Five great love songs for the modern wedding
“At laaaaaaast, my looooove has come along,” Etta James sings with a gutsy, bluesy drawl at the beginning of her 1960 version of the 1940s tune.
With just those seven heart-swelling words, James secured a spot on wedding playlists for decades.
Today, with many couples financing their own weddings, personalized playlists run the gamut, from music played during the ceremony to a first dance song, said Jill Sieracki, senior features editor of Brides magazine. Open, non-gender-specific love songs also appeal to contemporary couples. “Who says you have to walk down the aisle to ‘Here Comes the Bride’?” she said.
Tastes change with the times, and so do popular wedding songs (the Baroque classic Pachelbel’s Canon has shown real staying power). Keeping many choices in mind, here are five songs that seem to speak to modern lovebirds, from John Legend’s hit 2013 piano ballad “All of Me” and Ed Sheeran’s 2014 standout “Thinking Out Loud” to James’ evergreen staple.
JOHN LEGEND — “ALL OF ME”
Singing “‘Cause all of me/ Loves all of you/ Love your curves and all your edges/ All your perfect imperfections,” Grammy-winning R&B artist Legend doesn’t just channel his love for his wife (and model) Chrissy Teigen, he proclaims it.
After analyzing more than 400,000 wedding-themed playlists worldwide, Spotify in 2015 named the song the top choice for tying the knot.
“I love the lyric ‘your perfect imperfections,'” said Sieracki. “It’s a common theme with these songs that they have these great lyrics, about appreciating the person for who they are. I don’t think there’s anyone on the planet who doesn’t want to be the John Legend-Chrissy Teigen love story. They’re so fantastic.”
Doug Farra, who owns Wedding DJ Plus in Las Vegas, has deejayed more than 200 weddings over the past six years. He said “All of Me” is fading in popularity but is still a good choice.
“Even if you’re not that couple that’s taking ballroom dance lessons, this is easy to dance to,” said Sieracki. “Everyone’s watching you, and you want to look good for your first dance. You want it to be sweet and loving.”
ED SHEERAN — “THINKING OUT LOUD”
Speaking of ballroom dancing, British singer-songwriter Sheeran made a splash when his video for 2014’s “Thinking Out Loud” debuted, featuring him sashaying with “So You Think You Can Dance” contestant Brittany Cherry, who was clad in a white dress.
“And, darling, I will be loving you ’til we’re 70/ And, baby, my heart could still fall as hard at 23,” Sheeran croons, later belting, “Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars.”
The mid-tempo guitar- and piano-fueled song, which won two Grammys, including 2015 song of the year, is a favorite wedding tune for Brides magazine readers.
“We’ve seen that song explode in popularity, and it ticks all the boxes for everyone. It’s so fun,” said Sieracki. “A lot of these newer songs, too, they’re not gender-specific. They’re very open to all couples, whether it’s two grooms or two brides. It’s a love story.”
ADELE — “MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE”
Backed by a steady piano melody, mega-hit-maker Adele’s 2008 cover of Bob Dylan’s 1997 song “Make You Feel My Love” doesn’t just ooze melancholy romance; it showcases her instantly recognizable soulful voice. The song was on her first studio album, “19.”
“When the rain is blowing in your face/ And the whole world is on your case/ I could offer you a warm embrace/ To make you feel my love,” Adele sings at the beginning, filling each note with a raspy warmth.
Sieracki and her husband chose the song for their own wedding five years ago. “With that first note, everybody knows that’s Adele,” she said. “There were things in the lyrics that resonated with me and my husband, with our own story. My husband and I were in our mid- to late 30s when we got married.”
LONESTAR — “AMAZED”
With lyrics such as, “I wanna spend the rest of my life/ With you by my side,” Lonestar’s 1999 twangy power ballad “Amazed” has become a favorite for country music lovers, said Sieracki.
Oodles of videos on YouTube show couples doing their first dance to the tune.
“There are a lot of people that look to country music for their wedding songs,” she said. “This song is a love story, a lyrical piece that really works for all types of couples.”
Farra also recommends singer-songwriter Jack Johnson’s mellow acoustic ode “Better Together” for cake-cutting or a processional.
“It has an upbeat feel to it,” he said. “The lyrics are about being better with that other person.”
ETTA JAMES —
With its sweeping violin melody and James pouring her heart out, “At Last” has a timeless quality.
Short and direct, its poetic lyrics muse about finding and keeping love. “My heart was wrapped up in clover/ The night I looked at you,” James intones.
“There’s something that holds true with the lyrics in 2016, 2017,” said Sieracki. “It’s doesn’t matter what the couple looks like, their ages. At your 50th anniversary, this is the song you’re going to want to dance to again.”