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)

WANT EVEN MORE!?

  1. I danced with my father to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Growing up, my dad and I watched this movie every March – so it had a very special meaning. My husband danced with is mother to "My One True Friend" by Bette Midler.

  2. Ditto on "Kind and Generous" by Natalie Merchant! My Dad and I danced to that one at my wedding several years ago…the song embodied everything I wanted to say to my father that day!

  3. Cat Stevens also…..Wild World!

    Though my dad is a bit of weeper and when I played the song for him he was crying! He's too cute!

  4. This thread was so helpful! My dad and I decided to do the father/daughter dance to "angie" – rolling stones simply because it's my name. we figured an anti mushy route would be best. this way my dad isn't hurt by the idea of not dancing at all.

  5. Me and my daddy have always loved dancing together..One that I can remember since I was really young is "I wanna dance with somebody" by Whitney Houston. I think that'll be my choice =)

  6. I have gone back and forth between alot of these songs listed but I had two that really stuck out. "Hold my Hand" by Hootie and the Blowfish and "What a Wonderful World" by Luis Armstrong

  7. My dad has blared Led Zeppelin since I can remember. I think we might dance to "Thank you" by LZ. It's sweet but a bit casual for our unique relationship. I'm still looking for other options though. Any suggestions?

  8. I am planning on using Nickel Creek's "When You Come Back Down", nice tune , nice message. I had the hardest time with planning this and my ceremony processional (Apocalyptica's version of "Nothing Else Matters") since the I am trying to blend our taste in music with what won't scare the elderly at our wedding.

  9. My dad loves old country music!…Ever since I was little, we always listened to Daddy's Girl by Red Sovine…It is REALLY twangy…but its our song!

  10. My mom and dad divorced when I was 2. He and I have had a VERY strained relationship my whole life. He is not walking me down the aisle or giving me away but I feel like the dance might be a nice gesture. What the heck can we dance to? I am just lost. HELP!

  11. My dad and I have always been a huge Muppets fans, so I am thinking Rainbow Connection by Kermit the Frog.

  12. Hello everyone! I'm a lover of song lyrics so I've noticed that a lot of recommended "father/daughter dance songs" on all wedding type sites have lyrics that pertain to romantic love as opposed to family love. I find this a little creepy! My suggestion is to look up the lyrics to a song you're thinking about before finalizing any plans. Your list will be shorter, but less weird as well! 🙂

  13. well i'm not getting married, but I AM trying to put together a CD for my father for father's day.

    so far i'm definitely using:
    Daughter – Loudon Wainwright
    In My Life – Beatles
    Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
    Fleetwood Mac – Landslide
    Old Man – Neil Young
    Father and Daughter – Paul Simon.

    I'm also thinking of using Teach your Children Well, They Don't Make Em Like my Daddy Anymore, John Mayer's Daughters, and Here Comes the Sun.

    My dad's not a sappy music kinda guy. and since it's a CD i'm giving him, I want it to be meaningful AND I want him to be able to enjoy the songs. so far i've hit a dead end. ):

  14. I am dancing with my step-dad to "To sir with love" by LuLu and with my dad to "I loved her first" by Heartland. Both have individual messages that I can convey

  15. I'm sorry, but who keep saying that "I Lover Her First" belongs on a non-sappy list?! If I played that at my wedding, my dad and I would both need to be carried out of there. Nice song and all, but absolutely DOES NOT belong on a post of non-sappy songs. I know it's up the individuals but holy hell, you've got to be kidding me with that one.

  16. I know it is sappy, but how's about, (You Are My) Special Angel by Bobby Helms? My mom used to sing that to me when I was little… when I got married, I got married at a Baptist church, so no dancing allowed. If it had been, song with my stepdad would have either been "My Girl" by the Temptations or Sha-Boom! LOL

  17. Just a heads up on little Miss Magic by Jimmy Buffet if you have divorced parents…I LOVED the song and thought for sure it was going to be the song for the father daughter dance then I played it for my mom. She told me it made her very uncomfortable since my father and her are divorced and remarried and he sings the line "your mother's still the only other woman for me" over and over again. So there goes that idea.

  18. My dad and I are definitely doing a polka– he loves to dance, and thinks it'd be way more fun than a slow song. Now it's just a matter of whether we do the Beer Barrel Polka or the one that goes "I don't want her, you can have her, she's too fat for me!"

  19. My Dad and I danced to Perfect by Fairground Attraction. We spent the whole song singing it to each other!
    It was fitting considering his disapproval of my ex, and the mess of a relationship that was for me; and how I came to a much better relationship with my husband where we are both incredibly happy and everyone can see that!

  20. I am dancing with my grandfather to "Zoe Jane" by Staind. He is the only father figure I have ever known so I thought it was appropriate.

  21. My dad and I really deliberated about our dance and decided on Apocalyptica's cover of Nothing Else Matters — it's a beautiful song that starts slow and then breaks loose in the middle. It was fantastic; I'm so happy we did that and we had a great time. It's a love song, but we circumvented that awkwardness by the sheer force of cellos.

  22. THANK YOU APRIL (#100) and Michelle (#115)! If I read one more girl who thinks John Mayer's "Daughter" or "brown-eyed girl" is a good song to dance to with her dad I'm gonna throw my computer out the window…Listen to the lyrics PLEASE! The John Mayer song is a cautinary tale warning parents to be good to their kids because he once dated a girl and the r1elationship was ruined because of all her daddy issues. I don't see any part of a wedding when this song would be a good idea. And "brown-eyed girl" when he talking about "behind the stadium with you" he is NOT talking about a fatherly hug or go-get-'em-champ moment he is talking about having SEX behind the stadium with his "brown-eyed-girl." HELLO! Unless you and your dad are doing the dirty I would suggest finding another song. And I would also NOT use it as a first dance with you husband either, it's not appropriate, have some class ladies, if you MUST have this song do it later in the night when everyone is happy and sauced and singing along merrily!

  23. i am thinking of 'oh how happy' by shades of blue. overall i like the mood of the song.. its nice and short, up tempo and mostly just says 'oh how happy you have made me.' the only really weird lyric is 'i've kissed your lips a thousand times, and more times than i can count i've called you mine'. i mean, my dad has kissed me a million times.. do you think thats too creepy though?
    here is a link to the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnNfpvGzIeA

  24. I just got married last weekend, actually – and, I danced with my Dad to that (very short!) song by the Beatles, "I Will." And, my new husband and I danced to the Beatles, "Ob-la-dee, ob-la-da" song. 🙂 We had no idea what we were doing, but b/c it was a more up-tempo song, somehow people thought that we practiced. So, take note: you can pretty much make it up as you go if the song is upbeat!

  25. i got engaged two days ago, and me and my dad are trying to pick a song. somebody said "winter" by tori amos, who i LOVE. i'm crying my face off listening to it. i think it would be perfect – let's hope i keep it together better than this 🙂

  26. As an independent baker, I've done a lot of weddings, and the most unique Father/Daughter dance I've ever seen was Bob Seeger's "Like a Rock" … I would have never thought of it, but the DJ suggested beforehand that the audience listen to the lyrics and it really seemed to fit.

  27. My father and I are REALLY heavy into 60's/70's/80's rock. We both love stuff like deep Purple and Alice Cooper. I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out a song to dance to. We're both very picky about our music(no bob seger or rod stewart), so it's twice as hard to find a song. I thought about Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" because I can remember my dad singing that all the time when I was little, but the lyrics just don't seem to fit the father/daughter thing. I'd really appreciate some input.

    *oh, by the way, I really wouldn't recommend "sweet child o'mine" by Guns N' Roses. Axl wrote that song about his girlfriend at the time. It's an incredible song..one of my faves, but unless you want that incestuous vibe going on… I'd steer clear.

  28. My dad and I did not have a very close relationship growing up – but now we are in a good place and I'm dancing with him to "Square One" by Tom Petty.

    "Square One my slate is clear, rest your head on me my dear. It took a world of trouble, took a world of tears, it took a long time to get back here"

  29. My dad and I will either be dancing to "Somebody's Baby" by Jackson Browne or "Celluloid Heros" by the Kinks. The lyrics to "Somebody's Baby" are probably a little creepy if you really get into analyzing it, but I'm not that worried, it's a cool song. And we both just really like the song "Celluloid Heroes."

    My dad got really into the whole father-daughter dance song thing and made me a mix CD of all the songs he thought would be good for it. It's definitely my favorite wedding-related gift so far.

  30. My dad always used to play Red Sovine "Daddy's Girl" in the car while we were fishing. We will be dancing to that. It is very childlike, sweet, lighthearted, and definately not sappy.

  31. I am thinking about Lullaby (Goodnight My Angel) for my father and then I didn't want to go all sappy with my stepdad so I was thinking My Wish by Rascal Flatts

  32. I think Lullaby by the Dixie chicks is great for a dance with dad or your new husband. It could also be easily learned by a band ifyou're having one..

  33. Thanks for the Neil Young suggestions!! I am shocked that I am not the only girl w/ a Neil obsessed father!!

  34. Hi All, I'm looking for a song to dance with my two daughters too. I'm getting remarried and I have two daughters from a previous marriage that are 10 & 11 and I want to dance with them. I'm wondering if a "father/daughter" dance song is appropriate in this situation or if anyone has suggestions. Thanks

  35. I think Singalong Junk by Paul McCartney is a nice instrumental. Plus it's short & sweet at two and a half minutes!

  36. "My Girl" by the Temptations is totally non-sappy and something you would never think of as a father-daughter first dance song. My daughter had this as her first song and everyone loved it – its just a great timeless song.

  37. My dad and I danced to "I love you more today than yesterday". It was upbeat and fun, and before it was over, everyone was joining in!

  38. my friend danced to 100 years by five for fighting.

    My mother passed away a few years ago, actually soon after my friends wedding, and every time I hear the song it makes me cry. But I think the sentiment for living for the moment works well

  39. My dad and I's song is "The House on Pooh Corner" by Kenny Loggins. As a kid he always called me his 'Pooh Bear.' It turned into 'Pookie' after awhile. It fits and I plan on dancing with him to it next spring!!

    Remember, it doesn't have to be sappy or lovey-dovey.. it just has to represent the two of you and what makes your bond special and unique. Dont dance to Butterfly kisses JUST BECAUSE its a daddy-daughter song =]

    be creative!!!!!

  40. If you're squeamish about dancing with Pops to Guns 'n' Roses, bear in mind that Sheryl Crow covered "Sweet Child o' Mine" and it's totally wedding appropriate.

    Another one nobody's mentioned yet is Madeleine Peyroux's cover of Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go." Nice shuffle beat, Maddie sounds just like Billie Holliday, and the lyrics work for a dad watching his baby girl go off into the world.

  41. I will probably go with the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows". I still like the somewhat sappy lyric of "God only knows what I'd be without you", and the "I may not always love you/but long as there are stars above you/you never need to doubt it/I'll make you so sure about it" opening line. Plus, the music itself is just really lovely.

  42. I'm still not sure what song to dance with my dad to, but this post has certainly helped me out! If nothing else I've got the piece of mind that comes with knowing I'm not the only one who has faced this dilemma!

  43. Sheryl Crow's version of Sweet Child of Mine is kick ass!! I also like Baby Love by The Supremes…. Dancing in the Moonlight…. Here Comes the Sun… Time after time- i heard this version by some random band(who i later found out is called Spoken) its pretty cool, God Only Knows- Beach Boys(if youre really close to your dad)… There's a punk cover of Stand by Me(originally by The Temptations)… Bittersweet Symphony by Verve… What a Wonderful World covered by The Ramones

  44. If you've never heard of Fyder and Everhardt, you're normal. They're a teeny two-man band who graced the Ely, MN Blueberry Festival with their music for many summers. I've considered doing my wedding dance with my dad to a Bob Dylan tune because he's a rabid fan, but he also has all of Fyder and Everhadrt's CDs and wants to dance to "Dancing With My Daughter", about rocking his baby back to sleep. Very sentimental, very personal for us, incest-free.

  45. Choose wisely, I was at a weding where the bride and her dad danced to "nights in white satin" by the moody blues, and it was really creepy.

  46. Are there any danceable versions of "Charlie on the MTA" (aka "The MTA Song") out there? My dad sang this to me at bedtime when I was a kid, and I'd love to use it, but I can't find any versions with the right tempo. Thanks!

  47. Everyone needs to check out Vitamin String Quartet. If you (and dad) have a favorite song that just wouldn't be appropriate due to genre or lyrics they just might have your song. They take pop/punk/oldies/heavy metal, pretty much everything, and play it on quartet instruments, no vocals. I was looking for something fun for my cocktail hour so I will be using their music. If you don't pay attention its just classical instruments and music, but if you stop to listen, you realize you know the song, and could even sing along. It's great. Just remember, though you might not hear the lyrics, a lot of people might know what they are anyway. But I figure its better than blaring sexual inuendos during a father song, or any other dance for that matter.

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