Weddings are obviously meant to be a special occasion, but nothing plays into that more than music. A wedding’s soundtrack might not be as scrutinized in the planning stages as the decorations, but it still needs consideration.
Whether you’re in a band or acting as a wedding DJ, song selections can leave you a little bewildered. You’ll find that quite a few of the following songs will go over quite well, especially for the wedding reception!
“Dawned On Me” by Jeff Tweedy
Jeff Tweedy (from the band, Wilco) released an excellent album of stripped-down acoustic cuts. The version of Dawned On Me is especially primed for a wedding.
This track touches on how the realization of love often comes in the simple act of thought. It’s been said that the heart often informs the head, and this song manages to imbue that concept nicely.
“I Will” by The Beatles
The Beatles were no strangers to writing love songs, and you’ll see a few listed in this article. One of their best is a song from their self-titled album (The White Album) called, I Will.
Marriage is often undertaken with the sole intention of sticking by another’s side until death. This classic song carries that idea with its timeless message and unforgettable chorus melodies.
“The Dress Looks Nice On You” by Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens might be one of the greatest songwriters of the late 20th century and the early 21st century. He quickly gained mainstream attention as an independent artist that had both lyrical and musical contributions to make.
The Dress Looks Nice On You comes from his album, Seven Swans, which prominently features acoustic instruments throughout. This song has a meditative quality while alluding to the beauty of one wearing a dress (perfect for a wedding).
“I Love How You Love Me (Live)” by Jeff Mangum
While Jeff Mangum is better known for his project, Neutral Milk Hotel, his solo stuff shouldn't be overlooked. His cover of the song, I Love How You Love Me, is quite appropriate for any wedding.
For this song, Jeff boiled down the essence of the song to just a solo acoustic guitar and a voice. Somehow, he managed to inject even more power into the song while keeping that classic sound intact.
“Stay Forever” by Ween
If you’re only vaguely familiar with Ween, you might wonder about the reasoning for their inclusion on this list. Sure, it’s true, Ween often leans more toward the humorous side of things in their music.
But, if you listen to Stay Forever, you’ll hear that it’s actually a very well-written love song. It’s ideal for the die-hard fan that doesn’t want to dance to the band’s jokey country music during their wedding.
“Canon In D” by Johann Pachelbel
If you’re in a bind about what to play during a ceremony, Pachelbel’s Canon In D is a true classic. In fact, there’s a good chance that it will be played at some point during a ceremony anyways.
Canon In D has been transposed for the guitar, giving it a distinct classical guitar sound while being recognizable. Whether it’s during the ceremony, or while people are eating, Canon In D is a safe bet.
“In My Life” by The Beatles
Many attribute the Rubber Soul album to the subtle change in the sound that The Beatles were producing. It’s the album that gave us, In My Life, which is a reflection of the love experienced in life.
This is one of those rare, powerful songs that transcends its recorded form. It can be perfectly fitting for a wedding, as well as a funeral (simply because of its theme of remembering).
“In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel
Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is often hailed as one of the best independent records. The self-titled track is an absolute beauty of a love song and is appropriate for any wedding.
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is ideal for the performer who is playing alone with an acoustic guitar. Its themes touch on the concept of finding a face in the crowd that leads to deep feelings.
“Stand By Me” by Ben E. King
Stand By Me is an incredibly famous song that will likely be appreciated by anyone attending a wedding. It is, after all, one of the most iconic love songs ever written.
While the original recording lacks the guitar, it can be easily adapted to play on the guitar. You might even wish to loop the progression to play guitar leads over the top for extra instrumentation.
“Is This Love” by Bob Marley & The Wailers
Sure, Bob Marley might not be the first artist that a wedding party might request for their ceremony. But you might actually be surprised at how well the song, Is This Love, could go over during a celebration.
If nothing else, the music alone provides ample easy-listening moments ideal for dinner music. It certainly beats the smooth jazz music that is liable to put any restless crowd to sleep.
“Is This Love” by Whitesnake
Whitesnake’s Is This Love is the perfect song for somebody that has an affinity for 80s power ballads. In one song, Whitesnake really does provide the epitome of some of the most common 80s music tropes.
This is a track that will likely take a band to pull off in the proper way. However, its catchy melodic chorus is a surefire bet to be a hit with any wedding celebration.
“Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton
With its iconic intro guitar line, Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight is another safe bet for any wedding ceremony. It has been called one of the greatest love songs to have ever been written.
You could easily play this during the actual ceremony, or use it for a slow dance opportunity during the reception. However you use it, it’s a song that is widely appreciated by all walks of life.
“Baby, I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton
Peter Frampton had to know he had a hit on his hands after writing Baby, I Love Your Way. It’s a sprawling love song that has memorable melodies and an easy-to-remember chorus.
This is another song that you could easily play alone with an acoustic guitar. However, if you have somebody else to play the piano parts, it’s sure to create a good memory.
“Something” by The Beatles
If you’re looking for one of the greatest love songs ever written, look no further than The Beatles’ Something. It has one of the most iconic guitar intros to be featured in a pop song.
Do be forewarned though that people who love The Beatles can be harsh critics of cover versions. You’ll probably want to utilize a full band in order to give this song the proper treatment.
“Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Elvis Presley
While Elvis might have ruined country music with his rock and roll antics, he wasn’t always musically zany. The song, Can’t Help Falling In Love, is perfect for a wedding, even if just for a slow dance.
If it’s just you playing alone, you could easily adapt the piano lines to the guitar. This will allow you to keep that signature arpeggiation while delivering your best version of Elvis vocals.
“Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers
Unchained Melody is another song that has been considered one of the greatest love songs of all time. This is part of the reason why it has been used so frequently in popular culture since the 1960s.
You’ll want to make sure you have the vocal pipes to be able to deliver this song properly. Doing this song justice is liable to create a slow dance memory that could last a lifetime.
“When A Man Loves A Woman” by Percy Sledge
Percy Sledge’s When A Man Loves A Woman is an incredibly sweeping track both vocally and instrumentally. This is definitely one of the most iconic love songs to emerge out of the 1960s.
Again, if you plan on playing this, make sure your voice is adequately adapted to the song. If nothing else, you could rework the part to be more appropriate for your vocal range.
“God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys
Brian Wilson’s songwriting has to be some of the most beautiful work to be found on Earth. The song, God Only Knows, is a prime example of a love song that captures the dreaminess of affection.
You’ll notice there isn’t much guitar in this song, but you can easily play the instrumentation with a guitar. It’s such a powerful song that there’s no excuse not to have this in your wedding repertoire.
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli
We’ve all been there before….Somebody catches your eye and before you know it, you’re confessing your feelings.
Frankie Valli’s Cant’ Take My Eyes Off You is a true classic that will have everyone shouting its chorus. This is a song that even those parked at the refreshment bar will appreciate and likely partake in.
If you can get people to participate, they are sure to remember the reception for years.
“(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher” by Jackie Wilson
Love songs don’t always need to be slow and sultry to convey their meaning. Sometimes, love can have you going with the effect of drinking a couple of pots of coffee in the morning.
A great example of this is Jackie Wilson’s (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher. It’s an extremely joyous track that will have people dancing, or at the very least, tapping their feet.
“My Girl” by The Temptations
My Girl has it all, including an iconic bass and guitar intro, and lyrics that anyone can recite. As such, it’s the perfect song to play at a wedding when an introduction needs to be made.
You might choose this song when the wedding party makes their entrance to the reception. The song definitely has that attention-grabbing factor that you’ll want to put to practical use.
“Keep On Loving You” by REO Speedwagon
During the early 1980s, bands really leaned into the power ballad sound. REO Speedwagon did just that, which produced the signature song, Keep On Loving You.
Now, you’ll hear that the song is primarily built around the piano, but it does have an epic guitar solo. No matter how you play it, the chorus is sure to have at least a couple of people singing along.
“And I Love Her” by The Beatles
Yes, here’s another song by The Beatles that could fit well into just about any wedding ceremony. And I Love Her is an incredibly recognizable song, due in part to its stately acoustic guitar parts.
A song like this could easily be played in an instrumental fashion as a guitar duet. The song’s solo section (along with the signature riffs) provides ample evidence of this fact.
“Open Arms” by Journey
Another 80s power ballad that is worth adding to your repertoire is Journey’s Open Arms. However, you’ll probably want to adapt most of the piano parts to the guitar if you are a solo artist.
This isn’t a song that gets listened to because of the guitar work. Rather, it’s the vocals and lyrics that really take center stage here.
“I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Love can make somebody feel better in ways that probably couldn’t have been previously imagined. Smokey Robinson’s I Second That Emotion manages to capture that feeling of uplifting love quite well.
This is a song that is all about accepting another’s love while conveying that it goes both ways. Even young kids will probably get up and run around the dance floor when this song is played.
“How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” by James Taylor
Another song featuring the uplifting qualities of love is James Taylor’s How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You). This song is pure gold as far as feel-good love songs are concerned.
Just about everybody born before 1998 has probably heard this song at least once in their life. When played at the right time, it could easily be remembered for a lifetime to come.
“Gravity” by John Mayer
If you’re in a band playing at a wedding reception, it’s good to have some songs for slow dancing. John Mayer’s hit song, Gravity, is an ideal selection, especially if the crowd has some younger faces.
You will want to make sure that you can deliver the guitar leads with the same potency. The leads might be simple, but the proper execution to achieve that sound isn’t always so easy.
“Just The Way You Are” by Billy Joel
Humans are prone to compare themselves with their neighbors and peers. Often, this leads one down a slippery path, causing one to doubt themselves and their abilities.
When somebody loves you for who you are, there is perhaps no greater feeling in the world. Billy Joel hit that nail right on the head with his monstrous hit song, Just The Way You Are.
“The Power Of Love” by Huey Lewis & The News
Not everybody at a wedding will appreciate a song by Huey Lewis & The News. But, if the wedding party has expressed an affinity for 80s music, The Power Of Love is a worthy selection.
This song is pumped up as far as an 80s song utilizing synthesizers in a band can likely be. If nothing else, it’s fuel for the dance machine when you want to raise the energy of the reception.
“Dearest” by Buddy Holly
Are you playing a wedding reception as a solo guitarist and vocalist? You might want to consider adding Buddy Holly’s song, Dearest, to your repertoire.
This is a fairly simple song that utilizes a classic chord progression straight from the 1950s. The song’s lyrics are about making sure that love never dies and is appropriate for any wedding.
Sometimes we all make mistakes, but that’s no reason for ending things abruptly. After all, what was the intention behind the act of getting married in the first place?
“Do You Realize??” by The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips is another group that might not initially come to mind when thinking of wedding music. After all, the band is known for its experimental and psychedelic music, which has only evolved over time.
Their song, Do You Realize??, is actually a sort of cosmic hymn that reminds us to enjoy the present moment. It can be conveyed as a love song, whether it be romantically or for the fondness of small moments.
“Lay, Lady, Lay” by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan was no stranger to writing hit songs back in the 1960s. Dylan rounded out that decade with his smash hit song, Lay, Lady, Lay, which features prominent pedal steel guitar.
Lay, Lady, Lay, might be a bit of a weird selection for a wedding. However, the song does manage to translate that feeling of finally being in front of the one that you love.
“Never My Love” by The Association
As far as classic bands from the 1960s go, The Association is relatively unknown in comparison to its contemporaries. The Association did leave behind a song that is incredibly memorable, titled, Never My Love.
There’s a good chance you’ve heard this song before but never knew exactly what the song was called. This track is all about how somebody’s love for another will never cease (which is perfect for weddings).
“Everything I Own” by Bread
Depending on the ceremony, weddings can cost quite a bit of money. It’s something that newlyweds don’t mind spending in order to celebrate their love for one another.
Bread’s song, Everything I Own, touches on this concept of giving in order to receive love. Of course, spending money for a ceremony and giving away possessions are completely different things.
Nonetheless, Everything I Own is a classic love song that will have people singing along with its chorus.
“Love And Happiness” by Al Green
When you want a reception to erupt in an all-out dance party, it’s time to turn on some Al Green. The song, Love And Happiness, is something just about everyone knows, and it has some infectious grooves, too.
Love And Happiness is probably only really appropriate for the reception itself. The song’s lyrics talk about how love can make you do good along with things you aren’t too proud of.
“Michelle” by The Beatles
Is somebody in the wedding party named Michelle? If so, you’ll definitely want to be adding the famous song by The Beatles to your repertoire.
Michelle has an iconic guitar intro that gives the song a sort of jazzy air. Much of the song itself can be played with simple chord shapes, which defy its difficult sound.
Paul McCartney likely didn’t know that this song would become such a famous love song. He admits that the song was originally used to impress girls who happened to be at the same party.
“Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon
By now, you’re probably aware that REO Speedwagon has quite a few potent ballads in its catalog of music. Can’t Fight This Feeling is a song that has been played at weddings like it was a tradition.
Sometimes, you really don't want to admit that you might have feelings for somebody else. Once that feeling grows, you almost can’t help but submit and give in to the feeling without reservation.
Every once in a while, that very act of letting go could lead directly to the wedding ceremony. As such, this is a fitting song for any wedding.
“To Be Alone With You” by Sufjan Stevens
Do you need a song that is extremely soft and delicate for your wedding ceremony? You might want to consider Sufjan Stevens’ track, To Be Alone With You.
This song features an acoustic guitar with some soft vocals in the way Sufjan has become famous for. The song’s lyrics touch on never-ending love, and the sacrifices one would willingly make for time alone with someone else.
If you’re a solo performer, this song makes for an easy addition to your repertoire.
“I’m Always In Love” by Jeff Tweedy
Jeff Tweedy’s Together At Last album is full of amazing renditions of songs. Many of these are songs that Wilco fans have only heard acoustically by seeing Jeff’s solo concerts.
The song, I’m Always In Love, is a true classic among Wilco fans. However, this version from Together At Last gives the song a very heartwarming feel, departing from its original pop sound.
If you have some Wilco fans at the wedding party, adding this to your song collection is a wise choice. Regardless, it’s suitable for just about any party that is held with the intention of celebrating love.
Top Wedding Guitar Songs, Final Thoughts
Playing the right song at the right moment can create a memory that lasts a lifetime. Weddings will always be looked back on with fondness, but music can make them that much more special.
If you’re ever in doubt, be sure to ask the wedding party what their musical preferences are. Musical taste is subjective, and you’ll want to make sure to curate a repertoire according to their preferences.
Side note, do you want to learn to play guitar songs the easy way? Learn how here – results are guaranteed!