10 Songs We Beg You Not to Play at Your Wedding

Please Mr. DJ, we're begging you.
Please Mr. DJ, we're begging you.

Wedding music helps set a mood and style for the proceedings. You don't have to stick with the ho-hum classics, but keep your musical choices in good taste. Not everyone in attendance is going to get your private jokes, sly insinuations or rambunctious enthusiasms. It is your wedding, but be a good host and leave these 10 songs in your MP3 player where they belong.


Macarena - Los del Río

Yes, everyone's doing it, but that doesn't mean they should.
Yes, everyone's doing it, but that doesn't mean they should.
Photo by Lara Jo Regan/Liaison/Getty Images News

This one has a cult following, especially for weddings, but it's suffering from overuse. Specialty dance music can get irritating (Hokey Pokey, anyone?) Unless you think your guests are going to fall asleep before the festivities are over or there are lots of kids that'll need to be entertained with intermittent nonsense, steer clear. Other specialty-dance choices to avoid at your wedding: Cha-Cha Slide, Chicken Dance and Electric Slide.


Closer - Nine Inch Nails (NIN)

This is an extreme example of a song that's too graphic and intimate for a wedding celebration. It's just not appropriate for a family gathering. So, unless you're having a late night wedding aimed exclusively at savvy adults, go for something less raw and evocative. If the lyrics of your special song are too raunchy to print out on your invitations, consider toning it down with another choice.


Brick House - The Commodores

Just letting it all hang out.
Just letting it all hang out.
Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Webster & Associates

Ah, a song that's a compliment -- but still too unrefined to suit a PG audience. Although the style of your wedding may allow for some minor musical taste infractions in the spirit of fun and good fellowship, accept our gentle recommendation and rise to the occasion with respectful music everyone can enjoy.


Every Breath You Take - The Police

You may have noticed that we're choosing songs that represent different categories of poor wedding music management. "Every Breath You Take" may sound like a powerful love song but it's actually a song about romantic obsession. It was written by Sting while his first marriage was falling apart. When the story behind the lyrics of a song represent a negative or destructive idea, like rape, murder, suicide or stalking, the song is definitely not appropriate for your wedding.


I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston or Dolly Parton

It's touching, but a song about saying goodbye is not what a wedding needs.
It's touching, but a song about saying goodbye is not what a wedding needs.
Photo by Bernd Mueller/Redferns/Getty Images

Songs about love that ends badly won't set the right tone for your wedding. They could even be a bit of a jinx. When you're choosing love songs, look for upbeat ditties that offer more than a pillow to cry on once the love affair is over. Your wedding day should reflect happy sentiments with inspiring songs about finding your special someone. "I Will Always Love You" makes it onto a lot of wedding music lists, but it's not a good fit.



This is the section that includes all those foreign language songs that no one in your audience is going to recognize or appreciate. Unless they have some profound significance for you or someone else in the family, pass on musical numbers that are likely to leave the guests scratching their heads. Oh, and this goes double for anything written in Klingon or Mermish, too.


Secret Love - Doris Day

Yes, it is possible to be too retro and sentimental.
Yes, it is possible to be too retro and sentimental.
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

"Secret Love" is a great example of a retro, romantic song that borders on the sentimental. Sentiment is like a strong spice: A little makes all the other flavors stand out, too much and you've just ruined a meal.

You want people to listen to the music at your wedding and be touched and entertained. When they start rolling their eyes and everyone but great-aunt Elsie is whispering, "Oh, please," you've gone too far.



My Heart Will Go On - Celine Dion (The theme from Titanic)

This is another one of those love songs that ends very badly, but it's popular and compelling and doesn't actually involve a breakup. After all, it's not the guy's fault he froze to death. The song is still a great testimonial to the power of undying -- well, transcendent love, right? Wrong. He dies. It's sad. No sad songs for your wedding.


Your Cheating Heart - Hank Williams

It should be a no-brainer to avoid songs about infidelity.
It should be a no-brainer to avoid songs about infidelity.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Don't bring your guests down with songs that include reminders of infidelity, gambling, lying, drug abuse and other bad behaviors. And yes, there are still some songs to choose from after you eliminate those categories.

A few of your favorite songs may have negative lyrics or metaphors you've never quite gotten sorted out. Is "Puff the Magic Dragon" really about drug abuse? You'll like this: If you can't decipher the lyrics well enough to know that the song has a negative theme, most of your guests probably won't either, so go ahead and use it. Just avoid obvious mood assassins.



Love Stinks - J. Geils Band

Any song you use as a funny reversal on the old " and they lived happily ever after" theme may end up backfiring, so be careful. Showing disrespect for wedding traditions and sentiments is nothing to take lightly. Your big wink to the audience might end up being taken as a backhanded slap. When in doubt, stick to the conventional, classy numbers.


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  • Bride-O-Rama. "My Top 11 Most Annoying/Overplayed Wedding Reception Songs." 8/7/07. 6/2/10.http://www.brideorama.com/post/1677/my-top-11-most-annoying-overplayed-wedding-reception-songs
  • Carrigan, Laura Webb. "The Best Friend's Guide to Planning a Wedding." Harper Collins. 2001.
  • Hyperborea. "Songs Not to Play at a Wedding." 3/15/04. 6/2/10.http://www.hyperborea.org/journal/2004/03/songs-not-to-play-at-a-wedding/
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  • Rothstein, Barbara and Gloria Sklerov. "The Complete Wedding Music Guide and Planner. Andrews McMeel Publishing. 2002.
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