APW Playlists: First Dance Songs, Vol. 1

A few weeks ago we announced the launch of my new favorite feature on A Practical Wedding: playlists! Music was such an important part of what made Michael’s and my wedding feel like it belonged to us, and choosing said music ended up being one of the most fun things we got to do together during the planning process. (Creative! Personal! Basically free!) But some songs were harder to choose than others. (First dance song? Easy. Parent dances? Like pulling teeth.) And since we think of APW readers as having pretty damn awesome taste, we figured what better way to help other people plan their wedding music than to share what we’ve all used.

Now, before we dive into today’s playlist, we received a few requests for parent dances after the last playlist went up, which of course makes perfect sense because good parent songs are hard to find. So let’s see if we can’t offer up some alternatives to the expected. I ended up loving our parent dances, so I’ll share first. We used “Changes” by Ozzy and Kelly Osbourne and “God Speed, Sweet Dreams” by the Dixie Chicks. Both still make me cry each time I hear them. If you have a parent dance you love, leave it in the comments and we’ll pull some of our favorites into a playlist like this one.

And now…the result of our original request for your favorite first dance songs! We pored over all of your suggestions (seriously. I listened to every song. And then cried a little bit. Because love is beautiful and I’m a sap) and have pulled together a small sampling of our favorites to create APW’s inaugural First Dance Songs playlist, creatively titled “First Dance Songs, Volume One.”

First Dance Songs Vol. 1 from practicalmaddie on 8tracks Radio.

First Dance Songs, Vol. 1

  1. “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne
  2. “That’s How Strong My Love Is” by Otis Redding
  3. “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds
  4. “Sea of Love” by Cat Power
  5. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” as covered by Ingrid Michaelson
  6. “Life is Beautiful” by Keb’ Mo’
  7. “Stuck on You” by Meiko
  8. “The Book of Love” by The Magnetic Fields
  9. This Will Be Our Year” by The Zombies
  10. “The Promise” by Tracy Chapman
  11. “Tupelo Honey” by Van Morrison
  12. “Stay Young, Go Dancing” by Death Cab for Cutie

Firstly, I’d like to thank whoever recommended “The Promise.” I could listen to Tracy Chapman all day long. And secondly, I just want to reiterate that this is just a small sampling of the songs that came out of that first post. If you don’t find what you’re looking for in this playlist, there are about a hundred more suggestions in the comments over here! (All really good.) So enjoy listening and make sure to grab a tissue box before Ben Folds starts playing.

Until next time, happy (er, well, emotional is more like it) listening! And feel free to leave us a comment letting us know what songs you’re having a hard time choosing and we might just choose that for our next playlist.

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  • Remy

    I walked down the aisle to “The Promise”! (It has that Pachelbel’s Canon chord progression, which was a bonus.) And my wife walked to Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love”, which I think would make a nice first dance. (We didn’t have dancing, but the music was super-important to us.)

  • One More Sara

    YESSSS PARENT DANCES! We are trying to do a mother/son//father/daughter combo, and then inviting other parents and children to join us on the dance floor halfway through, so I’ve been searching for gender neutral songs.. The closest I have come is Alain Clark (feat. his dad)- Father and Friend (It isn’t gender neutral, but I figure it’s equally wrong for both pairings, so, whatevs.)

    • Caitrin

      I am looking for the same thing! It is hard to find!

    • Allison

      We did a father/daughter + mother/son dance to Wildflowers by Tom Petty! The lyrics are fantastic and very gender neutral.

    • LZ

      We did “Knights in White Satin” and “What a Wonderful World” (the Israel Kamakawiwo’ole version)

      • Oh! My dad loves the moody blues! I might steal nights in white satin. ;)

    • Natalie

      We used Still Fighting It by Ben Folds. Not really a traditional parent-dance song, but it’s about parenting and your kids growing up and I’ve always liked it. It says “son” at the beginning once but other than that it’s very general–plus since it’s father/son it’s not really biased toward mother/son or father/daughter.

      • One More Sara

        I’ve never heard of that song before… and now I’m crying. Thanks ;)

      • Oh, this song. This song slays me. I’d completely forgotten it, but “Still Fighting It” is lyrically incredible. Thanks for the reminder! :)

    • Diane

      My dad and I are dancing to “Tupelo Honey” by Van Morrison (good first dance song AND a good parent song), and A and his mom are dancing to “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack. We also seriously considered “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac and Shine Down’s cover of “Simple Man.”

    • Caitlin

      We did a polka (“Roll out the Barrel”). It started with mother/son, then he grabbed in his grandma, then everyone else joined in. Very gender neutral, and VERY fun.


      For everyone looking for a Mother/Son-Father/Daughter song there is a CD by Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris called “All the Road Running”, which has a song called “LOVE & HAPPINESS”. It is a beautiful song that they sang for their own children (they aren’t married and don’t have children together – they sang it as a duet to their own children). It is perfect for this. I’m going to play it as a surprise for my daughter and her fiancee at their wedding and I don’t think there will be a dry eye!

    • Liliana

      thank you thank you thank you, this song is exactly what I needed

  • Amy

    We danced to “Sweet Pea” by Amos Lee, which apparently is becoming quite popular as I was a bit surprised to see it on the suggested first dance song list for my brother’s band for his wedding.

    • Emily

      Hmm…I think that song has been in a commercial or two. That must be why it’s gained more popularity. :)

  • Liz B.

    I danced with my dad to “Lullaby” by Tom Rush. It was perfect because the style reminded me so much of my dad. I chose to walk down the aisle by myself, but we kept the traditional dances. When I danced with my dad there wasn’t a dry eye on my side of the family- just like when I was a little girl, he let me cry on his shoulder. This time they were tears of happiness that I’d been choking back all day!

    My husband had two parent dances- one with his mom (to “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion) and one with his step-mom (to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” by Randy Newman… yep, the song from Toy Story!) It was really cute to watch him dance with them both!

    • Mary Clare

      I danced with my dad to “You’ve got a Friend in Me”!

      I just didn’t want anything about me as a little girl, or focused on my physical appearance, and that sums up most of the usual suggestions. I thought this song encompassed what my adult relationship to my dad is: mutual respect, lasting friendship, help in tough times. Plus, Toy Story was a movie we saw together ‘just the two of us’ when I was young, and it’s a memory I cherish.

  • Alison

    My dad and I danced to “Father and Daughter” by Paul Simon. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to get through the dance without bawling because even just hearing the song made me cry, but I did okay! My husband and his mom danced to “Somewhere Out There” from An American Tale, which was pretty cute. :)

    • Samantha

      Oh my gosh – Somewhere Out There!! I haven’t thought of that song in so long. My Mom used to sing that to me as a bedtime song when I was little. That would be a perfect mother/daughter song if there was such a thing.

      • Maddie

        I’ve seen lots of mother/daughter dances! Totally a thing! Warms my heart every time.

      • L

        Samantha: There IS such a thing if you want it! My sister-in-law did separate mother-daughter and father-daughter dance with her parents at her wedding!

    • cass

      My dad and I danced to that too. I was only semi-successful at not crying. When I was in college, he used to call me to tell me “our song” was on the radio so it was pretty tough.

    • Rachel

      I also wanted to dance to that with my Dad, but knew he’d be too emotional for an official everyone-watch-us-dance moment, so I asked the band to sneak it in there and then asked my Dad to dance with me. He got through one recitation of “there could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you” before he admitted we had to stop or he would lose it completely. It was the definition of an imperfectly perfect moment in just such a day.

    • Mallory

      Yup, my dad and I danced to “Father and Daughter” as well. When I started what I thought would be a longer conversation about song options he told me he’d had this song picked out for my eventual wedding since I was a little girl. Talk about sob fest!

    • Carlie

      My dad and I danced to Father and Daughter, too. We made it through with just a few tears, but it was a near thing! I love this song, it so perfectly captured the essence of my relationship with my dad, without being overly cheesy like some of them are. (not that cheese is a bad thing if it’s YOUR thing, just wasn’t mine!)

    • KE

      I LOVE this song, but my dad wanted to go with My Girl by The Temptations since it’s upbeat. He’s still proud of how we used to do the twist at father/daughter dances in middle/high school and wants to bust it out again. Hard to argue with that sweet logic.

  • Liz

    Every time I see one of our wedding photos on APW it completely catches me off-guard! We are dancing to James Hunter’s Mollena :)

  • Lena

    For the father daughter dance we’ll be dancing to Simple Man by Lynryd Skynyrd. It fits me and my dad perfectly (well except for the genders, but we’ve never let that stop us from identifying with something)

    • I go freakin’ crazy when the parent-kid dance is Simple Man. Soooooooo good.

  • J.

    I love suggesting songs for Parent Dances! The songs for our respective parent dances were tough for my husband and I to select, but I think we both came away with awesome choices:

    My dance with my dad was to “Young at Heart” by Jimmy Durante. I highly suggest looking up the lyrics because they are really sweet (and gender neutral!) and the song is pretty short. There’s a Frank Sinatra version too.

    Lyrics: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/f/frank+sinatra/young+at+heart_20055277.html

    My husband and his mom danced to “Stand by Me”. I haven’t been to enough weddings to know if this is a common one or not, but again, a short and sweet song.

    My runner-up choice for my father-daughter dance was “Little Willow” by Paul McCartney.

  • Teresa

    My husband picked “In My Life,” by The Beatles for the mother-son dance and it turned out that it was his mother’s graduation song, so it was extra sentimental. My sister danced with my dad to “I Loved Her First, by Heartland at her wedding.

    • Katie

      I used In My Life for our father/daughter dance and it was perfect!

    • Katie

      My husband and I danced to “You’re my best friend” by Queen. It was quirky and fun since I can’t do sappy stuff.

      • That’s gonna be our recessional song! My fiance doesn’t know it yet – it’s a surprise! (Since his comment when I asked was “we have to have music during the CEREMONY?” I don’t figure he cares to be left out of the decision.)

    • My husband and MIL danced to this one, too!

  • Mirabillia

    We are having our first dance to “Islands In The Stream”. Love me some Kenny and Dolly. And my brother and best friend are singing it as a duet! I’m pretty sure this is going to be my favourite part of the wedding :)

    • CPM

      Ahhh I love “Islands in the Stream!” If my wedding were a movie, the whole cast would link arms and sing it together as the credits roll.

  • CPM

    I’d really like to dance with my dad to something from Graceland, which came out the year I was born and played nonstop in my parents’ house as I was growing up. “You Can Call Me Al” was my first idea, but a song about midlife crisis is maybe not the best choice? Now I’m thinking “That Was Your Mother,” which is at least definitely about a parent/child relationship. “You are the burden of my generation / I sure do love you / But let’s get that straight.”

  • amc

    We used “How Sweet it is (to be loved by you)” by James Taylor and did the parent dances simultaneously.

    • This was one of our runner-ups! Good song.

  • Yay playlists!

    Our parent dance was “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. Now I’m going to go listen to it again and possibly have a desk cry because I can’t help myself. Such a good song.

    • Maddie

      OOOH I love this song.

    • MEI

      Husband danced with his mom to “Teach Your Children.” It was awesome.

      My dad and I danced to “My Little Girl” by Tim McGraw which I realize is sort of objectively sappy and I know some people (umm even including me) have trouble with the ‘little girl’ thing, but whatever. We cried, my mom cried, other people cried, it was awesome.

      Husband and I danced to “We Belong” by Pat Benetar. See also: awesome.

    • Jessica

      we did a joint parent dance, and used this song:)

  • We did Loudon Wainwright’s “Daughter” for the Father/Daughter dance (which was cute, but still felt really awkward!).

    My husband and his mom stole the show though. We had a subtle muppet theme for the wedding (a few muppet songs in the ceremony, a Kermit/Piggy cake topper, and a few other things) because both of us are huge muppet fans. My husband and his mom danced to “The Rainbow Connection,” and it totally made people cry. It was adorable.

    • Brittany

      We LOVE the Muppets! Our first dance song was “Life’s a Happy Song” mostly because we couldn’t find a decent recording of “Movin’ Right Along” but it ended up being perfect and very “us”.

      • We did “Life’s a Happy Song” for the recessional after the ceremony! We wanted to choreograph something awesome and do it for the first dance but didn’t get around to it. It’s such a great song (and perfect for a wedding!)

        I walked down the aisle to a piano version of “He’ll Make Me Happy” from Muppets Take Manhattan, which was awesome.

        My husband also cut Gonzo saying “I think we’re engaged!” to the beginning of “You Can’t take No for an Answer,” and we were going to use it for something but didn’t.

        (Clearly, we had a lot of ideas that we never implemented…. sigh.)

        Yay for muppet songs!

    • True facts: I really wanted to do The Rainbow Connection (Willie Nelson’s cover, which is just UNF), but I knew I would just end up ugly crying.

  • Meg

    I’m thinking of dancing with my dad to “Gracie” by Ben Folds. It has some of the sweetest lyrics. My fiance and his mom are dancing to a cover of “Forever Young” by Audra Mae. I’ve always loved the lyrics to that song and it’s very fitting because my fiance will always be a kid at heart.

    • Elizgracie

      I think we are doing “Gracie” too! My dad has always called me Gracie instead of Elizabeth :)

  • We did the parent-child dances simultaneously, and used Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World.”

  • We used Billy Joel’s “Lullabye” when we danced with our parents. I danced with my dad at the same time he danced with his mom. It’s one of our funniest memories because of their reactions (probably should’ve told them we’d be doing that before we got there).

    • Kayakgirl73

      I used Billy Joel’s Lullaby also for my dance with my Dad.

  • Lindsay

    My dad and I danced to “Heavenly Day” by Patty Griffin. It’s a gorgeous song with a perfect tempo, and it fit our wedding vibe just right.

  • My husband and I did our first dance to “This Will Be Our Year,” which I love because it’s such a positive song. We almost chose “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes, which our DJ ended up playing while everyone else was distracted by dessert, and it ended up being a lovely, private moment.

    My dad and I always knew we’d dance to “My Girl” by the Temptations; my husband and his mom danced to “Sunrise, Sunset.” Other good parent dances I’ve seen have been to “Father & Daughter” by Paul Simon and “Somewhere Out There” from ‘An American Tail.’ (RIGHT?)

    • Brianne

      We picked the Bright Eyes song. I just love it and talked my husband into using it. We just did the junior high sway during the song. No parent dances at our wedding though..

  • Samantha

    Does anyone have any suggestions for father/daughter dances to rock songs – non-super-sappy-mushy-slow i.e.: Aerosmith, etc.? I need help!

    • Ree

      Guns N’ Roses, Sweet Child o’ Mine? I was JUST listening to it thinking you could totally dance to it, albeit a little quicker than your average foxtrot.

    • Annoymous

      My dad is a HUGE rolling stones fan, so I would like to do “Wild Horses.”

    • LZ

      I was going to dance with my Dad to “Veteran Cosmic Rocker” by Moody Blues, because we always danced to it when I was a kid.

    • Kat

      A little late to the party, but my father and I danced to Let’s Dance by David Bowie. It was great! (Husband and his mother joined in part way through).

  • Angie

    We are dancing to Lover of the Light by Mumford & Sons. It’s our favorite band and one our favorite songs by them.
    We haven’t picked our parent’s dance song but I love love love the idea of doing Rainbow Connection.

  • kyley

    Did anyone skip the parent dances? I adore my father, and my partner loves his mom, but I just do not really feel like doing these dances. I feel like at that point, I’m going to be done being on stage, and will want a drink and to laugh with people. Am I crazy?

    • Gloria

      I would float that to both of your parents before you decide to cut them. My sister didn’t want a father/daughter dance, and really hurt my dad’s feelings with that one.

      you’re not crazy, but weddings make people crazy. It can be a nice moment to get to share with your dad. you can always pick a short song, or do a combined parent dance if they really want one.

    • We didn’t do dancing at all. My dad has two left feet, and my husband and I are both Deaf. It was far more important to us to get the social stuff down at our wedding so we didn’t have music aside from the ceremony.

      That said, I walked down the aisle to Rascal Flatts, “I Won’t Let Go.” And it was super fitting.

      • kyley

        Glad to hear someone else happily skipped them. :)

      • Stephanie

        My future in-laws are both Deaf as well, so we may skip the Father/Daughter, Mother/Son dance for this reason. I don’t think it’ll be noticed!

    • Emilie

      An option I came across in Mrs. Manner’s book is having your parents cut in during the first dance. This way you’re not the center of attention longer than you would be anyway (assuming you’re doing a first dance with new spouse).

      Another idea I love (and will probably do) is having a special song picked out for a parent dance, but not announce it to the world. My Dad and I will just plan to meet up and dance when we hear it played. I’ll even give the photographer a heads up so we can get a relatively candid shot of Dad and I together. We’ll have our special moment without me feeling so on stage.

      • kyley

        Oooo, I like the idea of having a covert father/daughter dance!

      • We did both of these things and it worked beautifully. I think it’s a great fix if you’re trying to cut down on the “spectator” aspects of the day. However, if you’re looking for a halfway point, you can always cut your music to remove a verse or two to keep things on schedule. even if you are making your own playlist, programs like garageband for mac and similar programs make it pretty easy.

    • we didn’t plan to do parent dances, but they just sort of happened, so ours happened to be to Frank Sinatra’s “come dance with me” because that’s what was up after our first dance. it was a lot of fun.

      although i had seriously considered dancing with my dad to “your mama don’t dance (and your daddy don’t rock n’ roll)” because, well, my parents are way cooler than me and i’m fond of irony.

    • LZ

      I agree with Gloria — Check with parents first.

      However, if I were to go back again, I would probably cut some of the first dances if the parents were OK with it. They took up a lot of time, and our reception wasn’t really long (outdoors in september) — I felt like I didn’t have time to talk to anyone because we had to go from one event to the other. And they felt LOOOOONG to me. I would have cut those, the bouquet toss, and the garter toss.

      Lovely to spend some moments with my Dad (I’m a total Daddy’s girl), but I would have rather done it by just going off and having a quiet word with him than dancing in front of everyone.

    • we skipped them and didn’t say anything. His mom is Dutch and did not seem to expect it, and i have a dad and step dad so…plus my dad just is not into that kind of thing.

    • Brianne

      We skipped them but I have never known my father so I’m sure that was part of it. My grandfather walked me down the aisle.

  • Gloria

    I picked “You’ve Got a Friend” by Carole King for me and my dad. The sweetest part was us singing it to each other, even though my dad has a terrible voice.

    Hubby and I danced to “Lucky” by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillet. I’ve always loved that song, and it fits us pretty well.

    • Granola

      My dad and I danced to “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King – which is a similar vein to your song.

  • Jessica

    I danced with my dad to Paul Simon’s “Father and Daughter.” I wanted something not overly sappy but still sweet and meaningful, a little upbeat. This song fit the bill PERFECTLY!

    • Margret

      My dad and I considered that song, but ended up going with “Dance with Me” by Orleans for the same reasons…it’s sweet and upbeat without being overly sappy. Along the same lines, our first dance was to Mama Cass’s version of “Dream a Little Dream.” Meanwhile, my husband and his mom danced to The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies cover of “I Wanna Be Like You.” It was so much fun to watch people’s faces as they realized what the song was!

  • Sarah

    I don’t know what, but I’m always surprised that I don’t see our songs on lists because they are classic, standard songs. I’m not complaining — they are both very special songs for us and we would pick them no matter what.

    Our first dance is L-O-V-E by Nat King Cole. Its the first song we ever danced to.

    I’ve known the father-daughter song since I was a kid. Its Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable — a special song for my Dad and I. Its part of the reason we got a DJ over a band because I want this specific version. ;-)

    My fiancee isn’t doing a mother-son dance because his mom thinks they are cheesy.

    • Naomi

      We had L O V E as our first dance at our wedding in October. Slow and simple but not too long- it was perfect for us.

    • alyssa

      My dad and I danced to Unforgettable, too! I loved having that moment with him. And I’ve always loved the song, and now I’ll love it even more. It’s such a perfect, often overlooked, classic song!

  • Sara

    My dad and I will be dancing to Sam Cooke’s “Nothing Can Change This Love” because 1) it made me think of him and cry ugly tears at work the first time I heard it 2) the lyrics remind me of specific parts of growing up–being embarrassed that your dad still drives you to school, moving far away for college, etc. and 3) it’s only about two and a half minutes long.

    • oh I love that song!! SUCH a good choice! Now *I’m* crying at my desk!

    • LIZ (SINCE 1982)

      My dad and I are doing this too, for the exact same reasons! Sam Cooke awesomeness fistbump!

    • My dad and I danced to that too! It’s such a great song! My initial suggestion was “Forever Young” by Audra Mae & The Forest Rangers but my dad insisted that our song must be something that you can really dance to. He had to take ballroom dance lessons as a kid and dances beautifully (and I so appreciated his strong lead since I am terrible)! I spent hours googling until I found Sam Cooke’s “Nothing can Change this Love” since I wanted to have something a bit less run of the mill.

      I think it would totally work for any combinations of parents and offspring :)

  • Colleen

    I danced with my father to “I Loved Her First”- which I strongly disliked (I would say hated, but that’s a strong word to apply to a wedding day). He wanted it so very badly and couldn’t imagine dancing to another song with me so I relented. That moment is one of so very many in our wedding planning process that required compromise.

    That said, my husband and his mother are super close, and she suggested they dance to “That’s What Friends Are For” and I’m crying just having typed that. It was so cute, and not in an infantilizing way, but in a way that the lyrics are so nice to think about, especially coming from a mother to her son.

  • Emilie

    “Teach your children well” -Crosby, Stills, Nash
    “Baby of Mine” Allison Krauss

    • LIZ (SINCE 1982)

      Oh god, I would lose it if I heard “Baby of Mine” in even the most neutral setting, let alone a wedding. I’m tearing up now just from reading the title!

  • amandanoel

    My fiance’s parents had passed away before our wedding, so instead of parent dances, we had a great big family dance to the Blues Brothers Everybody Needs Somebody to love! Some of my favorite pictures come from the fun we had during that dance!

  • Rachel

    We’re doing a “parents dance” in May and have chosen God Only Knows by the Beach Boys – which is also played at the end of Love Actually.

    • KE

      I love that song. It was a runner-up for both the first dance and father/daughter. It’s applicable to so many relationships, you know?

  • Aww, I walked down the aisle to This Will Be Our Year. Such a great song.
    Also, last time when I commented that we didn’t dance to “our song” as our first dance because the song makes J weep? That song is totally The Luckiest.
    Long story short, I like this playlist a lot.

    My dad and I also danced to Paul Simon’s Father and Daughter, and J and his mom danced to I Knew I Loved You by Savage Garden (her request). Finding parent dance songs can be really difficult if you’re shooting for lyrics that don’t come off as even vaguely sexual.

  • steph

    My dad and I danced to More I Cannot Wish You from the musical Guys and Dolls. He had seen the show earlier that year at a summer theater in our town and picked it!

    • Cass

      I thought about dancing to that song with my Dad too, I’m surprised it’s not more popular.

  • Mer

    We aren’t having any formal music or dances at our wedding or reception but music means a lot to both us. My compromise – printing lyrics to some of our favorite or most meaningful songs in our picture/scrapbook guest signing book. The first two songs picked are very different from each other but we love them both. Jogging Gorgeous Summer by the Islands (our friends first dance song at their wedding) specifically for the lyrics “Millions of sunsets, but the one I’ll remember/The one where you told me you’d love me forever.” It’s also upbeat and fun to dance to.

    The second is much more of a traditional ballad, I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie. The lines “If heaven and hell decide/That they both are satisfied/Illuminate the no’s on their vacancy signs/ If there’s no one beside you/When your soul embarks/Then I’ll follow you into the dark” gets me every time.

  • KB

    We’re dancing our first dance to “If I Should Fall Behind” by Bruce Springsteen – the waltz version from the “Live From Dublin” album where his wife sings the other half of the duet. Our runner-up was “Your Misfortune” by Mike Doughty, although my fiance lobbied hard for “I Got Mine” by the Black Keys (which we might do our entrance to). I always thought “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness would be a really funny first dance/entrance as well.

    • SD

      Love. Love. LOVE. I hadn’t heard that song before but the lyrics are EXACTLY right. I don’t love the boss (i know, i know) but will now be on the lookout for a cover :)

      • Catie Curtis has a beautiful cover version! We didn’t have parent dances, but this was the song we used after our first dance to get other couples on the dance floor before seguing to the fast music, crazy dance party part of our playlist.

  • Krista

    We did a simultaneous mother/son, father/daughter dance to Billie Holiday’s “Things Are Looking Up.” Short, sweet, and easy to dance to!

  • DrSmooch

    Our first dance is Eddie Vedder’s “Longing to Belong.” I love Ed soooooo much so it’s only right to dance with my love to my other love singing :) And My father/daughter dance will be “Blackbird” by The Beatles.One of my favorite memories of my dad was when I went to a Paul McCartney show in college and he started playing my dad’s favorite Beatles song. I called my dad and held up the phone for him to listen. Halfway through I put the phone back to my ear and heard him singing along to my mother in the background. I don’t think I’ve ever cried from joy and sentiment like that before, because I was finally seeing Paul live (yep, I’m a Beatles fanatic) and because of the profound love I felt for my parents and their love for each other at that moment.

  • So here’s the thing about the Father/Daughter dance – all my life, I wanted to dance to “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” by CCR because for a very long time, it was the only song my dad could play on the guitar. And when I was a kid, he was in night school finishing his degree so we didn’t get to see each other a lot and on nights when he didn’t have class and his homework was done, he’d get out his guitar and pick through the chords a few times, and then he would play the song and I’d sing. So, even though it’s, like, a song about going home off tour and smoking a bunch of heroin, it’s SPECIAL, damnit.

    But when I brought it up to my dad, he kind of laughed and was like, “no, I can’t dance to that.” (I can dance to anything but I accept that not everyone has my SUPERIOR rhythm skillz.) So now, I don’t know.

    But I also have to share a story from a wedding I went to last year – the bride and her father (who is ADORABLE and sort of a “substitute dad” to a lot of her friends) danced to “Old Time Rock and Roll” and halfway through the dance, she kicked off her shoes and danced on his feet, and y’all, I LOST IT. I mean, full on ugly crying at the table while trying to hide behind a napkin because I didn’t want to miss it but holy jeez THE FEELINGS. ALL OF THEM.

  • Oh! And for the First Dance (which will be the ONLY dance for my fiance, because he hates dancing like I hate tofu), we’re doing “When I’m Sixty-Four” by the Beatles. We tossed a few suggestions back and forth, but in the end it was perfect- not overly sentimental, a song we both have great memories of already, and something I could choreograph a very simple dance for.

    • Oh, but I really wanted the runner up song to be “A Fairytale of New York” but SOMEONE thought it’d be “inappropriate.” Pff.

      • Darcy

        Pfff…same way SOMEONE thought it would be funny but inappropriate to dance to Lyle Lovett’s She’s No Lady She’s My Wife.

        • Yes, mine vetoed Golddigger for some odd reason. It would have been SO funny. (he makes more than i do but has tons of school debt, whereas i have some savings)

        • HNR

          I mean, “She’s No Lady” might have to play at my wedding. Genius.

  • Sarah

    My dad is a big Cyndi Lauper fan (cool, I know!), so it was a no-brainer for us to dance to Time After Time. I really love the lyric, “If you’re lost you can look and you will find me, time after time,” and I thought it was greatly appropriate for the parental support he’s given me over the years.

    Also- SO PUMPED to see Life is Beautiful on this list! That was our first dance song, and it is so sweet and simple and beautiful! Great list. :)

    • KIRA S

      I suggested Time After Time to my dad because he has always been a big Cyndi Lauper fan as well (love that song!)…I was a little surprised when he did not go for it.
      My dad’s surprising pick: Earth Wind & Fire “That’s the Way of the World”.

  • LZ

    Our last song of the evening, hubs and I were out on the floor dancing, just the two of us. Then my parents started dancing. And his parents. And my brother, sister-in-law with my nephew. It was the most amazing culmination of our families.

    The song that was playing was “Piper to the End” by Mark Knopfler. – Not sure that it would be a great song for anything else, but it’s one of my favorite songs now, and always brings me back to that moment, “This has been a day to die for. Now the day is almost done”

  • Lindsay

    My dad was in charge of all of the music at our wedding. He loves music and we have very similar tastes, so I didn’t even ask to see what he had picked out before the day.

    When the time came for our first dances I had no idea what to expect for my dance with my dad. He chose Alicia Keys ‘Not Even the King’. I had never heard the song, and during our dance my dad asked me to pay attention to the lyrics– a really difficult thing to do while simultaneously dancing in the middle of a giant circle and trying not to bawl. Anyway, afterwards my father gave me all of the playlists on discs, and I have listened to this song about a hundred times since. I can’t get through it without crying. Not once.

    • Cass

      I just listened to “Not Even the King” and bawled. What a beautiful song.

  • Anne

    I am thinking about choosing “Constellations” by Jack Johnson for the Father/Daughter dance. I really love it but I’m still searching for something that might be a better fit. My fiance and his mom will be dancing to “Blackbird” by The Beatles. I’m also going to be dancing with my mom to “Let it Be Me” by Ray LaMontagne.

    We’re still having a hell of a time picking out our first dance. Thinking about “Northern Wind” by City and Colour , “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green, or “That’s All” by Michael Buble. Just to name a few. :)

  • Danielle

    We danced to “You’ve got a friend” by James Taylor. My father chose it and I loved it because James Taylor always reminds me of my dad and I remember listening to it with him as a kid

  • em

    Any ideas for my situation? We have 2 sets of divorced parents – all parties have remarried. We have differing levels of closeness to the parents and step-parents involved — I have a lot of issues w/ my dad and I figured I’d dance with him at some point at the wedding but I don’t need to honor him with a Father/Daughter dance (while ignoring my mom and my step-dad, who I’m very close to. Having a dance w/ my mom or my step-dad and NOT my dad would make my Dad feel bad, and I don’t want to do that either. My fiance is fine w/ skipping the dances as well.. but not sure if we’ll offend anyone or if there’s a better way? Really involving all 8 parents in this is just too much. Suggestions?

    • Maybe you guys could find a longish (4 minutes or so) song and have sort of a “cut in” situation? Like you start dancing with your dad and then maybe move on to your mom and then your step-dad and then your stepmom? I don’t know how friendly things are between your parents, so that may not work.

      • KC

        This is perhaps entirely crazy, but I’m wondering if you could have all four currently-married couples dancing, and then you and your husband cut in for a verse or a chorus or some other defined length on each? (so: you dance with your step-dad while your husband dances with your mom, then you dance with your husband’s dad while your husband dances with his step-mom) That way, whoever has been “cut in” on or whoever is not dancing with the bridal couple is still being danced with and is not busy getting jealous.

        Or you could do a big fat circle dance with all 10 of you (or with the eight of them and the two of you weaving in and out). Or a hand-off square dance of some kind, but that would most likely result in exes having to interact a bit more with each other (which may or may not work, depending on the situations.

        Or, yeah, you could totally skip it altogether. :-)

    • Liz

      I’d probably just give your dad a heads up, since he’s probably the only one who’d possibly be offended (and even then, might not care). I’m guessing your mom and stepdad aren’t anticipating a dance with you, since it’s not the “usual.”

      Folks in remarriage type situations often anticipate that things won’t be able to go according to the traditional expected route, which helps.

  • We had decided to do a joint father/daughter, mother/son dance but never decided on a song. We had a few in the running and then my mother in law passed away the week before the wedding and we didn’t think of those details again until the night of. Thankfully the band leader realized no one had told him what song to play for the dance and he went and found my brother and asked him to sing Stand By Me (my brother had already sung our first dance song, You Are The Best Thing, so the band knew he could pull if off). It was such a surprise to hear my brother’s voice singing those words and I am still so thankful for that band singer for taking control. My husband ended up dancing with his sisters as I danced with my Dad and then we invited everyone out to dance with us. I didn’t think of the song, but I don’t think I could have done better if I had-it was perfect. Highly recommend. (And, if you’re in the Boston area, my brother will come sing it for you! hah)

  • Squeeee! We used song #1 of volume #1. :)

  • Well, this is a slightly odd one, but my dad and I danced to Chanson Pour Tommy (Song For Tommy) by BeauSoleil:

    It’s a beautiful Cajun waltz that my dad picked out. No lyrics, fairly traditional, not overly sentimental — which was perfect for my always-wise-cracking father and myself. We danced to the first part of it by ourselves, and then when the music swells and the rest of the band starts playing, we invited everyone else out to the dance floor with us. It ended up being a great way to get everyone on the dance floor and start the dance party.

  • Laura

    Maybe this song is over because they sang it on the Grey’s Anatomy musical episode (although Sara Ramirez is totally completely legit, Tony-winning, etc.), but I cannot make it all the way through Brandi Carlile’s “The Story” without sobbing. If there was a song that captured how I feel about my guy, that’s it – I’ve felt that way for a long long time. And, holy shit, we’re getting married!!! Like for real! Woop woop gratuitous engagement chair dance!

  • caroline

    At our wedding, we used “Child of Mine” by Carole King for the mother/son dance and “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack for the father/daughter dance. Input of the parents in question was very influential in the song choices. Our first dance was to “When You Say Nothing At All,” the Alison Krauss version. Love that song.

  • Tesla

    Ugh the dancing. We HATED this part of planning, but after a million options, we finally settled on something that worked for us. First dance: Edelweiss (music only). Three reasons it was awesome: 1. Waltzing is way easy (and almost *gasp* fun to learn in your living room via You Tube videos). Once you get the steps, it can be super straightforward. 2. Our dinner hour music was orchestral movie-soundtrack-themed, and it totally transitioned us from dinner to the dance floor. 3. People actually burst into spontaneous singing!!! Holy touching moment Batman.

    No parental dances for us, but everyone joined in for our final dance, Ben Fold’s The Luckiest.

    • Stacie

      I desperately wanted to have our first dance to The Luckiest, because it makes me tear up every time I hear it.

      When I brought it up, though, it was a nonstarter. The first line is “I don’t get many things right the first time,” and my (previously married and divorced) husband was not interested in something that on-the-nose.

  • Diana

    My Dad used to sing and play “Everything is Possible” by Fred Small to me when I was a child. When he suggested we use it for our first dance I re-listened to it and cried. Like a lot. But it was perfect.

    If you are getting married in or near Vermont I want to put in a plug for our AMAZING cermony musicians: The Beerworth Sisters (they are not usually wedding musicians, just talented women and great to work with). They played an original song that they wrote, “Comfort,” while I walked down the aisle. Find it on itunes or reverbnation, google, whatever. Still brings me happy tears :*)

  • We’re dancing to Harvest Moon by Neil Young as our first dance song. Our parent dance selections are still up in the air. We’re using The Inlaw Josie Wales by Phish and Love that breaks all Lines by Trey Anastasio for our ceremony because we are both HUGE phish fans and even met at a show! We’re playing Loving cup by the Rolling Stones after we kiss and walk out as husband and wife. I can’t wait for that moment! :)

  • E

    Hooray! APW, you are inside my head. “You are the best thing” was our first dance. And “The Promise” is also one of our favorites. They were both songs we listened to all the time when we were apart for several months. When we were deciding that we wanted to be together more than anything. Sigh.

  • big dipper

    I’d like to throw out there the original version of Sea of Love, by Phil Phillips. It’s just as beautiful as the Cat Power version, and slightly more upbeat that makes it a little easier to dance to. It’s my parents wedding song and I love it.

  • Alyssa

    We danced to The Book of Love :) Totally digging this playlist!

  • Jacs

    Our first dance was to Rainbow Connection, as sung by Kermit and Miss Piggy in the most recent Muppets movie. We had a lot of songs we really liked, but we didn’t really have one that was ‘our song’ and in the end this was really the perfect choice for us.

    We’d been taking dance lessons for a couple of months and despite having a tiny dancefloor we managed a pretty good waltz. We then ended up with a second dance as well when the band started their set with Mercy by Duffy, and we cha-cha’d our hearts out!

    We’ve decided to keep the dance lessons going as it’s something different for us to learn together and we really enjoy it (even if we’re not very good!)

  • Melise

    One of my favorite songs ever is When You Come Back Down by Nickel Creek. It’s a little bit sappy but really beautiful. I don’t think it would work for a first dance, but it would be perfect for parent dances with any gender combination.

  • Lily B.

    Not doing any parent dances–they make me weepy, since it’s only been 3 years that my dad’s been gone–but we’re probably doing Anberlin’s “Inevitable” for our first dance. It goes something like “I wanna be the last first kiss that you ever have” and it’s a favorite band of me and the SO.

  • My fiance and I don’t have an official song together, though we have quite a few we both love . . . we’re bandying about James Morrison’s “You Make It Real For Me” and “The Story” by Belinda Carlisle. Love so many of these suggestions, and looking forward to listening to them all!

    When it comes to my father/daughter dance, I can’t even think about that moment without feeling like my heart is going to explode, so my dad and I have already decided we’re going fake everyone out by starting with a slow song and quickly bursting into a choreographed routine for “The Chicken Polka.” I want to do a silly dance with my dad for a minute or so, then invite everyone else up to join us!

    Dad and I are ridiculously close, and that’s going to be a tough moment. Neither of us process things like emotions too well, so I’m hoping the fun and silliness of that moment will prevent the ugly cry. For a little while, at least!

  • Amanda

    We went with “America” by Simon and Garfunkel. A nod to making our life together across the country from both of our families and our traveling spirits. Plus it has the best first line ever: “Let us be lovers, we’ll marry our fortunes together.”

    A close second was Willie Nelson’s version of “The Rainbow Connection.” But I feared it would just make me SOB (after I already sobbed during the ceremony).

    We used a bunch of songs mentioned on this post throughout the day — as usual, the APW community gets it!

  • Rachel

    “That’s how strong my love is” also makes a great parents’ song!

  • Krystal

    My husband and I met swing dancing, and we wanted to find a song that we could show off some of our moves, but still had sweet moments and time to just enjoy the experience so we ended up doing our first dance to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”.

  • Carbon Girl

    My dad and I are not so great at showing emotion. My mom was really pushing us to do a sappy father daughter song, but it just did not feel authentic to us. My dad and I have always shared a love of rock music so we went with Guns and roses’ Sweet child of mine. Halfway through the song we opened up the floor and that is how we started a rockin dance party.

  • Julie

    I am a sucker for bittersweet sounding love songs and waltzes and, fortunately for me, there’s a song that fits the bill: “Here We Go” by Jon Brion.

  • Elizabeth

    we did “watch them grow” by zach gill. not many people know the song but it’s so sweet and the lyrics are perfect.

  • I know it’s almost cliched (I’ve heard it at at least two other weddings), but my father and I will someday be dancing to “My Girl” by the Temptations, and I’ve known that for years — it’s been our song since I was three years old. He’d play it while driving me to preschool, and would reach over during the chorus and tickle me until I squealed and begged him to stop… and then I’d look over and say “Do it again!” So the only danger is the very real possibility that he will decide to tickle me while we’re dancing. ;)

    He and my sister will be dancing to “Little Miss Magic” by Jimmy Buffett for similar reasons — it’s been their song since she was an itty bitty thing as well.

  • Kait

    We are also combining the mother/son dad daughter dance and it’ll be My Wish by Rascal Flatts such a great song for that! Runner up was God Only Knows

    • Melanie

      I love both of these options! My dad suggested “My Wish” for our father/daughter dance. If we don’t use that, I’d love to dance with him to Billy Joel’s “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel).”

  • Ashley

    “Daughter” from Dion Roy is top on my list for when I dance with my dad on wedding day. My father and I have never danced before so the goal is to make my mother cry when we do – we’re pretty sure this song will prevent any “holding back tears”. That might sound cruel but my parents and I have joked about it for a long time now and she knows what is coming.

  • Kelsey

    We didn’t do parent dances, but our FIRST dance was to “I Want You to be My Love” by Over the Rhine… it was lovely! :)

  • alyssa

    My husband and I danced to our song, which is “Strawberry Swing” by Coldplay. He took me to their concert at the Gorge as one of our first dates, and we fell in love to that song!
    I let my dad choose the father daughter song: “Unforgettable” by Nat and Natalie King Cole. That song will always make me cry now, for the rest of my life!
    My mother in law picked out “What a Wonderful World,” to dance with my husband, but we also strongly considered “You Were Born” by Cloud Cult. (Which we love!)
    These dances, for us, were wonderful, meaningful, and lovely. I’ll remember dancing with my dad that day forever.

    • alyssa

      I gotta say, though, that I discovered “You Are the Best Thing” AFTER we got married, otherwise it TOTALLY would have gone into the rotation! It’s become our “anniversary” song. :) so so so good

  • Emily

    The only song my sister could think of for her father-daughter dance was “Butterfly Kisses”. My dad suggested “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” by Van Morrison. They went with that.

    • sass

      Thank goodness! Much better choice.

  • Meredith

    If you’re looking for something fun and unusual — my husband & I did our first dance to Queen’s “I Was Born to Love You”, which I had never heard before even though I am a huge Queen fan! We made it ridic, not like making up anything choreographed but being over-the-top silly with it, twirling & dipping & whatnot. It was so great….

  • Madeline

    We each only have our mom in our lives, but I didn’t want my mom to not have a special moment too. So we had one, combined dance. I called it The Mommy Dance, and we danced to my late dad’s favorite song, In My Life by the Beatles. We dedicated it to my daddy’s memory, and tried to get the daddy-daughter pairs to join in, but didn’t get much response. It was still perfect.

  • Helen

    First dance songs that are waltzes! There are lots of songs I like (including many on this list), but most of them aren’t waltzes :(

  • Helen

    Since my fiance is from Texas (and we live in Houston!), we might dance to “Waltz Across Texas.”

  • My dad and I danced to Daddy’s Girl by Peter Cetera, which I picked out when I was 7 and it was in the movie Three Men and a Baby. My dad is a good dancer, so something upbeat worked for him and kept us from getting sappy. My alternate choices were God Only Knows or Love Will Keep Us Together.

  • My dad-daughter dance was “Dress me up, dress me down” by Robinella and the CC String Band. Still makes me cry every single time. Could also work as a mother- daughter dance…

    I love this playlist idea! I only wish it existed when my wife and I were planning :)

    We actually had quite a hard time choosing. Music means so much to me and brings up some very clear memories – some of those memories were associated with times in the past that i didnt really want to think about on my wedding day, even though the song was pretty…

  • We used Otis Redding’s “My Girl” which was 2 min 57 sec. But when we were dancing, it seemed like longer, so perhaps we used a longer version? Or perhaps it just seemed longer?

    Other possibilities we considered were: Dar Williams’ “The One Who Knows” (3:47), “I will walk with you” by John Fogerty (3 min 1 sec), Otis Redding’s “That’s how strong my love is” (2 min 27 sec), and Nickel Creek’s “When You Come Back Down” (3 min 48 sec). I gave my dad all these as top options and he chose “My Girl.”

  • Carrie

    My dad and I will be dancing to James Taylor’s You Can Close Your Eyes. My dad is a HUGE James Taylor fan and I constantly listened to him growing up. You Can Close Your Eyes is one of our favorites, and whenever I hear it I automatically think of him! I love its lullaby feel and meaningful lyrics. Plus, its pretty short, which is great for two introverts who don’t like to be in the spotlight!

  • I think we are going to skip the parent dances. However, I am on a constant watch for waltzes I like. (Traditional, Irish, pop…)

    • Argh. I always forget to click :notify me of replies” before hitting submit.

  • Amanda

    My dad and I danced to Cat Stevens’ “The Wind.” Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” was a very, very close second.

  • Ashley

    We were thinking of doing a combination first dance/segway into parent-child dance all to one song, simply because we weren’t planning on having any other dancing and a whole dance to yourself… awkward. Since we were also limiting our musical style to Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and that whole era/feel, it turned out to be impossible. Finally I suggested we use “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” (Absolutely no relevance to my actual relationship with my dad, but suited to my/my husband’s naughty streak – we did manage to sneak a genuine 40’s song called “Banana In Your Fruit Basket” into the reception playlist.) Naturally, that was the final nail in the coffin of the dancing idea, which was really all for the best – it just didn’t suit our wedding.

  • Jess

    My dad and I danced to Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life,” since they’re his favorite band (and thus a large part of the soundtrack of my childhood). Also, I knew that any kind of official “father-daughter” song, sappy or not, tends to send me into gross sobbing tears for a variety of reasons, and my dad’s one and only dance style is best described as “jumping around the room,” so upbeat and bouncy was definitely the right answer. It was perfect, way more beautiful and memorable than I anticipated. About 2 minutes in, we/the DJ invited everyone to join us on the dance floor for the rest of the song, which transitioned into the general dance time, and at that point my husband danced with his mom for the rest of the song as well. Later in the evening, we made sure there was some polka/square dance music for his Texan-German family as well. And my grandpa fist-pumping to “Fight for Your Right to Party” was pretty incredible too. :)

  • Shannon

    Getting back to the First Dance theme, “I Believe When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever” by Stevie Wonder is most likely what we are going to use…it is AWESOME! Also, another Ray La Montagne song, “Hold You in My Arms” is oh-so good.

  • Valerie

    Question to all you lovelies out there: Would “Without You” by Harry Nilsson be appropriate for a father/daughter dance? I ask because I am at a loss for my father/daughter dance since my dad’s dance moves are limited to swaying back and forth and I’m not much better. Also, he is a HUGE Harry Nilsson fan (when Harry Nilsson died I remember my dad making us kids sit in the car until the local radio station’s tribute to him was over)!! I have been trying to find an appropriate song that is meaningful to both of us and not too complex to dance to. Any thoughts/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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  • Emily

    My Husband and I danced for the first time to “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain, the acoustic version :) It was so beautiful. Made me tear up!

  • sass

    For our first dance as a married couple, we had originally decided on “Across the Universe” by the Beatles – but changed at the last minute to “I Wanna Grow Old With You” from The Wedding Singer by Adam Sandler.

    For my dance with my dad, we danced to the mashup version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole (now deceased). Seven minutes long, but not awkward for us at all since it was a small wedding and my dad is a good dancer and talker. Nice conversation with him on the dance floor. <3 Plus, both songs were songs I grew up singing with my dad. He has a love for Wizard of Oz, and so do I…and now, so does my daughter!

    Neither are particularly cheesy, and what I love best about the Adam Sandler song is how it simultaneously pokes fun of cheesy songs while pointing out the beautiful simplicity of marriage and relationships.

    We still love "Across the Universe", but the Adam Sandler piece more accurately described our life together. All three are, in my opinion, wonderful alternatives to the overused set of wedding songs. :)