Top Wedding Songs
What do a steel drum player, a DJ, and a string quartet have in common? They’re the perfect entertainment for your wedding reception, of course. With all the focus on finding the perfect dress, choosing the right cake, and getting the right ring for you and your Mr. Right, one of the most important aspects of your wedding day often gets done last: booking the entertainment. While the dress and cake are nice to look at for one evening, many people will remember the fun they had at the reception—not the type of flowers in your bouquet.
We asked local performers—DJ Todd Alexander of Spintastic Sounds, Jane Hart Brendle, Evelyn Blalock, Ellen Ferdon, and Susan Davis of Carolina Strings quartet, and steel drummer Nate Brown—to pull together a few must-have songs to play at your reception.
Click the song names to listen.
By: Victoria Uwumarogie
For the … Processional
Nate Brown: I just did a wedding and I did ‘Killing Me Softly,’ Roberta Flack’s version for them to walk down the aisle. It’s how you play it, the style of the song that matters. I can slow it down and change the rhythm and make it more of a ballad. It’s more of how you present the song.
Carolina Strings: We often use Pachelbel’s ‘Canon D.’ It’s probably the very most popular thing that people ask for. Hands down that’s the most requested.
For the … Recessional
Todd Alexander: “A lot of people do Jack Johnson’s ‘Better Together,’ but you can really go anywhere with that one. The wedding march is still popular though. Nobody really does the traditional when it comes to the bride and groom.”
For the … Introduction at Your Reception
Carolina Strings: “After the planning is done and the wedding is complete, then the happy couple can breathe a sigh of relief as they enjoy their first moments as Mr. and Mrs. So, a calm and quiet opening with special meaning is Etta James’s ‘At Last.’ ”
For the … First Dance
Nate Brown: “I use calypso (a form of Afro-Caribbean music), like Willie Colón. He wrote a song “Che Che Cole.” I use something up-tempo. But my most requested song is Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight.”The lyrics of the song just tell of how lucky he is to have his wife.”
For the … Father-Daughter Dance
Todd Alexander: “My all time favorite is the Mill Brothers’ ‘Daddy’s Little Girl.’ It’s the words. It goes through all the fairy tale kind of stuff, all the ‘through the end of the rainbow’ type of love stuff. Heartland’s “I Loved Her First” is a very close second. It’s a country song.”
For the … Mother-Son Dance
Todd Alexander: “Backstreet Boys, ‘The Perfect Fan.’You got to get past the Backstreet Boys thing. When I tell grooms, I’m like, just get past who it is. I had a mother two weeks ago who was in tears listening to the lyrics. Nine times out ten, when we give recommendations they choose the song.”
For the … Bouquet Toss
Carolina Strings: “ ‘Shout’ by the Temptations. It’s happy, fun music, familiar, and upbeat, great to keep the party going. And the words direct everyone to throw their hands up, which is a perfect idea for those who are trying to catch the bouquet!”
For the … Garter Removal & Toss
Todd Alexander: “My personal favorite is ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ by The Jeff Healey Band. It’s a little more of a guitary-riff version of Muddy Waters’ ‘Hoochie Coochie Man.’ Everyone has a good time with that song.”
For the … Last Dance
Nate Brown: “I would say Peter Frampton’s ‘Baby I Love Your Way,’ or oddly enough, a song by the Righteous Brothers called ‘You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling.’ If they want something fast paced I would play ‘Day-O (The Banana Boat Song).’ ”