Pro Tip: If you are having a full reception with a cocktail hour and dinner, you can start things off with a soft instrumental mix, and then work in songs with lyrics as you get closer to the dancing portion of the evening.
1. The Way You Look Tonight - Frank Sinatra
Fred Astaire charmed millions of women when he sang this in the movie Swing Time as Ginger Rogers was washing her hair nearby and feeling less than gorgeous. Dorothy Fields (who wrote the lyrics) said that when Jerome Kern played her the melody he had written, she “went out and started to cry…I couldn’t stop, it was so beautiful.” I am tearing up right now and feeling a glow just thinking of Frank’s lovely 1964 version.
2. Come Rain Or Come Shine – Ray Charles
2. Come Rain Or Come Shine – Ray Charles
Written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, Ray had a hit with this in both 1960 and 1968. You may have heard the line, “We’ll be happy together, unhappy together” and wondered why the heck anyone would stick around to be unhappy together. At some point, though, you will discover that being unhappy with the right person is better than being happy with the wrong one. This is a wonderful song and tribute to a love that lasts through the ups and downs of life.
3. How I Will Say I Love You – Tony DeSare
“Call My Name
I’ll be at your door
Cry out loud
I’ll hold you till it’s over
And that’s how I will say
I love you.”
Need I say more?!
4. Love Is Here To Stay – Dinah Washington
Written by George and Ira Gershwin in the 1930s (and sometimes referred to as Our Love Is Here To Stay), you may have first heard it as the main theme for the 1951 Gene Kelly movie An American In Paris. Dinah’s version is so romantic, and I love the “thing” in her voice (Is it a growl? A purr?) that just completely pulls you in.
5. That's All – Steve Tyrell
If all you can give me is country walks in springtime, a love that lasts forever, your heart to own, a hand to hold when leaves begin to fall, and arms to enfold me…the answer is “Si!”
6. At Last – Etta James
When you listen to this classic from Etta (born Jamesetta Hawkins), you will understand why she has influenced everyone from Christina Aguilera to Diana Ross to Rod Stewart. Hello, blue skies, and goodbye, loneliness!
7. I Get A Kick Out Of You – Rod Stewart
Don’t we all want to be the one person to thrill the guy or gal who is thrilled by nothing? Although if champagne is not giving you a kick, you might try a different brand (or switch to tequila). Rod’s fun version will liven up your reception, and you can use the opportunity to share a naughty detail you learned about him in his book, Rod: The Autobiography.
8. My One And Only Love – Chris Botti with Paula Cole
When you pair a handsome trumpet player with the lovely vocals of the gal who did the Dawson’s Creek theme, the result is swoon-worthy. Plus, you can get this as a ring tone for your cell to play when your new spouse calls you.
9. Unforgettable - Nat King Cole
This one was almost called Uncomparable (“Uncomparable…that’s what you are…), which I don’t think has quite the charm of Unforgettable. Nat’s version, with the awesome Nelson Riddle arrangement, was recorded in 1951 and is still the most popular one, though we do love the David Foster remix of Nat’s 1961 recording that turns it into a duet with his daughter, Natalie.
10. Orange Colored Sky - Natalie Cole
“Flash, bam, alacazam, Wonderful you came by.” That is about as good of a way to describe being struck by one of Cupid’s arrows as I have ever heard. Lady Gaga has performed this song numerous times, including once while wearing a dress made of hair. Do you use conditioner on that?
A bonus tune that you can bust out that is pretty much guaranteed to get Grandma out on the floor and shakin’ what her mama gave her is Glenn Miller’s In The Mood. You can never, ever go wrong with that one to liven things up.
And, if you are feeling a little cheeky, here is one you can play for all the singles: Toni Tennille’s version of Cole Porter’s Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love. Seriously, even educated fleas do it, so there is a good chance someone at your wedding will at least fall in like.