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What’s that? You’re planning your big day? While you still have the opportunity, we have some gay wedding music suggestions.
Here are 10 tracks that should never be played at your gay wedding reception.
1. Madonna – “Like a Virgin”
By all means play her — you have to, because it’s in the Gay Constitution — but don’t be so parochially sophomoric about it. Right, we all know “Like a Virgin” is meant to be “ironic,” but just skip it and spin something more in line with the day, like “Open Your Heart.”
2. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – “Same Love feat. Mary Lambert”
To the arguments of cultural appropriation, and the thought that our pro-marriage equality anthem should have been written by one of our own, all I can say is, “Facts are facts.” The song helped quell the anti-gay measure in Washington state, it was a huge cultural juggernaut, and let’s not forget the main hook was provided by out artist Mary Lambert. It accomplished what was intended, but that’s no reason to play it at your wedding. Retire it in favor of a love song by one of our own — Lambert’s own “She Keeps Me Warm” or Sweet Gay Love’s “A Thousand Years” among them.
3. Peter Gabriel – “In Your Eyes”
Unless you stood outside your inamorata’s window and blasted this ’80s chestnut in an act of contrition, face it: you’re not John Cusack or Ione Skye. Sure, it’s a gorgeous song, and the sentiment can’t be bested. But you’re the star of your own rom-com happy ending. Why wouldn’t you want your guests talking about your original and iconic forever love song and not Say Anything? Hey, maybe “Lovesong” would work — by The Cure or Adele, your choice.
4. ABBA – “Dancing Queen”
To quote Terence Stamp in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: “No more fucking ABBA.” Seriously. Just stop it.
5. Beyoncé – “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”
Anthem of empowerment or paean to bourgeois social norms? Either way, you’re already at the altar so why the need to gloat with irony? Is it just that you want to mimic Queen Bae’s dance moves? Forgo camp for one day and head straight for an obvious emotion that seems much harder to access: sincerity.
6. Diana Ross – “I’m Coming Out”
Perfect for Pride and on dance floors worldwide, but if you need this to get your party started as gay wedding music, well, you’ve not only buried the lede but overstated it. Really, wouldn’t you rather hear “Muscles”?
7. Sam Smith – “Stay With Me”
Such a beautiful song. Perfect for the melancholy you feel the morning after that knee-trembling one-night stand that’s never going to be anything more. So inappropriate for your special day.
8. Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson – “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”
To be honest, I don’t believe this has ever been played at a gay wedding, but it’s the first thing that popped into my head when thinking about this list. It would be perfectly funny for both Sapphic nuptials and your gay uncles who are finally tying the knot. But it’s such a sugary confection it could upstage the actual wedding cake.
9. Etta James – “At Last”
It’s a classic for a reason, and you couldn’t go wrong with it. Yet it’s overplayed and carries with it a whiff of desperation. To class up the joint via your gay wedding music, try Billie Holiday’s version of “The Man I Love” or k.d. lang’s take on Cole Porter’s “So in Love.”
10. The Carpenters – “We’ve Only Just Begun”
In the early ’70s this was the go-to song for nearly every wedding in the world. You can hear why: It’s a gentle affirmation of eternal love and optimism delivered in Karen Carpenter’s mellifluous, unfussy vocal style. No one should ever have to hear it again. But if you need a soft rock addition to your wedding day playlist, try “Short Court Style” by Natalie Prass or The Irrepressibles’ “Two Men in Love.”