Getting married isn’t just a celebration; it’s also an education. You will be learning many new things as the big day approaches. For example, there’s something called “parents entrance music.” This is the song your band or DJ will play when your parents enter the reception.
Weird, right? Why would your parents get their own special walk-on music? After all, this is your big day. Well, they’re your parents, they raised you, probably paid for this whole shindig, and every day is kid’s day, so stop complaining.
Besides, we’ve made the choice easy for you with this list of possibilities. Keep in mind that most likely both sets of parents will enter to this song (unless you want to give them each their own tune). So you’re going to have to choose something everyone will like.
Thank You (falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) by Sly & The Family Stone
Despite the odd phonetic spelling of the title, the message of this song is clear. If your parents indeed have allowed you to be yourself, this is a great way to express your gratitude. Bassist Larry Graham’s slap bass technique in this song introduced a new sound to funk, and revolutionized the genre. The only downside of this song is your grandma will certainly break her hip when she hears this bassline and begins uncontrollably shaking dat ass.
Parents Just Don’t Understand by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
This song is the one where Will Smith (then known as the Fresh Prince) complains about his mom buying him “double-knit reversible slacks.” But oh, it’s so much more than that. This is the song to play if you parents didn’t approve of your marriage. Also Will Smith gets a royalty every time this song is played, and he needs the money.
Cat’s In The Cradle by Harry Chapin
This heart-wrenching classic is about the regret a father feels when he didn’t make time for his son, and how the son ends up doing the same thing to his father years later. This is the song to play if your dad was never home when you were growing up, and you want to publicly shame him in a sweet, 70s folk-rock way.
Butterfly Fly Away by Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus
This duet between a father and daughter is about the challenges of being a single parent, and how much children appreciate good parenting. This is the song to pick if you were raised by a single parent, or if your father is Billy Ray Cyrus.
Papa Was A Rolling Stone by The Temptations
This is a song about a father who had three outside children and another wife, who “spent most of his time chasing women and drinking.” If that sounds like your dad, chances are he won’t show up at your wedding, but choose this song if your old man had a second secret family and/or loves a good bass line.
Baby Driver by Simon and Garfunkel
An uptempo number that will give them into the room relatively fast and signal that fun is about to begin. This is the tune to choose if your parents have always been loving and supportive (of if they’re engineers, frogmen, or “family bassmen,” whatever that is.)
Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler
Lyrics like, “Did you ever know that you’re my hero/And everything I would like to be/ I can fly higher than an eagle/For you are the wind beneath my wings,” may seem a little Hallmark, but the fact is, your parents are the wind beneath your wings. They’re also the tread under your tires, the ballast in your gondola, and the turmeric in your cauliflower. Bonus: You may not realize you love Bette Midler, but you do. It’s a scientific fact that everyone loves Bette Midler. So yes, this song is a little thick on the schmaltz, but it’s also a wonderful way to thank the people who raised you.
A Song For Dad by Keith Urban
Freud had a theory that no matter how we try to be different from our parents, we end up emulating their behavior. And sometimes that’s not such a bad thing. As Keith Urban sings in this song, “The older I get/ The more I can see/ How much he loved my mother and my brother and me/ And he did the best that he could/ And I only hope when I have my own family that everyday I see/ A little more of my father in me.” If your dad modeled admirable behavior, this song is a nice way to publicly thank him. Drawback: your mother may feel slighted.
Roadhouse Blues by the Doors
Speaking of Freud, he crops up again in The End by The Doors, which we were going to recommend for it’s famous nod to the “Oedipus complex”—a great choice if you want to inject little awkwardness into the proceedings. But the song is just too slow: it would take your parents 15 minutes just to get to their table. So instead we picked Roadhouse Blues, which is a pretty badass way to enter a room, and which your parents probably smoked dope to at some point in their lives.
Hey Mama by Kanye West
It’s generally agreed by the non-Kim Kardashian segment of the population that Kanye West is kind of a dick. But on the other hand, he’s also annoyingly talented. And it’s hard to be mad at a guy while he’s expressing appreciation for his mama—for the chicken soup she made, and the training wheels she bought him for his bike, among other things. Play this song for your parents if they raised you in the ‘hood and you went on to become one of hip-hop’s leading lights.
Loves Me Like A Rock by Paul Simon
As Paul Simon sings, “My mama loves, she loves me/ she gets down on her knees and hugs me,” you may be forgiven for thinking, “Jeez, how short is Paul Simon that his mother has to get on her knees to hug him?” He’s 5’ 3” and for the record, he’s the only artist talented enough to have two songs on this list. So take that tall people.
The Greatest Man I Never Knew by Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson
This song is bittersweet: “The greatest man I never knew lived just down the hall, and every day we said hello but never touched at all/ He was in his paper. I was in my room/ How was I to know he thought I hung the moon?” Choose this song if your father is the kind of dad who never hugged you, or spoke more than two words to you, or made eye contact with you, but deep down you’re sure he really loves you.
Finesse by Bruno Mars
Contemporary, which will make your parents seem hip, and your mom will love the lines “When I walk in with you/I watch the whole room change/Baby that’s what you do/c’mon baby don’t play” (we’re assuming here it’s your Dad singing to her.)
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