16 popular first dance songs for weddings that aren’t as romantic as you think

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Some popular first dance songs aren’t as romantic as they seem. Andrey Nastasenko/Shutterstock
  • Some popular wedding songs aren’t nearly as romantic or as sweet as they seem.
  • The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” is a song for stalkers, not lovers.
  • Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel” is about an ex and the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” isn’t very sweet.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sometimes choosing a big, romantic song for your first wedding dance without closely listening to the lyrics can backfire.

A lot of popular choices seem romantic at first listen but they may not be overly appropriate for celebrating a healthy, loving relationship.

Read on for some first-dance songs that aren’t nearly as romantic as you’d think.


The Police song “Every Breath You Take” is a song for stalkers, not lovers.

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‘Every Breath You Take’ is not very romantic. Krafft Angerer/Getty

This 1983 hit has the tempo for a love song, but its lyrics can be interpreted in a dark, unsettling way.

The lines “Every breath you take / Every move you make / Every bond you break / Every step you take / I’ll be watching you” could easily be about a stalker.

Sting, who wrote the “sinister” song when he was in the middle of a divorce, hasargued against using it for weddings.


Any version of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is actually about vampires.

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‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ is about a vampire love story. 20th Century Fox

Jim Steinman, the writer behind the song, actually wrote it for a vampire musical.

“With ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart,’ I was trying to come up with a love song and I remembered I actually wrote that to be a vampire love song,” Steinman told Playbill in 2014. “Its original title was ‘Vampires in Love’ because I was working on a musical of ‘Nosferatu,’ the other great vampire story.”

“If anyone listens to the lyrics, they’re really like vampire lines. It’s all about the darkness, the power of darkness and love’s place in dark,” he added.


“Marry You” by Bruno Mars doesn’t have a positive view on weddings.

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You might not want to dance to a song that calls marriage ‘something dumb to do.’ AP

Maybe a song where Bruno Mars calls getting married “something dumb to do” isn’t the best choice for a first dance.

He goes on to say that it’s ok to go ahead if both parties are “trashed” on Patron, and that “If we wake up and you want to break up / That’s cool.” Most newlyweds would hopefully disagree.


Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” is not a promise for the relationship.

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‘I Will Always Love You’ is actually about leaving someone. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

This 1992 cover that became a cornerstone of pop culture is not quite a love song.

The lyrics “Bittersweet memories / That is all I’m taking with me / So good-bye / Please don’t cry / We both know I’m not what you, you need” reveal that the singer is leaving the subject of the song, not staying with them.

In fact, Dolly Parton wrote the song for her longtime mentor and producer Porter Wagoner when she decided to go solo.


“The Rains of Castemere” is a terrible omen for a wedding.

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‘The Rains of Castemere’ is a bit dark. HBO

Although all “Game of Thrones” fans know what happens at the Red Wedding in season three (spoiler alert: lots of death), some brides and grooms are tempting fate by playing the song at their weddings.

If any “GOT” fans are attending your wedding, playing this song could certainly put them on edge.


“Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s is about a relationship that didn’t exist.

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The song put Delilah under a lot of pressure. Getty/Tommaso Boddi

This romantic story about a long-distance relationship is actually fictional.

The songwriter Tom Higgenson wasn’t actually dating Delilah – she was in a relationship with someone else. She said the song put her in a weird position.

“I didn’t want the spotlight. I was nervous that I’d let Tom’s fans down. They’d be disappointed to hear I have a boyfriend,” she told ESPN in 2013. “Every girl would want a song written about her, and they’d think I was ungrateful and rude to deny Tom. I felt pressure to live up to those expectations.”


Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel” is about an ex.

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‘Lips of an Angel’ is about missing an ex. Scott Gries/Getty Images

A song with the lyrics, “Well, my girl’s in the next room / Sometimes I wish she was you,” may not be the most appropriate for a wedding dance.

The “lips” that the singer is referring to belong to his ex, not his current lover.


Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” isn’t very romantic.

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‘Skinny Love’ is about a breakup. AP Images

Even though “love” is in the title, the song is about a rough breakup. Take, for example, the lyric: “I tell my love to wreck it all / Cut out all the ropes and let me fall”

This song isn’t necessarily romantic.


The Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” isn’t all that sweet.

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Johnny Rzeznik wrote the song. Shutterstock / Jeff Schultes

Frankly, most of the lyrics involve the phrase, “I just want you to know who I am,” which implies that the married couple might not know each other very well at all.

Although some lyrics are fairly romantic (“You’re the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be”), others are a bit dark, “When everything feels like the movies / Yeah you bleed just to know you’re alive.”


Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” is meant to be a bitter goodbye.

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‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)’ is about an ex. Christopher Polk/Getty

According to Louder, when this song debuted it was played at weddings, funerals, and graduation ceremonies alike.

It even made it to pop culture – it was the soundtrack to the death of a cancer patient on the medical show “ER” and it played during one of the final episodes of “Seinfeld.”

But the song isn’t quite as romantic as it seems.

“It’s about an ex-girlfriend who had moved to Ecuador … I tried to be level-headed about her leaving, even though I was completely pissed off,” singer Billie Joe Armstrong told Guitar World, according to a Louder Sound article from 2016. “So I named it ‘Good Riddance’ just to express my anger.”


Train’s “Marry Me” is a bit too forward.

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‘Marry Me’ is about someone the singer’s never met. AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

The song is quite romantic and sweet- until you reach the lyric: “If I ever get the nerve to say hello in this cafe.”

The singer is crooning about marrying someone he’s never even met. The music video also depicts this not-so-romantic love story.


Willie Nelson’s “Always on My Mind” is about a love from the past.

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‘Always on My Mind’ is about a past love, not a present one. Jason Davis/Getty Images for SiriusXM

This slow hit single might not be as romantic as you’d think. It’s about a relationship that’s ended.

Notably, the song’s lyrics are past tense. Lyrics like “Little things I should have said and done / I just never took the time” seem to imply he’s singing about a love he had but lost.


Bono’s “One” is actually about splitting up.

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‘One’ is not about falling in love. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

According to Bono, the song isn’t about a relationship, it’s about a breakup.

“The song is a bit twisted which is why I could never figure out why people want it at their weddings,” Bono said in the book “U2 By U2,” per American Songwriter. “I have certainly met a hundred people who’ve had it at their weddings. I tell them, ‘Are you mad? It’s about splitting up!‘”


James Blunt said “You’re Beautiful” is not romantic.

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‘You’re Beautiful’ is actually kind of dark. Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Invictus

Although the lyrics are all about beauty, the singer-songwriter James Blunt says the song is far from romantic.

“‘You’re Beautiful’ is not this soft, romantic f—ing song,” Blunt told HuffPost in 2017. “It’s about a guy who’s high as a f—ing kite on drugs in the subway stalking someone else’s girlfriend when that guy is there in front of him and he should be locked up or put in prison for being some kind of perv.”


“Ho Hey” by The Lumineers is actually about jealousy.

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The guy singing the song isn’t with the girl he’s singing about. Amy Harris/Invision/AP

The song is actually about jealousy, which can be interpreted from the lyric, “I don’t think you’re right for him.”

That combined with the rest of the repetitive chorus, “I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweetheart” makes for a song about a guy telling a girl she should be with him instead.

In fact, it seems to be about a person that the singer isn’t even with.

“Think of what it might have been if we/ took a bus to Chinatown/ I’d be standin’ on Canal and Bowery / she’d be standin’ next to me.”


“Always” by Bon Jovi is actually quite sad.

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‘Always’ is about a relationship that’s over. Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Although some of the lyrics seem quite romantic (“I’ll be there ’til the stars don’t shine”), when you read all of them together, the song is actually a guy singing about a relationship he’s no longer in.

“It’s been raining since you left me / Now I’m drowning in the flood,” says one lyric.

But since he’s singing about how he’s still deeply in love with someone who left him, this song could almost come off as being about an obsession.

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