10 Untraditional Wedding Songs for The Untraditional Bride

I am always intensely fascinated by the music people choose for their weddings.

Jul 31, 2014 at 12:30pm | Leave a comment

I love weddings. I loved my wedding. I love other people's weddings. I love drinking at weddings. I love dancing at weddings.

And I am always intensely fascinated by the music people choose for their weddings.

You've all seen the 2001 romantic comedy "The Wedding Planner," correct? It had everything a romantic comedy in the early aughts required: J.Lo, a song by J.Lo, and an otherwise good-looking guy with bizarre hair. I guess it was largely forgettable, but one scene really stuck with me: Matthew McConaughey and his fiancee are going over various wedding details, including music, and are faced with the task of picking their first dance song. They don't have one in mind, so they just pick it from a catalog. I guess they could have been some of those "I don't care about music" types. I know a couple of those puzzlers.

Anyway. They end up settling on "I Honestly Love You" by Olivia Newton-John.

Fifteen year-old Claire was horrified. I had known what my "wedding march" would be since I was eight ("Wild Horses" by The Rolling Stones), and would not be swayed. (My grandmother tried to get me to use Wagner's "Bridal Chorus" but I was like "That guy's a little controversial.")

Being the control freak that I am, I loved the idea of creating a wedding playlist -- the one playlist that no one could complain about (to my face). I kept the dance party music pretty accessible. I did after all want people to dance, so it couldn't just be an endless playlist of Tom Waits and Belle & Sebastian.

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My sisters got the party started and kept the party going.

But when it came to picking the songs for the ceremony, cake cutting, first dance, etc., we played whatever we wanted, no matter how obscure or vaguely off-putting. The following isn't my exact wedding playlist, but a few songs from that time mixed with some that I wish I had thrown in. 

1. "Next to Paradise" - Iron & Wine

I cannot embed a video for you here because there is no video. This song is not on Spotify. It's not on iTunes. The only way you can buy this song is on a 2013 Record Store Day 7", a fact that delights and dismays me in equal parts. It delights me because it's almost impossible for me to tire of this song; I can't put it on a playlist, and walking over to the record player every three minutes and 35 seconds is impractical. It dismays me because c'mon Sam, that's a little precious, don't you think?

Of course someone out there converted it to an MP3 and hosted it on Soundcloud, so you can listen to it on your computer. You just can't own it on your computer.

Had I gotten married in 2013 instead of 2011, this song would have featured prominently in my wedding. It's probably for the best though, the format would have annoyed the DJ.

2. "Walking My Gargoyle" - The Gothic Archies


I once read a blog about this perfectly hip wedding. Each invitation was individually typed (on a typewriter) and after the ceremony was concluded everyone went out for lobster rolls. 

OH and NO BIG DEAL, Stephin Merritt not only attended, but sang "Walking My Gargoyle" as the bride's father escorted her down the aisle.

It's almost painful.

3. "This Must Be the Place" - The Talking Heads


If you want to have a slightly upbeat and dance-y first dance, allow me to suggest this little ditty. It's romantic without being sappy, sweet but not overly so, and just really cool because everything that David Byrne does is pretty cool.

The relationship described sounds comfortable and genuine, the love almost undersold but for one lyric:

Home, is where I want to be
But I guess I'm already there
I come home, she lifted up her wings
I guess that this must be the place

It's quietly transcendent.

4. "Hysteric" - The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Acoustic Version)


I used this song in my wedding, and it was almost a mistake. I chose it for the bridesmaid processional because it was beautiful and had always made me tear up a bit, not realizing that I wouldn't want to be tearing up quite yet. The song started playing, the bridesmaids started walking, I started crying, and then my dad started bawling, which made me cry more, and then I just kind of wept my way through the first part of my vows.

I mean, worse things have happened, I just hadn't plan on kicking things off with tears.

5. "Do You Realize??" - The Flaming Lips 

I'm not totally sure what's going on with Wayne Coyne right now; he seems to be having some sort of crisis and the last two Lips albums have been noisy and boring. (YEAH. I SAID IT.) But I will always love early/mid-career Flaming Lips, especially Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and The Soft Bulletin. We used "Do You Realize??" as our recessional and the once we were pronounced "officially no longer living in sin" that "One! Two Three!" *BELL CHIME* kicked in and it was honestly a perfect moment.

6.  "The Book of Love" - The Magnetic Fields


Let's not talk about the Peter Gabriel cover. A lot of people think it's the original and though I'm sure Stephin Merrit doesn't give a damn, I do. I love Peter Gabriel, but I love Stephin Merritt more, and I need this song to be in his delicious baritone. 

This would be a great song to walk down the aisle to, as long as you walked pretty slowly. You may think "I can walk slowly! I do it all the time!" but I walked super quickly down that aisle, even after my dad was like "Do not speed walk, my legs are quite short."

7. "Wasp's Nest" - The National


For those of us that need minor keys in everything we do, The National provides.

8. "5 Years Time" - Noah and the Whale

This would be a really good "grand entrance" song. It's upbeat and happy and has some sweet British accents.

 9. "She Smiled Sweetly" - The Rolling Stones

This was our first dance song. It's technically a Viennese Waltz, but our dance instructor knew we could not hang so we did kind of a Rumba/Fox Trot hybrid.

It worked.

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About to dip.

10.  "Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)" - Peter Sarstedt

This one could really be used for anything. Walking down the aisle, first dance, cake cutting: it's all there. I would go for the first dance; it's a lovely little Waltz.

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Not waltzing.

What are some of the coolest songs you've heard at at wedding? What did you/do you plan to use at yours?

Oh, and if you want a playlist, here you go.

All photos by Klix Photography and Design