Father daughter dance songs can be…tricky. You want a wedding tune that is sweet and sentimental. On the other hand, you don’t want something that’s too romantic (and chances are most of your favorite slow/love songs fall into the latter category). For example, I love Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl,” but these lyrics make it, err, a little uncomfortable for a father daughter dance song:
Sometime I’m overcome thinking ’bout
Making love in the green grass
Behind the stadium with you
My brown eyed girl
You’re my brown eyed girl
“Wildflowers” by Tom Petty is another popular option that almost falls into the same category. It’s a great song, but has slightly cringe-y lyrics for a father daughter dance considering the song is about setting an ex free. (Though honestly I think this song is completely fine.)
Run away, go find a lover
Run away, let your heart be your guide
You deserve the deepest of cover
You belong in that home by and by
But don’t worry! There are a lot of great choices out there for father daughter dance songs that (hopefully) won’t make you cringe when you hear them.
I’ve compiled a few of my favorite potential father daughter dance songs, below. Several are classics you’ve undoubtedly seen on other lists. (We’re looking at you, Louis Armstrong and Fleetwood Mac.) However, some of them are a bit more under the radar. For example, a lot of brides use Sheryl Crow’s cover of “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns n’ Roses. I’m actually a fan of Luna’s more alternative cover. There are also a lot of great songs from artists like Billy Joel, Ben Folds, Amos Lee, Heartland, Darius Rucker, and the Zac Brown band that didn’t make our list, but they’re still great options.
Before we dive into the picks, let’s talk about the basics…
How to Choose the Right Father Daughter Dance Song
Finding the right father daughter dance song can be a daunting task, but it’s definitely possible with a little bit of work! The most important thing to remember is that you should both feel comfortable dancing to any song you pick out. The key is to send him your potential song choices to see what he thinks. He might already have a song he loves (and hey, it’s probably retro enough to be cool).
Think of the “vibe” you and your dad are going for.
You and your dad may be total goofballs, but are you aiming to be extra sentimental during your first dance? Or do you want to bust out in a polka? Think of the feeling you want to capture with your dad. Do you want there to be a dry eye in the house? Or is it more a feeling of fun and excitement that kicks off the dance floor? Do you want it to be a special moment for your mom, as well? The song you choose will set the tone.
Think of special moments between you and your dad.
Did he sing “Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle as a lullaby to you every night? Did you used to dance around the living room to Ray Charles? Do you share a love of the ocean, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, cooking, or country twang? Or maybe you had a special fishing trip you did every year growing up? You can use these past experiences to inform you song choices. If you have it, this is the time to embrace that feeling of forever being daddy’s little girl!
But be open to out-of-the-box ideas.
Writer Claire Swinarski found the perfect song when she was scrolling through her mom’s music in the car. “Since fishing was such a special memory for my dad, “Just Fishin’” by Trace Adkins seemed perfect. It’s all about making memories while a man fishes with his daughter. It’s also upbeat, not overly mushy or sentimental, and a country song, which we both like. Even better—it’s easy to dance to! I suggested it to my dad, and he loved the idea.”
When I was searching for my own father daughter dance song, I recalled a moment I loved in the movie “Once Around” as a kid. Holly Hunter marries Richard Dreyfuss, and at their wedding her dad (played by Danny Aiello) sings “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra. Something about that always stuck with me! For years I dreamed about dancing with my dad to that song, and we did!
The father daughter dance is supposed to be a moment that recognizes how important your dad is in your life. Consider taking dance lessons, or just practicing in the kitchen before the big day. Alternatively, if you don’t have that type of relationship (or if your father is not in your life), consider dancing with your uncle, godfather, brother, or other important person in your life. Some brides even choose to dance with their moms! Families come in all shapes and sizes, which is something we should celebrate.
When it comes to your own father daughter dance songs for your wedding reception, the most important thing to remember is that it’s only a couple of minutes long. While it’s an important moment in your life, it’s not the most important moment in your relationship. Even if you get nervous, it will end up being a great moment that you’ll treasure forever.
Now, let’s get to the list!
At a Glance: The Best Father Daughter Dance Songs
|Artist||Song Title||YouTube Link|
|Luna||Sweet Child of Mine||Listen Here|
|Sam Cooke||Nothing Can Change This Love||Listen Here|
|Louis Armstrong||What a Wonderful World||Listen Here|
|Otis Redding||That’s How Strong My Love Is||Listen Here|
|Fleetwood Mac||Landslide||Listen Here|
|Frank Sinatra||Fly Me to the Moon||Listen Here|
|Willie Nelson||You Were Always On My Mind||Listen Here|
|The Isley Brothers||Shout||Listen Here|
|The Temptations||My Girl||Listen Here|
|Paul Simon||Father and Daughter||Listen Here|
|James Taylor||You’ve Got a Friend||Listen Here|
Full List of Father Daughter Songs and the Lyrics Behind Them
“Sweet Child of Mine” by Luna
This is one of my favorite covers of this song. It’s sweet and indie and is definitely more danceable than the original (can we say awkward guitar solo dance with dad?). Side Note: The Vitamin String Quartet also does a great version of it that would be fun to use as a processional.
Meaningful lyrics: She’s got eyes of the bluest skies/As if they thought of rain/I’d hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain
“Here Comes the Sun” by Nina Simone
I love, love, love this song. But I’m pretty much obsessed with anything Nina Simone sings. Even though I walked down the aisle to “Feeling Good,” this *might* be my favorite Nina song. The song, which was written by George Harrison in 1969 for The Beatles’ Abbey Road, would also work for a first dance wedding song for your and your hubs, or for a mother son wedding song.
Meaningful lyrics: Little darling/ The smiles returning to the faces/ Little darling/ It seems like years since it’s been here
“Nothing Can Change This Love” by Sam Cooke
This is one of those songs that you can’t go wrong with for a daddy dance. It has sweet lyrics, it’s slow enough to sway back and forth to, and it’s not totally overplayed as a wedding song.
Meaningful Lyrics: If you wanted to leave me and roam/ When you got back, I’d just say welcome home/ ‘Cause honey nothing, nothing, nothing/ Can ever change this love I have for you
“What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
Yes. This is a classic and is on pretty much everybody’s favorite wedding songs list. But it’s on there for good reason!
Meaningful Lyrics: I hear babies cry/ I watch them grow/ They’ll learn much more/ Than I’ll never know/ And I think to myself/ What a wonderful world
“That’s How Strong My Love Is” by Otis Redding
This song could be interpreted as romantic, but I think the lyrics make it totally appropriate as a father/daughter wedding song. You could choose the Otis Redding version of the one by The Rolling Stones.
Meaningful Lyrics: If I was the sun way up there/ I’d go with my love everywhere/ I’ll be the moon when the sun goes down/ Just to let you know that I’m still around
“Landslide” by Fleetwod Mac
Another classic that is on pretty much every wedding song list, but it’s too pretty not to include. It’s probably the saddest song on this list, but it’s still amazing and definitely worth considering.
Meaningful Lyrics: Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’/ ‘Cause I’ve built my life around you/ But time makes you bolder/ Even children get older/ And I’m getting older too
“Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra
“The Way You Look Tonight” is definitely more popular as a father/daughter wedding song than this one, but there’s something about this song that I just love. As I mentioned earlier, this was the song that I danced to with my dad, and was actually one of the main reasons I wanted to have a big wedding. For some reason this song stuck with me ever since I heard it when I was little, and I knew I wanted to dance with my dad to it. It’s not a classic father/daughter wedding song in that it has a few somewhat romantic lyrics, but if a song means something to you, that’s all that matters.
Meaningful Lyrics: Fly me to the moon/ Let me play up there with those stars/ Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars
“You Were Always On My Mind” by Willie Nelson
I don’t think there are enough wedding song lists out there that deal with potentially complicated situations. Maybe your relationship with your parent(s) hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but they are now in your life and you both want to acknowledge that. This song always makes me teary, and could be a good choice if one or both of you want to express that even though you might not have always been there for each in the past, you are now.
Meaningful Lyrics: If I made you feel second best/ Girl I’m sorry I was blind/ You were always on my mind
“Shout” by The Isley Brothers
OK, enough with the tearjerkers! This is the song for those of you who want to do a fun choreographed dance with dad, and perhaps even have the DJ ask your guests to join in. I also seriously considered Sam and Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin’,” but I felt like it could be a little weird to dance to with dad, if you know what I mean (even though it’s one of my favorite songs ever!). “Shout” has pretty mild lyrics and will definitely get the crowd laughing.
Meaningful Lyrics: I still remember/ When you used to be nine years old/ Yeah, yeah, I was a fool for you/ From the bottom of my soul
“My Girl” by The Temptations
This song is definitely one of the more popular options on this list, but it’s for good reason. It’s a classic and will be a song choice everyone knows.
Meaningful Lyrics: I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day/When it’s cold outside/I’ve got the month of May/I guess you’d say/What can make me feel this way/My girl, my girl, my girl/Talkin’ ’bout my girl
Other father daughter dance songs that top our list:
Consider these songs that range from tearjerkers to fun and unique for the dance with your pops!
“Father and Daughter” by Paul Simon
Meaningful Lyrics: You can’t remember where you are/ Just open your window/ And follow your memories/ Upstream/ To the meadow in the mountain/ Where we counted every falling star
“Unforgettable” by Natalie Cole and Nat King Cole
Meaningful Lyrics: Unforgettable/ In every way/ And forever more/ That’s how you’ll stay
“You’re My Best Friend” by Queen
Meaningful Lyrics: You’re my sunshine and I want you to know/ That my feelings are true/ I really love you/ Oh, you’re my best friend
“Sweet Thing” by Van Morrison
Meaningful Lyrics: You shall take me strongly in your arms again/And I will not remember that I ever felt the pain
“God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys
Meaningful Lyrics: God only knows what I’d be without you/ If you should ever leave me
“You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor
Meaningful Lyrics: There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you/ We stick together and see it through/ ‘Cause you’ve got a friend in me
“Your Song” by Elton John
Meaningful Lyrics: And you can tell everybody this is your song/ It may be quite simple, but now that it’s done/ I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words/ How wonderful life is while you’re in the world
“My Little Girl” by Tim McGraw
Meaningful Lyrics: I remember I thought you looked like an angel/ Wrapped in pink, so soft and warm/ You’ve had me wrapped around your finger/ Since the day you were born
“When You Need Me” by Bruce Springsteen
Meaningful Lyrics: If you miss me, I’ll be there/ To brush the sunlight from your hair/ I’ll be there to guide you when trouble walks beside you
“A Wink and a Smile” by Harry Connick, Jr.
Meaningful Lyrics: Just the sound of your voice/ The light in your eyes/ You’re so far away from yesterday/ Together, with a wink and a smile
“My Wish” by Rascal Flatts
Meaningful Lyrics: My wish for you/ Is that this life becomes all that you want it to/ Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small/ You never need to carry more than you can hold/ And while you’re out there gettin’ where you’re gettin’ to/ Hope you know somebody loves you/ And wants the same things too
“Just Fishin'” by Trace Adkins
Meaningful Lyrics: And she thinks we’re just fishin’ on the riverside/ Throwin’ back what we could fry/ Drownin’ worms and killin’ time/ Nothin’ too ambitious/ She ain’t even thinkin’ ’bout/ What’s really goin’ on right now/ But I guarantee this memory’s a big’in/ And she thinks we’re just fishin’
Still looking for musical inspiration? Check out our picks for 20 Unique Wedding Songs That Aren’t Played to Death.
“Little Miss Magic” by Jimmy Buffett
Meaningful Lyrics: Sometimes I catch her dreamin’ and wonder where that little mind meanders/ Is she strollin’ along the shore or cruisin’ over the broad savannah?/ I know someday she’ll learn to make up her own rhymes/ Someday she’s gonna learn how to fly
“Stand by Me” cover by Florence + The Machine
Meaningful Lyrics: If the sky that we look upon should tumble and fall/ Or the mountain should crumble to the sea/ I won’t cry, I won’t cry/ No, I won’t shed a tear/ Just as long as you stand, stand by me
“Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman
Meaningful Lyrics: So I will dance with Cinderella/ While she is here in my arms/ ‘Cause I know something the prince never knew/ Oh, I will dance with Cinderella/ I don’t want to miss even one song/ ‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight/ And she’ll be gone
“All Your Favorite Bands” by Dawes
Meaningful Lyrics: I hope that life without a chaperone is what you thought it’d be/ I hope your brother’s El Camino runs forever/ I hope the world sees the same person that you’ve always been to me/ And may all your favorite bands stay together
“The Wind” by Yusuf/ Cat Stevens
Meaningful Lyrics: I listen to the wind, to the wind of my soul/ Where I’ll end up, well, I think only God really knows
“If Not for You” by George Harrison
Meaningful Lyrics: If not for you, my sky would fall/ Rain would gather, too/ Without your love I’d be nowhere at all/ I’d be lost, if not for you
“Forever Young” by Bob Dylan
Meaningful Lyrics: May you grow up to be righteous/ May you grow up to be true/ May you always know the truth/ And see the lights surrounding you
“You are the Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder
Meaningful Lyrics: You are the sunshine of my life/ That’s why I’ll always be around/ You are the apple of my eye/ Forever you’ll stay in my heart
“Daughter” by Loudon Wainwright
Meaningful Lyrics: That’s my daughter in the water/ I lost every time I fought her/ Yeah, I lost every time
“I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack
Meaningful Lyrics: I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean/ Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens/ Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance/ And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance/ Dance… I hope you dance.
“Cheek to Cheek” by Ella Fitzgerald
Meaningful Lyrics: Oh I love to go out fishing/ In a river or a creek/ But I don’t enjoy it half as much/ As dancing cheek to cheek
“One Call Away” by Charlie Puth
Meaningful Lyrics: I’ll be there to save the day/ Superman got nothing on me/ I’m only one call away
Father and Daughter Dance Song FAQ
Ideally, both the bride and her father! It’s important that you choose a song you can both feel good about and enjoy.
Typically, the couple has their dance first (hence the name “first dance”) followed by father-daughter and mother-son. However, you can choose the order that works best for you and your family as well as your time!
If your father has passed away or is not been present in your life, you can choose to dance with someone who is important to you, such as a sibling, your mom, or other role model. If you are close with your father but don’t like the idea of a specific dance, you can invite your parents to join you and your partner on the dance floor during your first dance or right after.
Listen to all these songs on our Father Daughter Dance playlist on Spotify:
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