Lame wedding music gives us the sads. It’s not easy to find love songs that stand out from typical lovey-dovey wedding crap. If it’s not teeth-rotting candy, it’s done-to-death repeats from internet wedding song lists. If you’ve got an allergy to clichéd wedding songs, you’ll find the antidote here. Startling as it may seem, there are plenty of interesting wedding songs if you know where to look. We’ve put together a list of quirky, alternative and authentic songs for daring lovers. It’s taken some intensive research and lot of late night wine and dancing, but it was worth it.
We hope you enjoy folks, and there’s a spotify playlist to make your life easier.
QUIRKY, CUTESY LOVE
Let’s start with the cutest indie movie in existence, Juno. On the soundtrack you’ll find a humble folk ditty called All I Want Is You, and we’re definitely not talking about U2. Barry Louis Polisar writes children’s music, and he almost didn’t release this song on his 1977 album. But we’re so glad he did, and so glad Juno’s director stumbled upon it and used it in the film’s opening credits. It makes a perfect upbeat recessional, and also happens to sound great played on a banjo.
If you’re a Lou Reed fan, Perfect Day would be a likely wedding choice. It’s a great song, but it’s been done to death. For something a little quirkier and lesser known, try The Velvet Underground’s I’m Sticking With You. First recorded in 1969, it’s a cutesy and childlike duet with a retro tinge.
And while we’re on the topic of all things innocent, husband and wife duo The White Stripes offer this perfect lullaby, We’re Going To Be Friends. Feel like you’ve heard it before? That’s because it featured in the opening credits of Napoleon Dynamite. It’s just over 2 minutes of childhood, sweetheart folk, perfect for a non-traditional first dance.
If you’re after something with a bit more country twang, Truckstop Honeymoon have the answer. All heart and no bull, their song Johnny & June spells out a forever plan. Not only the good times, but the hard times, and how we’re gonna sort ‘em out like Johnny Cash & June Carter. Cash was famously quoted on his six-word summary of paradise being “This morning, with her, having coffee.” And that’s a kind of love worth celebrating.
It’s girly, cutesy and quirky to the max. How is it even possible this song hasn’t been slathered all over an Apple ad yet? Thank goodness it hasn’t, because this number is wedding-perfecto, and there’s a good chance you won’t hear it at your besties wedding. Adorable weirdo Tessa Violet is a Youtube vlogger and songwriter, and this gorgeous admission of love entitled Just Right couldn’t be sweeter. I mean, for gawd’s sake, it’s even played on a ukulele!
But if you’re more dark quirky than cutesy pop, you might want to check out indie folk band The Mountain Goats. Their song Love Love Love walks through a dark, confronting case history of love’s mysterious manifestations. Lead singer John Darnielle explained in an interview “love can eat a path through everything… it will destroy a lot of things on the way to its own objective”. This song is a message “in the hopes of undoing a lot of what I perceive as terrible damage in the way people talk about this–love is this benign, comfortable force. It’s not that. It’s wild, you know?”
YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME
I wuv woo schmoopy bear. Ew. Take your gross love fest elsewhere, right? Not all of us want to shout gushy sentiments from the rooftops. In fact, some of us are ‘anti-lovers’. Which makes it challenging to find a wedding song when you’re marrying the person you… ahem, “love”. Beck has the solution for you. Bring some playfulness to the unconventional wedding with Think I’m In Love; for couples who are down with ‘together forever’, but aren’t so sure they’re ready for the big L word. Ha!
Fellow mermaids, rejoice! For here is your siren love song. Laura Marling doesn’t sing with her heart on her sleeve. She has said in interviews, she doesn’t make her music to be known. The shy, introverted and private amongst us can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the most romantic of wedding songs can be a simple sea shanty like Crawled Out Of The Sea. Lyrically, it’s nothing more than the glorious building repetition of the words “You crawled out of the sea, straight into my arms..” but oh, is it divine…
What if you want to tell your sweetheart you love the pants off them without using the L word? M Ward knows what you mean, and he’s found the perfect way of saying it (without saying it). Never Had Nobody Like You clearly expresses fondness, but holds back on the over-the-top sentiments. Nicely done and nostalgic vibed.
Do you even need to mention the topic of love? We say nay! Thanks to The Sures, an indie surf pop band from Sydney, Australia, your wedding song can be love-free. It can be a melodic explosion of sunshine, sea, waves of lulling reverb and fuzzy guitars. The Sun brings a 1950s style, Beach Boys vibe. And you might remember it from that glorious slow-mo moment on Broad City when Abbi meets Jeremy in the hall..
Sparse, echoing and feminine, Flatlands is a masterpiece of non-verbal romance. Chelsea Wolfe blends dark, doomy folk with delicate phrasing and enchanting vocals. A serious choice without overstepping the mark on lovey lyrics. And what’s even better, Mark Lanegan has covered it. Both are on the accompanying playlist. And there’s no reason you can’t have your wedding band serenade you with a harmony-rich duet version.
Speaking of great male/female vocals, we can’t go past the perfect blend of Josh Homme and PJ Harvey on Make It Wit Chu. This sexy number first appeared on The Desert Sessions, where Homme gathered his rockstar mates to make sweet, sweet recordings. It was later rerecorded as Queens Of The Stone Age. Both versions are pretty similar, so we’ve picked the original for your playlist, because PJ Harvey on backing vocals. ‘Nuff said.
CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED…
Now for something a bit more light-hearted, let’s move to Sweden to visit Daniel Norgren. He hails from the tall woods of the north. Here we encounter a mysterious songwriter, full of bluesy rock rhythms. The kooky propositions in his song I Could Even Grow A Moustache For You were enough to give us a chuckle.
We could pluck an apron-full of wedding ditties from The Magnetic Field’s album 69 Love Songs. But here’s one that’s less common, a little dry, and best served in a martini glass – Love Is Like A Bottle Of Gin.
Rock-climbing? Abseiling? Oh, the things we say to win over the love of our lives. If bugs make you squeamish and you can’t stand campfire smoke in your teal blue hair, we’ve found your love song. Check out The Outdoor Type by The Lemonheads, and thank your lucky stars you’re not getting married in a tent.
Oh darling, you’re the prickliest pear! We’re not sure where King Charles gets inspiration for his analogies, but they’re super unique. The song Ivory Road is full of weird sentiments that extend beyond the usual romantic dross. And we’re digging them. Add playful phrasing, pop melodies, and a catchy chorus “Death cannot tear us apart”.
If you want to get some real laughs, consider Tom Lehrer’s ‘love’ song, When You Are Old And Grey. It’s proper awful, and perfect for jokester couples who want their wedding free of sombre, soppy crap. You’ll get some dropped jaws if you request your brave band learn this one!
DARK, VIOLENT LOVE
Shall we go darker? Yes, let’s go über dark. For the Rock n Roll brides and grooms with plenty of guts, no stone is left unturned. We’re bordering on anti-love here, but for some of us, real and raw is where true romance lives.
We all fight, we all argue, and Florence & The Machine painted a fabulous, dramatic scene with Kiss With A Fist. Faux violent and over the top, the song takes us to the burning bed of a couple giving as good as they get. In an interview, Florence explains how she wanted to write “not your typical love song…Sometimes the love two people have for each other is a destructive force. But they can’t have it any other way, because it’s what holds them together, they enjoy the drama and pushing each other’s buttons.” We love a couple that can own their stuff, and what a way to express it!
Jack White gets it too. He keeps love visual, brutal and unapologetic in Love Interruption. It’s a minimal track with simple instrumentation, focussing on powerful male/female vocal duet. Jack White doesn’t tread light on love. “It’s a word that has been used in songs so many millions of times before, and it’s the most popular topic to ever write about,” he said. “So I thought that if I was going to be brave enough to actually use the word love in a song, I better be trying to make people think about it—and make myself think about it. I really wanted to stir up the notion of what love could mean, and what we really want when we say that word. It’s a very powerful word.”
More songs for brave lovers? You betchya. I Love You, Honeybear may provide some of the raciest lyrics in the history of wedding songs, and we’re into them. Father John Misty (ex Fleet Foxes) said “I’m gonna write about love without all the bullshit, the clichés, the sentimentality” and he sure did. “I think it just depends on what that word ‘love’ means to you.” Best suited to elopements sans family members, this song is crooning, daring, and deliciously Vegas. Feast your eyes over those lyrics folks, it’s definitely one for the adventurous wedders.
Now let’s run off to Canada to dive into the arms of Timber Timbre. They’re a folk blues band whose name references the timber cabin in Ontario of their early recordings. And a creepy log cabin is fitting for their song Run From Me. Haunting, sensual, dripping with charm and raising hairs on the back of your neck, Run From Me floats you down a mountain stream hand in hand, all the while lyrically recommending you head for the hills. Equal parts grim, jarring, cheeky and sarcastic, this tune is a playful juxtaposition to your devotion of love.
And one more for the eerie, winding road, let’s talk Sea Of Love. You know it from Cat Power’s tranquilizing cover. And whilst her version is gorgeous, it’s also overused. Bummer, we know. But if you love that song, we propose two supernatural alternatives. First, the 1984 original by The Honeydrippers. And did you know that Tom Waits also recorded a romantic nightmare of it? If you’re a Waits / Cohen / Cave fan, you’ll love it. You’ll find all three artist versions in this article’s accompanying playlist. (You’re welcome dudes.)
SWEET, NOT SOPPY
Oh but some of us just want a great, sweet song. That’s all. So here are the perfect in-betweeners, not too soppy, not too light.
Let’s start with a dear little tune from the Juno soundtrack, courtesy of The Moldy Peaches. Anyone Else But You is a love duet free of gushing ga-ga. Unadorned guitar and organic vocals make this an ideal processional song. It can also be played on ukulele to add more sweetness. Fair warning though, you might want to chop a verse or two for wedding appropriateness. But totally worth it.
Swedish folk sister-duo First Aid Kit know a thing or two about love songs. Their breathtaking song Emmylou conveys love that folk and country fans relate to. The sisters explained it best “The artists we mention in Emmylou are some of our all-time favourite singers and songwriters. When they sing together it’s an otherworldly power. You can hear the love seeping through those vocals chords.”
There’s something disarming about simple, acoustic guitar and touching lyrics. Kurt Vile captures this beautifully in Baby’s Arms, not without a hint of grumpy humour when he says “I get sick of just about everyone and I hide in my baby’s arms.” Who of us here can’t relate to that? There’s no way we’d rather profess our love than in honest lyrics. As Kurt Vile explains “it’s gotta be sad and beautiful and funny, everything combined.”
The queen of sweetness, actress Zooey Deschanel teamed up with M Ward to create indie folk music duo She & Him. On their first album, you’ll find Got Me. It’s a honeyed country song with an easy rhythm; best suited to swaying dreamily together for your bridal dance.
And for the banjo fans, may we introduce you to one more Australian band – The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats. Hailing from our neck of the woods, they’re part bluegrass and part Rock n Roll. Their no-nonsense love song I Got You keeps things humble and real as a mountaintop elopement. “Stones sink, wool it shrinks, and I got you. Grass grows, I got ten toes, and I got you.”
While we’re on the country vibe, we’re going to round things up with a Ween song. Yes rockers, there is a Ween song you can use at your wedding! Actually, there’s a few, but we’re focussed on the least comical song from these dear, demented men, I’m Holding You. You’ll find it on their country album 12 Golden Country Greats. It’s a surprisingly lovely tune that features Elvis Presley’s former backing quartet.
So there you have it Rock n Roll brides and grooms; 28 uncommon wedding songs for you to explore. We hope this list gives you some new inspiration for your special day. Here’s the complete spotify playlist and here are the lyrics to every song mentioned in this article. All the best in your planning, and we leave you with one parting word of advice: It’s your wedding, do what you damn well please!
About the Author
Fidel and Sarah are alternative-folk wedding musicians from Melbourne, Australia. They’re keen to save rad couples from bland wedding music. They preach their gospel of awesome in a bid to help couples find wedding songs that aren’t boring or overdone. They also travel around Australia in a vintage caravan called Myrtle.
- Photography: Love & Adventures
- Styling: Perfectly Planned 4 You
- Make Up: Hackney Brides
- Hair: Love Hair By Lou
- Biscuits & Garlands: Maid of Gingerbread
- Dress: Heart A Flutter
- Jewellery: Me & Zena
- Veil: Mcfadden Millinery
- Suit: Keye London
- Flowers: Shilpa Reddy Flower Design
- Location: The Star by Hackney Downs