You've meticulously planned out what to play for your processional, recessional, first dance, parent dances, and your final exit song, plus handed over a list of your favorite tunes to the DJ. But there's one more music-related task to take care of: the wedding do-not-play list. Unless you want some unpleasant surprises during your reception, it's best to curate a list of wedding songs to skip.
Believe it or not, many songs that are played at weddings actually have negative messages about love. They're about breakups, stalking, desperation, and obsession. Or, they're overtly sexual or otherwise inappropriate.
Here, 30 songs that should probably be on your "do not play" list.
1. "Every Breath You Take," by the Police
This is literally the anthem of a stalker: "I'll be watching you. Every breath you take, every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take."
2. "I Will Always Love You," by Whitney Houston (or Dolly Parton)
Yes, you'll always love your new husband. But this isn't a love song. It's a breakup song: "Bittersweet memories, that is all I'm taking with me. So goodbye, please don't cry. We both know I'm not what you, you need."
3. "Make You Feel My Love," by Adele
Not only is this also about a breakup, it's about the utter desperation in the breakup aftermath: "I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue, and I'd go crawling down the avenue. No, there's nothing that I wouldn't do to make you feel my love."
4. "The Scientist," by Coldplay
Unless you want to get all emo at your reception, this is a song to skip. And if you listen closely, this is another breakup ballad: "Nobody said it was easy. It's such a shame for us to part. Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard. Oh, take me back to the start."
5. "My Heart Will Go On," by Celine Dion
As beautiful as a song as it is, no one can listen to this without thinking of Leonardo DiCaprio sinking to the bottom of the sea. Plus, it's about a lost love: "Every night in my dreams I see you, I feel you. That is how I know you, go on."
6. "The Sweetest Thing," by U2
These lyrics aren't really that sweet: "Baby's got blue skies up ahead, but in this I'm a rain cloud. You know she likes a dry kind of love. Oh oh oh, the sweetest thing. I'm losing you." Also, did you know Bono wrote this as an apology to his wife for forgetting her birthday? Not exactly how you want to kick off your marriage.
7. "I Will Survive," by Gloria Gaynor
Here's another song that makes it into wedding playlists...but it's all about a relationship gone south: "I should have changed that stupid lock. I should have made you leave your key if I'd known for just one second you'd be back to bother me. Go on now, go, walk out the door. Just turn around now 'cause you're not welcome anymore."
8. "White Wedding," by Billy Idol
The "little sister" of the song refers to an ex-girlfriend who's marrying someone else. The lyrics, accordingly, are quite angsty: "There is nothin' fair in this world, there is nothin' safe in this world, and there's nothin' sure in this world, and there's nothin' pure in this world."
9. "Tainted Love," by Soft Cell
The chart topper is indisputably popular, having sold more than 1.35 million copies since its release in 1981. Nonetheless, the lyrics aren't appropriate for a wedding reception: "Don't touch me please, I cannot stand the way you tease. I love you though you hurt me so, now I'm going to pack my things and go."
10. "If You Wanna Be Happy," by Jimmy Soul
Take a close read of those lyrics — they're telling men to marry ugly women because their marriage will be better: "If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife. So from my personal point of view get an ugly girl to marry you. A pretty woman makes her husband look small and very often causes his downfall. As soon as he marries her then she starts to do the things that will break his heart." No, thanks.
11. "You Give Love a Bad Name," by Bon Jovi
As much as you and your fiancé may love classic rock, the big day is all about giving love a good name. Steer clear of the songs that make love seem anything less than sunshine and roses, at least for this one day.
12. "Gold Digger," by Kanye West
Even if you're the biggest Kanye fan in the world, steer clear of this Late Registration hit (even the acoustic cover by the Vitamin String Quartet).
13. "Baby Got Back," by Sir Mix-a-lot
Though you and the bridal party knows all the words, save it for your next karaoke night. Grandma and grandpa might not appreciate this tune.
14. "Bootylicious," by Destiny's Child
In that same vein, this might be your jam. But as a general rule of thumb, steer clear of any and all odes to the derrière (but make sure to include it on your getting-ready playlist with your bridesmaids!).
15. "Blurred Lines," by Robin Thicke
Though the beat lends itself to dancing, the lyrics of this song are plain creepy: "I hate these blurred lines! I know you want it...But you're a good girl! The way you grab me, must wanna get nasty. Go ahead, get at me."
Do Not Play Due to Cheesiness
Finally, while the following aren't inappropriate," it can be argued they're a bit cheesy. Play at your own risk!