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Non-Cliche Wedding Songs
Gotta Stop that Louis Armstrong.
There is nothing worse than watching the bride and groom gaze at each other with goo-goo eyes while the worst song you've ever heard two million times plays once again. Or at the reception, watching them slow dance to "I Do" by 98 Degrees. Enough. This isn't necessary. No more "What a Wonderful World" during the slideshows. Enough! So here are some of my ideas of good wedding songs:
Songs for the Ceremony
"Your Hand in Mine" by Explosions in the Sky - If you hire a string quartet, they can probably arrange a version of this. It's pretty, it builds in intensity, it has no words. It'd be a lovely choice. There's also piano versions of this song.
"Lullaby" by William Hofeldt - An unlikely title, and I'll admit this composer is usually only played by high school orchestras, but the melody is simple, sweet, and immediately likable.
"Vesperae solennes de Confessore k339 V. Laudate Dominum" by Mozart - For a more classical feel, go with the master, Mozart. There's also Ave Verum Corpus. Both of these pieces are religious. Laudate Dominum is based on Psalm 117, a psalm of praise, and Ave Verum Corpus is about Christ's body.
If you don't want religious or classical, check out instrumentals by Philip Glass and Brian Eno. Glass is a composer whose music has been featured on many films. Eno is an ambient genius. He has some great instrumental melodies.
Songs for the First Dance
"Crazy for You" by Madonna - For the eighties music lovers. This song sets the scene for a couple's dance.
"Night and Day" by [choose your favorite cover] - Since this is one of the best songs ever written, you probably should play it at your reception. My favorite version is Ella Fitzgerald's.
"Could We" by Cat Power. Light-hearted and happy!
"The Nearness of You" by Norah Jones. An intimate, jazzy song.
"Tonight you belong to me" by Janet Klein. This song is OLD! From the 1920s, I believe. It's adorable with a ukulele. The lyrics actually kind of work for a father-daughter dance...
"This must be the place" by Talking Heads - This is a more upbeat yet still pretty-sounding love song that is not blatantly lovey-dovey and avoids cliché. "Out of all those kinds of people, you got a face with a view." Nice.
Songs for Reception Dancing
Save money on a DJ. You can make your own playlist with your laptop and usually hook it up to the sound system. Here are some song ideas:
"Digital Love" by Daft Punk - Kind of dancey, kind of nerdy, completely original-sounding.
"Sugar Sugar" by The Archies - To give a retro feel, try this timeless bubble-gum pop song. Most people know and like this song but wouldn't think of it.
"I wanna be your lover" by Prince - Fun. Yes, Prince tends to sing about sex a lot, but hey, sex is a part of marriage, so why not celebrate it?
"Let's Dance" by David Bowie
"What I Like about You" by The Romantics - a classic that will up the energy of your reception. This one will get people on the dance floor.
"Doctor Pressure" by mylo vs. miami sound machine
"Move Your Feet" by Junior Senior - People will recognize this from DDR but that doesn't stop the fun it brings.
"Heart of Glass" by Blondie
"D.A.N.C.E" by Justice - this one is cute and danceable at the same time. Incredibly catchy.
"Dare" by Gorillaz
"Burning Down the House" by Talking Heads - I know what you're thinking. This is one stah-range band. But they truly truly understand what makes people dance. This will get appreciation from a range of generations.
CDs to Help You Choose Songs
Songs for the Slideshow
"Half Acre" by Hem - This song isn't exactly wedding-themed but the theme of home and going to one's roots is strong. Perfect for those slideshows of the couple growing up. Interestingly, it also works for funerals. The song is just gorgeous all around.
"Baby" by Os Mutantes - This is a different choice. Really different. Brazilian. But it's beautiful!
"The Story" by Brandi Carlyle - INSTANT CHILL-GIVER! My sister played this during her slideshow, but I think it'd work great during the ceremony too.
"Praise You" by Fatboy Slim - not exactly sentimental sounding, but Fatboy's expert mastery of digital time and techno-style will go well with the changing photos. And the lyrics work!
Mash-ups. If you haven't checked out this new trend on the internet, mash-ups can be a great way to choose a song that pleases both bride and groom. Artists take songs and put the melodies of other songs with them, creating a new sound. Since they don't get permission from the original artists, these tracks are free on public domain and can be downloaded for free. This would be the most original idea and the possibilities are endless.