Non-sappy father/daughter dance songs

Updated Mar 15 2021
Performers! (Plus DIY candelabra by the bride's father!)
Photo from Tribesmaid @nrodell93088's wedding by Nima Salimi

I've spent the last two days scouring the 'net for a father/daughter dance for our wedding reception, and frankly, virtually every suggestion I've come across has a title that makes me throw up in my mouth a little like "Daddy's Little Girl" or "Butterfly Kisses."I'm not opposed to sentimental songs but perhaps none with the bride=angel/child/doll theme I can't seem to get away from.

My dad's a '60s/'70s Classic/Southern rock kinda guy. There's gotta be something out there about years going by, getting older, moving on… I just can't seem to find it.

This is one of the few traditions we're actually keeping, so I'd like to find something right for us. —Sharon

Yeah, nothing like the creepy incest themes that seem to come up with father/daughter dances, hmm? That's part of why I skipped the tradition, but I do agree that with the right song it can be a nice moment. Here are a few non-icky song ideas pulled from all kinds of sources including the many, many, many suggestions in the comments:

Classic rock ballads and harder rock for those rockin' dads:

  • Led Zepplin's "Thank You" (hear it)
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" (hear it)
  • Rolling Stones' "She's a Rainbow" (hear it)
  • The Cars' "Just What I Needed" (hear it)
  • Warrant's "Heaven" (hear it)
  • Neil Young's "Here for You" (hear it)
  • Bruce Springsteen's "When You Need Me" (hear it)
  • Queen's "You're My Best Friend" (hear it)
  • Guns and Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" (hear it)
  • Staind's "Zoe Jane" (hear it)
  • Tom Petty's "American Girl" (hear it)

Contemporary sentimental, but not overdone (yet!):

  • Loudon Wainwright's "Daughter" (hear it)
  • Five for Fighting's "100 Years" (hear it)
  • World Party's "She's the One" (hear it)
  • 10,000 Maniacs' "How You've Grown" (hear it)
  • Natalie Merchant's "Kind And Generous" (hear it)
  • The Cary Brothers' "Blue Eyes" (hear it)
  • Wilco's "My Darling" (hear it)
  • Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" (hear it)
  • Amos Lee's "Sweet Pea" (hear it)
  • Eva Cassidy's "True Colors" (hear it)
  • "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes (hear it)
  • "Daughters" by John Mayer (hear it)

Softer rock classics (when you want to rock, but also keep it purty):

  • Tom Petty's "Wildflowers" (hear it)
  • Bad English's "When I See You Smile" (hear it)
  • Journey's "Lights" (hear it)
  • Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are" (hear it)
  • Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" (hear it)
  • Carol King's "Child of Mine" (hear it)
  • The Byrds' "Turn, Turn, Turn" (hear it)
  • Paul Simon's "Father and Daughter" (hear it) or "You Can Call Me Al" (hear it)
  • Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" (hear it)
  • James Taylor's "You've Got A Friend" (hear it)
  • Joe Cocker's "Darling Be Home Soon" (hear it)
  • Fleetwood Mac's "Songbird" (hear it) or "Landslide" (hear it)
  • The Beatles' "Across the Universe" (hear it) or Rufus Wainwright's version
    (hear it)
  • Another Beatles selection, "In My Life" (hear it)
  • Lulu's "To Sir With Love" (hear it)
  • Gram Parsons' "A Song for You" (hear it)
  • Bread's "Daughter" (hear it)
  • Jimmy Buffett's "Little Miss Magic" (hear it)
  • Spiral Staircase's "I Love You More Today Than Yesterday" (hear it)
  • Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" (hear it)

Classics from the '40s and '50s

  • Ray Charles' "Ain't That Love" (hear it)
  • The Rays' "Silhouettes" (hear it)
  • Frankie Avalon's "Bobby Sox to Stockings" (hear it)
  • Elvis' "The Wonder of You" (hear it)
  • Sam Cooke's "Nothing Can Change This Love" (hear it)
Father Daughter Dance
Photo by Jennifer Morgan Photography

Crazy and funky:

  • Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild" (hear it)
  • Voltaire's "Goodnight Demonslayer" (hear it)
  • Any version of "You Are My Sunshine," particularly the Johnny Cash version (hear it)
  • "Time Warp" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (hear it)
  • LOTS from The Vitamin String Quartet. Try Sweet Child O' Mine (hear it) or "Don't Stop Believing" (hear it)
  • Kermit's "The Rainbow Connection" (hear it)

For the country dads at heart:

  • The Bellamy Brothers' "Let Your Love Flow" (hear it)
  • Kenny Chesney's "There Goes My Life" (hear it)
  • John Fogerty's "I Will Walk With You" (hear it)
  • The Judds' "Love is Alive" (hear it)
  • Rascal Flatts' "My Wish" (hear it)
  • Dixie Chicks' "Lullaby" (hear it)

Far out stuff for alterna-dads:

  • Yo La Tengo's "You Can Have It All" (hear it)
  • David Bowie's "Let's Dance" (hear it)
  • "Standing" from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical, sung by Tony Head
    (hear it)
  • The Dropkick Murphy's "Forever" (hear it)

And the strangest (but cool) suggestions from the comments:

  • Randy Newman's "Short People" (hear it)
  • Jonathan Coulton's "Re: Your Brains" (hear it)
  • Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five's "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens"
    (hear it)


  1. I plan to dance with my dad to Cat Stevens (nee Yusef Islam)the Wind. Short, sweet and not icky!

  2. Oh, this is awesome. I sent my Dad the WFUV playlist and I bet we can find something there. Thanks so much for posting my question, Ariel!

  3. I wanted a classic since they tend to be short, so we recently decided on "Ain't That Love" by Ray Charles. We also wanted the groom and his mom to join in and this song seemed to fit.

  4. My dad and I danced to Tori Amos's Winter. It was because he bought the album when I was in elementary school, and sat me down and had me listen to it. It's also a good kinda touchy-feely-you always supported me kind of song. We spent the whole dance talking about her career, as evidenced by this photo:

    In any case: what not go with something that is personally meaningful–a song that you and your dad can share for some reason.

  5. Maybe Paul Simon's "Father and Daughter"? It fits with your dad's preference for 60/70's classic music.

  6. Well, my dad and I are kind of nuts anyway, and neither of us or into the sappy stuff, so we actually did our father daughter dance to RHPS Time Warp and got everyone to going in!
    It was great and the pictures will be entertaining for years to come. 😉

  7. I'm torn between two songs – – – either Landslide by either fleetwood mac or the dixie chicks, or angels flying too close to the ground by willie nelson.

  8. Thanks for posting some responses to this question! I'd been wondering myself just what to choose when the time for dancing arrives.

  9. What about that Tim McGraw song?
    Also- "If These Walls Could Speak" off the "Lead Me On" album by Amy Grant is very touching.

  10. Amen! I hate sappy songs – I love my grandfather, but I do not want one of those cry-your-eyes out moments. I want to smile and laugh the entire time! Thank you so much for posting some info on alternatives!

  11. I chose "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac, as another poster mentioned. I grew up listening to FM with my father and took him to see them in concert several years ago for Father's Day. It's a song that holds meaning and sentiment for us.

  12. I've decided against doing any kind of "first dance" action, just because I'm not really a dancer, but I thought M.Ward's version of David Bowie's "Let's Dance" would be absolutely perfect for one of those moments.

  13. We used The Beatles' All You Need Is Love for a simultaneous bride-bride's dad, groom-groom's mother dance that then expanded to include the other parents, the wedding party and their partners and anyone else who wanted to join in. We picked it because it's not too slow, has a happy but not too sappy message and it's fun/easy to dance to.

  14. My daughter and her Dad are not using it, but I thought "time after time" by Cyndi Lauper was a good one.

  15. How cool is your DJ? Our DJ (who is, lucky for us, also a longtime friend) is awesome at making suggestions based on our needs. If you have a DJ who is willing to get to know you and work with you, their knowledge of music will be a big help!

    (Sorry I don't have a suggestion for a song–we aren't able to do parent dances.)

  16. My dad and I are going to dance to These are the Days by Van Morrison. I think that's perfect for a hip classic rock dad. We also thought of Forever Young (slow version) by Bob Dylan

  17. for my october wedding my dad and i are going to dance to 'moon river' by andy williams. i know it's not classic rock but anyone else looking for a good song might be interested. and i dont know if anyone else dances with their mother, but i'm also going to have a daughter/mother dance with my mom, Sherry to My Cheri Amour, by Stevie Wonder.

  18. I think we will dance to "I loved her first" by Heartland. It's a slow country song..

  19. My dad passed away in 2005 so "our dance" is going to be with his brother, who's my favorite uncle. I chose "Kind and Generous" by Natalie Merchant; only because it says the right things without going overboard.

  20. daughter – loudon wainwright
    here comes the sun – beatles
    brightside of the road – van morrison
    tupelo honey – van morrison
    wildflowers – tom petty
    gracie – ben folds
    still fighting it – ben folds (good for a boy and mom)
    somewhere over the rainbow/what a wonderful world – israel kamakawio ole
    lullaby – dixie chicks
    wide open spaces – dixie chicks
    turn, turn – the byrds
    blackbird – the beatles
    the rainbow connection – any artist, but kermit's best
    father & daughter – paul simon from the thornberrys soundtrack
    wonderful world – louis armstrong
    pennies from heaven – louis armstrong
    sugar mountain – neil young
    never fully dressed without a smile – harry connick jr., or annie soundtrack
    landslide – fleetwood mac or dixie chicks
    dancing in daddy’s shoes – leon redbone
    circle game – joni Mitchell
    child of mine – carol king
    how sweet it is – james taylor
    sweet baby james – james taylor
    thank heaven for little girls – gigi soundtrack
    I had a good father and mother – kate wolf (very folk)
    Molly Ban – Alison Krauss
    How you’ve grown – 10,000 maniacs

  21. My dad and I are dancing to Joni Mitchell's Circle Game. He used to sing it to me when I was a kid, and it holds many memories! It's also a very fitting song…very emotional for me though!

  22. Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel.

    I wish I could use it for my own wedding, but my sister danced with my dad to it at her wedding. He is her stepfather so she wanted a song that was meaningful and loving, but not "Daddy" because she had her bio dad to dance with too. The lyrics are really, really perfect. They arent sappy or too much, but are so loving and appropriate.

  23. Depends on how good at dancing (& shape) the father/daughter are, but my daughter got married 2 months ago & we got a standing ovation for big-band dancing to Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" It was a BLAST!

  24. I'm getting married in April and am having a hard time finding a father-daughter song. They all seem to be the same, you were always there for me, we always did this and that and have so many memories but i can't do that because my father wasn't around, I didn't meet him until i was 16 and it was a very bumpy road to get to the relationship we have now which is finally good. Does anyone have any suggestions on something that may be good song but not say all of those things?

  25. My dad used to wake me up on lazy summer mornings by singing The Four Tops song "I Can't Help Myself".

    The one that goes:
    "Sugarpie honeybunch
    You know that I love you
    I can't help myself
    I love you and nobody else"

    When I try to think of a song, its the first one that comes up 😀

  26. Elton John-
    "your song"
    My sis danced with our dad to "tiny dancer" by elton john. It was nice…. Im debating using "your song" for mine….. im just so tired of the same ol' same ol' suggestions for father daughter songs. Im sure ill manage to decide on something, but its nice to see some different suggestions on here….

  27. To Renee–
    How about "you were always on my mind" By willie nelson. He talks about the mistakes he's made but still loves her?

    Me and my dad are dancing to "Here There and everywhere" by the beatles, but I'm having a hard time finding a song for me and my step dad. He's great, but he came into my life when I was like 17, so yeah, when the songs talk about early childhood or get too sappy it doesn't make sense. Something like "unforgetable" would work, but I'm not really into the whole Sinatra, Nat King Cole type of music… Anything by Elvis anyone?

  28. I have a good suggestion that would work for a lot of Dads/Father Figures:

    "More I Cannot Wish You" from the musical Guys and Dolls.

    It's all about a father figure (not even her real Dad in the musical!) wishing his daughter figure the best in life as well as giving her away to a romantic love. How much more wedding appropriate can you get? Here's a link with the lyrics and a midi.

    The midi is a bit weird, for a better version just listen to the Guys and Dolls soundtrack.

    Renee, I can relate to your predicament and I think this song is not too over the top in terms of the father always being perfect.

  29. My dad has maintained since my sisters and I were old enough to understand that he wants the Father/Daughter dance to be Warren Zevon's "Tenderness on the Block."

  30. Yo La Tengo's "You Can Have It All" or "In My Life" by the Beatles (if I can keep from crying everytime I hear it). I wish I could use an Elliott Smith song, but they're all pretty sad.

  31. in my life by the beatles is a good one, as until there was you. my dad and i danced to the way you look tonight by frank sinatra.

  32. I'm only just starting to plan, but the father duaghter dance was chosen before the colors…
    My dad and I have a blissfully wierd relationship and we both have a warm place in our hearts for Ozzy. So we will be dancing to Kelly & Ozzy Osbourne "Changes".
    Its probably the least likely song our family would expect…something by Frank Zappa would've been more likely!

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