The Best (and Worst!) Songs for Your Wedding Reception's Money Dance

Song Choice Makes or Breaks the Money Dance

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Finding two or three appropriate songs to play for the money dance at your wedding reception can get tricky depending on how familiar your guests are with the tradition. Those who come prepared to pin a crisp bill onto your designer dress will likely laugh as Madonna belts out "Material Girl" or Travie McCoy croons about dreaming of becoming a "Billionaire." However, guests who are uncomfortable with the idea of the money dance will cringe at the overt lyrics.

If you are already struggling with any perceived vulgarity of asking your guests for cash, stay away from money-themed songs that can reinforce this misconception. Many of the online lists of suggested money dance songs -- even those provided by experienced DJs -- are horrendous choices when you take a close look at the lyrics.

The songs you choose need to appeal to a wide range of ages and personalities as well. It might be funny to see your great uncle rocking out or your grandma gyrating to hip-hop, but guests can easily be discouraged from participating in an unfamiliar custom if they are uncomfortable with the music.

Popular SongsĀ to Avoid

  • "Ten Cents a Dance" - Doris Day and Ella Fitzgerald
    A sensual song, the lyrics to this Oscar-nominated ditty from the 1930s tell the story of a disenchanted female taxi dancer who is forced to suffer at the hands of "pansies and rough guys, tough guys who tear my gown" while they rent her time for a dance.
    • "Big Spender" - Peggy Lee and Shirley Bassey
      Originally written for the Broadway musical, "Sweet Charity," and most recently remade by the Pussycat Dolls, this racy tune is performed as a taunting striptease.
    • "Kiss the Bride" - Elton John
      Appearing on nearly every list I reviewed, this classic Elton John song oozes heartache as a man watches the woman he loves walk down the aisle with another man.
      • "Money (That's What I Want)" - Barrett Strong
        Kicking off your wedding with a sentiment such as, "Your love gives me a thrill / But your love don't pay my bills," is probably not the message you want to send out to your guests.
      • "Take the Money and Run" - Steve Miller Band
        Although this could be a cute choice if you actually do take the money and run off to your honeymoon, this classic Steve Miller song recounts the story of bandit lovers fleeing the law. Unless you fancy yourself as a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, steer clear of this crowd-pleasing song.

      Other Songs to Add to the Do-Not-Play List:

      • "Material Girl" - Madonna
      • "Billionaire" - Travie McCoy
      • "Money, Money, Money" - The O'Jays and ABBA
      • "Money" - Pink Floyd
      • "If I Had $1,000,000" - Barenaked Ladies

      Sentimental Songs to Consider

      Since this is your moment to thank guests individually for coming, choose songs that reflect upon the meaning of friendship and family. Stick with something sweet, sentimental and sappy to help you communicate your true intentions for asking guests to part with a few more of their hard-earned dollars. If the money dance is part of your cultural traditions, this is a perfect chance to incorporate ethnic music into your wedding reception.

      After scouring several online lists, I really like "All You Need is Love" by Brad Paisley. This advice song pokes fun at the chaotic pre-wedding preparations and reminds the newlyweds that, "You'll be just fine / If you keep in mind / All you really need is love."

      You might also consider:

      • "I'll Be There" - Jackson 5/Mariah Carey
      • "With A Little Help From My Friends" - Joe Cocker
      • "The Way You Look Tonight" - Frank Sinatra
      • "I Hope You Dance" - Lee Ann Womack
      • "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" - Elton John
      • "Friends in Low Places" - Garth Brooks
      • "Friends" - Michael W. Smith
      • "Stand By Me" - Ben E. King
      • "My Girl" - The Temptations
      • "That's What Friends Are For" - Dionne Warwick
      • "Through the Years" - Kenny Rogers
      • "All You Need is Love" - The Beatles
      • "Thank You For Being a Friend" - Andrew Gold
      • "You've Got a Friend" - James Taylor
      • "Put Your Records On" - Corrine Bailey Rae
      • "My Wish" - Rascal Flatts
      • "Hold You Down" - Jennifer Lopez featuring Fat Joe
      • "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You" - Van Morrison