Wedding Songs That Seem Okay But Really Aren't

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So, to everyone’s surprise, I’m getting married. I’m sure that at one point in life – probably when I was a sophomore in college, probably when I would eat Taco Bell alone in a car and probably when I occasionally purchased clothing items and accessories from Hot Topic – my parents thought this was a fairly far-fetched notion. Gen getting married? Nah, she’s just going to be that weird 47-year-old who lives in our basement and emerges three times a day to eat dry ramen packets and then quietly goes back to watching TBS.

But miracles do happen, and I’m getting married! And getting married means a whole new world – a whole new lens to view life through, really. Suddenly, topics that used to make me want to slowly shave off all of my skin with a dull Gillette razor blade (think table runners, Chiavari chairs or spray painting wine bottles gold and then engraving them) are downright scintillating to me. I’ve developed a creepy sixth sense for wedding things. For example, I can enter a room and smell a homemade corkboard. I could be blindfolded and feel the aura of burlap-wrapped mason jar centerpieces somewhere on the premises. Thanks to Pinterest, I have heightened sensitivities to all things wedding related, and am basically the wedding-mutant version of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2.

Decor is not my strong point. Thank God for my very talented roommate who is a graphic designer and on call to ensure that my big day does not look like an episode of Hoarders. Music, on the other hand, I feel much more confident about. I have just one mantra guiding me through the wedding song selection process: If there are blind people at my wedding, they should think they’ve been transported back in time to a ’90s rap and R&B concert. While curating the perfect song list, I’ve come across quite a few that I strongly recommend not playing for dear Mom and Pops:

1. Red Light Special – TLC: Although this might be a song to consider if you, your fiancé, or someone in the wedding party is a highway patrol officer, it’s actually not about a really fun, secret, traffic school party. It’s about having sex under a red disco ball. See?

Baby it’s yours

All yours

If you want it tonight

Just come through my door

Take off my clothes

And turn on the red light

Verdict: Not first dance song material unless your family is really, awkwardly close.

2. Daddy’s Home – Usher: Contrary to what the title makes you think, this song is not really about your dad coming home after work to play with a chubby, 5-year-old version of you. As ambiguous as these lines are:

Is you say Daddy’s home, home for me

And I know you’ve been waiting for this lovin’ all day

This part makes it fairly clear:

Poke it on out poke it out right there

I’m a fall back while you work that chair

Do that damn thing let the neighbors hear

Verdict: Probably not as ideal for the Father-Daughter dance as you previously thought. Poking, in this sense, is not of the Facebook kind.

3. Freaks of the Industry – Digital Underground: Originally, I thought this song would be a no brainer in the case that I decided to have a Silicon Valley-Zombie-themed wedding. But then I remembered the words:

You’re lying on you’re back with your head on the edge of the bed,

The booty’s two feet from your head:

Should you: A, take the time to find a condom,

B, you walk right over and you pound ’em,

C, tell her that you want her love,

Well the answer is D, [D], all of the above.

Verdict: A 90s classic. Play it at the reception, only after the parents have kindly been escorted out and at least a few people are starting to drunkenly do the Humpty Dance. Bonus points if your guests are good at multiple-choice tests.

4. Kisses Down Low – Kelly Rowland: ALERT: This is not a song about kissing short people! I won’t say anymore here.

So, if you’re planning a wedding yourself, I hope you found the fruits of my extremely diligent research useful. Heed my warning: there is nothing more uncomfortable than dancing with your father to 112’s Peaches and Cream (not about the actual fruit).  And, if you’re not married yet and want to be, know that there is hope for hopeless, and that eating Taco Bell alone in your car is absolutely no indication that your Mr. Right isn’t just right around the corner.

  • Shealagh Whittle

    “Daughters” as a father/daughter dance. Do people listen to lyrics? Just because it’s called “Daughters” does not mean it is appropriate to dance to with your father. It’s about a broken broad who sounds kind of like a life ruiner. Is that the message you want to send to your future husband and also your father?

    • Audrey Pelsor

      Thank you! I completely agree! Definitely not appropriate for a father/daughter dance. Yes, just the chorus is a nice sentiment out of context, but the whole song – not right.

  • Jessica Jeffers

    There’s also the songs people think are sweet and romantic but are really break-up songs or songs about cheating, etc. “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers is not a happy love song. It’s about a guy who wants to win his ex back.

  • Kristina Ward

    “Kisses Down Low – Kelly Rowland: ALERT: This is not a song about kissing short people! I won’t say anymore here.” made me laugh, nice article :-)

  • Cristina Frias

    My twisted side enjoys when people listen to “Every breath you take” by The Police thinking it is a love song when is actually about a stalker!! It is not romantic unless you are a creep.

    • Cynthia Magalhaes

      Yes! Omg! I can’t believe people think “Every breath you take” is a romantic song. If someone dedicated this song to me I’d file for a restraining order.

  • Chrissy Davis

    I second “Every Breath You Take” as creepy. Also “One” or “With or Without You” by U2 or “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” which has got to be the most depressing damn song ever. Not for weddings, dammit!

  • Lynnetta Miller

    Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love For You”.
    It’s about a woman in love with a married man –
    “A few stolen moments is all that we share. You’ve got your family and they need you there.”

  • Patricia Mera-Silva

    I was shocked when I was at a wedding and the couple chose “The Seed” by The Roots featuring Cody Chestnutt as their wedding song. The lyrics are crazy “Fertilize another against my lover’s will”, “Push my seed in her bush for life, It’s gonna work because I’m pushin’ it right. If Mary dropped my baby girl tonight, I would name her Rock’N’Roll”. I was really hoping grandma did not understand the lyrics :)

  • Kelly A Gunter

    Red Light Special by TLC is really a throwback to hookers. Prostitutes had red light bulbs on their porch light so you would know she was a hooker. It’s all in the Sting song Roxanne. There’s the line “Roxanne, you don’t have to turn on your red light.” That’s also how the Red Light District got it’s name…

  • Jeff Trigger

    Would “Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter” by Iron Maiden be inappropriate for father/daughter dance as well?

    • Rachl Quinn

      There is no bad time for Iron Maiden.

  • Matthew Ostrander

    I can’t think of a worse wedding song than John Mayer’s “Heart of Life”. I don’t know if it’s used for many wedding dances, but I’ve seen it in a lot of wedding videos. As far as I can tell, it’s a break-up song:

    I hate to see you cry
    Lying there in that position
    There’s things you need to hear
    So turn off your tears
    And listen

    Pain throws your heart to the ground
    Love turns the whole thing around
    No it won’t all go the way it should
    But I know the heart of life is good

    You know, it’s nothing new
    Bad news never had good timing
    But then, circle of your friends
    Will defend the silver lining

  • George Bracken

    Why do idiots choose “Every Step You Take” by The Police for their first dance? IT’S A SONG ABOUT A STALKER!!!!
    I also know a couple who were on the verge of having “Don’t Close Your Eyes” by Keith Whitley as their first dance, until I put them right (For those who don’t know, the song is sung from the perspective of a man in a failing relationship, begging his partner not to think of someone else as they make love).

  • Le Simmons

    Nice article to consider. We have the same problem here in Bolivia. We use songs by their name, and not by their content. And by the way, I love Regina Spektor’s version of “Real Love” by John Lennon. I want it for my wedding.

    Congratulations for your wedding!

  • Kaylah Davis

    I hate when people play White Wedding by Billy Idol (Idol himself says that the song is about hating his sister’s fiancé.).

  • Hans Johan Svensson

    Sexual moral.
    I do´nt like prostitution. I´m a quite normal “missionary” man.
    Sexual shame.
    These songs are sung as `if´. The weddingnight, if “tradtional”, is scary if you have´nt been there before. A relationship with a lot of time not “doing it” (unlikely if you ask me) and then you´re supposed to “DO IT” “BANG” “RIGHT ON”. Some may well need to both pepped and prepped and pushed up.
    It´s not your wedding.
    Obviously it´s not your wedding. You may pick whatever music you like for your wedding. It is quite possible that there are no kids present at “those” weddings – there will otherwise be a lot of embarresing questions. The things that would come out of the mouth of a child would probably sum it up quite well.

  • Jane E. Quigley

    The Rains of Castamere!

  • Kenn Speaks

    There are sure some songs that are not appropriate to play at Wedding / Receptions but you can drive yourself nuts trying to find the perfect lyrics.

    If you really like a song you have some choices.
    I played Still the One by Orleans for a couple but cut out the the lines “Sometimes I never want to see you again” and “But I never saw it ’til I went away. When winter came, I just wanted to go” and they loved it.
    What a great song though!
    Yep it’s in my head for the rest of the day now :)

    Another option is to play an instrumental version which I do all the time.

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