58 Songs to Add to Your Wedding "Do Not Play" List

bride dancing

 Photo by Norman + Blake

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. To avoid 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. Even though some songs are staples that get guests singing and dancing along, if you listen close, some of them are actually about breakups, infidelities, stalking, and desperation—even if they're upbeat. Yikes! It's best to stick to songs that capture the happy occasion and avoid songs that may remind you of past (or potential) relationship troubles or those you associate with former partners.

Also, some songs may be overtly sexual or otherwise inappropriate that may make guests uncomfortable. Of course, songs that have sentimental meaning to you or are part of you and your partner's love story are totally fine to include. Just gauge your playlists depending on your guests, the mood you want to set, and what would make you the happiest at your reception.

Here are 58 songs that should probably be on your "do not play" list.

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"Every Breath You Take," by the Police

This song seems sweet but the lyrics are actually creepy: "I'll be watching you. Every breath you take, every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take."

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"I Will Always Love You," by Whitney Houston (or Dolly Parton)

Yes, you'll always love your new spouse. 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 need."

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"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."

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"The Scientist," by Coldplay

If you don't want to get all emo at your reception, skip this 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."

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"My Heart Will Go On," by Celine Dion

As beautiful a song as it is, it's hard to 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."

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"Marry You," by Bruno Mars

Don't be fooled by the title, this song actually refers to fickle commitment and getting married out of intoxication: "It's a beautiful night, we're looking for something dumb to do. Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you. Is it the look in your eyes, or is it this dancing juice?"

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"Single Ladies," by Beyoncé

Though it's a great song to dance to, guests who might already be feeling wedding pressures may feel even worse: "If you like it, then you should've put a ring on it...Say I’m the one you want. If you don’t, you’ll be alone, and like a ghost, I’ll be gone."

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"The Sweetest Thing," by U2

Bono wrote this as an apology to his wife for forgetting her birthday: "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." Not exactly how you want to kick off your marriage.

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"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 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."

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"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."

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"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 may seem inappropriate (or out of place) at a wedding: "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."

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"If You Wanna Be Happy," by Jimmy Soul

Take a close read of those lyrics—they're telling men to marry ugly women for their marriage to 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." No thanks.

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"You Give Love a Bad Name," by Bon Jovi

As much as you and your partner love classic rock, the big day is all about giving love a good name and this song's lyrics are actually dark and spiteful: "Shot through the heart, and you're to blame. Darling, you give love a bad name. You promise me heaven, then put me through hell." Yikes.

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"Gold Digger," by Kanye West

Even if you're the biggest Kanye fan in the world, you may want to steer clear of this Late Registration hit (even the acoustic cover by the Vitamin String Quartet) with its allusions to motives other than love. Also, it would be best to avoid a herd of people shouting: "We want prenup!"

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"Baby Got Back," by Sir Mix-a-Lot

Though you and the bridal party know all the words, save it for your next karaoke night. Grandma and grandpa might not appreciate the objectification in this tune: "I like big butts and I can not lie...I want 'em real thick and juicy."

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"Bootylicious," by Destiny's Child

As a general rule of thumb, steer clear of odes to the derrière...even if they're empowering and oozing with self-love: "I don't think you're ready for this jelly, cause my body's too bootylicious for ya babe." Just add it to your getting-ready playlist with your bridesmaids.

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"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."

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"My Cherie Amour," by Stevie Wonder

Although Stevie Wonder seems to serenade his one and only in this classic, the lyrics are borderline stalkerish: "In a café or sometimes on a crowded street, I've been near you, but you never noticed me."

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“Before He Cheats,” by Carrie Underwood

While we love a good Carrie Underwood ballad, try to avoid songs with any allusions to potential infidelity: "Right now, he's probably slow dancing with a bleached-blonde tramp, and she's probably getting frisky."

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"Dilemma," by Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland

Speaking of potential infidelity, this song may get everyone up on the dance floor but it's all about emotional cheating: "No matter what I do, all I think about is you. Even when I'm with my boo, you know I'm crazy over you."

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"Thank U, Next," by Ariana Grande

This song is an ode to exes: "Thought I'd end up with Sean, but he wasn't a match...Even almost got married, and for Pete, I'm so thankful." Even if you are grateful that your past flames led you to the love of your life, this song will probably make you think of yours on your wedding day, and there's really no reason for that.

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"Pumped Up Kicks," by Foster the People

The upbeat song is surprisingly sinister: "All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you better run, better run, outrun my gun. All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you better run, better run faster than my bullet." Avoid allusions to lethal weapons on a day that celebrates love.

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"It Wasn't Me," by Shaggy

The ultimate song about infidelity, this song enumerates, in graphic detail, all the places the narrator got caught cheating: "Honey came in and she caught me red-handed creepin' with the girl next door. Picture this, we were both butt naked bangin' on the bathroom floor." Save yourselves—and your older relatives—the scandalous imagery.

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"Truth Hurts," by Lizzo

If you're celebrating spending the rest of your life with your new groom, complaining about his entire gender may seem out of place: "Why men great 'til they gotta be great...I put the sing in single. Ain't worried 'bout a ring on my finger." It's a great single empowerment anthem, but not one you'd need at a wedding.

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"WAP," by Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion

It's a trendy, fun song but your older family members may not want to hear the explicit lyrics: "There's some whores in this house. I said certified freak, seven days a week."

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"Mamma Mia," by ABBA

The song talks about a toxic cycle of being cheated on, breaking up, and then getting back together: "I can't count all the times that I've told you we're through. And when you go, when you slam the door, I think you know that you won't be away too long. You know that I'm not that strong." It just doesn't reflect the loving commitment you just made.

Of course, if some songs have a hidden, special meaning for you, or are inside jokes between you and your partner, you should definitely include them in your playlist. But do avoid even the sweetest songs that remind you and your partner of past flames and bad experiences.

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"Escape (The Piña Colada Song)," by Rupert Holmes

It sounds like the perfect pre-honeymoon song, but this song is actually about planning a rendezvous with another woman: "Me and my old lady had fallen into the same old dull routine...I've got to meet you by tomorrow noon, and cut through all this red tape, at a bar called O'Malley's, where we'll plan our escape."

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"Cha Cha Slide," by Mr. C

If you're not into the idea of all your guests "dancing" in sync, you can skip this song: "One hop this time. Right foot, let's stomp. Left foot, let's stomp. Cha cha real smooth." Actually, it may be best to avoid instructional dance songs altogether.

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"Celebration," by Kool & the Gang

It may seem too cheesy to play "Celebration" during this celebration: "Yahoo! It's a celebration. Yahoo! Celebrate good times, come on!" Everybody already knows.

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"YMCA," by Village People

One chorus is fine, but the song is cheesy and repetitive. How many times do you really want to dance to the line "It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A."?

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"Macarena," by Los Del Rio

This '90s dance craze is actually about the multiple infidelities of a woman named Macarena. The English translation goes: "But don't you worry about my boyfriend...I don't want him, couldn't stand him...What was I supposed to do? He was out of town and his two friends were so fine."

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"We Are Family," by Sister Sledge

While it is empowering to line up your bridesmaids and shout "I got all my sisters with me!" with confidence, it can be a little bit cheesy. So if you've already included other cheesy songs, you might want to skip this one.

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"Shout, Pt. 1 & 2," by The Isley Brothers

While this isn't inappropriate, it's a bit cheesy: "You know you make me wanna shout. Kick my heels up and shout." Other celebratory songs that have meaning to your partnership may be better choices.

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"Stayin' Alive," by Bee Gees

Before you get your disco moves on, know that this Bee Gees classic is actually dark. The lyrics are despondent and a cry for help: "Life's goin' nowhere, somebody help me."

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"Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)," by Silentó

It may have been a hit when it came out in 2015, but the lines "Now watch me whip, watch me nae nae" no longer hold the same appeal it used to. Skip.

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"Electric Boogie (The Electric Slide)," by Marcia Griffith

This song is rumored to be about a certain toy in the boudoir: "She's a pumpin' like a matic. She's a movin' like electric. You gotta know it, it's electric." Probably not the subject matter you'd need at your wedding.

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"Wobble," by V.I.C.

This is another explicit song your older guests may not enjoy: "I got 'em shakin' they boobies like congos...Girl wobble it and Imma gobble it."

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"Gangnam Style," by Psy

When the open bar rolls in and this song starts playing, it will probably make the crowd attempt this international dance craze that goes: "Eh, sexy lady. Op, op, op, op. Oppan Gangnam style." Play at your own risk.

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"Ice Ice Baby," by Vanilla Ice

This danceable song actually isn't wedding-friendly as it describes a shooting: "Gunshots raged out like a bell. I grabbed my nine all I heard were shells falling on the concrete real fast...Police on the scene, you know what I mean." Yeah, no.

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"Play That Funky Music," by Wild Cherry

Though it's fun to sing along to the famous "Play that funky music, white boy" line, this song is overused and makes it on too many wedding playlists. To be a bit more unique, skip the song altogether.

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“Achy Breaky Heart,” by Billy Ray Cyrus

Not only is this line-dancing song a bit cheeky, but it's also about desperate love where a man begs his partner to spare him heartbreak or else his heart "might blow up and kill this man."

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“The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)," by Ylvis

Your adult guests may not need a rundown of animal sounds: "Dog goes "woof." Cat goes "meow." Bird goes "tweet" and mouse goes "squeak.""

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“Rude,” by Magic!

This song is all about not having the family's blessing to get married. If you're lucky to celebrate with loved ones, maybe skip it: "I hate to do this, you leave no choice, can't live without her. Love me or hate me, we will be both standin' at the altar. Or we will run away to another galaxy."

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“Aserejé (The Ketchup Song)," by Las Ketchup

This dance craze may have swept the early aughts but it could be a tad cheesy for a wedding: Plus, we were saying a bunch of gibberish: "Aserejé ja de je. De jebe tu de jebere Sebiunouva majabi an de bugui. An de buipdipi."

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“Who Let the Dogs Out,” by Baha Men

If you're looking to hype your guests up on the dance floor, there may be other songs that are better suited and more effective than singing along to: "Who let the dogs out? Who, who, who, who?"

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"Love The Way You Lie," by Eminem featuring Rihanna

A powerful song about being in an abusive relationship "I'm tired of the games, I just want her back, I know I'm a liar. If she ever tries to fuckin' leave again, I'ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire."

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"Dear Future Husband," by Meghan Trainor

The lyrics of this song seem to be about a lack of compromise and unfair treatment in a relationship: "After every fight, just apologize and maybe then I'll let you try and rock my body right. Even if I was wrong. You know I'm never wrong."

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"Latch," by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith

This dance-pop beat may be fun to dance to but the lyrics are a bit creepy. "Now I've got you in my space, I won't let go of you. Got you shackled in my embrace, I'm latching on to you."

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"Dancing On My Own," by Robyn

This song is all about dancing alone while the person you like dances with someone else, which could make some of your guests feel bad: "I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her, ooh. I'm right over here, why can't you see me? Ooh. I'm giving it my all. But I'm not the girl you're taking home. I keep dancing on my own."

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"September," by Earth, Wind & Fire

This 70s hit prompts disco moves but it's a song that is on a lot of playlists. Skip if you want to be unqiue: "Ba-dee-ya, say, do you remember? Ba-dee-ya, dancin' in September. Ba-dee-ya, never was a cloudy day."

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"Heartbreaker," by Mariah Carey featuring JAY-Z

This 90s hit talks about an unhealthy cycle of infidelity and getting back together: "Heartbreaker, you got the best of me. But I just keep on coming back incessantly. Oh, why did you have to run your game on me?"

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"I'm A Slave 4 You," by Britney Spears

Though it may be fun to recreate the choreography in Britney's iconic music video (remember the yellow python?), this song is about blind submission: "I’m a slave for you. I cannot hold it, I cannot control it. I’m a slave for you. I won’t deny it, I’m not tryna hide it."

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"You Don't Own Me," by Saygrace featuring G-Eazy

"You don't own me. Don't try to change me in any way. You don't own me. Don't tie me down 'cause I'd never stay."

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"Bad Romance," by Lady Gaga

"I want your love and all your lover's revenge. You and me could write a bad romance. Caught in a bad romance."

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"Say My Name," by Destiny's Child

This Destiny's Child classic makes it to a lot of weddings but it's all about getting caught cheating: "It's hard to believe that you are at home by yourself, when I just heard the voice, heard the voice of someone else. Just this question, why do you feel you gotta lie? Gettin' caught up in your game, when you cannot say my name."

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"I'm Not The Only One," by Sam Smith

There are tons of ballads about love so steer clear of this song about infidelities in marriage: "You and me, we made a vow. For better or for worse. I can't believe you let me down. But the proof's in the way it hurts."

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"Bad Guy," by Billie Eilish

This bass-heavy track has lyrics that might not be suited for a wedding: "I'm that bad type. Make your mama sad type. Make your girlfriend mad tight. Might seduce your dad type."

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"Lips of An Angel," by Hinder

This song may seem romantic at first but it's about two former lovers who are haven't moved on and are thinking about potenital infidelity: Well, my girl’s in the next room. Sometimes I wish she was you. I guess we never really moved on. And I never wanna say goodbye. But girl you make it hard to be faithful. With the lips of an angel."

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