Author’s Note: this is the fourth entry in The Spotlight Dance Song Series of blog posts focusing on the music for specific moments of a wedding reception.
As a father myself, my eyes tend to sweat nearly every time I watch a bride honor her father by dancing with him at her wedding. It tends to remind me of all of the experiences that I was able to be present for for both of my children. Because of this, I often frame the introduction of the Father & Daughter Dance in a way that references the tradition of the dance while sometimes infusing something about that specific relationship (when appropriate and when I’ve been given more information).
At some point, during consultations for planning the events that I handle, I’m prone to ask why a particular song was chosen for a specific event during the proceedings. Learning of the event(s) that serve as the emotional tether for certain songs is often heartwarming. The choices that brides make for songs to dance with their fathers vary: after all, each of those relationships are unique. Listening to the lyrics of those songs, especially as Dad dances with his daughter on her wedding day, OFTEN gives them much stronger impact.
I think that it’s almost universally known that fathers basically want their daughters to have THE Perfect Wedding. So long as she’s happy with the choices that she’s made and the day goes as smoothly as possible, he’s as happy for her as he can be (we won’t go into the nuances of any other emotions that he may be feeling as the day plays out for all to see). When it comes to choosing a song, a couple of things to keep in mind are:
- If it means something to you and reminds you of your father, it’s a pretty safe bet that you should just go with it. He’s not going to want to take the spotlight away from you. It’s YOUR day; he’s just happy to be a part of it and to be honored.
- As with other posts in this series, I’ll paraphrase this thought: if there’s a specific song that your father may suggest, seriously consider it. If it’s one that he’s suggested, it’s a safe bet that he won’t resist dancing with you (or secretly approach your DJ to advise that they cut the song short). Now, if it’s a song that you aren’t fond of, by all means, consider discussing other options with him.
With that in mind, I present to you MY Top 5 Father & Daughter Dance Songs. They are subject to change as new songs are released and are based on my personal preferences.
5) Just Fishin’ by Trace Adkins
My daughter is 15 as of this typing of this post. Gone are the days of me combing her hair to get her ready to school, holding her hand as we wait for her bus to arrive and the things that we did that were just the two of us being goofy. When I hear this song, it resonates with me. We often do things with our children that take on a much deeper meaning for us as they become adults and begin making their own way in the world. In hindsight, we often believe that they may never see those situations with the sentimental hearts that we do; based on the many conversations that I have had with brides-to-be NOTHING could be farther from the truth.
4) Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle
There have been a number of occasions where I’ve been much more attentive to the fathers of brides at these events. Being able to bond with them, father to father makes these events more impactful for me; that often influences how I may present the Father & Daughter dance over the microphone before it takes place.
When I know that THIS song is the one that’s chosen, I understand that it’s going to take Dad on an emotional journey. Dad is struggling with memories and emotions that most people don’t really consider on this day. I feel it’s important to offer a little extra support in a way that isn’t invasive.
3) Daughters by John Mayer
Fathers be good to your daughters. Daughters will love like you do. Girls become lovers who turn into mothers, so mothers be good to your daughters too. This one is pretty mellow, but I’ve REALLY liked the message from the moment I first heard it. This song came out when my daughter was young; there’s something about the latter part of the line quoted above (especially since she reminds me a LOT of her mother in appearance) that threatens to make my eyes sweat every time I hear it.
2) My Girl by The Temptations
I grew up listening to Motown, so there’s just no way that I was NOT going to make sure that this song was on the list. Upbeat, recognizable by most everyone that would hear it, My Girl is a CLASSIC.
1) Unforgettable by Nat “King” and Natalie Cole
The original sung by Nat “King” Cole is a classic song in and of itself. When Natalie turned it into a duet to honor her late father, the song became that much more compelling and emotional. It’s a feel-good tune with a sentiment that I’ve heard echoed in literally hundreds of father’s toasts to their daughters. Unforgettable… That’s what YOU are, indeed.
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