These are all songs I have sung (or heard) at weddings that made me cringe:
- Beauty & the Beast (The Musical): Unless both the bride and groom are beautiful. Otherwise people will smirk.
- You and Me Against the World (Helen Reddy): Seriously, what does this say about your guests? Plus there’s a line about “Remember when we went to the circus and you were scared of the clowns.” Really?
- O mio babbino caro (from the opera Gianni Schicchi): The text literally means “O dear daddy, let me marry my boyfriend or I will go to the highest point and jump into the Arno River. Oh god, I wish I were dead.” NO.
- The Wedding Song: If you have a guitarist, maybe. On organ, it’s death. And really, it’s only one note. Over and over and over. I have a friend who charges an extra $100 to sing that song. I just try to talk people out of it.
- Unforgettable (Nat King Cole): No religious reference whatsoever. Lounge lizard material. Save it for the reception.
- The Prayer (Bocelli/Dion): It’s not a solo. If you have a tenor and mezzo, okay. But as a soloist, it doesn’t work. It’s awkward. (Honestly, even as a duet, I feel like it’s the tenor sings in Italian and then the mezzo translates…. it’s weird.)
- Endless Love (Lionel Ritchie): The song is about teen sex. Again, if it’s a duet, you might be able to make it work. But really, ew.
- Power of Love (Celine Dion): Yes, I sang this as the recessional at a Catholic wedding. I couldn’t believe they allowed it. The priest even structured his homily around it. The chorus was “‘Cause I am your lady – And you are my man – Whenever you reach for me – I’ll do all that I can.” NO. This is church. We’re not singing about SEX. Not that there’s anything wrong with sex. It’s just not appropriate in a church service.
Basically, if you are getting married in a church, your music needs to reference God and/or Jesus somehow. Otherwise, do a civil service. I did a wedding years ago where not a single reading or song talked about God. Then why get married in a church? Have a civil service and then have whatever music you want at the reception.
Not that I’m opinionated or anything.
I’m more liberal on funerals. If a song meant something to the deceased, great. I’ve sung “Look for the silver lining,” “Somewhere my love,” and “Every day of my life,” all songs that meant something to the deceased or the deceased’s immediate family. The worst funeral I ever sang was for a 95 year old man at which I had to sing a contemporary Christian song that (A) did not fit my voice (B) I’m sure he’d never heard, and (C) former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson was the eulogist. I felt like that funeral wasn’t authentic. If the deceased could’ve, he would’ve sat up in his coffin and said, “What the hell is that cheesy piece of music? I wanted Amazing Grace!”
Your wedding should reflect your beliefs, your hopes and your dreams. Not just pretty songs that you like. They should mean something. Your funeral should reflect things that were important in your life.
At my funeral (not the church service, but the memorial service/wake), I want this video to be played. If it’s not, I will haunt you all. (Plus I met Tommy Tune in the elevator at the Kennedy Center back in the 90s, so there’s a sentimental value besides the words meaning everything to me.)