Christmas is truly a special time of year—even more so if you’re planning on having your wedding during the festive season! When planning songs for a Christmas wedding, you’ve got to try and mix the romantic with the joyous; love, plus winter frivolity. We’ve put together this list of Christmas wedding songs to get you started, alongside some of our choices of the best acts to really bring the music to life for your big day.
Whether it’s classic carols, love-tinged Christmas serenades, jazzy winter tunes, or soulful dance-floor anthems, this list will give you a good overview of the possibilities for having Christmas music at your winter wedding. So, grab the mulled wine, string up the mistletoe, and read/listen on (you’ll find the full Spotify playlist here)!
All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey
- Perfect acts: Wedding Band, Function Band
- Most memorable line: I just want you for my own / More than you could ever know / Make my wish come true / Baby all I want for Christmas is you
This is a song that needs no introduction. Not only is it the best-selling modern day Christmas song, but it gets right to the heart of what both Christmas and weddings are all about: each other! Its upbeat, infectious melody, sung by the incomparable Mariah Carey, is absolutely pitch perfect, and is only made better with those Christmas chimes, harmonious choir, and boogie-woogie piano part. A very strong contender for the best romantic Christmas song of all time.
What Christmas Means to Me by John Legend (feat. Stevie Wonder)
- Perfect acts: Soul & Motown Band, Wedding Band
- Most memorable line: I feel like runnin’ wild / I feel just like a little child / Bring you ‘neath the mistletoe / I kiss you once and then some more / And wish you a Merry Christmas, baby
From the creator of perhaps the most popular wedding songs of all time (All Of Me), comes a version of perhaps the most beloved (and covered) Christmas songs of all time. This Christmas tune, featuring Stevie Wonder, who recorded his own version back in 1967, captures the joy of the silly season like no other. It sums up what makes it such a special time of the year—carols, lights, Christmas trees, and being around the people you love.
Presente De Natal (Christmas Gift) by João Gilberto
- Perfect acts: Singing Guitarist
- Most memorable line: It wasn’t a ball / Not even a little horse / But it was you love / That came to be my sweetheart
A wonderful little gem of a Christmas song by the king of Bossa Nova, João Gilberto, Presente De Natal manages to say a lot with very few words (and in Portuguese no less!). It tells the story of someone who explains that Santa Claus gave him a great gift; not one of the material gifts so often associated with Christmas, but the gift of a sweetheart.
Merry Christmas, Baby by Otis Redding
- Perfect acts: Acoustic Duo, Pop Duo
- Most memorable line: Merry Christmas, baby / Sure did treat me nice / You bought all those good ol’ presents / I love you, baby, rest of my life
This R&B Christmas classic has been covered left and right (from Bruce Springsteen, to Etta James, to Christina Aguilera), but in our books, none compare quite compare to the dazzling, pared down sound of Otis Redding’s version. It was originally recorded in 1947, and has stood the test of time. More than that, it works just as well as a love song; albeit a very Christmas-related love song!
‘Tis The Season by Anthony Hamilton
- Perfect acts: Soul & Motown Band, Wedding Band
- Most memorable line: I wish, every day would feel like this / Wish every moment could be like this / A home filled with love, family and friends / Will toast to the season, ’tis the season
OK, I’ll level with you: this is my favourite song on the list. Why, you ask? Well, it’s smoother than freshly shined Christmas bauble, features the irresistible vocal talent of Anthony Hamilton, and even has a spoken word section (!). And while we’re at it, weddings aren’t just about the couple—they are one of the best chances you’ll have to get both of your families together for an unforgettable day. This song is a celebration of communal joy: something Christmas and weddings share in common!
Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas (Without The One You Love) by Aretha Franklin
- Perfect acts: Soul & Motown Band, Gospel Choir
- Most memorable line: Christmas just ain’t Christmas / Without the one you love / New Years just ain’t New Years / Without the one you love
While it has a slightly sadder undertone than the other songs on this list, Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas is simply too good a dance song to not include! And, at the end of the day, the message is pretty clear—being with the one you love is the ideal scenario at any time of year. Plus, Aretha’s version of this song has a wicked gospel-tinge to it that will have everyone smiling and clapping along.
Winter Wonderland by Tony Bennett
- Perfect acts: Jazz Band, Big Band, Crooner
- Most memorable line: In the meadow we can build a snowman / And pretend that he is Parson Brown / He’ll say are you married? We’ll say, “No man” / But you can do the job when you’re in town
Winter Wonderland has been covered by over 200 different artists since 1934—on its surface, it’s about a couple spending time in what could be said to be that most snug of seasons: winter. But more than that, it brilliantly captures in picturesque images what makes spending time with each other so lovely. Shared moments and jokes, food and fun, and of course, the magic of the glistening snow. With its brassy, feel-good vibe and lilting melodies, this song is perfect for a jazz band or big band.
I’d Like You For Christmas by Julie London
- Perfect acts: A Cappella Group, Jazz Trio
- Most memorable line: I’d like you for christmas / Please make my wish come true / Cos I’d trim trees and deck the hallways / If I know you’d be mine for always
We’ve all heard of I’ll Be Home For Christmas by Bing Crosby, but something about that song’s lyrics doesn’t quite scream ‘romance’ to us (in your ‘dreams’, Bing?). Julie London’s sensitive and tranquil song I’d Like You For Christmas gets much closer to that mix between Christmas and romance we mentioned earlier. This song + an A Cappella Group = magic.
I Saw Three Ships by The Irish Rovers
- Perfect acts: Ceilidh Band
- Most memorable line: And let us all rejoice and sing / On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day / And let us all rejoice and sing / On Christmas Day in the morning
If you’re planning on having a ceilidh for your wedding around Christmas, then you won’t want to go past this version by The Irish Rovers. They’ve taken this classic Christmas carol and added that distinctive dancing rhythm that is so perfect for a rousing ceilidh.
Auld Lang Syne by Traditional
- Perfect acts: Ceilidh Band, Brass Band
- Most memorable line: And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere! / And gie’s a hand o’ thine! / And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie waught / For auld lang syne.
Although most commonly sung at the end of New Year’s Eve gatherings in Scotland (and now around the world), there is also a tradition of it being played at the end of a ceilidh at weddings (often with the bride and groom being lifted up by the crowd into the centre of the circle). What with New Year’s Eve being so close to Christmas, we feel the list wouldn’t be complete without this gorgeous tune being included.
Cover image courtesy of Laura Wyatt