You love the ‘90s. You’re the gal or guy that never got rid of their Doc Martens, smiley face backpack and collection of hemp chokers. And now you’re getting married. So let’s make this an occasion your middle school self would be proud of. Presenting the ultimate guide to the perfect ‘90s songs for every moment of your wedding.
Props to my girl (and Brit + Co designer) Annie Kubena for taking my ‘90s love to a whole new level with these badass illustrations. Now, let’s pump up these jams! You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.
BRIDE + BRIDESMAIDS GETTING READY
“Dreams” by The Cranberries: Your wedding day is a real-life dream. When I was in 5th grade, my neighbor/bestie Jacquie and I set up a lemonade stand at the end of our street. We wore matching blue and white striped tops from the Gap. We had my mom park her car in the driveway just past the lemonade stand, and we blasted The Cranberries’ 1993 album “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We,” and we had the BEST DAY EVER. Dreams can come true, and this song will instantly put you on cloud nine.
“Just a Girl” by No Doubt: This anthemic song by then-ska band No Doubt was just what ‘90s girls needed way back when. We all wanted to be girly but still tough, feminine but not frilly — and front-woman Gwen Stefani captured this dichotomy perfectly. And, on your wedding day, it makes an excellent soundtrack for sipping mimosas with the most important ladies in your life. If we want to take it there, I could also point out that this moment happens to be the last point at which you are a Miss and not a Mrs., and arguably, just a girl :)
“Move This (Shake That Body)” by Technotronic: Remember that Revlon commercial where Cindy Crawford romps on the beach with her supermodel friends to this song? If you need a refresher, here it is. Glorious, right? Busting a move to this track is a stellar way to shake off any pre-wedding jitters.
GROOM + GROOMSMEN GETTING READY
“Welcome to Paradise” by Green Day: Dudes. Cranking Green Day is the best. Rock out to this while taking a sip of celebratory whiskey with your bros, and feel free to bust out your air guitar.
“In the Meantime” by Spacehog: It was a toss up between this and “Possum Kingdom” by The Toadies, but I decided the storyline of this song is way more appropriate for a day dedicated to love. The appropriately space age intro that leads into a series of woos sets a solidly chill vibe for your pre-wedding hang sash.
“Two Princes” by Spin Doctors: I do want to call you baby, I do want to tell you maybe, I do want to buy you flowers and I definitely want to talk for hours. Just go ahead now.
BRIDE WALKING DOWN THE AISLE
“Lovefool” by The Cardigans: No one will ever forget that god-awful cry Claire Danes let out while playing Juliet in Baz Luhrmann’s take on the bard’s ultimate romantic tragedy. But this dark and hip adaptation of R&J also gave us the gift of the song, “Lovefool,” and that magical interlude between Leo, er, Romeo, and Juliet in those gorgeous castle bathroom mirrors. Set the stage for the wedding like the beautiful angel princess you are, girl.
“(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You” by UB40: This reggae-inspired rendition of Elvis Presley’s 1961 ballad kind of makes me weak in the knees. I know it’s beyond cheesy, but I don’t know, it’s got a special je ne sais quoi that manages to work. An instrumental version of this would slay on the runway of your wedding.
“Stay” by Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories: Feel free to close your eyes and nod to the beat in agreement with the ‘90s realness of this track. And if you’re rocking hipster specs as you stroll down the aisle, more power to you.
NEWLYWEDS WALKING UP THE AISLE
“Tonight, Tonight” by Smashing Pumpkins: James Iha, D’Arcy, the drummer whose name I forget and good old Billy Corgan — all our besties dressed in weird period clothing playing music in clouds while floating in the sky. Wasn’t this video the best? Like, so truly weird but, therefore, so truly ‘90s. And though *all* the lyrics don’t quite fit the wedding bill, some are right on the money: “The indescribable moments of your life tonight, the impossible is possible tonight, believe in me as I believe in you, tonight.” So bright.
“All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow: Old school Sheryl Crow was cool. She was legit, and even my Megadeth fan of a brother was into her when “Tuesday Night Music Club” dropped. He even included this very track on a mixtape alongside grungier hits like “Backwater” by the Meat Puppets and “More Human Than Human” by White Zombie. But back to your wedding — how fun would this be for grooving with your boo right after you say “I do”?
“Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer: First off, you need to incorporate stairs into the aisle of your wedding so you can recreate that so-perfectly-90s-teen-movie scene from “She’s All That” when Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook) reveals her newly made over self to ‘90s hunk Freddie Prinze, Jr. Okay, so now that you’ve got the stairs on lock, you’ll need to follow this up with a choreographed dance to “The Rockafeller Skank” by Fatboy Slim at your wedding reception.
“I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts: Your original family will always be there for you, when the rain starts to pour. You know? Bonus points if you include a velvet couch and colorful umbrellas as props in your wedding photo booth. Even more bonus points if you’re so committed to the ‘90s that you decide to don the Rachel as your ‘do.
“Virtual Insanity” by Jamiroquai: This feel-good tune is great for this part of your big day because it’s pretty darn groovy. Parents, grandparents and even little kiddos can easily get down to a little Jamiroquai. Plus, if you have an invisible moving walkway at your wedding, you can totally recreate this trippy music video.
“Unbelievable” by EMF: The day is unbelievable, and so are you. And having all of your very best friends and family in one place smiling for the camera? UNBELIEVABLE.
“Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star: If you were born in the ‘80s and were a child/tween/teen of the ‘90s, then you have definitely dreamed about slow dancing to this song with your Miss or Mister Right. You with your long, unruly hair tucked under a Stussy beanie, floral bodysuit under a pair of overalls, your partner rocking a pair of JNCOs complemented by combat boots — you know the scene and this song is the soundtrack. It’s possibly the most swoon-worthy love song of the entire decade.
“More Than Words” by Extreme: The world of headbangers and hair bands was turned right on its head when Boston-based hard rock band Extreme crushed the charts with this soulful, acoustic power ballad. Some 25 years later (feel old yet?), this song has a tendency to feel corny. But to us true believers, it still gets at your soul.
“(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams: ‘90s era Kevin Costner was a babe and so was Bryan Adams. So when the two of them decided to blow our minds and be involved in ONE sublimely ‘90s movie, we bowed our heads in utter gratitude. Crank up the volume, embrace your inner Maid Marian and sway the night away with your very own Robin Hood.
“Rump Shaker” by Wreckx-N-Effect: All I wanna do is zoom-a-zoom-zoom-zoom and a poom-poom. ‘Nuff said.
“Pony” by Ginuwine: You can blame or thank Channing Tatum for taking this song to a new level in present-day pop culture, but you can’t deny the fact that this song is a must. It’s a slow jam that calls for dropping low, and we can definitely get behind that.
“Hypnotize” by Notorious B.I.G.: When Julia Stiles took to the dining table at that totally typical high school house party in “10 Things I Hate About You,” we all took note. Even though it was followed by a less than charming display on a wooden swing, it solidified this song’s presence on all party playlists.
“Be My Lover” by La Bouche: This, along with all the songs in this dance break, was absolutely on my wedding request list. That is mostly because my husband, his dad and his brothers all light up the dance floor the moment this song comes on. For real. If this is a vibe you want to take further, feel free to cue up Jock Jams or Dance Mix USA (both of which I still currently own on compact disc).
“Groove Is in the Heart” by Deee-lite: I took a quiz in Seventeen magazine when I was 12 to find out what my song personality was. The answer? “Groove is in the Heart” by Deee-lite. That’s right. I am this song.
“The Humpty Dance” by Digital Underground: What exactly is the Humpty Hump? Well, I’m glad you asked.
First I limp to the side like my leg was broken
Shaking and twitching kinda like I was smoking
Crazy wack funky
People say ya look like M.C. Hammer on crack, Humpty
“Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe: By now, everyone’s on the dance floor. Your cousin who’s at your wedding sans spouse and kids is feeling particularly loose and is ready to lead a rap breakdown, courtesy of Bell Biv Devoe.
“This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan: We’re at the point in the night where people are feeling really confident about their dance moves, so it’s the ideal time to bring Montell Jordan into the mix. If you’ve got a sizable twenty- and thirty-something crew, you can bet this song will result in a dance circle.
“Jump Around” by House of Pain: Drinks are gonna spill, but it will be worth it. We promise. Dubbed “the kind of sh*t you can put a lampshade on your head and act an idiot to” by House of Pain member Danny Boy, this track is a party classic. Even Mrs. Doubtfire agrees.
“Shoop” by Salt-N-Pepa: If you don’t know every single word to this song, then you are not a female who came of age in the ‘90s. If you do know all the words, then you know how ridiculously fun they are to sing along to with all of your bffs on a mic at a wedding… or at a karaoke bar. Or just, you know, at your house every night before you go to bed.
“Supermodel” by Jill Sobule: Tonight is YOUR night. You’re gonna be a supermodel, you’re gonna catch the bouquet and you’re gonna get married next. Done and done.
“Steal My Sunshine” by LEN: This song is so weird that I had to put it on this list, and the bouquet toss fit the bill. Created by Canadian brother-sister duo Marc and Shanon Costanzo in ‘99, this song is all about partying. In fact, it was born after Marc was at a three-day rave and ended up partying at his house with Brendan Canning from Broken Social Scene and Deryck Whibley from Sum 41. How ‘90s is that?
“Free Your Mind” by En Vogue: Dramatic, yes? A wedding isn’t complete without at least a moment of drama, and this song knows how to deliver. Toss that bouquet as quickly as you can, and join your girls on the dance floor. The dudes might be scared, same with the grandparents. Who cares? It’s your party and you’ll En Vogue if you want to.
LATE NIGHT DANCE PARTY
“Jump” by Kris Kross: You didn’t pack a pair of overalls for your late night outfit change? Weak sauce, homeslice. The Mack Daddy would not be very impressed. But he will make you jump, jump.
“Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot: You probs want to save this until after the older generation has hit the hay, unless they’re all about that bass. This iconic booty call of a song set the stage for a generation that appreciates curves in a major way. It wasn’t subtle in its message — considering the video had Sir Mix-a-Lot rapping and dancing on butt mountains…
“Regulate” by Warren G and Nate Dogg: This is the quintessential late night track. You have to make a judgement call and make sure that your guests are feeling the smooth vibes along with the funky ones. If you put this on too early in the night, it can be a party killer. If it’s just late enough, it’s an easy breezy track for getting a drink refill while still feeling like a badass. You’ll also learn who you should become better friends with based on who knows all the words.
“Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey: My best gals from college and I may have a problem with this song. We sing it at pretty much any wedding, birthday party or dinner where three or more of us are present. But here’s the thing: We’re not unique. This song is SO ridiculously singable that it brings the house down no matter what crowd you’re in.
“Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows: Don’t scoff. You know you had the album “August and Everything After,” and you thought it was pretty deep back in the day. When the Counting Crows first hit the scene, they were seemingly grunge. I know it seems preposterous now. After all, this song has way more in common with Rusted Root’s “Send Me On My Way” than anything off of Nirvana’s “Nevermind.” But it’s true, and this song felt like just the singalong we were looking for. Admittedly, I deemed myself too cool for the Counting Crows from about 1999 to 2011. Then I realized that this is one of the most excellent singalong songs of all time, and a great track to bust out on karaoke night.
“Buddy Holly” by Weezer: Now that you’ve hit the emotional highs for the night, it’s time to rock out. This happy-go-lucky alternative song was when Weezer really got us. The “Happy Days”-inspired video put the Fonz back on the map and made hipster bros in vintage suits seem totally handsome. And honestly, what’s with these homies dissing my girl? Why do they gotta front?
SHUT THE PARTY DOWN
“Return to Innocence” by Enigma: Nothing shuts a party down like a track that was featured on the made-for-TV compilation, “Pure Moods.” If your friends are anything like mine, this is what will happen. The song will start, people will look at you like you’re crazy and then they’ll take a big swig of whatever they’re drinking and let themselves fall prey to interpretive dance. The return to innocence. Ohh iiiiiii eeee iiiii yyyeeaaaahh ooooh ah yi ahhhhh.
“Kiss from a Rose” by Seal: Thanks to Enigma, you’ve set the mood. Now you need to give the people what they want. The “Batman Forever” soundtrack catapulted this song into the pop stratosphere, and was possibly the only good thing to come out of that terrible, terrible movie. Sorry Val Kilmer, you are just NOT Batman.
“Closing Time” by Semisonic: Bring the house down with the best end-of-the-night song in all of musical existence. And then drop the freaking mic.
Love this ‘90s compendium as much as we do? Bookmark the Spotify playlist right here.
Wait a minute. Are you thinking to yourself, what about Britney, Christina, ‘NSync and the Backstreet Boys? They’re for another list, and my ‘83-born, flannel-wearing, Tupac-lyric-memorizing self is simply not the expert. Sorryyyyyy (said in that really obnoxious ‘90s teen way where you don’t actually mean it). Peace out.
Which ’90s song are you most pumped to play at your wedding? Let us know on Twitter @BritandCo.