Do Lyrics Matter for Wedding Music?

How important are song lyrics at a wedding? This is a controversial question among wedding disc jockeys. Should the overall feel and danceability of a song trump questionable lyrical content? Or should the evening's playlist be dictated primarily by lyrics?

Even within our own company, there is some difference of opinion regarding what makes an appropriate wedding song. For example, our DJ Iron Mike has a photographic memory for lyrics and is quick to ring the alarm on songs with the wrong lyrical message. On the other hand, our DJ Gregg Ambient never forgets a melody, but doesn't pay so much attention to song lyrics.

Let's address special songs such as a couple's First Dance. In our opinion, it's important that these special songs contain lyrics that resonate with the particular couple. If the newlyweds' journey to the wedding altar was a long and winding journey- then feel free to use a song like "Bless the Broken Road" (Rascal Flatts) or "2 Luv Birds" (Robin Thicke). If fidelity is an important theme, then certainly go with a song like "Cross My Heart" (George Strait). If a couple is prepared for the ups and downs of marriage and ready to overcome them together, then pick a song like "I Won't Give Up" (Jason Mraz) or "God Gave Me You" (Blake Shelton). It's not critical that the song lyrics exactly match a couple's story - but they should be reasonably close and also not contain any deal-killing lyrics. The same concept applies in selecting the Father-Daughter and Mother-Son Dance. To view our top wedding special song selections, visit our Wedding Music Master Class 2014 here.

What do we mean by deal-killing lyrics? For example, the song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (Roberta Flack) is about the love between a man and woman - not between a parent and child. Several lyrics in the song would be wildly inappropriate for a Mother-Son or Father-Daughter dance. Another interesting commonly used wedding first dance song, "To Make You Feel My Love" (Bob Dylan, covered by Garth Brooks and Adele) is about an unreciprocated love and contains the lyric "I know you haven't made your mind up yet." Yes, that sounds like a deal-killing lyric for a wedding!

Parent dances can be particularly hard to select. Most American pop music was not written specifically for weddings. Country music comes to the rescue with numerous sentimental selections (e.g., "I Loved Her First" (Heartland), "Daddy Dance With Me" (Krystal Keith). Lesser known are composers who write music specifically for weddings with the lyrics guaranteed to be appropriate and emotionally-charged. Our favorite wedding composers are Gloria Sklerov and Barbara Rothstein from Wedding Music Central with custom wedding songs like "The Man You've Become" and "The Angel in My Arms."

What about Music for the Rest of the Wedding? - Our philosophy is that a wedding reception should be a combination of romance and fun. Too elegant and romantic, and the party will feel boring and lifeless. Too fun and liberal on lyrical content could result in a raunchy celebration that alienates your adult guests. Overall, we recommend that couples strive to strike a healthy balance between romance and fun.

In general, for fun, danceable music, feel free to loosen your lyrical standards. Don't worry, you won't be arrested by the lyrics police! Definitely use radio-edited versions that eliminate any profanity. For a few examples of questionable wedding songs, "Escape (the Pina Colada Song)" (Rupert Holmes) has a fun beach-like feel, but is actually about a husband and wife trolling the personal ads for extra-marital action. "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" (Meatloaf) is a long and theatrical song yearning for the end of time "so I can end my time with you." "I Will Survive" (Gloria Gaynor) is a song about how a woman finds strength after a bad breakup. "Runaround Sue" (Dion) is about a girl who dates many men and breaks their hearts. "You Give Love a Bad Name" (Bon Jovi) is a modern-day version of Runaround Sue. Should you play any of these songs at a wedding?

The answer is - it depends. It's your day. Where possible, we'd recommend a substitute song with more appropriate content. But few would argue that for the right crowd - songs like Paradise by the Dashboard Light or Runaround Sue, will provide sensational dance floor results. So do feel free to relax your screening of songs for open dancing and default to "the feel" of the song. Rules are meant to be broken and you won't be arrested by the lyrics police. Keep in mind that the music that you permit to be played at your wedding will reflect upon you as a couple - for better for for worse!

What do you think? Do lyrics matter at a wedding reception? Please comment below.

If you found these tips useful, please check out our book available on Amazon "The Bride's Guide to Selecting the Perfect Wedding DJ". Thank you for your support!

About Ambient DJ Service

Ambient DJ Service is an award-winning mobile DJ entertainment company based in Central New Jersey that specializes in wedding DJ entertainment. To learn more about our services or read our wedding reviews, visit us on the web at www.ambientdj.com