You know those questions when you’re having a beer with friends, “who would play you in the movie of your life?” While the actress changes from one spunky redhead to another over the years, the music always seemed more important to me than the actress. At least when it comes to actually capturing memories. It’s actually easier than you think. Flip over to a station playing music from ten years ago, and you’ll instantly have some sort of memory from the previous decade in vivid detail. Good or bad. Ugly or beautiful. Fond memories and also the forgotten. It’s almost like a time machine. So for the longest time, when a song came on the radio I envision my life as a movie, the music a soundtrack.
So, when it came to picking out the music for my wedding, this wasn’t something to be taken lightly. It was probably one of my most important decisions, right up there with my dress. Think about it, the food…as long as it tastes good, who remembers the food? Who remembers the beer that was served? The time it took for the photographer to take all the family photos? Nah. (Well, ok but only when your niece decided to be a little 3 year old diva and pout during all the pictures, but honestly what 3 year old doesn’t have a diva streak in her?!) You’re just glad you have some beautiful photos for the frames, the scrapbooks, and the Christmas cards, the things you’ll look back on. But the music? People dancing and laughing? The cousin that had a little too much fun and reenacted a Katy Perry music video? The song that took people back decades to their senior prom? The fun, free, couldn’t possibly have a bad memory associated with it soundtrack. I wanted current favorites and old favorites, and a few others mixed in that would leave people thinking, ‘how have I not heard this before?!’
Here are the songs dedicated to each special dance and event at our wedding:
- The wedding party’s grand entrance: “Say Hey” by Michael Franti
It’s fun, bouncy, and upbeat. We had the groomsmen hold the bridesmaid’s bouquets. It was silly, but also if you knew these girls, it made a lot of sense.
- For the Bride and Groom: “Where do You Run?” by The Score
This song is actually kind of epic. It’s got crescendos that make your heart race a little, and if you truly take time to listen to the lyrics, it’s pretty perfect for a pair of newlyweds. If this isn’t on a rom-com soundtrack yet, it definitely should be.
- Our first dance: “Wild West” by Runaway June
Ok, so my dress caused some serious wardrobe malfunctions. No, not the ‘I just flashed everyone I know’ kind of malfunction, but the kind that totally kept us from seamlessly making it through our carefully and perfectly choreographed dance. Surprisingly, we still laughed it off instead of panicking (ok, I panicked a little for about 5 seconds until he said he’d get me through it), and made the best of it. This is a super sweet song, and not one many people have heard of, if you’re looking for something a little different.
- Father/bride dance #1: “Your Song” by Elton John
Because when you grow up listening to all the Elton John records, he has to make an appearance at your wedding, at least in spirit. As a side note, I found out during our dance, this is actually Papa’s favorite song and he wanted to know why I picked it or how I knew. I told him it just felt right. (Call it my Gibbs gut.)
- Father/bride dance #2: “Forever Young” by Alphaville
I wasn’t a big fan of all the “typical” father/daughter wedding dance songs. They were either too cheesy, too sappy, too overdone, or just didn’t speak to me at all. Something about this one spoke to me, but then I do have a sweet spot for 80’s music.
- Mother/groom dance: “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts
Ok, ok, this one’s a little cheesy, but it’s sweet. Plus it totally fits my hubby and his family.
- Group photo to trick people onto the dance floor!: “Cupid Shuffle”
I told the DJ, no “Chicken Dance,” no “YMCA,” no “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae),” but you’ve got to have a couple of dances that people don’t feel embarrassed to do.
- Bouquet toss: “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” by Shania Twain
- Garter toss: “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye
These were honestly the hardest songs to figure out. I googled and googled, looked at list after list. We wanted something fun and even a little feisty, but were also a little worried about offending some of the more conservative family. Yes, it’s OUR wedding, but you also have to know your audience and be respectful. In the end, Shania and Marvin did the trick. I think everyone was so overjoyed by my great cousin (?) catching the bouquet and entertained with a toddler picking up my garter, they may not even have even noticed what music was on in the background! Both ends of the age spectrum here, and it couldn’t have been more perfect.
- Cutting of the cake: “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder
I still think of You’ve Got Mail every time I hear this song. I’m not even sure I’ve heard it anywhere else to be honest. However, everyone was singing along as we took our first bites of cake.
- Last slow dance: “Barefoot Dancer” by Ross Ellis
Unless you subscribe to a satellite radio service, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard this song. Look up the lyrics. It is the absolute perfect song to play towards the end of the night. Anyone who’s ever attended a wedding without a date (I know I’m not the only one out here!) will appreciate this song. Plus for anyone paying attention, it gives a good hint that the night is almost over.
- Last dance: “Paper Rings” by Taylor Swift
Here’s the thing I always hated about middle school dances, prom, and well, wedding receptions: they play one sad, lonely slow song to end the night. It leaves you almost bummed out, and if you didn’t get to actually slow dance with anyone, you’re left feeling very unsatisfied and disappointed. Say what you want about Taylor Swift, but this upbeat, bubble-gum, love song will have your guests smiling and laughing as they get ready to take their cake and leave.
- Grand exit: “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds
Probably the cheesiest thing I did for our entire event, but I just couldn’t help myself. As guests lined up through the grand exit hall with the photographer waiting at the end for the perfect picture, rose petals flying in the air, and a gorgeous old Jaguar waiting to take us to the hotel, the Breakfast Club-made-famous melody blasted in the air. ……… Then the guests apparently didn’t “toss” the petals quite to our photographers liking, so we did our grand exit again. Haha. Music still blaring.
While we gave our amazing DJ ideas of what genres we did and didn’t like, as well as a feel for what type of energy we wanted the evening to have, we had a few more song selections that he mixed into our evening.
Electric Love: BORNS White Lightning: The Cadillac Three Love Drunk: Steve Moakler Forever: Chris Brown Truly Madly Deeply: Savage Garden When the Stars Go Blue: Tim McGraw Lover: Taylor Swift Shut Up and Dance: Walk the Moon I Think We're Alone Now: Tiffany Drink Up: Train Head Over Boots: Jon Pardi Just Like Heaven: The Cure You Send Me: Sam Cooke Simple: Florida Georgia Line Unconditionally: Katy Perry Your Love: The Outfield Never Tear Us Apart: INXS The Way You Make Me Feel: Michael Jackson Mary You: Bruno Mars Blinding Lights: The Weekend Gold on the Ceiling: The Black Keys Someone to You: Banners Me & Mrs. You: Michael Buble