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

Song choice could make or break this wedding event

High angle view of bride and groom dancing at wedding reception
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A money dance, also called a dollar dance, has its supporters and detractors: For some, it's a tradition in their culture, and for others, it seems, well, a bit crass. 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, don't be surprised if guests who are uncomfortable with the idea of the money dance 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 reinforce this response. 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 should 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 Songs to Avoid

  • "Ten Cents a Dance" by Doris Day and Ella Fitzgerald: 
    The lyrics to this Oscar-nominated sensual song 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" by 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" by Elton John: 
    This classic Elton John song appears on many suggestion lists, but it oozes heartache as a man watches the woman he loves walk down the aisle with another man.
  • "Money (That's What I Want)" by Barrett Strong: 
    Kicking off your wedding with a sentiment like "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" by 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

These songs are also completely inappropriate for a wedding reception:

  • "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 

Since the reception 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 tradition, this is a perfect chance to incorporate ethnic music that's part of that same culture into your wedding reception.

 "All You Need Is Love" by Brad Paisley is a perfect choice. 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."

Here are more sweet songs to consider for your money dance:

  • "I'll Be There": Jackson 5 and 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