Father Daughter Dance Songs: This Is the List You Want


And none of these will make it sound like you're dating your dad, promise.

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

When it came time to choose our wedding songs, some of them came super easily. First dance? No brainer. Michael’s dance with his mom? Easy peasy. But the list of available father daughter dance songs felt like they ranged from mildly creepy to just… not indicative of my relationship with my dad at all. I’m not daddy’s little girl, and I’d prefer if the lyrics didn’t make it sound like we’re dating, you know?

father and daughter dancing at wedding with father daughter dance songs title over pink background

Ultimately, finding the right song meant getting creative and going outside the traditional father daughter dance songs, in search of something with lyrics that said, “I appreciate our relationship, but I’m not romantically in love with you.” For us, it was Ozzy and Kelly Osbourne’s “Changes.” But if you’re having a father daughter dance and haven’t figured yours out, here is our ultimate list of father daughter dance songs you’ll actually want to use at your wedding.

Father daughter dance songs (for feminists)

The Beatles: “In My Life”

Bob Dylan: “Forever Young”

Rod Stewart: “Forever Young”

Stevie Wonder: “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”

The Rolling Stones: “She’s a Rainbow”

Neil Young: “Here for You”

Queen: “You’re My Best Friend”

David Bowie: “Let’s Dance”

Fleetwood Mac: “Songbird”

Louis Armstrong: “What a Wonderful World”

Bobby McFerrin: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

The Beatles: “Here Comes the Sun”

Wilco: “My Darling”

Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole: “Unforgettable”

Andy Williams: “Moon River” (or you can opt for the Breakfast At Tiffany’s version)

Fleetwood Mac: “Landslide”

Ben Folds: “Gracie”

The Byrds: “Turn! Turn! Turn!”

Billy Joel: “Vienna”

Joni Mitchell: “Both Sides, Now”

Nanci Griffith: “Turn Around”

Devendra Banhart: “Baby”

Carole King: “Child of Mine”

Talking Heads: “And She Was”

Eric Clapton: “May You Never”

Paul Simon: “Father and Daughter”

Josh Groban: “You Raise Me Up”

The Box Tops: “I Only See Sunshine”

The Beach Boys: “God Only Knows”

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

Staff Picks

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  • LydiaB

    I didn’t do a father daughter dance but gosh I love this song and the sentiment behind it;

    That’s my daughter in the water
    Every time she fell, I caught her
    Every time she fell
    And that’s my daughter in the water
    I lost every time I fought her
    Yeah, I lost every time

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfu7uIzQkaA

  • LydiaB

    I didn’t do a father daughter dance and although some of the lines in this aren’t exactly “independent woman” I think it’s just beautiful;

    “That’s my daughter in the water
    Every time she fell, I caught her
    Every time she fell
    And that’s my daughter in the water
    I lost every time I fought her
    Yeah, I lost every time”

    Loudon Wainwright

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfu7uIzQkaA

    • raccooncity

      I love this song SO much. It’s so darn catchy.

    • Rebekah Jane

      I love this song SO much, but it gives me flashbacks to the involuntary anger I always experience while watching Knocked Up.

      • scw

        that’s my immediate association now too!

    • Amanda L.

      We almost picked this one! It’s such a great song, and my dad and I are both Loudon fans.

  • JWilz

    My dad and I chose Wild World by Cat Stevens. My dad has been a Cat Stevens fan as long as I can remember and the song sounds just like advice he would give me and probably has given me lol I looked through A LOT of online father daughter dance song lists and its amazing how many have a creepy vibe once you start listening to the lyrics.

  • raccooncity

    So I had a bit of a tough ask in that I wanted a song that wouldn’t be too father-y because we were combining parental dances, and also one of the parents has a bad hip, so we had to keep it relatively short. Add to that the fact that I’m a sucker for country songs, and we went with this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBDN8yWyNYU

    It was great in the end because it was actually a song telling me to slow down and appreciate the moment at a moment when I needed it most.

    • sbc

      We also did a combined dance: we are a 2-lady couple and we danced with our dads for a minute or so, then our moms came on and danced with our dads while we danced with each other. The song we went with was “Never Alone” by Lady Antebellum, which has a good waltz pace and sweet lyrics.

  • another lady

    If you are comfortable with this, you should ask your dad what he wants for the father daughter dance song. We let our parents pick the songs, since it was their moment with us. We had some unusual picks of songs that I had never heard of. But, it turned out great and his mom has talked about it on several occasions and said how she loved her dance with her son and had to keep talking to him so that she wouldn’t cry the whole time! Awww! I would highly suggest offering your parents the option of picking the song. If they are unsure or don’t want to, then go to this list. Also, a cousin let her dad pick and he chose an 80’s rock ballad and they choreographed parts of the song! It was probably THE BEST father daughter dance I have ever seen!

  • ruth

    I let my dad pick our dance song (he really wanted to be involved in the wedding planning – a process that the WIC focuses mostly on Mom) He also wanted to ‘surprise’ me with his song pick – which was a little nerve wracking – but in the end I just let go and made him promise he’d at least tell our band to make sure they could do the song! My dad and I watched countless Disney movies together when I was a child – and the song he ended up picking was “When you wish upon a star” (which most people know as the little refrain you hear with the Disney castle logo – but the whole song is actually really lovely – and a nice 3/4 time Waltz that works really well as a dance song.) Anyway, it felt like a really sweet honoring of the child I had once been – as well as the adult I am now – we were both balling our eyes out

    • Shawna

      Gawwww! I wouldn’t have been surprised if dad kept the song a surprise. I also let him pick (for the same reason you give and we haven’t let my parents make many decisions since fiancé and I are doing most of the planning together) and he chose the song that epitomized our first father-daughter dance (an annual tradition at my middle and high school). So we’ll be dancing to “My Girl,” which others may think is overly romantic, but is absolutely perfect for us. It reminds me of being 11 and so impressed at dancing like a grown up in a dressed up room with my dad and all our friends. He asked if that would be a good one and I said yes, unequivocally. He’s always been the creator of traditions in our family and this just feels very much in character for him so it makes me happy.

      I think it’s pretty much guaranteed that we’re both going to smily-cry for the entire day.

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  • Amanda L

    If you ARE a daddy’s girl and can overlook a reference to being ‘given away,’ Heartland’s ‘I loved her first’ is a beautiful song. It really encapsulates my relationship with my dad, and how I know he was feeling that day (even though I was 36, so a lot of those memories were WAY in the past). I still cannot hear the song without tearing up.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pg8Z69B6RFQ

  • BBNee

    Great options!

    But I do recall an anecdote where one of my SILs threw an absolute FIT about her husband (my husband’s brother) choosing “In My Life” as the mother-son dance because she thought her husband dancing with his mother to a song about how he loves her “more” would set up a terrible precedent (which, to be fair, is one my MIL would love) and made her, as the new wife, look like a lesser priority. It was a much more controversial choice than I ever would have guessed in a million years.

    Maybe it’s different with father-daughter though, since it’s more like the father saying “I loved you more” which is sweet rather than fraught.

  • scw

    excited to see paul simon “father and daughter” here (especially because I just coincidentally bought paul simon tickets this morning!). my dad picked it for our father daughter dance and our family friends – a father/daughter duo that were part of our wedding bang – sang it. the song will forever make me cry.

    • Leah

      I surprised my father with this for our dance at my wedding, and he totally cried. One of my strongest memories of the whole day.

    • Lulu

      One of my cherished possessions is a CD of the Wild Thornberrys movie soundtrack, because my dad, who did not have one sentimental bone in his body, bought it for me because it has that song on it.

  • Lynly

    I chose “It’s for My Dad” by Nancy Sinatra. I’m really close with my father and he has been going through a bunch of health issues since 2010, so choosing a song that literally focuses the spotlight on him and our relationship as well as his temporary ability to dance with me for two minutes was everything. Still brings me to tears…

  • Tara Croy

    I gotta put a plug in for Tom Petty “Wildflowers.” The best advice I got from my dad when I was struggling with something was to do whatever made me feel free. It is so unlike my dad to say something like that so I’ve held onto it for so long. I love this song and it’s upbeat and not creepy! I didn’t do a father/daughter dance but played this song during dinner.

  • Seren

    We used The Moody Blues- In Your Wildest Dreams because my dad is a huge Moody Blues fan, and it reminded me so much of being a kid and singing it with him. And it’s a good song about moving on and memories. It’s a long song- 5 minutes, which I had forgotten. When it picked up after the first 30 seconds my dad just took off, and it was awesome! Everyone said it was the best father-daughter dance they’d ever seen. We were laughing so hard by the end! And I’m tearing up writing this…
    https://youtu.be/kmmPFrkuPq0

    • Shawna

      I love this song (and the Moody Blues in general)! My mom played it for us growing up because she remembered seeing the dancing in the video (this and West Side Story are the reasons I was put in dance classes as a kid) so actually seeing the video a few years ago was really emotional. I think I might have to play it for her at the wedding (and then we will all cry).

  • I really like the idea of Randy Newman’s “You’ve got a friend in me” (not on this list, on some other APW list somewhere else), but it has to be at a completely different pace for it to work…

  • JennDee

    I literally just asked my Dad this week if he’d dance to one of our favorite James Taylor songs with me (‘You’ve Got a Friend’). We’re both introverts who tend to shy away from large social settings, especially when we’re the focus. To my utter surprise, he got a little misty-eyed and agreed immediately, saying it’s one of his favorite songs and he often thinks of me and my sister when it comes on (the original JT is one of his favorite all-time artists, so it’s on heavy rotation in his house and even on my spotify stations).

    • Rachel

      We used that song too, but we sang it together rather than having a dance :)

  • OliveMC

    My dad and I danced to “My Girl” by the Temptations, and it brought me back to dancing with him in the kitchen as a little girl (and teenager, and 20-something…). We both love Motown, and even though the song is a little quick, it was the best. :)

  • Laurie Kenyon

    this is for the more folky bluegrass people out there, but my dad and i are going to dance to “when you come back down” by nickel creek. my dad and i both love this group and this song (to me) is about having someone support you to go out and try new things, with the knowledge that someone is there to “catch you when you fall”. sounds like a great song for a child/parent relationship.

  • SJ

    I asked my dad, early in the planning process, to pick our song. He decided to keep it a secret. (Note: it meant a ridiculous amount of tears from a solidly emotional woman all amped up on wedding day feels). He went with Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman. I’d never even heard the song before. With it (as dad has been a photographer for most of my life) was a lovely slideshow. I’m unashamedly Dad’s girl and it was perfect.

  • Amanda L.

    Father and Daughter by Paul Simon was what I danced to with my dad, and it was so perfect.

  • Anon

    When it came to a father-daughter dance, it was never a question as to what it would be: Annie Lennox, “Downtown Lights.” Coming from a long family tradition of musicians, music was a central part of my childhood. From age 16-20, my father and I went through a long period of estrangement…and the first summer after we started speaking again, this song came on at a family bonfire at the beach. Without saying a word, my dad came over to take my hand and dance to this song, and I felt like the lyrics were speaking for him. “Sometimes I walk away /when all I really want to do /is love and hold you right/ there is just one thing I can say/ nobody loves you this way.” We’ve never been able to fully address the underlying reasons for the estrangement, but I think we’ve both come to terms with that. This song – and that last line, especially – built a bridge for us to cross instead.

  • Leigh

    we are dancing (to our own beat – can’t match the pace of the song :P) to teach your children by crosby, stills, nash, and young

  • AnnaBeth Fish

    My dad and I will be dancing to Tim McGraw’s “My Little Girl” at my wedding in May. I think it’s a very sweet song – and says a lot of things I know my dad feels but perhaps has trouble saying (strong silent type you know). Of course, the reference about asking permission isn’t my favorite (my fiance didn’t ask for permission) but I like the sentiment about FH being the “half that makes you whole”.

  • Teresa L

    I’m considering using “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dO1rMeYnOmM), because I really love the lyrics and pace, and it talks about love in a not overly romantic way.

    A slightly perkier song would be Joe Dassin’s “Champs Elysées.” My father speaks to me in French (the entire song is in French) and we went to France together, but otherwise the lyrics don’t mean anything significant.

    Maybe I’ll do Queen’s “You’re my best friend” since my dad is the one who introduced me to Queen and it’s not as sad as Time in a Bottle and the lyrics actually apply to us a bit.

  • mrtialwarrior