You're getting ready to tie the knot, but your Pinterest wedding board doesn't paint the picture of country club chic in swatches of burlap and blush chiffon with bridesmaids pirouetting to Pachelbel Canon in D. Like your dress, decor, and partner, you are a bit more nontraditional, and you want the soundtrack to your special day to suit your distinct style. Instead of classical wedding marches and overplayed pop ballads, you'd like your marriage mixtape to showcase unconventional wedding songs that are close to your heart.
Even once-indie favorites from Bright Eyes and The Postal Service now find themselves spinning at weddings ad nauseam with everyone celebrating "The First Day Of My Life" from "Such Great Heights." More recently, bands like The Lumineers and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros have essentially been serving up beard-folk love ballads that are wedding day-ready. If you and your partner are looking to share that first dance to the beat of your own drum, here are some nontraditional selections that probably won't end up in a feel-good television commercial. From your entrance and first steps down the aisle, to dinner and cutting the cake, to dancing the night away as newlyweds, surround yourselves in sound that speaks to you and will forever remind you both of your special day.
Here's how this playlist breaks down.
1. "Chateau Lobby #4 (In C For Two Virgins)" by Father John Misty
Former Fleet Foxes member Josh Tillman, reincarnated as Father John Misty, delivers this lovestruck stream of consciousness to the ceremonious fanfare of a So-Cal mariachi band. Written about him and his wife running around Los Angeles when they first met, the ballad is raw with intimate lyrics and unabashed declarations of his love for her, "What are you doing with your whole life? How 'bout forever?" The song's music video was shot on an iPad, and was directed by the couple on their wedding anniversary.
2. "The Air That I Breathe" by The Hollies
This lulling love song from 1972 sounds like a dream that never dissipates. Crescendoing with a drumroll into a straightforward but sincere chorus that proclaims, "Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe and to love you."
3. "10,000 Emerald Pools" by BØRNS
In soaring falsetto, Garrett Borns singing under the stage name BØRNS seems to take a cue from his '70s predecessor, confessing in psych-pop proportions, "All I need is you / You're all I need to breathe."
4. "I <3 U SO" by Cassius
This 2010 single from the French house-pop duo begins like an explosive brazenfaced wedding march for the EDM set. Ceremonious for sure, by way of heavy synth and cathedral-worthy chord progressions, the song crescendos into the one line that continues to be repeated for the remainder of the song: "Oooh I love you so / But why I loved you I'll never know." An excellent track for anyone who needs convincing Jay Z and Kanye's "Why I Love You" (which samples it) simply isn't appropriate for even the most unconventional wedding.
5. "Fresh Feeling" by Eels
Starting off with, "You don't have a clue / What it is like to be next to you," Mark Oliver Everett continues on to describe how good and true it is, replete with singing birds and his reeling heart. Nothing is more blissful than that "fresh feeling" of a new union between lovers when "tomorrow is here."
6. "Fool For Love" by Lord Huron
The opening of the American indie folk band's ballad sounds like it's painting the scene for an idyllic wedding day. A simple melody plays delicately as if imitating church bells in the distance, until interrupted by a galloping beat that presses on to begin a determined story of a love worth fighting for, "I know she's gonna be my wife / Gonna fall in love I'm gonna live my life with her." Judgments aside about Marnie's wedding, the song is used for the end credits of the opening episode of this season of HBO's Girls.
7. "Don't Wait" by Mapei
Slow things down with this catchy love song. Heavy percussion and rich, soulful delivery add impact to simplistic lyrics like, "Let's laugh and cry, until we die" and "You won my heart, without a question / Don't wait for life." There's also an acoustic version worth noting if you really want to slow things down for your wedding day.
8. "Hysteric (Acoustic)" by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The acoustic version of this surprisingly sentimental track from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs makes for an intimately vulnerable confession of emotions underscored by wedding day strings and indelible lines like, "You suddenly complete me."
9. "Anywhere We Go" by Kaptan
This shimmering single ignites honeymoon-level endorphins that climax in a gliding chorus gilded with good feeling, "Ooh, don't know just what you do to me / Anywhere we go."
10. "I'm Amazed" by My Morning Jacket
While some of the lyrics are ambiguous, the ones that count, like "I'm amazed" repeated throughout the song while backed by instrumental forte, and followed by "...at your warm devotion," "...at all that has been," and "...all that will be," makes the sing-along friendly jam come across as wedding friendly too.
11. "Love They Say" by Tegan And Sara
Through airy harmony and saccharine declarations, the twins deliver a fully '90s pop song about love. The lyrics sound like wedding vows any way you spin it, beginning with, "The first time I saw your face / I knew I was meant for you."
12. "Tonight, Tonight" by The Smashing Pumpkins
This sweeping '90s rock classic has all the emotion, raw sincerity, and string orchestration worthy of a wedding day. The poetic anthem features the Chicago Symphony Orchestra coexisting amongst rolling drums and soaring guitars.
13. "I'm On Fire" by Chromatics
Bruce Springsteen's brooding single gets covered by the Chromatics for hauntingly gorgeous synth-pop results.
14. "You Can Count On Me" by Panda Bear
Noah Benjamin Lennox, the artist behind Panda Bear, croons, "Know you can count on me," with choirboy precision in repeating harmony.
15. "Our Way To Fall" by Yo La Tengo
This peaceful slow jam is all about sweet reminiscence accented by a soft hi-hat. Ira Kaplan revisits times in the relationship, "I remember walking up to you / I remember my face turned red / And I remember staring at my feet," ending with, "We're on our way to fall in love."
16. "Lava" by Kuana Torres Kahele, Napua Greig, James Ford Murphy
The memorable Pixar short that preceded Inside Out gave the world a beautiful song about love overcoming all. Wherever you have your wedding, let "I lava you" repeat over the squeals of dolphins and strumming of a ukulele.
17. "We're Going To Be Friends" by The White Stripes
Through an innocent melody about friendship, this schoolyard song makes for an adorable nod to marriage. "Here we are, no one else / We walked to school all by ourselves," just like the two of you are taking on the world together, learning every step of the way.
18. "Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)" by Peter Sarstedt
This ditty hailing from 1969 is impossibly perfect with lyrics that paint a Wes Anderson-esque tale (it's no wonder the director included it in his 2007 short Hotel Chevalier), complete with a French accordion and a spiffy waltz tune.
19. "Eyes" by Rogue Wave
Rogue Wave's dreamy strumming washes the listener over with a sense of safety and being loved, the same security they sing about in their refrain, "But the one thing I'm missing...is in your eyes / In your eyes / In your eyes."
20. "A Candle's Fire" by Beirut
The robust and playfully regimented instrumentations to the track make it at once ceremonious and whimsically marching band-like, progressing along on a journey: "But you and I traveled through the fog / To arrive at our front gate."
21. "Nothing But Our Love" by JR JR
The band formerly known as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. delivers sweet crooning over gurgling electronics. "All we have is nothing but our love (It's easy)."
22. "Starlight" by Muse
This stadium rock anthem is studded with all the right ingredients to make it a wedding day love song of epic proportions. Poetic confessions of love mixed in with talks of the future, not to mention never letting go, ignite in soaring lyrics, "Hold you in my arms / I just wanted to hold you in my arms."
23. "Adore You" by Miley Cyrus
While Miley Cyrus might not be the first artist to come to mind for wedding day songs (until maybe the after party), this slow track is a definite exception in the pop princess' repertoire. The lyrics are a soulful mix between pillow talk and wedding vows, "I love lying next to you, I could do this for eternity / You and me, were meant to be in holy matrimony."
24. "Need Your Love (Acoustic)" by The Temper Trap
The acoustic take on this track transforms the song from hyperbolic and almost laughable electro fanfare to a beautifully intimate love song. The chorus that before was bombastically belted now approaches the subject delicately, with vulnerability, "Oh I need your love, I need your love."
25. "No One's Gonna Love You" by CeeLo Green
A surprising cover of one of Band Of Horses' ballads of love, "No One's Gonna Love You" is shockingly earnest belted by CeeLo Green. Through the song's triumphant ups and downs, Green keeps yearning stadium-size.
26. "The Start Of Something" by Voxtrot
The song's title couldn't be more apropos for a wedding day. "Is this the end or just the start of something really, really beautiful?"
27. "Maps" by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The second Yeah Yeah Yeahs track on this lineup, "Maps," by contrast, is scarcely as string quartet-able as "Hysteric," but just as impassioned. The thunderous anthem plows through its three and a half minutes burning with emotion yet steel sweeping with grace, "Wait, they don't love you like I love you."
Images: Unsplash; Spotify (27)