You may have songs in mind for big moments like the reception entrance or cake cutting, but what about dinner music? What’s the right kind of music to play while everyone is eating?
Here’s the trick: The right kind of dinner music is both unforgettable and forgettable, in that you can hear it, absorb it, and love it, but then it fades into the background as you’re enjoying your meal and company at your designated table. These songs may be classics used at a thousand other weddings (they’re reused again and again for a reason) or trendy tracks that have become more popular in recent years. We’ve broken some of the best dinner music songs down for you according to jazz, rock, country, pop, and R&B genres.
Check out our suggestions for the best dinner music songs to play during your reception. Some are old, new, borrowed, but never blue.
“At Last” by Etta James
This song has become synonymous with weddings, as probably one of the most romantic songs of all time for its yearning and passion. James’ voice slides into the melody like butter gliding onto dinner rolls, slow and smooth. Only, unlike butter, you’ll won’t want to ingest this song in moderation. It’s good for the heart. The more, the merrier.
“Saint Louis Blues” by Louis Armstrong
You could of course go with “Wonderful World” or “Hello Dolly” to get your required dose of Louis Armstrong, but if you want to know the real Satchmo, you need this tune, which perfectly captures the sound of New Orleans when he was growing up there. Real aficionados might want to throw in some of his legendary Hot Fives and Sevens sides, early 20th century classics like “Yes! I’m In The Barrel” or “West End Blues.”
“I Know You Know” by Esperanza Spalding
This is like the jazz response to Leia’s “I Love You” in Empire Strikes Back (well, not really, but the sentiment is similar). I know you know I love you, but I’m gonna say it again anyway. Over jazz piano and percussion, Grammy winner Spalding sings, “I know that you know but I’ll sing it again/I love you babe and nothing’ll take me away.” This is also a good pick for if you’re wanting to play some more modern jazz music.
“Best Friend” by Tim McGraw
“You’re more than a lover/You could never be another.” This song about a lover McGraw calls his “best friend” features an earnest fiddle and steel guitar under tender vocals. In McGraw’s case, guess you could also call this song, “Faith Hill.” Overall, a great love song to coincide with the day’s theme.
“Stuck Like Glue” by Sugarland
Celebrate the promise to stick together over sweet guitar strums and Jennifer Nettles’ poppy vocals. This song is great for background music for its soft percussion and relaxing vibe.
“To Make You Feel My Love” by Garth Brooks
This Bob Dylan song has been covered by many, including Adele and Billy Joel, but Garth Brooks’ version may be the one that’s most well-known, for its simplicity and gentleness. Just the straightforward piano and Brooks’ vocals.
“This Will Be Our Year” by The Zombies
It may have taken you a long time to get to your wedding day, but this throwback track highlights love being worth the wait and how you’ve only just begun. Classic rockers will appreciate this underrated deep cut.
“Harvest Moon” by Neil Young
Neil Young voice doesn’t necessarily say “wedding singer,” but this song certainly speaks to romance. Sweet guitars, soft percussion, and some honest harmonica add enchantment to your dinner music.
“Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits
Lullaby-like strums and twinkly piano keys under Mark Knopfler’s vocals tell the tale of young lovers like Romeo and Juliet, with whimsical references to West Side Story and “My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Angels.
“Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran may rival Michael Buble as the go-to voice of many a nuptial, and if you and your significant other don’t use this as your first dance song, add it to your dinner background playlist. It starts out quiet and understated before building to something truly special.
“You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne
LaMontagne has been compared to Van Morrison and Otis Redding, for his soulful, heartfelt vocals. This joyous tune, with its horns, winds, and chorus, is one of the best things you could put on during dinner.
“You’re My Best Friend” by Queen
Start eternity together on the right note with this classic. Freddie Mercury sings about his love for his best friend over warm Wurlitzer electronic keyboard notes.
“All My Life” by K-Ci and JoJo
“All my life/I prayed for someone like you.” Says it all, over beautiful harmonies, and for kids from the ‘90s, may even bring about fond memories of school dances.
“You and Me” by Penny and the Quarters
As a demo cut, this song from a “lost” soul group sounds a little grainy and rough around the edges, but the voices and harmonies burst with sweet sophistication. Just pretend it’s not from the tragic romance Blue Valentine.
“I Say A Little Prayer” by Aretha Franklin
This ‘60s song regained popularity after being featured in 1997’s My Best Friend’s Wedding starring Julia Roberts. But the message of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David tune is timeless, and highlighted with the Queen of Soul’s vocals, especially touching.