We all know the anticipation that mounts when the bride and groom’s first dance of the wedding reception draws to a close. The song winds down, and the couple kiss and twinkle at each other through lovestruck eyes while the crowd turns their attention to the DJ. How will he start the evening off? How is he going to play this? Will he go straight in with an absolute classic, or will he lull the crowd into a false sense of calm with another ballad? That first song that a DJ plays after the happy couple’s first dance will set the tone for the rest of the night and maybe the rest of his career.
All dramatic jokes aside, there are some classic wedding songs that you expect to hear on every wedding dance floor, no matter where you are in the world. Of course, the term “classic” means different things to people in different age groups. For example, to me, as an “elder millennial,” a wedding classic would be “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler or “My Baby Just Cares for Me” by Nina Simone. To those slightly less aged, the term “wedding classic” means something slightly different, perhaps one of Taylor Swift’s love songs or something by John Legend. A new generation means that the idea of nostalgia shifts somewhat, and so too do our perceptions of the classic anything. The 2010s were a good decade, but they’re behind us now, and in their wake, they’ve left a whole new decade of classic wedding songs. Let’s take a look at the cream of the crop.
Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson. 2014
Uptown Funk is a modern song with a retro sound that I know you’ve heard even if you don’t know you’ve heard it. It dominated the airwaves of radio stations across the world when it was released in 2014 and quickly went on to be the earwig tune that you just couldn’t get out of your head. It never fails to get a wedding crowd jumping.
Blurred Lines. Robin Thicke, Pharell, and TI. 2013
Emily Ratajkowski did herself proud but shocked the world in the unedited version of this music video and shocked them once again with her allegations of “groping” on set. Blurred Lines is a naughty “get it started” little tune with a cunning beat that you can’t help but get into.
Ho Hey. The Lumineers. 2021
The Lumineers were on the swell of the Folk Pop wave even before we knew it was a wave. Ho Hey was all you heard on the radio for a solid two years after the song was released in 2012, and it preceded a number of hits along the same lines. It’s cute, it’s cozy, it’s folksy, and it’s catchy as all get out. We dare you not to dance.
Shake It Off. Taylor Swift. 2014
Debuting at number 1 on the Billboard Chart is probably a good indication that a song is going to go on to be well known and well-loved. A huge part of the appeal of Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off was how the singer and actress didn’t take herself seriously in the video. The song is all about shaking off whatever is getting you down and then shaking IT (your booty on the dance floor) instead.
A Thousand Years. Christina Perri. 2011.
This track gained most of its fame as Bella and Edward’s love song in the last installment of the Twilight movie franchise. The song certainly has its own merit, but its correlation to the film conjures up feelings of eternal love and commitment, the perfect theme for any wedding slow-dance.
All Of Me. John Legend. 2014
The smooth voice, the soulful piano- the perfect combination to evoke feelings of love and tenderness. John Legend’s “All of Me” became “our song” to couples worldwide within weeks of its release. It still doesn’t fail to conjure up softhearted feelings in even the most cynical of wedding guests and is always a smash hit on the dancefloor.
Perfect. Ed Sheeran. 2017
Oh Ed, how we love you. There’s no way a wedding playlist would be complete without an Ed Sheeran ballad, and we choose Perfect; what better way for the bride and groom (or bride and bride, or groom and groom, all weddings as equal!) to kick off their lives as a happily married couple than for them to gaze into each other’s eyes and each wax lyrical about how perfect the other looks.
Wildest Dreams. Taylor Swift. 2014
Taylor makes the list again because, well, she’s Taylor. Wildest dreams is a sultry and nostalgic tune that never fails to get couples all loved up under the lights on the floor. It’s a classic example of a Taylor Swift love song, and we can never get enough of those.
So there you have them: the new classics that are a must for every wedding playlist. Did your favorite make the cut?