The Most Inappropriate Father-Daughter Dance Songs, According to The Knot Readers

We asked, you answered—here are the songs to avoid during your dance with dad.
Father-daughter dance at wedding reception
Malysheva Liudmyla/Shutterstock.com
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
by
Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Entertainment & Celebrity Editor
  • Sarah is the Entertainment & Celebrity Editor for The Knot, with special focuses on pop culture and celebrity wedding news.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Apr 20, 2022

Music plays a crucial role throughout your entire wedding day, and we know how much pressure you might feel to narrow down a list of must-play tunes. After all, some of the most anticipated wedding moments—such as the walk down the aisle, the first dance, and the reception party—are all accompanied by songs. This, of course, signifies the importance of selecting the "right" music for each moment. While there are plenty of great wedding songs, there are quite a few to avoid as well. The first dance tune is a great example: although some options sound sweet, there are a handful of first dance songs that are highly inappropriate. Another one you'll want to choose carefully? The father-daughter dance song.

If you're planning to dance with your dad at your reception, the experience will likely be an emotional one. Not only is it important for you, it's a huge moment for him too. (After all, there's a good chance he's been thinking about this dance from the moment you were born.) Given the significance, you'll want to pick a great song for your spin on the dance floor. Ultimately, your musical selections are completely up to you and your personal preference—but if you're looking for some expert help, we've got you covered. Because, while there are some great options, there are also quite a few father-daughter dance songs that might come across as a little cringey.

To help you figure out which tunes not to use, we asked The Knot's Instagram followers to share the most inappropriate father-daughter dance songs. Find their answers here, along with our tips on what to use instead to make your moment with dad sweet…and not awkward.

"Daughters," by John Mayer

Why you should avoid it: In theory, this John Mayer tune is a great father-daughter dance song—it literally has "daughter" in the title. But upon further analysis, it's not one you want to listen to while dancing with your dad. In an interview about the meaning, Mayer once said that he wrote it because he thought women didn't receive enough love from their fathers, which impacted their ability to show love in romantic relationships later in life. (Some speculate he was speaking from personal experience, essentially urging dads to be better fathers so women can be better daters...)

What to use instead: Given this context, it's not exactly the best message to promote on your wedding day. Instead, consider another slow song like "She's Leaving Home" by The Beatles or "Your Song" by Elton John.

"Perfect," by Ed Sheeran

Why you should avoid it: Even though your dad might think you're perfect, this tune isn't the best option for your moment together. According to The Knot 2021 Real Weddings Study, Ed Sheeran's mega-hit is the most popular first dance song in the US—and has been for the last five years. Knowing how favored it is among newlyweds, you might want to pass on this love ballad for your dance with dad.

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What to use instead: If you love the idea of using a modern selection, consider something like "Never Grow Up" by Taylor Swift or "Glory" by Jay-Z ft. Blue Ivy. Even "One Call Away" by Charlie Puth is a great substitution.

"Heaven," by Kane Brown

Why you should avoid it: Country music is thoughtful and emotional, making it a popular genre for weddings. But if you're thinking about this Kane Brown song for your father-daughter dance, we recommend a different option. Lyrics like "Lyin' next to you, in this bed with you, I ain't convinced/'Cause, I don't know how, I don't know how heaven, heaven/Could be better than this" aren't the most appropriate for this reception moment.

What to use instead: Go for another country tune, like "Don't Blink" by Kenny Chesney or "I Loved Her First" by Heartland.

"Butterfly Kisses," by Bob Carlisle

Why you should avoid it: Here's a hot take, courtesy of one submitter: Despite being known as one of the most iconic father-daughter dance songs, "Butterfly Kisses" might actually be one to avoid. Sure, the lyrics are incredibly sweet, but some might find them to be a little too sweet, especially if you feel like it's not the best fit for your relationship with your dad. Determining the right song for your moment is highly subjective, and this one just might not be it.

What to use instead: To play it on the safe side, consider some milder choices like "Over the Rainbow" or "My Girl" by The Temptations.

"Daddy's Little Girl" by Michael Bolton

Why you should avoid it: Just like the song above, this Michael Bolton pick is another popular one for weddings. But, just because a song is common doesn't make it right for you. If you think a super-sappy ballad like this isn't a good fit, don't feel pressured to use it.

What to use instead: We recommend songs like "When You Need Me" by Bruce Springsteen or "What a Wonderful World" for more of a laid-back vibe.

"Every Breath You Take," by The Police

Why you should avoid it: In theory, you might always want your dad watching over you—but that isn't the message of this '80s hit, despite what the lyrics may imply. Sting, who wrote the song, has consistently said in interviews that its true meaning is about jealousy and an obsession with a lost lover. Not exactly wedding material, right?

What to use instead: Try swapping this song idea with "She's a Rainbow" by The Rolling Stones or "You'll Be in My Heart" by Phil Collins.

"Sweet Child O' Mine," by Guns 'N Roses

Why you should avoid it: Based on the title, this seems like a fun rock option for your father-daughter dance. As it turns out, though, the deeper meaning is tied to singer Axl Rose's love interest, who he eventually married.

What to use instead: In keeping with the rock theme, swap this option with Fleetwood Mac's iconic hit "Landslide" as an alternative.

"Brown Eyed Girl," by Van Morrison

Why you should avoid it: If you have brown eyes, you might assume this song is perfect for you and your dad. And even though it has a catchy sound, the lyrics certainly don't match the occasion of a father-daughter dance. In fact, the song was once banned on radio stations because of the line "making love in the green grass."

What to use instead: A few other upbeat father-daughter dance songs to consider are "Father and Daughter" by Paul Simon or "Ready, Set, Don't Go" by Billy Ray Cyrus.

"Love Me Tender," by Elvis Presley

Why you should avoid it: As heartwarming as this song is, the lyrics come across as a bit too romantic for a father-daughter moment. While this could be a great first dance song, you might consider passing on it for this occasion.

What to use instead: There are plenty of other super-sweet tunes to consider that have similar vibes, such as "Always Be Your Baby" by Natalie Grant, "Daddy Dance With Me" by Krystal Keith, or "A Song for My Daughter" by Ray Allaire.

"There Goes My Life," by Kenny Chesney

Why you should avoid it: While this certainly isn't the worst father-daughter song option, the lyrics in the beginning are somewhat questionable. Chesney sings about a man who's scared to find out he's going to be a father: "There goes my life/There goes my future, my everything/Might as well kiss it all goodbye/There goes my life."

What to use instead: While the song eventually turns around and takes a more positive spin, there are others that could be better for your wedding. We recommend Tim McGraw's "My Little Girl" or Dale Watson's "Today I Give My Daugther Away." You also can't go wrong with "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts.

"Father Figure," by George Michael

Why you should avoid it: This tune by George Michael is another example of why it's important to really listen to the lyrics before selecting your reception songs. Despite its misleading title, some of these words are a bit too cringey for a sentimental wedding moment shared with your dad. (Trust us.)

What to use instead: A few great alternatives to consider are "Sweet Pea" by Amos Lee and "You Are My Sunshine" by Johnny Cash.

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