The Top 20 Songs to Play at Your Beach Wedding

Let's play some tunes while we walk these sand dunes.
Elizabeth Berry
by Elizabeth Berry
Updated Aug 18, 2021

Whether you are planning a summertime wedding, or want to replicate the romance between Ariel and Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid (minus the losing your voice part), there's a variety of beach-themed wedding music out there. Whether you're planning a New England seaside wedding, an intimate gathering on Malibu's beautiful El Matador Beach or a destination wedding in Maui, Hawaii, here's a glimpse into the possible wedding songs you could have your band or DJ add to your playlist.

So without further ado, here are the best beach wedding songs for your big day in the sand.

"Wouldn't It Be Nice," The Beach Boys

Lyrics you'll love: "Wouldn't it be nice if we could wake up/In the morning when the day is new?/After having spent the day together/Hold each other close the whole night through?"

It would only make sense to play the greatest hits by American rock band The Beach Boys at your beach wedding. The group was formed in California in 1961 and included brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson alongside their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine. "Wouldn't It Be Nice" is perhaps one of their most well-known songs, making the Billboard Hot 100. The song is about young love and hopeful musings about the future, and it's certainly a classic to play during your wedding reception, or even as a unique processional song.

"Under the Boardwalk," The Drifters

Lyrics you'll love: "Under the boardwalk/Down by the sea/On a blanket with my baby/Is where I'll be"

"Under the Boardwalk" is the first track on The Drifters' 1964 album of the same name. Even if your wedding ceremony or reception isn't near a New Jersey boardwalk, "Under the Boardwalk" has all the right vibes for your beach wedding.

"Here Comes The Sun," The Beatles

Lyrics you'll love: "Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting/Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear"

Written by George Harrison as part of The Beatles iconic 1969 album Abbey Road, "Here Comes the Sun" is a hopeful song about the changing of seasons and perspectives. This song may just manifest good weather for your big day (knock on wood) and promise a sunny future.

"Walking on Sunshine," Katrina and the Wave

Lyrics you'll love: "I used to think maybe you loved me, now, baby, I'm sure/And I just can't wait 'till the day when you knock on my door/Now every time I go for the mailbox, gotta hold myself down/'Cause I just can't wait 'till you write me you're coming around"

If you haven't listened to Katrina and the Wave's song "Walking on Sunshine" in your free time, then you have probably heard it once or twice (or a million times) in commercials. The famous song was released in 1985 and is definitely the band's most popular song. "Walking on Sunshine" is the epitome of an upbeat song and for that reason is the perfect tune to encourage your guests to head to the dance floor.

"Island in the Sun," Weezer

Lyrics you'll love: "When you're on a golden sea/You don't need no memory/Just a place to call your own/As we drift into the zone"

If you happen to be saying "I do" on an island during the summer, then you have to play Weezer's 2001 song "Island in the Sun." More mellow than Weezer's typical rock jams, "Island in the Sun" is about running away to an island in the sun with the person you love (a.k.a. a honeymoon). Rolling Stones declared the song one of the best summer songs of all time which means your band or DJ has to play this song, whether you are on an island or not.

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World," Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

Lyrics you'll love: "Oh, someday I'll wish upon a star/Wake up where the clouds are far behind me/Where trouble melts like lemon drops/High above the chimney top that's where you'll find me"

You may be familiar with Judy Garland's recording of "Over the Rainbow," but Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's 1988 cover reimagines the song with his soft voice and a ukelele as his only instrument—and gives it a modern-day mashup with Louis Armstrong classic "What a Wonderful World". "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" is the perfect song to sway to, whether you are dancing at a destination wedding in Honolulu, where this song and the artist's career was born, or elsewhere.

"Lucky," Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat

Lyrics you'll love: "Boy, I hear you in my dreams/I feel your whisper across the sea/I keep you with me in my heart/You make it easier when life gets hard"

As you stare into your partner's eyes dancing to "Lucky," you will feel just that: lucky. The love song is a duet between Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat from 2009. From the beautiful water imagery to the lines about falling in love with your best friend, "Lucky" is the perfect first dance song for your beach wedding.

"I'm Yours," Jason Mraz

Lyrics you'll love: "Well, open your mind and see like me/And look into your heart, and you'll find love, love, love, love/Listen to the music of the moment, people dance and sing/We're just one family"

Speaking of Jason Mraz, his solo song "I'm Yours" is another great song choice for a beach wedding. Its "carpe diem" sentiment combined with an easy-breezy instrumental background makes "I'm Yours" a chill listen for you wedding guests to dance to during the reception.

"Come Sail Away," Styx

Lyrics you'll love: "I look to the sea/Reflections in the waves spark my memory/Some happy, some sad/I think of childhood friends, and the dreams we had"

If you are having your wedding ceremony on a boat, or are hosting your wedding reception at a venue with harborside views, Styx's 1977 hit "Come Sail Away" is the perfect song to narrate your big day. The philosophical lyrics combined with rock interludes make "Come Sail Away" a reflective rock 'n roll jam that will satisfy rock fans without annoying guests who prefer something more mellow.

"Kokomo," The Beach Boys

Lyrics you'll love: "Off the Florida Keys/There's a place called Kokomo/That's where you wanna go/To get away from it all/Bodies in the sand/Tropical drink melting in your hand/We'll be falling in love/To the rhythm of a steel drum band"

If you can't quite decide on where you and your S.O. want to spend your honeymoon, give "Kokomo" by The Beach Boys a listen. "Kokomo" describes two lovers taking a trip to a fictional island called "Kokomo" (hence its title). We love this as a song to play during cocktail hour—especially if you're marrying in the Sunshine State.

"Three Little Birds," Bob Marley and The Wailers

Lyrics you'll love: "Rise up this morning, smiled with the rising sun/Three little birds pitch by my doorstep/Singing sweet songs of melodies pure and true/Saying, 'This is my message to you'"

"Three Little Birds" appears on Bob Marley and The Wailers' 1977 album Exodus. The song includes one of the most famous choruses in music history and exudes positivity, making it a fantastic prelude, processional or recessional song. "Three Little Birds" includes sunny imagery perfect for a beach wedding, alongside hopeful and summery lyrics that will make your entire wedding party smile.

"Put Your Records On," Corinne Bailey Rae

Lyrics you'll love: "Girl, put your records on, tell me your favorite song/You go ahead, let your hair down/Sapphire and faded jeans/I hope you get your dreams/Just go ahead, let your hair down"

Speaking of "Three Little Birds," Corinne Bailey Rae's 2006 hit "Put Your Records On" pays homage to Bob Marley's famous song. "Put Your Records On" won a Grammy for Song of the Year. This song breathes summer and while it doesn't explicitly mention the beach, it will make you want to run along the shoreline in celebration of your wedding day.

"Is This Love," Bob Marley and The Wailers

Lyrics you'll love: "I wanna love you and treat you right/I wanna love you every day and every night"

Another hit song by Marley and The Wailers, "Is This Love" appears on the 1978 album Kaya and is dedicated to Marley's wife, Rita. The dedication is enough reason to play this love song at your (beach) wedding, but the carefree vibes the song provides will seal the deal.

"Sea of Love," Phil Phillips

Lyrics you'll love: "Come with me, my love/To the sea, the sea of love/I want to tell you/How much I love you"

"Sea of Love" was recorded by Phil Philips in 1959. Since its release date, the popular song has been covered by numerous artists. Its title makes the love song an obvious choice for your beach wedding, but its romantic lyrics make "Sea of Love" the perfect first dance song.

"Castles In The Sand," Stevie Wonder

Lyrics you'll love: "On the beach where young lovers meet/You can see them there as they sit and build/Castles in the sand/Heavenly, she's so heavenly/When she smiles at you/And she helps you build/Castles in the sand"

This song compares sand castles washing away with love slipping through your fingertips. "Castles in The Sand" is filled with nostalgia but is also a love song at heart and (again) its name makes it a necessary listen at any beach wedding.

"Watermelon Sugar," Harry Styles

Lyrics you'll love: "Tastes like strawberries on a summer evenin'/And it sounds just like a song/I want more berries and that summer feelin'/It's so wonderful and warm"

Harry Styles' surprise release of "Watermelon Sugar" is one of several iconic musical moments during the pandemic. "Watermelon Sugar" will remain a summer bop for years to come and will definitely bring guests joy during your beach wedding reception.

"Better Together," Jack Johnson

Lyrics you'll love: "There is no combination of words/I could put on the back of a postcard/No song that I could sing but I can try for your heart/Our dreams and they are made out of real things/Like a shoebox of photographs/With sepia-toned loving"

"Better Together" is the first track on Jack Johnson's 2005 album In Between Dreams. There is something about postcards, sepia photographs and the instrumental backdrop of "Better Together" that make this tune an ideal beach wedding song—it's a popular first dance tune, too.

"Cake by the Ocean," by DNCE

Lyrics you'll love: "Waste time with a masterpiece, don't waste time with a masterpiece (huh)/You should be rollin' with me, you should be rollin' with me (ah-ah-ah)/You're a real-life fantasy, you're a real-life fantasy (huh)/But you're movin' so carefully, let's start livin' dangerously"

Cake by the ocean—isn't that what a beach wedding is all about? If you're willing to go a bit risqué with your song choices, this hit is sure to draw all of your guests to the dance floor. Just make sure your DJ chooses the clean version, especially if Grandma's listening.

"Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay," by Otis Redding

Lyrics you'll love: "I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay/Watchin' the tide roll away, ooh/I'm just sittin' on the dock of the bay/Wastin' time"

We love a laid-back tune during cocktail hour or dinner, and this is the perfect song to capture a beach wedding's relaxed style.

"Despacito," by Luis Fonsi feat. Daddy Yankee

Lyrics you'll love: "Sí, sabes que ya llevo un rato mirándote/Tengo que bailar contigo hoy/Vi que tu mirada ya estaba llamándome/Muéstrame el camino que yo voy"

Beach weddings are inherently sexy and sultry, and this song totally encapsulates those vibes. It's definitely a good song to play to turn up the heat later in the evening.

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