The philosopher Plato said that music “gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and everything.” Incomparable jazz musician Louis Armstrong wrote, “Music is life itself.” Then there’s the great pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, who said, “Bad music disturbs me, but good music disturbs me even more,” and Oscar Wilde, who purportedly wrote, “Music makes one feel so romantic—at least it always gets on one’s nerves—which is the same thing nowadays.”
The right song can make any moment feel magical—transcendent even—while the wrong one can ruin the whole vibe. You probably already know that if you’re in the overwhelming throes of wedding preparation. It’s hard to decide which songs will perfectly capture the unique essence of your love while also creating and sustaining the ideal atmosphere. And just as you’ve likely learned from other aspects of planning your big day, you can’t please everyone.
Instead, focus on what you and your beloved will be happiest to hear on your big day (and maybe throw in a guided dance number or two, just to keep everyone engaged). Here are 10 ideas for songs to play at your wedding.
“L-O-V-E” by Nat King Cole
This is a heartwarming classic that will unite the generations and get everyone singing along. That’s true whether they first heard it when it was released in 1964, or when it played in the iconic opening credits of the 1998 Parent Trap remake.
“A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell
“A Case of You” was released on Joni Mitchell’s seminal 1971 album Blue. Some say it was inspired by the singer’s relationship with Graham Nash, while others believe it was written about Leonard Cohen. Either way, it’s one of the most romantic tracks of all time, and the perfect song for a meaningful slowdance moment.
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston wanted to dance with somebody who loved her, and so does everyone at your wedding! (Or at least, somebody who will show them a good time on the dance floor.) One of the best parts of a wedding is the chance it provides to surround yourself with loved ones and celebrate, so use Houston’s unparalleled exuberance as a chance to pull your friends onto the floor.
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“Good Grief” by Bastille/”Good Grief (Don Diablo Remix)” by Bastille, Don Diablo
Many people have lost someone they love dearly, who they wish could be at their wedding. “Good Grief” taps into that feeling of desire to share your joy with someone you miss, and creates an opportunity for remembrance (without grinding the event to a halt the way that, say, “Candle In the Wind” would). The remixed version is even more upbeat, and dance-y enough that while it still provides a moment of bittersweet catharsis, it’s possible that half the guests blithely getting down to a song about grief might not even notice.
“I Belong to You” by Brandi Carlile
Brandi Carlile’s soulful vocals and moving lyrics provide another opportunity to slow things down and revel in the beauty of your big day, and your love for your partner. “I know I could be spending a little too much time with you,” she sings. “But time and too much don’t belong together like we do / If I had all my yesterdays I’d give ’em to you too / I belong to you now.”
“Everytime We Touch” by Cascada
There’s nothing like a throwback to get people excited, especially one that’s aged like a fine wine. Whether your guests first heard this song when it was going platinum in the U.S. and soundtracking high school dances around the world, or are becoming acquainted with it for the first time at your wedding, every time “Everytime We Touch” plays, everyone has a good time. (And every time we kiss, I swear I could fly.)
“Make Me Feel” by Janelle Monáe
“Make Me Feel,” an infectious bop that Janelle Monáe has said was influenced by Prince, is an ideal pick for celebrating yourself and your love while you’re both feeling yourselves and one another.
“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman/”Fast Car (Steegra Remix)” by Tracy Chapman, Steegra
“Fast Car” is a powerfully romantic and hopeful folk-pop song that reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won Tracy Chapman a 1989 Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The remix is all of those things, too, but faster and with more synth—choose whichever fits your crowd best.
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“Cupid Shuffle” by Cupid
Sure, it’s cheesy. But every wedding needs an icebreaker song—something that gets people onto the dance floor with the reassuring promise that they’ll be told exactly what to do by the song itself, and that they won’t look any sillier than anyone else.
“Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” by Beyoncé
Nothing beats the unadulterated triumph of dancing with your freshly minted spouse to a song you’ve probably heard a thousand times, knowing that this time, you both liked it so much that you did put a ring on it. Bonus points if someone at the wedding starts doing the dance from the music video (and extra bonus points if that someone is you and your partner).