Every couple has their song. For couples in the movies it's usually a romantic song filled with love and meaning, but in real life, not so much. My fiancé and I have two such songs we consider "ours". Are either of the songs romantic? Not even close. One is Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonight" about two lonely, sad people who have nothing. The other is Tupac's "All About You" which discusses the rapper's exasperation with the women in the club and how everywhere he goes, he sees the same "hoes". One song is depressing and the other is misogynistic and crass. Knowing all of that, will I play them at our wedding? Hell to the yes. Why? Because both songs bring back great memories for us, and it's our wedding. We might do an instrumental version to sneak in one and wait until the end of the night to sneak in a radio-edited version of Tupac's song without our parents noticing, but we both agree that we want them played on our night. That's the thing with music. We can all hear the same song, but it can have a million different meanings to people. Everyone can tell you "Don't play the Chicken Dance song at your wedding!" But what if you and your guy danced like idiots to that song at a wedding, and it makes you both laugh at the memory? You can't explain that to all of your guests, but you can play what's important to you.
As someone who used to work for a wedding caterer and has been a bridesmaid enough times to reach romantic comedy status, I think it's important to make your personal Do Not Playlist. Find a DJ you trust. We live in a world where it's okay to judge someone by their website (sorry, but it's true). But just in case you need a little guidance or a reminder of what makes something unplayable to you, here is my personal Do Not Playlist.
1. "Vogue" by Madonna
I'm not a fan of synchronized dancing in general, unless it's "The Twist," or "Shout." Most DJs know to leave the Macarena or the Chicken Dance off the list, but I will remind ours to exclude this Madonna classic. I just can't hear every woman sing "Greta Garbo and Monroe, Dietrich and DiMaggio" while doing dance moves from the early 90's again. I just can't.
2. "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey
People are generally shocked when I say I don't want to hear this song. In fact, I made my fiancé promise when we got engaged that I didn't have to hear it on my wedding day. I don't begrudge others playing it, but not on our night. I was a bartender for years, and one of my shifts was a karaoke night. Hearing 'just a small town boy/living in a lonely world' loudly, drunkenly belted out endlessly while my clothes smell of Coors Light and Jagermeister is my memory of this song. Instead of inspiring me to never give up, it reminds me of drunk people, despair and a sea of screaming patrons. Luckily the canon of Journey allows me many other choices. "Separate Ways" anyone?
3. "I Gotta Feeling" by The Black Eyed Peas
After hearing it played at every sporting event, party, bar, wedding, and bar mitzvah for the last three years, I'm officially over this song. I feel like it's become the new "Celebration." I don't want to be a party pooper, but this song can be retired, at least at my wedding. I'd much rather hear Pink's "Raise Your Glass" anyway, and they have the same effect on a dance floor.
4. "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor
I first heard this song when I saw "Priscilla: Queen of the Desert," and thought it was fabulous. So if you're a gay man in a fabulous headpiece with a matching outrageous costume, go for it. Unfortunately, it has become a drunken girl's dance floor anthem. Having been the drunk girl at a wedding before, I'd like to think I didn't need a song to make it that obvious. Not to mention the bad mojo you bring to a wedding by having multitudes of women singing about leaving a man.
5. "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge
My problems with this song are two-fold. I was in a sorority in college (don't judge too harshly) and this song was played at every event, rush party, Greek week, sporting event, video montage, etc. By the age of 19, I never needed to hear this song again. Then I went to a wedding in South America. Since about one quarter of the wedding guests were American and the rest were South American, the band only knew a handful of non-Spanish songs. That's totally fine, but they knew "We Are Family" and probably played it at least six times at the wedding. It was actually hilarious, but the song wears me out. I can't do it anymore, at least not when I'm paying the DJ.
6. "Cotton Eyed Joe" by Rednex
I imagine most people are with me on this one. This song -- a weird mix of white trash, hillbilly and roughneck all rolled into one -- couldn't be more obnoxious. While I proudly claim my Texas background, I don't need to see my family and friends with their thumbs hooked in their belt loops line-dancing to a song that resembles the Deliverance dueling banjo song.
7. "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison
Let me begin by saying I love Van Morrison. Sadly, "Brown Eyed Girl" always makes me think of the Julia Roberts' film "Sleeping With the Enemy." And memories of a movie where a woman marries a charming, successful man who is an abusive, homicidal maniac who tries to kill her are not exactly the thoughts I need on my wedding day. It doesn't matter how adorable Julia Roberts was, it's a do NOT play for me. However, Van Morrison's "Moondance," "Crazy Love," or "Sweet Thing" are welcome with open arms.
These are my suggestions. But it is your wedding so let your cheesy music flag fly if that makes you happy. When else will you get so much control over what the DJ plays?