Friday, May 25, 2018
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That big dance with dad


Chelsea Dillin dances with her father, Larry Dillin, at Levis Commons in Perrysburg. They will dance to 'Unforgettable' at her wedding reception.


Thank goodness for Bette Midler.

When words fail us at crucial, lump-in-the-throat moments, we can count on her to step in and take over.

You are the wind beneath my wings.

Turns out she helps lots of people who are in an emotional pinch. Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings" is one of the most frequently chosen songs for the father/daughter, mother/son wedding reception dance. Other favorites include Bob Carlisle's "Butterfly Kisses" and Celine Dion's "Because you Loved Me."

A heart-tugging staple of wedding receptions, the parent dance song is sometimes chosen by the parent, sometimes by the bride or bridegroom, sometimes as a joint decision. Whether it's a current hit or a standard from the Great American Songbook, universally appropriate or unique to the parent and child on the dance floor, slow or bouncy - or both - the experience "can bring tears of joy and laughter," according to Michael Baginski, owner of Decorative Sound in Maumee, whose company handled more than 400 wedding receptions last year.

The father/daughter song was one of the first wedding decisions that Erika Leach made.

Five years before she married Matthew Leach last summer, Mrs. Leach had made up her mind that she and her dad, Gary Reinhardt of Monroe, would dance to Bon Jovi's "Thank You for Loving Me."

"The song was on one day and my college roommate said, 'This would be a good father/daughter wedding dance.' I always remembered that," explained Mrs. Leach of Monroe.

Jeff McDonald of Swingmania, also known as the Jeff McDonald Band, said "Daddy's Little Girl" is a popular choice for the father/daughter wedding reception dance. "They love that. It usually brings tears to both their eyes," he said.

That's also the experience of Doug Bermick, president of Professional Sounds, with offices in South Toledo and Temperance. "The fathers predominantly choose 'Daddy's Little Girl' (by the Mills Brothers and others) and 'My Girl' (The Temptations)," Mr. Bermick said. "The No. 1 song that's used for mothers and sons would be 'A Song for Mama' by Boyz II Men. If they like country, I find they use 'A Friend to Me' by Garth Brooks."

Occasionally a gender-neutral song will be used for a combined father/daughter, mother/son dance, said Mr. Bermick, who has provided music at more than 7,000 wedding receptions since 1977. Popular choices in the neutral category include Kenny Rogers' "Through the Years" and Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," he said.

Mr. Bermick said unusual selections by clients have included Jimmy Buffet's "Little Miss Magic" from a bride whose dad was a Buffet fan, and "Changes" by Kelly and Ozzy Osbourne for a heavy-metal aficionado. He recalled a groom who chose Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" for his rock-and-roll mom.

Mr. Baginski said one of his brides started her father's dance with "My Girl," then switched to "Build Me Up Buttercup" (The Foundations). "They used to dance to that in the living room when she was little," he said. "It was a total surprise to the dad and was a real crowd-pleaser. It was a very nice personal touch. The dad loved it; it put a big smile on his face."

Likewise, a bridegroom started dancing to "Through the Years" with his mother. As that song faded, Dion's "Run Around Sue" kicked in and the groom began swinging his mom - a very surprised Sue - around the floor.

Bride-to-be Chelsea Dillin said she didn't dare choose the song that's most special to her and her dad, local developer Larry Dillin. It's Bryan Adams' "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You," which became "their" song around the time her parents divorced, she explained.

"We didn't want to do it for our first dance because it is so sentimental. We didn't want to be sobbing," said Ms. Dillin of Scottsdale, Ariz., who added that the song will be played sometime during the reception.

She and Mark McKone, also of Scottsdale, will be married May 6 at Rosary Cathedral. Their reception will follow at Levis Commons in Perrysburg, for which her father was co-developer.

Just the discussion of what to choose for the father/daughter dance was emotional for her dad, Ms. Dillin said. "It was the first time in the wedding-planning process that it just seemed to hit him. He just suddenly got teary-eyed."

Ms. Dillin, her father, and her mother, Carol Dillin of Scottsdale, worked out the musical arrangements together in a meeting with Mr. Baginski.

"We wanted something classy, not a hit of the moment," said Ms. Dillin. She and Mr. McKone will dance to "It Had to be You" while she and her father will dance to "Unforgettable," both performed live by Toledo musician Ronn Daniels.

The Nat King Cole-Natalie Cole duet version of "Unforgettable" also is popular for the father/daughter dance, said Mr. Baginski, who noted that he and his mother danced to Frank Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight" at his wedding.

Some grooms particularly like Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World," but not because it says exactly what they'd like to say to their moms.

"It's under 2 minutes, 30 seconds long," Mr. Baginski pointed out. "It's short, sweet, and not a mushy-mushy song."

Contact Ann Weber at: or 419-724-6126.

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