Non-sappy father/daughter dance songs

Updated Sep 26 2019
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)

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  1. This is REALLY obscure…but Harry Chapin's Story of Life is an absolutely amazing song.

  2. Growing up my dad and I would dance to the disco hits in the living room. I am trying to think of a good disco song to dance to. "Bad Girl" by Donna Summer just doesn't seem right. Any suggestions?

  3. Wow! I thought I was the only one having this trouble. It wasn't so much of the sappiness I didn't like , but rather the "typical" songs don't fit us, some sound creepy and others too religious. My dad is a 70s rock guy too, he also loves Metallica. After a few months I have found one that my dad will love to dance to and will bring back memories for both of us…Metallica – Nothing Else Matters!

  4. i am also having trouble figuring out what to dance to…i was thinking about "little surfer girl" by the beach boys…well i dont surf or anything but my dad knows i love summer and he bought me a beach boys tape when i was like 7 and i would play it while he helped me pick up and he would always sing that song to me. i thought maybe he might appreciate that too.

  5. My dad won't be at my wedding, so no father/daughter dance for me. But I think a good choice would be "Standing" from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical, sung by Tony Head. It's really a sweet song about a pseudo-father/daughter relationship and it's doubly appropriate if you're a fan of the show. The soundtrack is called "Once More, With Feeling" for those who are interested.

  6. Go back to your childhood playtime dance! My dad and I danced to "You Can Call Me Al!" When I was a kid we used to dance around the living room to that song and it was so fun to have people clapping. DJ said it was the best father/daughter dance he'd seen in his career!

  7. It took me forever to figure out what song my father and I were going to dance to. All the poppy/country songs that are very popular father daughter songs just didn't fit us. We both love classic rock and are fans of Neil Young so we choose "Here for you" its a great song he wrote for his daughter.

  8. this one is kinda sappy…I like "Daddy's Hands"…not sure who sings it…but it is kinda country and I'm not sure if I'm using it…but I LOVE the song!

  9. My daddy sang "you are so beautiful" by Joe Cocker in my ear as we were dancing. I'll remember that until the day I die.

  10. i am dancing with my father to the song 'american girl' by tom petty, we refuse to cry slowdancing.!!! this will be much more fun… and every year we go to his concert, so it brings back good memories.

  11. everything about my wedding is different. a good example is my wedding color is neon green. my first dance song is adam sandlers "i wanna grow old with you." my dad is a rocker so the sappy songs wont work, this site has really helped me out. thanks all.

  12. So, I am having trouble b/c the last time my dad and i danced was at my grad and was uber awkward due to a broken collar bone and a total lack of rhythm. Neither of us partner dance well. my partner and his mother on the other hand are great! We want to dance at the same time, but want it to look good for all of us. My family is country. His is spanish. Suggestions, please?!

  13. I am so glad I found this website! My father and I are dancing to Paul Simon's "Father and Daughter". If my childhood had a soundtrack, Graceland by Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest hits would dominate the playlist, so his newer song is perfect!

  14. My dad is on the hip side, too. I have been scouring Motown and Standards playlists. I'm trying to narrow it between "My GIrl" or "Puttin on the Ritz" or "Jeepers Creepers"

  15. Dana, Thank you! My dad is obsessed with Neil Young and I have been wondering if he had a good song for the occasion. Just listened to it and loved it.

  16. "take good care of my baby" – i'm the youngest of 8 girls . it just works
    "Take good care of my ba-a-a-by
    Please don't ever make her blu-u-u-ue
    Just tell her that you love her
    Make sure you're thinking of her
    In everything you say and do-o-o-o

    Aww, take good care of my ba-a-a-by
    Now don't you ever make her cry-y-y-y
    Just let your love surround her
    Paint a rainbow all around her
    Don't let her see a cloudy sky"

  17. I just found a song Nancy sinatra wrote for her dad. It is perfect. I havent seen it posted anywhere. 'For My Dad' wow, it says it all.

  18. i think going back to your childhood is the best place to find a meaningful fun song.

    my dad is a classic rock kinda guy and its been really hard finding a song, but he keeps saying "everytime i think about it i think of 'Kiss that frog' by peter gabriel or 'twistin the night away'"

    those were songs i used to sing and dance too with him when i was kid. now Kiss the frog is kinda an insult to my husband, so i think im going with twistin the night away…

  19. there's always Brown Eyed Girl if ya got brown eyes, but if u have a band it could be blue, green, grey, hazel eyed girl!

  20. 'You belong to me' by Patsy Cline. I'm moving to London from Maryland so the theme of the song works well…I wanted to choose a happier song cause I know I'm gonna be a crier, but in the end, I'll probably bawl at anything that day.

    I'm a sap. A heavily tattooed, foul mouthed, sarcastic sap. Not quite sure how that happened.

  21. Thanks to some of the suggestions here! I burned a CD of "Ain't That Love," by Ray Charles and sent it to my dad. He loves to dance (and the song), but he's a little self-conscious about dancing b/c it's more up-tempo (he's pushing 70yrs old). For Father's Day, we're going to have a dance lesson. He's really excited… especially since he really doesn't feel like balling– it's not his thing– we like big belly laughs with our mouths wide open:)

  22. I've got 2 suggestions:

    Tori Amos wrote a beautiful song for her daughter called Ribbons Undone, it's on her Beekeeper album.

    I'm having trouble deciding between that and Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

  23. Gram Parsons' "A Song for You". I especially like the line: "Take me down to your dance floor. I won't mind the people when they stare." And then there's the sad part: "I loved you everyday and now I'm leaving and I can see the sorrow in your eyes." Technically, the daughter is the one leaving but I think it works. Or The Rolling Stone's version of "That's How Strong My Love Is."

  24. My Father & I don't have that type of relationship. Don't get me wrong, he's supported me along the way. My mom insists of a Father-Daughter dance…..I'm thinking "Dance with My Father" by Luther Vandross & Beyonce. Yes, Cliche I know!

  25. i'm thinking of a few songs, but brevity may be a big concern, since i'm going to want to dance with my groom!
    -little miss magic by jimmy buffett
    -lady in red by chris de burgh
    -sweet child o' mine by guns and roses

    it's hard to find songs that don't sound sappy, but equally hard to find non-sappy songs that won't conjure up that incestuous weirdness.

    i might take some (or a lot) of the suggestions i've seen here:-)

  26. Ok I just had to tell my plan!!!

    My Dad and I have always loved Convoy by CW McCall and I can't imagine not dancing to it. I don't think that choice is for everyone but it's personal and I love it plus my mom will freak.

  27. i didnt meet my dad until i was 17 and just cant find a song to use for us for my wedding. help please!

  28. i'm gonna throw my hat in the ring a little late, but hopefully this will help a bit! here are my contenders for a non-traditional dance:

    Sam Cooke: Nothing Can Change This Love

    Sam Cooke: Bring it on Home to Me

    James Brown: Papa Don't Take No Mess

    Joan Osbourne's version of Dolly Parton's: Do I Ever Cross Your Mind

    Patty Griffin: Heavenly Day

  29. I found this blog very helpful, but I went back and forth on songs, and ended up choosing "He didn't have to be" by Brad Paisley. My step dad is walking me down the aisle and I think it will be a great song for he and I to dance to. I really did like "It's for my dad" by Nancy Sinatra too. I thought about "There you'll be" by Faith hill. "Kind and Generous" by Natalie Merchant was another one I liked.

  30. I am happily going with Brown-Eyed Girl. Anyone have a suggestion on how to dance with my dad on that one? Slow dance? Hmmm …

  31. I'm dancing with my father too brown eyed girl or the hustle by Van Mccoy. When I was a little girl, he would always play that song and I always loved it to this day! I thought it would be funny for something like that!

  32. Jessie (#58) THATS WHAT I WANT TO USE!!! IM SO GLAD SOMEONE ELSE USED IT!!!

    my dad called me tonight and said what we should do instead of "DANCE" to the father daughter dance, we should do what we did every weeknight when i was a little girl. we'd have the staff of the hotel wheel in a couch to the middle of the dance floor. he'd kick off his shoes, i'd crawl up next to him and we'd share a gallon of New York Cherry Ice Cream together while listening to our song. I LOVE THE IDEA cause i get to eat ice cream with my daddy one more time 😀

  33. Dana and Nancy! Thank you for the song recommendation! My Dad is also obsessed with Neil Young.

  34. my dad and i danced to 'the way you look tonight' by frank sinatra (the micheal buble version) i don't think it's so sappy because it doesn't talk about the father/daughter relationship, just a nice song about how beautiful the bride looks. one thing to consider for the dad's is the length of the song, i'm sure dads appreciate shorter songs!

  35. "Isn't She Lovely" by Stevie Wonder was actually written by the boy wonder for his baby daughter when she was born. I might be using this one…

  36. I'm using "Tiny Dancer" just because my dad used to hold me and sing it to me when I was a baby, so it has always been "our" song. I'm using John Lennon's "Woman" to dance with my mother.

  37. My dad and I used to dance to Black Water by The Doobie Brothers when I was a little kid so that is what we are going to do our father/daughter dance to. Sappy just doesn't fit us!

  38. This has been so helpful for me. I get married in 26 days and still had no idea what to dance with my dad to. My dad and I both love Bob Dylan, so I found the suggestion Forever Young very helpful. Anyone else know of any good Bob Dylan suggestions?? (I also liked the idea of Lady in Red since my dress is red. thanks again!)

  39. Love the suggestions! I'll be using "Still the One" by Orleans. It's totally appropriate, given that it's from my father's era of music. It's a fun song that everyone can dance to.

  40. I just found Daughter by Bread. Upbeat and perfect for us. I couldn't imagine slow dancing with my dad. We're sentimental at our own tempo!

  41. I think we're going to dance to "Diamond Girl" by Seals & Croft. My Dad used to blast Seals & Croft and The Eagles when my mom wasn't around when I was a toddler. 🙂

  42. I used to sing Bad to the Bone with my dad…so while Dad is prepping himself for a sappy song, we are suprising him with Bad to the Bone Intro…and then ease it into something he and I can dance to…but I haven't gotten that far yet!

  43. What about Rod Stewart's "Forever Young?" I know others have mentioned the Bob Dylan version, but RS's is not as slow and the lyrics are a little different. Also, I'm surprised no one mentioned Green Day's "Time of your life". My father and I have a unique relationship, and my true "father-daughter" dance is going to be "Wind Beneath my wings" with my grandfather, who raised me. I still want to honor my dad, though, and am currently deciding between "Forever Young" by RS and "Time of your Life" by Green Day.

  44. Ok, this one is just because my Dad would sing it to me ALL the time when I was a little girl…"I Feel Fine" by The Beatles

  45. Brown Eyed Girl is about two lovers. Daughters by John Mayer is about a woman with a bad Father.

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