Putting together a non-cliché wedding playlist

Wedding music can be just as important as the flowers and menu, so it’s crucial to get it right. Whether you’re hiring a live band or not, eventually you’ll be switching over to a DJ or a Spotify playlist, and while you might be happy to let them take the reins, it’s advisable to avoid certain tired songs that have been used so often that they’ll just suck all joy out of your celebrations.

First, let’s tackle the “walking down the aisle” music. Woe betide you if you opt for Pachelbel’s Canon in D – even the most boring people on Earth are sick of hearing it! Same goes for the wedding march – yes it’s traditional, but also painfully impersonal. If you and your boo are saving your favourite song for the first dance, no doubt you have some lovely runners up and you can make the song more special by either having a live band/string quartet perform it or find an acoustic version online – trust that almost every song ever written has a romantic, instrumental rendition.

Now about the party playlist. Very often, wedding invitations ask guests to mention songs they’d love to hear at the wedding, which is a great idea. People’s tastes vary a lot, so it’s good to have a selection that you know will be well received. Within that, if you have some people request hard core death metal, maybe avoid that until much later in the night when the children and elderly have excused themselves, and the rest of the guests are sufficiently inebriated that they don’t care about the music anymore. For the rest of the selection, however, there are now some songs that have been so overused at weddings, on social media and in films, to the point that no amount of alcohol or nostalgia can excuse their banality, so these are just a few that you should avoid like the plague. 

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Gangnam style – just, enough. As far as one hit wonders go, this track spread across the globe faster than a speeding bullet of confusing, migraine inducing noise that, while catchy, all too soon made you want to gouge your ears out.

The Macarena – this stopped being a funny throwback a loooong time ago. It’s not just that it’s bad, but it’s the absurd expectation of synchronised dancing. Your parents’ generation won’t know it and the generation that danced to this at school discos are not going to humiliate themselves and add to their blisters by reliving their most awkward phase. It’s not fun, it’s not sexy, it’s not even worth playing ironically.

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Abba – Dancing Queen in particular, but generally any Abba song. It might be a necessary evil to placate the older guests, but as soon as the sun goes down, so should this schmaltzy Mamma Mia soundtrack. 

Whitney, Mariah or Celine – every playlist should include some slow dances to allow people to go to the bathroom, rest their feet or try to score with whatever singleton they deemed to be acceptable for the evening. So in the spirit of actual romance, don’t play these lyrical versions of a gag. Best case scenario, no one will be into it. Worst case scenario, an off-key drunken chorus will ensue, thus killing any chances of copulation for anyone that night. And pity the sober wait staff, who won’t even have the option to leave!

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Ed Sheeran – we love that ginger genius, but he’s in real danger of becoming to weddings what Buble is to Christmas.

Inappropriate rapping – obviously, depending on time of day, if children are around, you don’t want any lewd language to assault their innocent ears but it’s truly bizarre that many weddings feature such classics as Gold Digger or It Wasn’t Me. It’s a wedding, with maybe 5-10 years before a divorce, so probably let’s not play songs about lying, cheating and love’s sleazy, inevitable demise.  

The best source of inspiration for really original songs to play are actually movie soundtracks. It’ll make your friends reminisce about those early days where you bonded over sleepover classics or the best movies you and your partner enjoyed while you were dating – remember “Bad Reputation” or “One Week” by the Barenaked Ladies? Take a leaf out of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” book – nostalgia works beautifully when done right! 

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