If you’re playing music at your wedding, chances are you’re going to want the best love songs to set the tone—I mean, right? There are stories of people who gtet so obsessive about their wedding playlist that they scour every song for its meaning, and cut anything about broken or bad relationships—which, you know, cuts out a lot of great music. But even assuming you’re not doing that (don’t do that—it will drive you mad), you still probably want to pack your playlists with love songs about LUV, because… that’s kinda what the day is about, right? And lucky for you, love songs come in all forms, from slow and romantic to energetic and frenetic.
When I started pulling this list together, I knew I wanted to make something a little different—I didn’t want to pull together seventy of the top one hundred wedding love songs and call it a day. Instead, I came up with five love songs that aren’t obviously love songs. Maybe they’re about love, kind of, but they’re also about melancholy, about sadness, and about… the mountains in West Virginia. Listen: As a wedding photographer, I spend a lot of time at weddings. What I’ve seen, time and time again, is that people will react to any music that makes them love anything. Your goal? To find music that makes them love everything. These five songs are perfect for the last thirty minutes, when like thirty of your guests are still there and everyone is a little wine-soaked and love-drunk and doesn’t want the good vibes to end.
With that in mind, here are seventy nonobvious, underrated love songs for your wedding. You’ve probably heard some of them way more than you’d ever care to, but you might not have ever thought they could work for a wedding. Trust me: they do.
20 vintage love songs
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel
Why it works: Sure, this one slayed us all when Paul Simon sang it at the DNC (and we all waited with bated breath to see if Art would come out), but at its heart, this is a true-blue love song that can bring you to your knees… if you let it.
“So Long, Marianne” by Leonard Cohen
Why it works: So yes, this is a song about a break up… but it’s also a song about love, and it has a place at most weddings, trust.
“Bold as Love” by Jimi Hendrix
Why it works: This isn’t exactly the album version, but it’s so close (Jimi is hard to find online). Either way, I one hundred percent recommend you procure the album version and slow dance to this not exactly slow, not exactly fast song. It’s the best.
“Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan
Why it works: If you’ve heard it, you already know, but if you haven’t… it’s lush, ultra-romantic heaven. Those words don’t always pair well with “Bob Dylan,” but this? This is a yes.
“My One and Only Love” by John Coltrane
Why it works: You are immediately transported to some faraway, tender, rain-filled night, and it’s heaven.
“All I Really Want to Do” by The Byrds
Why it works: Okay, so I really like the Bob Dylan version of this song better. But if I had my way, this whole list would just be Bob Dylan songs, so I’m trying really hard here. (Give it a listen, though!)
“What Is and What Should Never Be” by Led Zeppelin
Why it works: You choose this song if you want to go sweet-fast-sweet-fast, because it’s one half ultra-sweet crooner and one half ultra-rock.
“I Hear a Symphony” by The Supremes
Why it works: This one is just a super classic, and it’s perfect for your first dance, your reception, your life in general.
“Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane
Why it works: Well, don’t you?
“Hold Me” by Stevie Wonder
Why it works: I don’t know how many people ever move past “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours” when adding Stevie to their wedding playlist, but allow me to heartily encourage you to do so.
“Your Love is Amazing” by the Four Tops
Why it works: Yes, it’s basically all about patriarchal gender roles and how he’s been saved by a good woman, but also? It’s really nice to dance to.
“This Guy’s in Love with You” by Herb Alpert
Why it works: That video is cheesy as hell (maybe as cheesy as the song), but it’s still a winner. P.S. Noel Gallagher also covers it and it’s my fave.
“Wild Horses” by The Rolling Stones
Why it works: I can’t think of a single reason why it doesn’t. (Check out this actual rock star wedding where they walked down the aisle to a string quartet version of this. SOBS.)
“I Got Everything I Need” by Sam & Dave
Why it works: This is one of the songs you save for the end of the night, when only a few guests remain and everyone wants to hold someone. Trust.
“I Want to Take You Higher” by Sly & The Family Stone
Why it works: If you want to kick off your dance party with a funky love jam, this is the one to do it with.
“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by The Shirelles
Why it works: I’m a big Carole King fan, but this version of one of her tunes is sweet.
“The Tide Is High” by The Paragons
Why it works: This is one of those songs that a lot of people know but don’t really know who sings it, so boom: educate!
“I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles
Why it works: I know we’re all supposed to be too cool to like the early Beatles, but this track is consistently on my list of top twenty love songs ever. Yep, I said it.
“Bonnie and Clyde” by Brigette Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg
Why it works: Before Bey and Jay ever touched it, this song was already a masterpiece.
“Be My Wife” by David Bowie
Why it works: You’ll probably want to save it for the reception, but this is three minutes and thirteen seconds of truth and fun.
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“In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel
Why it works: Have you heard it? If your heart is not made of stone, this song will make you feel something. At least a little bit. This is the perfect song for embracing that “something” and turning it into everything, without a hint of irony.
“Higher Love” by Steve Winwood
Why it works: Guys, I can’t even explain this one. I just love it.
“Stand By Me” by Ben E King
Why it works: A friend of mine once told me that this song is really about friendship more than anything else, and that kind of makes it the perfect wedding song, no?
“Take on Me” by A-ha
Why it works: Every single person you know can nail that chorus. Which also leads me to…
“Got My Mind Set on You” by George Harrison
Why it works: TELL ME WHY IT DOES NOT. IT IS THE BEST. I mean, you know. It’s good. It’s solid. IT’S AMAZING.
“Africa” by Toto
Why it works: I feel compelled to note that I loved this song way before Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard made their video—my husband is unabashedly a huge Toto fan, guys. Celeb videos aside, I shot a wedding where they closed it out with this song and it ended in a gigantic group hug. That’s worth it! Plus: that chorus.
“I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner
Why it works: This song is a special treat for you, because I wasn’t planning to use it until it showed up in related songs for another tune. Now let’s just all enjoy this one, okay?
“Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers
Why it works: This is another song that everyone will want to dance to and sing along with because they can’t stop themselves, and you’ll love every single second of it.
“Only You” by The Platters
Why it works: I’m probably overusing “it makes you ache” as a reason, but this one does and that’s good enough.
“The Luckiest” by Ben Folds
Why it works: You can reliably count on this song to bring the heart-eyed softies to the dance floor, because you know what? We all love it.
5 love songs by beyoncé that don’t need an explanation
“Drunk in Love” (ft. Jay Z)
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“Kiss from a Rose” by Seal
Why it works: I never would have thought of this song as an ideal first dance song until this summer, when I shot a wedding and the bride and groom chose it for their first dance. The dance culminated in a gigantic group dance/sing-along (and yes: it was unreal and amazing and all the good things).
“Phone Down” by Erykah Badu
Why it works: Because when she says it, you believe her.
“Never Let Me Go” by Florence + The Machine
Why it works: It doesn’t matter if you have eight people at your wedding or eight hundred; this song will make you (and your fellow coupled guests) feel like the only two people there.
“Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry
Why it works: I went through a phase where I thought this song was kind of juvenile, but one day realized, you know what? That’s fine. We all need a tune (or three) that makes us feel happy to just be in love, and this one does that.
“I Was Made For You” by She & Him
Why it works: It’s upbeat, catchy, and so damn good.
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“Green Eyes” by Coldplay
Why it works: I will never not be a hundred percent here for this song, so I can’t understand it when someone doesn’t love it. It’s basically… everything. Excuse me for a sec, because I’m going to have to sing along and have a mini concert in my office before I can move on to the next one.
“Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé (ft Jay Z)
Why it works: Because you want to begin your first dance like a queen and exit it a goddess.
“I Can Love You Like That” by All-4-One
Why it works: Why doesn’t it? You know you danced to this at middle school dances… you just didn’t know you have to dance to it at your wedding.
“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith
Why it works: Okay, so here’s the deal—this one only works if you do it without a hint of irony. No joking, no nothing. Either you feel these words or you do your very best “OMG, what if that asteroid kills us all?!” impression and pretend.
“I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain
Why it works: Those opening lines are killer.
“Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls
Why it works: “I’d give up forever to touch you/Cause I know that you feel me somehow.” GUYYYYSSSZZZZZ I’m not sure if middle school me realized all the mega feelings that are happening in this song the same way that thirty-one-year-old me does, but I’m here for it and I’m not ashamed.
“You’re Still the One” by Shania Twain
Why it works: I wasn’t the biggest fan of this one the first eighteen hundred times I heard it (and honestly, I’m still not), but it seems to resonate with basically everyone else I know, so here you go.
“Angel of Mine” by Monica
Why it works: Guys, what was the true gift of the ’90s? Do we all realize how excellent our music choices were? This song is ultra-sweetened perfection.
“I’m Kissing You” by Des’Ree
Why it works: Yes, everyone will immediately be like “OMG THE ROMEO + JULIET SONG” but also? It slays. This is truly just a really beautiful take on love, and something you should give serious consideration to.
“I’ll Stand by You” by The Pretenders
Why it works: “Nothing you confess could make me love you less.” Yep, I’m into it.
5 britpop love songs, because why not?
“Slide Away” by Oasis
Why it works: Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the one song that can cut through me like none other.
“You’re So Great” by Blur
Why it works: I always felt guilty about owning this CD because I’m such an Oasis girl, but this song will make you hurt. You know, in a good way.
“Yellow” by Coldplay
Why it works: Once upon a time, this song was everything I ever wanted someone to say to me… and I bet that’s true for some of you, too. Play it at your wedding after you’re about halfway through the wine and watch everyone melt.
“Patio Song” by Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci
Why it works: If you’re in the US, I’m not sure how many people at your wedding will actually know this song, but isn’t it a lovely day for love?
“Getting Better” by Shed Seven
Why it works: Bust this one out when you just need to like, jump up and down and be fucking in love. Ahh, Britpop. ♥
10 modern love songs you’ll need
“All of Me” by John Legend
Why it works: People go gaga for this song!
“She Keeps Me Warm” by Mary Lambert
Why it works: It’s a super sweet shoutout to couples looking for LGBTQ representation in their love jams.
“400 Lux” by Lorde
Why it works: It’s moody, it’s glam, it’s a little dark, but super on point. Yesssssss.
“Somebody to Love You” by The Vamps (ft. Demi Lovato)
Why it works: This song is an upbeat foot-stomper that a lot of your guests will recognize—well, at least the same ones who will also recognize Demi Lovato.
“I Found You” by The Alabama Shakes
Why it works: Guys, you’ve probably heard this song at every wedding you’ve been to in the last two years… and you’re going to hear it at even more. Just embrace it.
“Thinking out Loud” by Ed Sheeran
Why it works: Um, ditto the above.
“Marry Me” by Train
Why it works: There are few things as spot-on as playing a song about getting married on the day you’re actually getting married. Yes to this!
“Closer” by Tegan and Sara
Why it works: This song isn’t actually about hooking up, but it kind of makes you want to.
“One and Only” by Adele
Why it works: Adele slays around the world.
“Story of My Life” by One Direction
Why it works: This song always surprises me because it’s kind of… good? But it’s worth noting that my first concert was the Backstreet Boys, so I always kind of have a soft spot for boy bands.
“The Lavishments of Light Looking” by Flying Lotus (WOKE) (ft. George Clinton)
Why it works: HOLY COW do I love this song! It’s definitely a funky departure from a lot of this list, but it’s well worth your time.
5 not-exactly-love-song love songs
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver
Why it works: Okay, first, I am totally from the South. I was born in Louisiana and grew up in Alabama and I spent six years living in the PNW and loved it, but we’re back in Tennessee and I am so hardcore in love with Appalachia and the grit that wafts throughout the southern US that a song like this? It knocks me off my feet. Maybe “Country Roads” doesn’t scream “love song” to you, but I would cry the happiest tears while dancing to this one with my favorite guy.
“People Get Ready” by The Impressions
Why it works: Yep, totally a song about God. Like, it’s not even hiding it… and yet it’s also a song about slow, cautious optimism, which makes it work for any couple looking for a love song that also speaks to their spirituality. Plus, guys: Curtis.
“Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley
Why it works: Look, here’s the thing about this song. No matter which version you love the most, nothing about this song makes you go all heart eyes after the age of like, twenty-five. At that point, you realize it’s actually about aching, powerful, adult love… and strangely, that makes it an even more acutely profound love song.
“Skinny Love” by Bon Iver
Why it works: I used to be the first person who would rail against it when people used this as their first dance, because if you read the lyrics, it’s clearly about a relationship that isn’t what most people would gush about. But then, I don’t know, time caught up with me, and I realized that maybe the reason people use it for their first dance song is because they’ve been through the skinny part of love and didn’t think it would last and holy wow: it did, and now they’re getting married. Or, I don’t know, maybe they just like his voice.
“All I Want Is You” by U2
Why it works: Because it will get into the very fiber of your being and you’ll realize all those years you spent denying the almighty power of Bono were wasted and that every U2 song ever is brilliant. Don’t look at me, I’ve always loved them. Plus, that “YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU” at the end? That is the stuff of love song dreams, whether or not the rest of the song is really that… peppy.