43 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. 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 are 43 songs that should probably be on your "do not play" list.

01 of 43

"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."

02 of 43

"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."

03 of 43

"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."

04 of 43

"The Scientist," by Coldplay

Unless you want to get all emo at your reception, this is another breakup ballad song to skip: "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."

05 of 43

"My Heart Will Go On," by Celine Dion

As beautiful 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."

06 of 43

"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?"

07 of 43

"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."

08 of 43

"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.

09 of 43

"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."

10 of 43

"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."

11 of 43

"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."

12 of 43

"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." No thanks.

13 of 43

"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.

14 of 43

"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) with its allusions to motives other than love. Also, it would be best to avoid a herd of people shouting: "We want prenup!"

15 of 43

"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."

16 of 43

"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.

17 of 43

"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."

18 of 43

"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."

19 of 43

“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."

20 of 43

"Dilemma," by Nelly ft. 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."

21 of 43

"Thank U, Next," by Arianna 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.

22 of 43

"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.

23 of 43

"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.

24 of 43

"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.

25 of 43

"WAP," by Cardi B ft. 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."

26 of 43

"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.

27 of 43

"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."

28 of 43

"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.

29 of 43

"Celebration," by Kool & the Gang

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

30 of 43

"Cotton Eye Joe," by Rednex

"Cotton Eye Joe" is apparently a pre-Civil War term used by plantation slaves to describe the many infections they got while working: "Where did you come from, Cotton-Eyed Joe? He rode through the fields, so handsome and strong. His eyes was his tools and his smile was his gun." So despite its popularity in the country scene, keep this song on the no-play list.

31 of 43

"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."?

32 of 43

"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."

33 of 43

"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.

34 of 43

"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.

35 of 43

"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."

36 of 43

"Hokey Pokey," by Play School Kids

A general rule of thumb: most, if not all, nursery rhymes can be included in the do-not-play list. "You put your right foot in, and you shake it all about" probably isn't the dance party you had in mind.

37 of 43

"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.

38 of 43

"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." Totally not the subject matter you'd need at your wedding.

39 of 43

"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."

40 of 43

"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.

41 of 43

"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.

42 of 43

"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.

43 of 43

“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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