This article originally appeared on relationshipsurgery.com
All of Me – John Legend
Nothing is quite as swoon-worthy as John Legend’s singing voice, and there’s no denying that he and Chrissy Teigen are the epitomai of relationship goals. The reasoning behind people picking All of Me as their first dance song is clear but, if you’ve been to a number of weddings, you’ve probably heard it a few too many times.
Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling In Love is the height of nostalgic romance. There’s a reason it’s survived the test of time after all and if it brings tears to your eyes no one is going to judge you for it. On the other hand, do you really want a first dance song at your wedding that could have just as easily been your mum’s or your grandma’s? Maybe not.
Perfect – Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran seems to have the uncanny ability to write songs that connect with couples about to tie the knot. His song Perfect is another super strong contender when it comes to first dance songs that feel both contemporary and classic. Who wouldn’t want to hear that the love of their life thinks they’re perfect on the day they get married, after all?
The Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra
Considering how much effort goes into every detail of the bride’s wedding look, from the white dress to the meticulously done hair to the fresh nails, it’s not a shock that some women want to hear about how incredible they look on their big day. Frank Sinatra’s The Way You Look Tonight is a beautiful song, but just remember – looks aren’t everything.
Your Song – Elton John
Your Song by Elton John is a beautiful illustration of how every couple’s bond feels uniquely powerful and special. That is exactly why people are so likely to choose it as the romantic soundtrack to their first dance. Just remember it’s not actually your song when thousands of people use it for their big moment every year.
Make You Feel My Love – Adele
Despite the fact that Bob Dylan wrote it and Billy Joel originally performed it, it is Adele’s version of Make You Feel My Love that people turn to time after time. This pop star’s gorgeous voice elevates the romance of the track even further, which is why so many couples want to hear her on their wedding day as they gaze into their new spouse’s eyes.
I Won’t Give Up – Jason Mraz
I Won’t Give Up is a little different to the other songs on this list because it makes a very explicit commitment. To some it might sound more focused on the hard times couples go through than the romance, but for others, that can be the most romantic thing of all. Your first dance song should reflect you, and clearly, this one resonates with a whole range of couples across the globe.
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Andy Williams
Not all couples opt for a slow song when it comes to their first dance. In fact, since weddings are a celebration, a lot of couples decide to up the energy with this romantic tune by Andy Williams. Whether it’s a song they grew up listening to or they love it because of its inclusion on the 10 Things I Hate About You soundtrack, the many couples who pick this song sure are confident in their pick.
Every Breath You Take – The Police
Some people interpret this as a love song, but upon closer inspection, it’s actually pretty creepy. That being said, it’s weird vibe doesn’t stop people from wanting to have it played at their wedding time and time again. In fact, it’s been used as a romantic song so many times that it seems to have evolved in the public consciousness, and now every wedding seems to include it.
I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
Yes, everyone gets it. You married your new spouse because you will always love them and you want everyone to know that love will never end. Very sweet. The fact that this song is a breakup song and not a love song is its own issue, but it has also been overplayed for decades. You shouldn’t pick this song for your wedding just because it’s an iconic song with the word “love” in it.
I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
So many couples think that I Gotta Feeling would be a great start to their reception. After all, they want the night to be a good good night! Because everyone wants their wedding to have those lively vibes, this is the song everyone wants to play, but just remember how sick everyone is of hearing it before you pick it too.
I Loved Her First – Heartland
The father-daughter dance is a special moment in many people’s weddings, and the perfect song for such an occasion is essential. The problem is that most people will go for a song that says “father-daughter dance” which is exactly what I Loved Her First does perfectly. What would be much better is picking a song that the father and daughter in question find significant to them. I Loved Her First is such a popular father-daughter dance song that it’s been the most popular for over 15 years now.
My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
This is another case of not every iconic song that has to do with love needs to be played at your wedding. People generally know My Heart Will Go On from its use in the film Titanic and associate it with a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love as a result. It’s a bit odd considering its association with love that has been lost, but it is hard to get through a wedding without someone thinking it’s a good idea to play this tune.
Marry You – Bruno Mars
We get it. It’s a wedding! You want to be over the top about the fact it’s a wedding because you only get one of these, so you pick a song where the concept of getting married is the whole title. This song isn’t exactly about a long-term commitment though and is more about crazy impulsive decisions just for fun. It shouldn’t be symbolic of your relationship, and no one wants to hear it at their 20th wedding of the year.
Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
This Ed Sheeran song became an instant classic when it was first released in 2014, and there’s no denying that it’s a wonderfully romantic tune, so it’s not a shock that people started using it as their first dance song almost immediately. As overdone as it might be by now, Thinking Out Loud is picked frequently for a reason, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t better options out there.
Happy – Pharrell Williams
Everyone is so glad that you and your spouse are happy on your wedding day. Of course they are! However, as happy as you might be, no one wants to listen to a song that professes that emotion over and over again. The song is overplayed, irritating, and reminds people of the Minions. The issue might be that so many wedding reception song choices are far too literal to be interesting.
Can You Feel The Love Tonight – Elton John
Everyone is feeling the love at your wedding, I’m sure. The love the couple have for each other, and everyone else’s love for them as well. With that said, as romantic as this song is, it just reminds everyone of the Lion King Disney movie. If you want people to be thinking of animated lions during your first dance, that’s fine, but it has been overplayed to the point where people might be less likely to be happy for you if you pick this song.
Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder
If guests are attending your wedding, then they’re already aware of how lovely you think your partner is. Everyone is aware that the bride looking beautiful is a key part of a traditional wedding. Everyone has also heard this song at countless weddings, either as a processional song, a first dance song, or maybe even at the reception. It’s hardly an original choice, even if the song is beautiful.
Canon in D – Johann Pachelbel
You may not know it as Canon in D, and you might not have heard of Pachelbel if you’re not already into classical music, but you’ll definitely have heard this tune! It is played at weddings both in movies and on TV as well as in real life. Its uplifting tune is a gorgeous processional piece or great to play as guests are still arriving, but because of its popularity, it has started to sound like a parody of a wedding tune.
Wedding March – Felix Mendelssohn
Is the theme for your wedding “as wedding-themed as physically possible”? Then playing the wedding march for your procession is the perfect choice. If you’re going for anything even slightly different to that, then you should by no means play the Wedding March. It lacks creativity and people are sick of hearing it.
Just The Way You Are – Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars is the king of wonderful uplifting songs and this one is no different, but it is pretty cheesy. People have been hearing it constantly since the noughties and it is not an exciting choice. Choosing this song just feels like another case of picking any song about loving your partner you can think of, rather than going for things that are unique and interesting to you as a couple.
Clair de Lune, L.322 – Claude Debussy
Clair de Lune is a beautiful piano piece that everyone has heard. It is a piece that evokes romance and beauty but since people have become more actively aware of the piece, it has become incredibly overused. Just because you’ve got a classical piece playing at your wedding doesn’t mean you’re clever, and it certainly doesn’t make you original. It just makes you seem like it’s the only classical piece you know.
Shut Up And Dance – Walk the Moon
Shut Up And Dance is one of those insanely catchy tunes that, despite it being overplayed since its radio debut, will inevitably still get people up and dancing at any wedding reception. While you will have a full dancefloor, the cost is that you’ll have just as many frustrated eye rolls as you will enthusiastic boogiers.
Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran’s tunes aren’t just played as first dance songs, as they’re also consistently picked for every other wedding moment, including the reception. Shape Of You has been played at every party and club since 2017 and it’s gotten to be a bit much. It would be best to leave this song in the past where it belongs and not try to revive it by playing it at your wedding reception.
White Wedding – Billy Idol
You only have one wedding in an ideal world, so you might as well take the opportunity to play every song with the word “wedding” in it, right? Wrong! That’s really not the ideal way to go about choosing your wedding playlist. Not only is White Wedding not a romantic song, but it also has been played at every wedding reception ever purely due to its title.
Single Ladies – Beyoncé
While people will always love Beyoncé, your wedding reception is probably not the best place to be playing this song, despite so many having done it before you. While someone clearly did put a ring on it, that’s hardly the message of the song. It’s a bit confusing as to why this one is such a popular reception choice when it does the single people attending the wedding no favours.
I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
I’m Yours is a fun and uplifting song that epitomises the lighthearted giddiness of romance, which means it has been chosen as a wedding song time and time again. It’s definitely not what you want your wedding to be remembered for because, well, it’s such an unmemorable song. A song that belongs to dozens of couples will not be remembered as yours.
You Give Love A Bad Name – Bon Jovi
Here’s another example of the curse of playing any song with the word “love” in the title at your wedding. This is not the route you want to take, especially since the song literally implies the couple give love a bad name. Surely that’s the opposite of what you want for your wedding! Still, because of people’s insatiable love of Bon Jovi, it doesn’t seem like this song’s use at weddings is slowing any time soon.
Escape (The Piña Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes
If you’re getting married, you’re probably hoping that your and your partner’s love is going to last forever. The wedding should come after sharing everything there is to know about one another, which is what the couple in this song clearly failed to do. However, people still find it to be such a funny and romantic song and choose to play it at weddings all the time! If you’ve got good sense, maybe skip this one.
Rude – Magic!
How many times does it have to be said? Just because a song is about weddings or marriage in some way does not mean you need to play it at your wedding! This advice has been ignored by so many couples who played Rude at their weddings. If your parents love your partner and are supportive of the wedding, it might actually be insulting for them to see you dancing along to this one!
Dear Future Husband – Meghan Trainor
Here are a couple of things you need to know if you want to be your partner’s one and only all their life: don’t suggest this song for your wedding! While it might initially sound kind of cute, the relationship described is pretty unfair. That hasn’t stopped people from choosing this song as one of the reception songs for years. It’s not just overplayed, it’s inappropriate!
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) – Marvin Gaye
Everyone knows this song, everyone loves this song. It’s not a shock that it’s a popular wedding choice, considering how utterly romantic it is, especially when sung in Marvin Gaye’s dulcet tones. While it is undeniably a lovely tune, it has also been played at weddings one too many times to feel like an original choice.
I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing – Aerosmith
What a romantic epic – Aerosmith knew what they were doing with this one! In actual fact, what they were doing was writing a song that would be played at every wedding forever, whether as a first dance song or as part of the reception. While it is indeed a wonderful song, people will undoubtedly be sick of hearing it if you choose to play it at your wedding as well.
Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
Your relationship with your partner surely isn’t a bad romance, as yourself and your partner should hopefully believe that it’s the best romance of all! Despite all that, people play this song at weddings all the time just because it centres around the topic of romance. That’s not enough of a reason, as we’ve discussed. Skip this overplayed song at your wedding!
I Just Called To Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder is the absolute king of love songs, and this one is no exception. How could someone not feel treasured if their partner was playing this for them? Weddings are a different matter though, because things will inevitably become cliché if you’re picking the same songs as every other person.
Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
What a romantic tune Wonderful Tonight is. Eric Clapton’s masterpiece would probably be even more beloved if it weren’t painfully overplayed on every romantic occasion! If you choose to play this at your wedding, people will definitely compliment the song choice to your face, but we can’t say the same about what they’ll say once your back is turned. The word “basic” does come to mind, though.
Jolene – Dolly Parton
No one can resist putting Jolene on at a party, and wedding receptions are included in that. Every gathering, wedding, and birthday seems incomplete without this song, but at this point, it is getting to be a bit much. Not only that but a song about another woman trying to steal your man is probably not the best choice for your wedding!
Have I Told You Lately – Van Morrison
The thing with this song is that if you’re getting married, you’ve hopefully told your partner you love them recently. After all, isn’t that what your ceremony should be about? Besides that, yes, this song is lovely. Beautiful even. That being said, it is also very, very overused.
Uptown Funk - Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
When Mark Ronson dropped this 2014 collab with Bruno Mars, it ended up topping the charts of 19 countries. Every cafe played it, every shop, every, restaurant, every bar and yes, every wedding. They’re still playing it now. In fact, as you read this, there are statistically 298,387 people dancing to Uptown Funk at a wedding this second.
Sugar - Maroon 5
The music video for Sugar by Maroon 5 is undeniably sweet, unless you’re the world’s biggest cynic. Inspired by The Wedding Crashers, it shows Adam Levine and the guys surprising several happy couples across California. Sadly, this song doesn’t work like a genie. Maroon 5 won’t appear at your wedding just by playing it, so let’s retire it shall we?
Cotton Eye Joe - Rednex
Rednex’s Cotton Eye Joe introduced millions of non-hillbilly folk to the wonders of banjos and fiddles back in the 1990s and now counts itself among wedding playlist must-haves. But we’ve been lied to. Rednex are not from the Deep South of the USA. They’re Swedish. And the whole country thing is just one big ruse. The only way to punish them is by never playing this at any future wedding.
Don’t Stop Believing - Journey
Don’t Stop Believing was a huge hit in its own right upon release in 1981, but it was treated to a massive bump in the global consciousness when it was covered and featured on Glee back in 2009. As such, given Glee’s wide viewership, it became a floor-filler at many a special day. This one’s just been played too many times to have a redemption story. Next!
Can’t Stop the Feeling - Justin Timberlake
You heard the man straight. Justin Timberlake can’t stop the feeling. That means he’s never gonna stop singing it, so unless we pull the plug we’re helpless. If we band together and ban him from all wedding playlists, we can be free of this mediocre 2016 hit. There are so many other great Justin Timberlake songs that hardly see the light of day compared to this one.
A Thousand Years – Christina Perri
A Thousand Years by Christina Perri is one of the go-to songs for millennial wedding processions. It is hopelessly romantic and its lyrics and melody build so perfectly that it’ll bring every family member to tears. You’ll likely feel the inclination to pick this song if you’re planning a wedding, and those attending will either sigh or groan depending on how many weddings they’ve heard it at in the past.
Get Lucky - Daft Punk
If we hear this song one more time, we’re gonna be up all night tearing our hair out, going insane, writing redrum on the venue mirrors. We all love a bit of Daft Punk, but this 2013 Pharrell collaboration has had more than its fair share of radio play. This is a waste of Daft Punk and Nile Rogers. We’d say Pharrell too, but what else has he got? Happy? You’re alright, thanks.
Livin’ On a Prayer - Bon Jovi
Rubbish. The Titanic of songs. A rallying cry for idiots and people who have never listened to any music by will. Livin’ on a Prayer encourages underpaid workers to “hold on to what they’ve got” rather than take a stand against their greedy oppressors. Hey, if you wanna sing along to an anthem of complacency, go for it!
Low - Flo Rida
Low seems like such a great idea whenever it comes on at a wedding. Not a lot of dancing is involved, only the slow, sensual, lowering of your body into a squatted position. There are two casualties of this song: the tight-trousered and hip-replaced elderly. Yeah, Flo Rida, it’s all well and good asking us to get low but spare a thought for those who aren’t able, won’t you?
Raise Your Glass - Pink
We like Pink and take most of what she does at face value, but this one just seems like a producer walked into the studio and said, “Write a song that can be played at any family event.” Come on now, Pink, don’t play to the gallery. We’re all perfectly capable of raising a glass when left to our own devices. We don’t need to be advised through a song.
Love Story – Taylor Swift
Love Story by Taylor Swift tells its own tale and, although it’s a catchy song, your own love story probably isn’t that similar to T-Swift’s. Just because you are also in love does not mean you need to play popular songs about love and getting married at your wedding. Your wedding is about you, not this generic Taylor Swift love story people have heard hundreds of times before.
Dancing Queen - ABBA
A man who is tired of ABBA is tired of life. But Dancing Queen? That’s enough. We’re full! This ode to blissful adolescence has bags of charm and is undoubtedly one of pop’s greatest moments. It’s just… it’s just overkill at this point. And there are plenty of ABBA alternatives that fit the wedding bill.
Mr Brightside - The Killers
A meme among British youth culture, Mr Brightside is synonymous with overplayed songs. In fact, it’s perhaps the most overplayed song of all time, in and outside of weddings. Over the years, this song has acted like a trump card. When the DJ’s been playing a few stinkers and finds himself losing the audience, the opening riff of Mr Brightside alone has been proven to elicit a roar of approval. Today, it will elicit a groan.
Love Shack - The B52s
If you see a faded sign at the side of the road that says “15 miles to a wedding playing ‘Love Shack’ by the B52s”, turn around. We love us some Roam and Rock Lobster. The B52s are good people, but Love Shack is their lowest point, even if it was their most commercially successful.
YMCA - The Village People
It seems sacrilegious to mention this. The YMCA is probably the most popular wedding song ever. But it’s time to let go. Every now and then, the world has to move on. Culture has to move on. And we need to make room for new music, new anthems. The Village People served us well over the decades, but enough’s enough.
Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
Originally written as a sweet love song for his wife Marcia (her name didn’t ring as well), Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline has become more known in recent times for its link to British sporting events, notably boxing, cricket and football. The England national team have embraced it so much it served as a de facto anthem during their Euro 2020 spell. Now, replicating that heady drunken atmosphere at a quaint countryside wedding? It just doesn’t work.
Macarena - Los Del Rio
Arguably the most successful one hit wonder of all time, Los Del Rio’s Macarena has been a floor-filler since its 1993 release. It’s just a shame there are so many people (especially drunk people at a wedding) have no idea what to do, which can make for a bumpy, irritating experience. Bring back the Hokey Cokey!
I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor
Ms Gaynor’s overplayed I Will Survive shouldn’t really on a wedding playlist to begin with, given it’s about a relationship gone sour. “I should have made you leave your key if I’d known for just one second you’d be back to bother me,” the lyrics read. “Go on now, go, walk out the door. Just turn around now ’cause you’re not welcome anymore.”
Cha-Cha Slide - Mr C The Slide Man
Take it back now, y’all! One hop backwards! And again! Take it back a little further, y’all! Right foot, ten foot steps back! Now through the door! Lock it, y’all! Never come back! Stay away from this wedding! With all due respect to Mr C The Slide Man and DJ Casper, this song should be confined to children’s parties.
Stayin’ Alive - Bee Gees
After they handed a good chunk of their music to the 1977 smash Saturday Night Fever, the Bee Gees disco output became synonymous with dancefloors, including those of the wedding variety. The song is undeniably good, we wouldn’t be so unhinged as to suggest otherwise. It’s just way overplayed. And it encourages people (mostly men) to try and dance like John Travolta.
Footloose - Kenny Loggins
Footloose is the meaningless name of the 1980s box office sensation starring Kevin Bacon. It’s also the name of the meaningless song which accompanied it, and now, every single wedding. Even the stars of the film themselves are thought to hate this song. Kevin Bacon allegedly bribes DJs to skip it.
Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
For those who don’t remember 2008, time was divided between watching The Dark Knight and listening to Sex on Fire. You had no other choice. That’s all there was. Nothing else was released. Since then, lots of things have been released, including plenty of music! Music that is miles better than whiny, radio rock.
Pumped Up Kicks – Foster the People
Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People is an all-time great indie summer jam, so it makes sense that it has been a mainstay of hipster weddings ever since its release in 2010. Unfortunately, despite the song’s sound calling to mind images of haybales, shabby chic, fedoras with feathers and penny loafers, the lyrics paint a much darker picture. Given that the track is actually about a troubled teen gunman trying to enact his revenge on his classmates, it might be worth skipping on what should be the most romantic day of your life.
Mamma Mia – ABBA
Mamma Mia should by all accounts be the perfect wedding reception song. After all, it’s a crowd-pleaser and a floor-filler, guaranteed to both get everybody dancing and singing along. However, the track’s wedding party ubiquity is a testament to the fact that no one is really listening to the words! Mamma Mia’s lyrics tell the story of a mutually toxic relationship in which neither party has the strength to leave – not exactly the sentiment most people want to begin married life with!
Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood
Unless your preferred strategy for ensuring lasting marital bliss is through fear and threats, Before He Cheats shouldn’t be anywhere near your wedding day playlist. While it’s got a great singalong chorus that’s guaranteed to get everyone raising their glasses and saying amen, this story of infidelity and revenge is better suited to the bachelorette party. If you’re so convinced that your partner will be disloyal that this song seems to be the only choice, then maybe you shouldn’t be marrying them in the first place.
I’m Not the Only One – Sam Smith
Nobody writes a ballad like Sam Smith, but just because a song has a soaring chorus and sweeping instrumentation, doesn’t mean that it’s the right fit for a day centred on love, trust and devotion. Despite its popularity as an instrumental track played during the wedding ceremony, I’m Not the Only One’s lyrics reveal how unsuitable it actually is. This is another song about a partner cheating, featuring the lines: “You and me, we made a vow. For better or for worse. I can’t believe you let me down. But the proof’s in the way it hurts.” Ouch.
Who Let the Dogs Out? – Baha Men
Any wedding reception worth its salt features a few cheesy songs only thrown in so people of all ages can be united in the desire to dance. Whether it’s Come On Eileen or Tubthumping, these timeless anthems are essential to any post-vow boogieing. However, one one-hit wonder you should probably skip is Who Let the Dogs Out? as, despite its silly-sounding premise, the song is actually about the lack of decent and loyal men in the world. In short: it may make both husband and mother-in-law feel a little slighted.
Say My Name – Destiny’s Child
With a title like Say My Name, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this Destiny’s Child song is simply about a pair of lovers excited to shout their affections from the rooftops. The reality is much different and doesn’t explain why so many couples pick this song to feature in their reception or ceremony. This is actually another song about the perils of cheating, with the title instead referencing the woman begging the man to acknowledge their relationship in front of his new squeeze. Yikes!
Celebration – Kool & The Gang
While some songs become wedding staples despite being completely thematically inappropriate, others get consistent play for the exact opposite reason. No one could argue that Celebration by Kool & The Gang doesn’t reflect the right sentiment for a couple’s big day, but it’s also far too on the nose to be a good addition to most receptions. In essence, if you have to play a song convincing your guests that your wedding is something to celebrate, then you probably have bigger problems than your playlist.
Dancing on My Own – Robyn
This one shouldn’t take much explaining. Despite the fact that it’s a certified banger to which every single Millenial woman knows all the words, there is absolutely no excuse for playing a song called Dancing on My Own at your wedding reception. Maybe the proliferation of this track is down to brides wanting to give their single girlfriends a moment on the dancefloor, or maybe nobody is listening to the lyrics, but either way, this song needs to get off the floor and back to the corner where it belongs.
Truth Hurts – Lizzo
Here’s a piece of timeless wisdom: just because a song features a wedding in its music video, does not mean it’s appropriate wedding fare. Given that Lizzo is the queen of upbeat empowerment anthems, playing Truth Hurts at your wedding reception might seem like an innocuous choice, but you’ll soon realise your mistake. The truth Lizzo is singing about is that her man has let her down and she’s better off without him. Not exactly a doves and roses kind of vibe.
Tainted Love – Soft Cell
Soft Cell’s rendition of Tainted Love is a classic for a reason. Few songs are as stylish or as quietly anthemic, and there’s definitely an air of devotion to the singer’s delivery. However, unless you’re the kind of couple who dream of getting married in a graveyard, wearing all black and doing the wedding toast with absinthe, dancing to a song about a love defined by its lack of purity probably isn’t quite the right vibe.