There is so much joy in a wedding, and music is a big part of it.
Last month, we asked readers to submit their favorite wedding songs. As I read through hundreds of submissions, I could sense the emotion and joyful nostalgia from readers reminiscing on their own first dances or fun times on the dance floor.
“September” by Earth, Wind and Fire was the most popular song, with 5.6 percent of submissions including it.
Disco was perceived to be the best genre for cross-generational enjoyment, with songs that everybody knows, even people who were born well after the ’80s. Among them are “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge, “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees and “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang. (Although David Williams, from Boston, said that when the DJ plays “Celebration,” he “heads for the exit.”)
For a first dance song, readers love “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Elvis Presley and “At Last” by Etta James.
And what is the most popular song (so far) at a 2023 wedding? “I Just Wanna Rock,” by Lil Uzi Vert. It’s inescapable, and with good reason.
Here are 22 wedding songs recommended by readers from around the world — from New York to the Netherlands.
This is one of those special songs that immediately washes you over with a feeling of peace and merriment. “Fall” is a staple African wedding/party anthem that celebrates spoiling your lover, and recognizing the changes you need to make to meet them halfway.
Jephtha Prempeh, the Bronx, N.Y.
Ben E. King, ‘Stand By Me’
Our first dance at our wedding reception. Every time I hear it I want to hold my wife close and dance.
Guy Valentine, Ottawa
Parliament, ‘Flash Light’
You’ll see the 50-plus break out their best moves for this.
Dana Duffy, Bloomington, Ind.
Beyoncé, ‘Virgo’s Groove’
“Virgo’s Groove” was the anthem of my summer of 2022. It’s the modern interpretation of a feel-good disco song that everyone can enjoy, whether they’re bopping in their seats or kicking it out on the dance floor.
Rebecca Kim, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Jesse Powell, ‘You’
“You” is a beautiful love song about a man sharing how much he loves his bride-to-be. Powell is also a underrated R&B artist who did not receive enough flowers before he died last year.
Keisha Clark, Chicago
Babyface, ‘Every Time I Close My Eyes’
The lyrics capture the beauty of Black love, which is often trivialized but rarely articulated in a way that captures my understanding of it. I can’t envision “jumping the broom” without hearing, “And every time I close my eyes I thank the Lord that I’ve got you.”
Katherine Tinsley, Chicago
Toploader, ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’
It’s really catchy and the lyrics are easy to follow.
Sandra Tan, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Rihanna, ‘We Found Love’
This song was also in our wedding movie when we were wandering the old Utrecht streets, it was a nice contrast between the modern upbeat music and the classic buildings.
Firdaus Mohamed Hoesein, Utrecht, the Netherlands
Britney Spears, ‘Toxic’
It’s a throwback for us ’90s kids (throwbacks are always great for getting people on the dance floor), and the song is old enough that our parents still know it.
Hannah Rivers, Lincoln, Neb.
Etta James, ‘At Last’
We were married in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast. A relatively small affair (50 people), but attendees from around the world. A year previous we heard a lounge singer in London and finally encouraged her to sing at our wedding. Stepping out of the shadows, she sang “At Last” by Etta James and had everyone in tears.
Rodney Conlon, Toronto
Elvis Presley, ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’
Our wedding song was “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” It is one that has truly stood across time, place, and culture. A song written in 1961 is constantly rerecorded in fresh new ways — the most popular version among my friends is not the Elvis original, but the Kina Grannis cover. What other song has such cachet across disparate demographics like white boomers and Asian American millennials like me and my wife? And if this does not sound impressive, consider — despite his well-deserved place on the Mount Rushmore of American rock ’n’ roll, how many other Elvis songs have the instant recognition among millennials today that “Can’t Help Falling in Love” has?
Andrew Min, New York
Earth, Wind and Fire, ‘September’
It’s special because it came out when I was in high school. I’ve danced to it at so many weddings. Everyone knows it, no matter what age, and it gets everyone on the dance floor
Kathryn Watson, Washington
Barry White, ‘My First, My Last, My Everything’
For me and my boyfriend, if we decided to marry, this would be the perfect song to get the party started! We met as 17 and 18 year olds in the fall of 1971 our freshman year in college, fell in love as we knew it, then broke up when he left for a year in France at the end of summer before our junior year. A lifetime later in 2016 we reconnected on social media and fell head over heels in love with the adults we grew up to be.
Constance Malone, Roswell, Ga.
Wacka Flocka Flame, ‘No Hands’
“Giiirl, drop it to the floor, I love the way yo’ booty go!”
Evelina Kurayeva, Queens, N.Y.
Elvis Crespo, ‘Suavemente’
A staple for every Latino event, party, wedding — anything. And everyone will go crazy with their best merengue steps.
Elizabeth Ortiz, Queens, N.Y.
“Michael Jackson, ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’
I’ve DJed over 600 weddings. Favorite fast song: “The Way You Make Me Feel,” Michael Jackson. Favorite slow song: “Easy” by The Commodores.
Steve Rader, Milwaukee, Wis.
Natalie Cole, ‘This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)’
Walking down the aisle to “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” by Natalie Cole is one of my favorite memories of my wedding — my husband was crying up the front, I walked down arm in arm with both my parents, my brother and sister in law walked ahead as my bridal party and all of our friends and family were clapping and dancing and laughing in surprise at such a happy song to open the day! One of our friends still texts every time this song comes on the radio, remembering that happy moment, and it always makes me smile. I love the optimism and joy of the song for a wedding! And for me it has been an everlasting love.
Bethany Sullivan, Sydney, Australia
Stevie Wonder, ‘My Eyes Don’t Cry’
Here in metro Detroit, every wedding includes “the hustle” done to Stevie.
Cheryl Voglesong, Troy, Mich.
MGMT, ‘Electric Feel’
I worked as a wedding DJ in 2010s, and the best approach for a crowded dance floor was to vary beats, genres and artists to keep people guessing on what I would play next. Halfway through the event, when people are a bit tired but still want to dance, I would play either Daft Punk or MGMT to have them take a little breather and yet enjoy these mellow beats.
Anastasia Bannikova, Phoenix
Jagged Edge, ‘Let’s Get Married’
It’s is clear and specific — celebrating the occasion and the idea of weddings.
Reba Liverman, Seattle
Whitney Houston, ‘I Want to Dance With Somebody’
Oh — are your feet starting to hurt in those heels? If you sit down and this song comes on, you have no choice but to get right back up.
Jessie Palatucci, Washington
Luther Vandross, ‘Never Too Much’
It’s a song that makes your heart fill, and then melt, with love.
Jeremiah Feather, Brooklyn, N.Y.