The right wedding reception songs can pack the dancefloor or bring tears to your guests’ eyes, while the wrong songs – tunes that are painfully slow, inappropriate for the occasion, and just plain awful – can have people sprinting for the open bar or making excuses about the babysitter as they head for the door. If your wedding is around the corner, do yourself a favor and follow our list of wedding song do’s and don’ts to guarantee everyone at the party has a rockin’ good time.
Wedding Reception Song DO’S:
That’s The Power of Love by Huey Lewis and The News. A classic (well, if you consider mid-80’s rock “classic”) with an upbeat and instantly recognizable intro riff, guests of all ages will fondly associate this song with one of the greatest films of all time, Back To The Future. Hello, McFly!
Twist and Shout by The Beatles. Though this song has been performed by artists The Isley Brothers and The Who (just to name a few), we like the Beatles’ version best; of course, no wedding reception is complete without at least one Beatles song. “Twist and Shout” is a sure-fire way to get everyone, from the flower girl to your grandmother, out on the floor for some good clean family fun.
Living On A Prayer by Bon Jovi and Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey. Would you like to hear every single person at your receptions scream impassionately in unison? Play these songs – though for the sake of your guests’ vocal chords, not back-to-back – to make everyone at your reception feel like rockstars, if only for a few minutes.
Crazy in Love by Beyonce. An instant wedding reception must-have when it debuted in 2003 (wow, has it really been over 10 years?!), “Crazy In Love” features Bey at her best. Don’t miss the opportunity to spin this gem at your party; it’s guaranteed to get all the females, hopefully with their dates in tow, to break out their best moves.
Billie Jean by Michael Jackson. “Billie Jean” happens to be our favorite MJ song, but really, any of Michael’s colossal hit-singles will inspire your friends and family to do their best impressions. No wedding reception should come to pass without your overweight uncle attempting to moon-walk. Hee-Hee!
Wake Me Up by Avicii. We’re not sure if the lyrics of this smash-hit are entirely on-point, but we do know this: if you want your guests to get out of their seats, play this song immediately after a slow-dance number. You just can’t help to rock out to it, we dare you to try.
Counting Stars by OneRepublic. See “Wake Me Up” above.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston. Oh Whitney, what would the dancefloor do without you? Play this hallmark, 1987 single at your wedding reception and watch all the female attendees sprint around trying to collect their dates before the sing-along chorus hits.
The Wobble by VIC. We strongly discourage organized dance numbers at wedding receptions; no great dancefloor story every began with, “hey, remember that time everyone was doing the exact same dance for, like, seven minutes…?” But if you absolutely must have a pre-choreographed dance at your reception (and your guests are unwilling to learn the “Thriller” dance), then The Wobble is the best one out there.
Marry You by Bruno Mars. Though the lyrics don’t necessarily promote a well-thought-out union or long-lasting relationship (lines like “it’s a beautiful night, we’re looking for something dumb to do” and “if we wake up and you wanna break up, that’s cool” may not quite hit the mark), Mr. Mars’ catchy and semi-relevant pop diddy should be a fan-favorite at any wedding reception. We think the wedding bells in the background an especially nice touch.
Wedding Reception Song DON’TS
The Cha Cha Slide by DJ Casper. For some reason, this song seems to get played at every wedding reception, and we can’t understand why. Do you think your guests really like following simple directions? Do you want your special party to resemble a middle school dance? If not, we suggest you leave this one off the list.
Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton. This is a great song, no doubt about it; we just don’t think it belongs on a wedding reception playlist. Though admittedly necessary, slow songs are mood-killers; best to use the low-tempo jams sparingly, and only include the absolute best. We recommend “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith, “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain, and “Amazed” by Lonestar as time-tested – if not a bit overplayed – alternatives.
Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers. Another phenomenal song that is just too darn slow. Don’t be surprised if you catch a few yawns as you slow-dance to this powerful (but boring) 1965 classic.
The Macarena by Los del Rio. This song should never be played at any function, ever. Playing this song at your wedding reception shows a severe lack of effort and concern with your guests’ happiness, and you should expect groans followed by an empty dancefloor if your DJ spins this terrible number. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Every Breath You Take and Roxanne by Police. Barroom favorites both, but these songs – which are about a creepy stalker and a prostitute, respectively – should not be heard anywhere near your wedding reception. Sting belongs at the Bachelor/Bachelorette parties, not while celebrating your undying commitment to one other.
I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor. Yes, ladies, we know you love this song’s message of female strength in the face of heartache. But is a number about a terrible breakup really appropriate for your wedding reception? We think not. If you’re trying to get your bridesmaids on the floor, we recommend Beyonce’s “All The Single Ladies” instead – a sure crowd-pleaser.
Celebration by Kool and the Gang. Generally regarded as one of the worst (yet oddly enough, most-played) songs to spin at wedding receptions, avoid giving your party a “high school graduation” feel by leaving this song on the cutting-room floor.
My Humps by The Black Eyed Peas. Do we even need to justify why this song is on our “DON’TS” list? We don’t think so.