This is a list of 26 great wedding songs to play during the reception while people are meeting, greeting, and eating. Many of these also do well as slow dance songs. This isn’t a playlist, but simply a few songs that are worthy of playing at a wedding. The order is based on release year, from 1961 to 2010, and they include a few different genres. I hope you enjoy.
1. I Only Have Eyes For You (4:15) — Louis Armstrong — Under The Stars (1958)
Satchmo is the essence of old school jazz ballads.
2. Let’s Fall In Love (4) — Ella Fitzgerald — Sings Harold Arlen Song Book (1961)
It’s Ella Fitzgerald singing from the Harold Arlen Song Book. She’s singing about falling in love. That’s enough for me.
3. How Could I Help But Love You (2:45) — Aaron Neville — It Will Stand: Minit Records (1960–63)
This has cool twangy guitar, seductive rhythm, and nice doo wop backing vocals behind a legendary New Orleans singer.
4. The Way You Look Tonight (3:05) — Cal Tjader — Warm Wave (1964)
Originally recorded in 1936 by Bing Crosby and sung by Fred Astaire in the movie Swing Time from the same year, this cover features the brilliant jazz vibes from one of my favorite musicians. It’s a quintessential dinner lounge instrumental.
5. I Love You (Yeah) (2:05) — The Impressions — Keep On Pushing (1964)
Great northern soul with Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions. It’s a short track with a good groove and a simple feel-good message expressing love to another, which I think is pretty apropos for a wedding.
6. Fly Me To The Moon (2:15) — Astrud Gilberto — The Shadow Of Your Smile (1965)
I love Astrud Gilberto, and so do many others, so why not include her singing a classic jazz standard?
7. That’s How Strong My Love Is (2:25) — Rolling Stones — Out Of Our Heads (1965)
So far I’ve included jazz standards—vocal and instrumental—and a soul song. The Rolling Stones are always a great rock group to feature, and this love song provides a nice contrast.
8. Nothing Can Change This Love (2:25) — The Supremes — We Remember Sam Cooke (1965)
I always incorporate Sam Cooke into wedding playlists. I also like covers, and this one has Diana Ross’s sweet and familiar voice with The Supremes paying homage to one of the all-time soul greats.
9. And I Love Her (2:20) — Chet Atkins — Picks On The Beatles (1966)
Speaking of covers, this one by Chet is from an album exclusively of Beatles tunes. The tempo and the twang are terrific.
10. World of Fantasy (3) — The Five Stairsteps — The Five Stairsteps (1967)
I love the harmonizing vocals, lyrics, and the fact it’s not commonly played.
11. I Love How You Love Me (2:05) — Claudine Longet — The Look of Love (1967)
This love track has tender, soft, and sweet vocals with instrumentation to match.
12. Come Live With Me (2:35) — Dorothy Ashby — Afro-Harping (1968)
Like Cooke, Dorothy Ashby is a staple of mine at weddings. This instrumental track is elegant with an edge—dense, funky, melodic, and enchanting.
13. Crazy He Calls Me (3:25) — Aretha Franklin — Soul ‘69 (1969)
The party is always better with the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. She is so versatile with her style and her admirers. This is a classic jazzy soul standard first recorded by Billie Holiday.
14. Crazy Love (2:35) — Van Morrison — Moondance (1970)
Such a tender and beautiful love song from one of the most soulful and respected musicians of all time. The backing female vocals are also nice.
15. She’s Good (3) — Jackson 5 — Maybe Tomorrow (1971)
From one of my favorite soul albums of all time. The Jackson 5 are pretty much always well received, and deservedly so.
16. I’ve Never Found a Girl (3:35) — Al Green — Let’s Stay Together (1972)
Al Green is so smooth, and so is this soulful love song.
17. Let’s Stay Together (2:45) — Jimmy McGriff — Let’s Stay Together (1972)
Keeping with Al Green, Jimmy McGriff provides a light and funky jazz cover of a soul staple.
18. Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms) (3:45) — Detroit Emeralds — You Want It, You Got It (1972)
This is a great soul song on its own, but the fact the intro to this was sampled and sped up by De La Soul is an extra special touch and a way to introduce a classic to a wider audience.
19. I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little Bit More Babe (4:30) — Jimmy Smith — Black Smith (1974)
This intro was also sampled by a hip hop legend, this time by the Beastie Boys on their Check Your Head album (Professor Booty). It’s got great vocal backgrounds and funky grooves throughout.
20. Knocks Me Off My Feet (3:40) — Stevie Wonder — Songs in the Key of Life (1976)
One of my favorite tracks from one of the best albums ever, from one of the best musicians ever.
21. Here Comes My Girl (4:30) — Tom Petty — Damn The Torpedoes (1979)
It’s not very conventional, but I think it’s a great rock love ballad.
22. Just The Two Of Us (2:50) — Walter Wanderley — Perpetual Motion Love (1981)
Wanderley is the king of Brazilian jazz organ, and his cover of the smooth jazz classic by Bill Withers and Grover Washington, Jr. is a light and fun love song that should put a smile on people’s faces.
23. Do Right Woman, Do Right Man (2:55) — Willie Nelson — Always On My Mind (1982)
When it’s ready for some country that transcends bounds, it’s hard for me to think of anyone better than Willie, especially this love song Aretha recorded in ’68.
24. Here Comes Your Man (3:20) — The Pixies — Doolittle (1989)
A late 80’s rock classic that pairs nicely with Petty’s Here Comes My Girl.
25. Kiss Of Life (5:50) — Sade — Love Deluxe (1992)
Sade exudes love in this classic early 90’s love ballad.
26. Life Is Better With You (4:30) — Norah Jones w/Q-Tip — Featuring (2010)
I felt bad not including something from this century up to this point, so I’m including a jazzy hip hop duet from Norah Jones’ album Featuring, which exclusively features duets.