I love weddings. The flowers, the tulle, the gowns, the anticipation and celebration of everlasting love. It’s all so romantic and beautiful. But the planning of the blessed event can be anything but.
As summer wedding season hits full stride, wedding planners across the country scramble through flurries of last-minute details so the Big Day can go forward without a hitch. There are flowers to choose, dresses to select, hotel reservations to be made, table settings, invitations, vows, menus, music, and a myriad of other decisions that would stress a yogi zen master.
Many of these decisions can be made with input from friends and family, but the first-dance song falls solely upon the happy couple. The music, the lyrics, and the artist all blend together in a song choice that says “This is us” in a way that nothing else can. This is not a decision to be made hastily, haphazardly , or God forbid, when drunk.
There are dozens of beautiful love songs with positive, meaningful messages and lyrics, and it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one that reflects you as a couple and also makes sense to your guests. But there are a few that need to forever remain on the No Fly option list. Songs that sound romantic or appropriate because they’re slow and sentimental, but the lyrics or the artist are just wrong.
As I was jotting down a few what-were-you-thinking? songs I’ve watched wedding couples cuddle up and sway to, friends and family chimed in with first-dance songs they’ve found a bit baffling, and I ultimately came up with the Top 10 Songs You Should Not Choose for Your First Dance.
1. Without You (Miriah Carey). “No, I can’t forget the feeling on your face as you were leaving…I had you there, and then I let you go. I can’t live, if living is without you...” While at first glance, this is an fervent declaration of love (“You left me, so now I want to die”), it’s a melodramatic breakup song. Not a fortuitous start to a lifetime together.
2. How Do I Live? (Leann Rimes). “How do I get through one night without you? If I had to live without you, what kind of life would that be? How do I live? How do I breathe? If you ever go, how do I ever, ever survive?” Notwithstanding the somewhat desperate neediness this songs conveys, it’s a little dark for a wedding. Again, it’s a song about breaking up. STOP THAT.
3. My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion). “Every night in my dreams, I see you, I feel you. That is how I know you go on.” From Titanic. Yeah, the story of two people who have an intense, once-in-a-lifetime love affair, and then he drowns. This song is depressing, and will have your guests seeing sinking cruise liners and wet dead people.
4. I Will Always Love You (Whitney or Dolly). “If I should stay, I would only be in your way. So I’ll go, and yet I know I’ll think of you each step of the way. Good-bye. Please don’t cry. We both know I’m not what you need.” Seriously?? Yes, this is a romantic song. No, it’s not a wedding song. They love each other, but he’s better of without her, so she leaves him, breaking both their hearts. Your guests will be sobbing into their champagne flutes. Nice going.
5. Sometimes When We Touch (Dan Hill). “You ask me if I love you, and I choke on my reply. I’d rather hurt you honestly, than mislead you with a lie…At times I’d like to break you and drive you to your knees…At times I think we’re drifters, still searching for a friend. A brother or a sister, but then the passion flares again.” Wow. In 3 short minutes, we’ve covered rejection, spousal abuse, and incest. The trifecta of “Doesn’t Belong at a Wedding. Ever.”
6. Endless Love (Lionel Richie). “My love, there’s only you in my life, the only thing that’s bright. And your eyes, your eyes, your eyes, they tell me how much you care. No one can deny, this love I have inside, and I give it all to you, my endless love.” Unless you’re 14, this is sappy and juvenile. There’s a difference between poignant and gaggingly sweet. Save your guests the risk of mass Kool-Aid coma and pick a song that relates to people out of middle school.
7. Always (Bon Jovi). “This Romeo is bleeding, but you can’t see his blood…Now the pictures you left behind are just memories of a different life…When he holds you close, I wish I were him, cause those words are mine. And I know when I die, you’ll be on my mind.” So he loves her, she leaves him for someone else, but he’ll still be pining for her, presumably years later, on his deathbed. This isn’t romantic. It’s pathetic and sad.
8. Careless Whisper (George Michael). “I feel so unsure as I take your hand and lead you to the dance floor as the music dies. I’m never gonna dance again. Guilty feet have got no rhythm. Time can never mend the careless whisper of a friend. Now that you’ve gone, was what I did so wrong.” Starts out with a sultry saxophone, but then he announces that he cheated on her, a friend squealed on him, she drop-kicked his loser ass to the curb, and he’s blown his chance to ever dance with her again. A song about cheating and self-pity. Save this one for the divorce remix.
9. Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ (Journey). “You make me weep and wanna die, just when you said we’d try. When I’m all alone, you’re out with someone else. It won’t be long till you’re alone, when your lover hasn’t come home, cause he’s lovin’, touchin’, squeezin’ another.” Kind of sexy, with a hot title, until you realize it’s about a man who cheated on a woman who’s now cheating on him with a guy who’s going to cheat on her. Your guests will need an adultery scorecard to keep up.
10. Anything by Chris Brown. Lyrics unnecessary. Unless you’re into celebrating misogynistic wife-beaters with bad taste, and you find multiple trips to the ER and restraining orders acceptable ways of saying “I love you,” pass on this artist. While you’re gazing adoringly at each other on the dance floor, your guests will be visualizing Rhianna’s battered face.
So assuming you’re not inexplicably committed to any of these songs, put them in the No pile and keep searching. It’s worth the effort. And may you live long and happily together.