really young. So was he. They had a dream destination wedding in Napa Valley. Their first dance song: At Last by Etta James: Very cool and very modern for the time.

Fast forward ten years. Our friend is getting married again. She's a little older and much more capable of dealing with the intensity and commitment of marriage. She's happy and prepared and thrilled to be getting married. Her mom throws her an engagement party. After dinner, to celebrate our friend finding her best friend and future husband, her mom plays…yup, you guested it, At Last.

Our friend and her fiance were MORTIFIED! Apparently Moms had forgotten the first dance song from the previous marriage, but our friend hadn't. To make matters worst, the fiance knew. At Last was on the do-not-play list for their DJ. Nothing quite like recycling old wedding shit, eh? Kinda like recycling the engagement ring from a previous marriage. Ugh!

And that's what you get when you turn to the most popular wedding song in the world. The song that has been the most popular like, for-evah! Well, maybe you won't get the embarrassment our friend got having the same song at two separate wedding events, but you can be assured that some of these songs are played at nearly EVERY WEDDING!

Look, if the popular songs speak to you, by all means, use them. But don't just default to them as a matter of course. Find songs that really mean something to you. Look beyond the standard romantic ballads that everyone associates with weddings.

wedding guests having fun and dancingImage from Krystal Mann via Utterly Engaged via Style Me Pretty

To get You Started:

Here are some ideas Hindsight Groom and I used to compile our playlists:

  • We let Hindsight Groom's mom choose our first dance song. Now this option isn't for everyone. It wasn't a song that we would have automatically picked for ourselves, but the lyrics were beautiful, the song was unique, and it was one of the sweetest moments we shared with her.
  • We only played our first dance song for a couple of minutes. Then we switched to our parents fist dance songs, each in turn. When they heard their song they joined us on the dance floor.
  • Other songs were based on our sense of humor and our family background. For example, our recessional song was “Send Me On My Way” by Rusted Root. It was a nod to Hindsight Groom's somewhat Hippy parents and the jaunty song appealed to our sense of fun.
  • We considered our guests. Our Mammoth Lakes Wedding was small and most of our 17 guests were our age. We chose a more modern playlist. Our North Carolina Wedding was larger, more traditional, and full of Aunts, Uncles, parents, and friends of parents. Our play list was much more mellow, classic, and appealed to an older generation.

More Ideas and Advice:

  • For more advice check out Gig Master's Wedding Entertainment Regrets post on their blog
  • For fresh playlist ideas definitely checkout Hi-fi Weddings, in fact, check out their own fresh, funky 2012 wedding play lists over on the Brooklyn Bride.