Top Songs for a Father-Daughter Dance
The father-daughter dance is a long-standing tradition that is still part of most wedding receptions today. For a bride who enjoys a close relationship with her father, a sweet and even sappy father and daughter dance song is a great choice. The wedding planner should be sure to instruct the photographer to get some close-ups of the emotion that's sure to come.
Here are 15 special songs for fathers and daughters who want to make the most of this tradition. For brides who aren't especially close to their father, or are sharing a dance with another family member, some suggestions on this list fit those situations as well.
The Temptations: "My Girl"
From the opening line of "I've got sunshine on a cloudy day," this Motown classic is instantly recognizable—perhaps because it was a number-one hit in 1965. The slightly swingy, upbeat tempo and sweet lyrics are a great choice for Daddy and his little girl.
Jimmy Buffett: "Little Miss Magic"
This folksy, gentle song from Buffett's 1981 "Coconut Telegraph" album is a warm rush of nostalgia and a unique choice for a father and daughter who want something a little off the beaten path.
Steven Curtis Chapman: "Cinderella"
Written about a father dancing with his daughter, first when she is a little girl and later when she's a bride, this emotional song is as tender as Bob Carlisle's "Butterfly Kisses," but much less overplayed. (Warning: Many people, including Chapman himself, associate this song with his daughter Maria Sue, who died tragically in 2008.)
Natalie Grant: "I'll Always Be Your Baby"
This 2003 song from Christian artist Natalie Grant sends a special message from a young woman to her father: "You are my hero and that will never change."
Harry Belafonte: "Turn Around"
Telling the chronological story of a toddler growing into a young woman getting married herself, this 1959 Belafonte song was later covered by a variety of artists, from the Kingston Trio to Sonny and Cher to Kenny Loggins. Paul Arnold's version was also part of an iconic Kodak commercial in the 1960s.
Trace Adkins: "Then They Do"
Practically all parents can relate to this 2003 hit by country artist Trace Adkins. A musing on how quickly kids grow up, this song is appropriate for both a father and daughter dance and for a combined father-daughter and mother-son dance.
Stevie Wonder: "Isn't She Lovely"
Another sweet, upbeat tune in a similar vein to the Temptations song, this song appeared on Wonder's hit album "Songs in the Key of Life" and was written in honor of his daughter, Aisha.
Harry Connick, Jr.: "A Wink and a Smile"
Connick's easy, swinging style and sweet, simple lyrics are sure to bring a (wink and a) smile to father and daughter alike. This song was also featured in the 1993 hit film "Sleepless in Seattle."
Tim McGraw: "My Little Girl"
Released in 2006, this country hit seems to have been custom-made for a sentimental father and daughter dance at a wedding—it even mentions the father's plans to make sure his daughter's husband-to-be is good enough for her.
Van Morrison: "Have I Told You Lately"
The famous Irish songwriter's song was released in 1989 and became a hit, but was quickly eclipsed by Rod Stewart's cover, which is the more widely known version today. Both performances evoke a sentimental love that isn't necessarily romantic, so the song works well for a father/daughter dance.
Nat King Cole: "Unforgettable"
This truly timeless tune is perfect for a bride who wishes to share a special dance with her grandfather. (Nat's post-mortem "duet" version with his daughter Natalie Cole is also worth considering.)
Other classics that Grandpa might enjoy include Frank Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight" (or the cover versions by Tony Bennett or Steve Tyrell) or Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World."
Natalie Merchant: "Kind and Generous"
For the bride who wants to dance with her brother, this upbeat song of gratitude and love is a great selection.
Alternate choices include The Pretenders' "I'll Stand By You" and Bill Withers' "Lean on Me."
Celine Dion: "Because You Loved Me"
Some brides choose to do a mother/daughter dance, either in place of the father/daughter dance or in addition to it. This song sends a sweet message of thanks for a lifetime of love and support.
Other songs to consider are Jamie O'Neal's "Somebody's Hero," Carrie Underwood's "Mama's Song" or Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings."
The Beatles: "In My Life"
The slightly nostalgic, but not overly sappy lyrics of this song makes it appropriate for a father-daughter dance (or a mother-son dance) when the relationship isn't so close. It's also a good choice when a couple decides to combine the father and daughter dance and the mother and son dance.
Other, less lyrically emotional choices for father/daughter dances include Tom Petty's "Wildflowers" and Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World."
Randy Newman: "You've Got a Friend in Me"
Newman's huge hit from all three "Toy Story" films is perfect for a bride who wants to share a fun, upbeat but still very sweet dance with her son or new stepson.
Other kid-friendly, but not too childish, tunes include Lifehouse's version of "You Belong to Me" (featured in "Shrek") or Elizabeth Mitchell's and Daniel Littleton's "You are My Sunshine."