wedding songs

Marry Me-Train

If there ever was a perfectly written First Dance for a wedding, this might be it. (My wife cried when she first heard it). The lyrics are gentle and tender, they’re almost poetic. They feel like handwritten wedding vows set to music. The lovely choice of a simple solo rolling acoustic guitar, only to be joined by a soft flute line in the background makes the song that much more personal and touching. The one lyric that makes it the perfect first dance has got to be: “You wear white and I’ll wear out the words I love you…and you’re beautiful”

Together can never be close enough for me, feel like I am close enough to you
You wear white and I’ll wear out the words I love you…and you’re beautiful
Now that the wait is over and love and has finally shown her my way
Marry me…


“Marry Me,” if only for the title, should definitely be considered, when thinking about your first dance.
What do you think?

Betcha By Golly Wow-The Stylistics

“Betcha By Golly Wow” might be the strangest title for a song in the history of music. But for some strange reason, it works. The melody is so strong and the lyrics are so sweet and romantic that it’s easy to disregard the inanity of the title phrase.

There’s a spark of magic in your eyes. Candyland appears each time you smile.
Never thought that fairy tales came true. But they come true, when I’m near you.
You’re a genie i disguise, full of wonder and surprise, and…
Betcha by golly wow, You’re the one that I’ve been waiting for forever
And ever will my love for you keep growing strong, keep growing strong

If I could I’d catch a falling star to shine on you so I’d know where you are
Order rainbows in your favorite shade to show I love you, thinking of you
Write your name across the sky, anything you ask I’ll try, cause,..
Betcha by golly wow. You’re the one that I’ve been waiting for forever
And ever will my love for you keep growing strong, keep growing strong


“Betcha By Golly Wow,” written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed, and recorded by The Stylistics in 1971, has stood the test of time.  I still think it sounds fresh, and would make a spectacular, unexpected choice for your First Dance. The very first line “There’s a spark of magic in your eyes.” says it all.

Give it a listen, and let me know what you think.


Shut Up and Dance-Walk The Moon

Continuing the discussion of how “people will dance to songs they can sing along to,” the song “Shut Up and Dance” by the group Walk The Moon is a perfect example. Even if you’re hearing the song for the first time, there is an instant sense of familiarity because the  opening guitar riff is so reminiscent of U2’s classic “Where The Streets Have No Name.”  Then, when the vocal starts, they start right on the chorus in which the actual lyrics of the title appear twice.

In the 3:26 minutes of this song the chorus is repeated five times, with the title of the song repeated twice within each chorus. Then just for good measure, it’s repeated two more times at the very end. By my count, the words “shut up and dance with me” is repeated 14 times in less than 3 & 1/2 minutes.

walk the moon

I’m sure the band didn’t do this amount of math when they were writing this song. But even if they did…it works. Just watch the audience. The cameras automatically go into the crowd to show smiling, dancing faces singing the words “shut up and dance with me.” The list of songs in which the title is repeated more than this is actually an extraordinary collection. Respect, Satisfaction, Twist & Shout, Mustang Sally, She Loves You……. All songs instantly recognizable, danceable and sing-alongable. I truly doubt that “sing-along-able” is actually a word, but you get the idea.

Oh don’t you dare look back Just keep your eyes on me
I said you’re holding back, she said shut up and dance with me
This woman is my destiny
She said ooh hoo, shut up and dance with me.

Happy-Pharrell Williams

As you can infer from the name Wedding Wisdom, I’m going to dedicate this blog to share songs that work well for a wedding reception. I’ve often said that the best wedding receptions are those that look and feel like a “Black Tie Frat Party.” (Of course, I was always too busy practicing the piano to actually go to a frat party….but I think you get the point.)

As a bandleader, I have one job…to get as many people on the dance floor as humanly possible, and keep them there. I’m convinced that there is an algorithm to prove “a direct correlation between the amount of people on the dance floor equalling the perceived success of your party.” When people say, “what a great party!!,” they’re invariably referring to the fact that the dance floor was full for a great deal of the night.

That’s why I’m devoting this blog site to discussing songs that get people dancing. Or at least songs that will keep a dance set going once it’s begun. To keep people dancing, one song has to lead directly into the next with no hesitation. That way when people do get up to dance, they’ll stay on for the duration.

As a general rule, people dance to songs they immediately recognize and can sing along to. Or songs that have a great chorus that everyone can sing along to. Or, try to. Hardly anyone knows every word to any given song. For example, try singing a single verse of the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Everybody knows that one, right? Try it. I’ll start…”Because I’m Happy….” Quick, what’s the next line? Or the next? I’ve actually started asking people that exact question. Only one person actually came up with “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.”


The reason people have always loved “Happy” is because everybody feels comfortable with it. It’s a “bro-hug” to a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Getting people on the dance floor is really not far from that exact analogy. Who wouldn’t want to wrap their arms around an old friend for 3-4 minutes? You don’t even have to have been that close with them. That’s what a successful dance set is all about. Spending time with an old friend. even if you can barely remember where you met them. The next time you’re on the dance floor, try singing along with the band, and smile when you realize that you had no idea of what the next lyric was going to be. But it sure was fun spending those 3-4 minutes with them.

Besides who could resist the charm of the video, or the lovely simplicity of the “singalong” lyrics.

It might seem crazy what I’m about to say
Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break
I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don’t care, baby, by the way

Because I’m happy, clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy, clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy, clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy, clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

I think this would work as a fun Wedding Recessional as well.
Let me know what you think.

The Way You Look Tonight

I have always considered Frank Sinatra’s version of The Way You Look Tonight” to be the perfect song for the traditional bride’s dance with her father. Dorothy Fields’ poignant lyrics and Jerome Kern’s timeless melody were originally sung by Fred Astaire in the movie “Swing Time” in 1936. The song has been “covered” by dozens of singers from Billie Holiday to Rod Stewart, but I’ve always felt that Nelson Riddle’s spectacular arrangement for Sinatra in 1964 to be the definitive version.

Here are Dorothy Fields’ beautiful lyrics:
Some day, when I’m awfully low, when the world is cold
I will feel a glow just thinking of you, and the way you look tonight
Yes you’re lovely, with your smile so warm and your cheeks so soft.
There is nothing for me but to love you, and the way you look tonight

With each word your tenderness grows, tearing my fear apart
And that laugh that wrinkles your nose, touches my foolish heart
Lovely, never ever change, keep that breathless charm
Won’t you please arrange it ’cause I love you?
Just the way you look tonight.


Nelson Riddle’s spectacular arrangement of Kern’s simple melody has just enough swing to avoid any hint at being too “mushy,” while Fields’ lyrics remain touchingly sweet, without ever sounding saccharine. Written 80 years ago, and recorded 52 years ago, this gem from The Great American Songbook remains remarkably fresh. “The Way You Look Tonight” has always been, and will undoubtedly always be, my number one request for the Father/Daughter dance at every wedding.

Let me know what you think.

Old Time Rock and Roll-Bob Seger

My only goal at any party is to get the dance floor packed, and keep it packed for as long as possible.

Rule No. 1 People dance to songs to which they can sing along to, or are at least familiar with. Although we haven’t played this song in at least a dozen years, it’s fun to consider it here on a Throwback Thursday.
Rule No. 2 People are much more likely to start dancing to songs whose instrumental introductions are immediately familiar.

Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” became the classic example of just such a recognizable introduction in this scene that made an overnight star of a young Tom Cruise from the movie “Risky Business.”

bob seger


Other examples would be the guitar intro to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” or The Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” (or any of a dozen other Stones tunes.) Usher’s 4-note synthesizer intro to “Yeah” is a more contemporary example of song introductions that get people running to the dance floor. Don’t forget about oldies “Shout,” and “Twist ‘n Shout.” I think you get the idea!

Let me know what you think.

What Makes You Beautiful

James Corden has come up with a brilliant concept called Carpool Karaoke, in which he shares a car ride with some of the biggest names in contemporary pop music. What makes it compelling is that the guests and Corden seem to be completely comfortable belting out their greatest hits in between good natured banter between host and stars.

This one actually converted me into a One Direction fan, although I could live without Harry Styles tossing his hair back overtime he speaks. James Corden has brilliantly manufactured a “bit” to rival Jimmy Fallon’s “History of Rap” arrangements with Justin Timberlake.

one direction

The first song on this 13-minute video What Makes You Beautiful has actually become one of my favorite dance tunes. Check it out.

Love On Top-Beyonce

What makes this song such a delightful surprise is the understated greatness of Beyonce as both a singer and dancer. I seriously doubt if “Love On Top” will ever make it to anyone’s list of Top Five Favorites but I truly love it’s simplicity in allowing us to watch and listen to Beyonce show off her extraordinary vocal range, by changing keys (and outfits) five times. This is certainly not a great, or meaningful song, but accompanied by this beautifully shot video “Love On Top “ remains one of my favorites.


There’s just something magical about this song. It’s not a perfect dance songs in the middle of a “hot” dance set, but it’s perfect as a song to welcome your guests into the reception with a smile.

Let me know what you think.

Cissy Strut-The Meters

The Meters are a band introduced to me by one of my favorite clients who had gone to Tulane, deeply entrenched in the New Orleans Sound. “Cissy Strut” has a truly infectiously funky groove indigenous to that great historical city.

Even as an instrumental with no lyrics it stands alone as a simple. happy, funky groove. Perfect as a fun choice for a Recessional to allow your guests to dance into the cocktail hour.

mardi gras

The possibilities of processional and recessional songs are endless, if you consider 400 years of “Classical Music” as well as contemporary songs that have particular meaning to you as a couple.

Let me know what you think.