Give "At Last" A Rest: Unconventional Love Songs For Every Kind of Couple

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Spring has sprung and it’s the start to my favorite time of year: wedding season! But as much as I love getting more than a little verklempt watching my friends declare their undying love for each other, I sometimes dread what comes next: the first dance.

Most of the time, it’s a “lovely” song carefully picked as an expression of the couple’s everlasting affection for each other. But then there are the head-scratchers. Does the couple realize that their song’s lyrics are actually about a one night stand, stalking, or failed romance? Or did they realize that the song they picked by Etta James, the Beatles, Van Morrison, and/or Frank Sinatra for their otherwise unique ceremony is one that more than a few of the guests have heard at five of the last six weddings they’ve attended? And then, there’s my friend’s amazing story of a wedding in which the first song was “Nookie” by Limp Bizkit.

So what’s a couple to do? If you're looking for an unconventional love song to play at your wedding or just want to surprise your special someone with a new heartfelt song that hasn’t oversaturated the airwaves recently, here are some ideas:

For The “Young At Heart”

At a recent wedding, I was blown away when the couple chose to walk down the aisle to “Everything Is Awesome” by Tegan and Sara. This children’s movie song could also work as a choreographed first dance. With lines like, “Everything is awesome when you're living out a dream / Everything is better when we stick together / Side by side, you and I gonna win forever," it’s a great first song, even with the references to LEGO characters.


For A Folk-Rock-Loving Pair

Every time I hear “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, I a) feel like dancing immediately and b) think deeply about the song’s lyrics (“Home is wherever I'm with you”). For a couple just starting out in their lives together, it’s a good first dance sentiment.

For The Soulful Lovers

Ray LaMontagne does smoldering so well. His song “You Are The Best Thing” may not involve the most sentimental lyrics, but who wouldn’t want to hear your lover whisper “You are my best thing” in your ear as you spin around the dance floor?

For The Outdoors Paramours

There’s a great story behind “California Stars.” The lyrics were written by Woodie Guthrie, re-discovered by his family and then set to music by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and British singer Billy Bragg on the album Mermaid Avenue. But that backstory doesn’t really matter when you’re slowly swaying under some twinkle lights with your favorite to the simple and sweet lyrics: “So I’d give this world just to dream a dream with you / On our bed of California stars.”

For A “Retro” Twosome

There’s a reason Phil Phillips' 1959 “Sea of Love” has been covered by a ton of people. Whether you choose the version by Tom Waits, the Nationals, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole or Cat Power, you’ve got a great romantic song, one that deserves to be used far more often than it is.

Speaking of Tom Waits, you can always choose his “Little Trip To Heaven,” which is a perfect jazzy moment in paradise with the one you love.

For A Musically Inclined Duo

I take absolutely no credit for this idea, but I think it’s a fabulous one.  Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “A Wonderful Guy” from South Pacific inspired a friend’s brother and his wife to twirl three times at the repeated "I'm in love, I'm in love, I'm in love" lyrics. Just the thought of repeated twirling is pretty adorable.

For A Classic Couple

Sure, it’s easy to pick “At Last” by Etta James, but there's even more treasure if you take the time to dig deeper into a singer’s repertoire. Some examples: Sting's "My One And Only Love" and Ella Fitzgerald’s “Blue Room.” Both are sure to set a romantic mood, but Ella’s is a bit more upbeat.

For The Cinematic Sweethearts

Nothing quite says your love is going to last forever than a great film song. For an offbeat pick, there’s Adam Sandler’s surprisingly endearing “Grow Old With You” that references everything from dishes to TV remotes from 1998’s The Wedding Singer.

But, of course, these are just suggestions. Every couple has their own love language. So what’s your song?