Written by Heather Lee
The traditional mother-son dance during the wedding reception gives the groom and his mother a special moment to share in the spotlight. Whether you choose a playful, lighthearted mother-son wedding song to dance to or something more sweet and soulful (practically guaranteed to bring tears to everyone’s eyes!), choose a song that is an expression of your relationship with your mom. Think about a song you listened to together when you were little, or a tune by her favorite singer or band. And the song definitely does not have to make sense to everyone in the room, as long as it’s special to you and your mother. (But it’s always a good idea to double-check lyrics to make sure the song is wedding-appropriate.)
To help you select your own meaningful tune, we’ve put together a list of popular mother-son dance songs.
1. “FOREVER YOUNG” BY JOAN BAEZ
This classic folk tune was originally written by Bob Dylan as a lullaby for his son, Jesse. It’s filled with the warm wishes of a parent hoping for a happy life for their child. The Joan Baez version features a lovely female voice that’s more reminiscent of Mom, but versions by Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, Blake Shelton, and a number of other popular artists are available as well.
Sweetest lyric: “May your heart always be joyful / May your song always be sung / May you stay forever young”
2. “IN MY LIFE” BY THE BEATLES
This sentimental tune often ranks on “greatest songs of all time” lists, which makes it the ideal pick for someone who wants a timeless track to dance with their mom. And at just under two and half minutes in length, it can help convince a shy mother to come out for her moment in the spotlight with her son.
Sweetest lyric: “Though I know I’ll never lose affection / For people and things that went before / I know I’ll often stop and think about them/ In my life, I love you more”
3. “GOD ONLY KNOWS” BY THE BEACH BOYS
Take it back to the ‘60s with this charming song by The Beach Boys. It features a beautiful melody and a message of all-consuming love that any mother can relate to. Like The Beatles’ “In My Life,” “God Only Knows” continues to be revered to this day by music critics and fans alike. The lyrics speak to how hard it is to explain in words what one person’s effect has been on another (like a son to a mother).
Sweetest lyric: “You never need to doubt it / I’ll make you so sure about it / God only knows what I’d be without you”
4. “A SONG FOR MAMA” BY BOYZ II MEN
This Boyz II Men hit is a genuine and loving ode to the first woman in any man’s life. Grooms who want to shower their mom with love and appreciation should consider this R&B track, which was featured in the 1997 film Soul Food. The title alone should make this option on your shortlist for potential mother-son wedding dance songs!
Sweetest lyric: “You taught me everything / Everything you’ve given me / I’ll always keep it inside / You’re the driving force in my life”
5. “BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER” BY SIMON & GARFUNKEL
With its gospel music influences and heartfelt lyrics, this song is one of the top mother-son dance songs at weddings, and for good reason. The lyrics speak to any mom’s desire to provide comfort and protection to her son. And besides Simon & Garfunkel, you can choose from famous versions by stars like Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley.
Sweetest lyric: “When evening falls so hard / I will comfort you / I’ll take your part / Oh when darkness comes / And pain is all, is all around / Just like a bridge over troubled water / I will lay me down”
6. “I’LL BE THERE” BY JACKSON 5
If your mom is the one you always know you can count on, choose this song for your special dance. “I’ll Be There” was one of Jackson 5’s biggest hits, so it’s a song selection every wedding guest will be humming along to. Did you know Michael Jackson was just 11 years old when he recorded it!
Sweetest lyric: “I’ll reach out my hand to you / I’ll have faith in all you do / Just call my name and I’ll be there”
7. “MY WISH” BY RASCAL FLATTS
This country tune is a top mother-son country-themed dance song. Singer and songwriter Jeffrey Steele wrote it for his daughter Justine, and he said about the song: “I wanted her to know whatever she did in life, somebody was thinking about her all the time. Someone was always behind her no matter what.” Choosing this song is a great way to honor the unique love of a parent.
Sweetest lyric: “My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to / Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small / You never need to carry more than you can hold”
8. “SIMPLE MAN” BY LYNYRD SKYNYRD
For moms who love classic rock, it doesn’t get much better than “Simple Man.” In addition to being a powerful Lynyrd Skynyrd track, it encapsulates all the lessons a mother wants her son to remember. It’s tender and sweet, but it still rocks out.
Sweetest lyric: “Boy, don’t you worry, you’ll find yourself / Follow your heart and nothing else / And you can do this, oh baby, if you try / All that I want for you my son, is to be satisfied”
9. “MY MOTHER’S EYES” BY FRANKIE VALLI & THE FOUR SEASONS
Honor your mom with a throwback song that’s all about looking to her for guidance and love. Interestingly, this song was first composed in the 1920s and featured in a movie called Lucky Boy (a fitting title for a groom on his wedding day!). Prefer a country twist on this classic? Play the version by Willie Nelson instead.
Sweetest lyric: “One bright and guiding light / That taught me wrong from right / I found in my mother’s eyes”
10. “TAKE YOUR MAMA” BY SCISSOR SISTERS
Does your mom pride herself on her dance moves? Don’t cramp her style with a slow song. Instead, choose this upbeat track for your mother and groom song. This one’s sure to get all your guests ready to hit the dance floor later in the evening.
Sweetest lyric: “When you grow up, livin’ like a good boy oughta / And your mama, takes a shine to her best son / Something different, all the girls they seem to like you / Cause you’re handsome, like to talk and a whole lot of fun”
11. “AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH” BY MARVIN GAYE AND TAMMI TERRELL
This mother-son wedding dance song is another one with a fun, cheerful vibe that will put a smile on everyone’s face. It’s been featured in a number of popular films, including Remember the Titans, Stepmom, and Bridget Jones’s Diary, and it’s sure to be a hit with moms who love to boogie on the dance floor.
Sweetest lyric: “If you need me, call me / No matter where you are, no matter how far, don’t worry, baby / Just call my name, I’ll be there in a hurry / You don’t have to worry”
12. “YOU’LL BE IN MY HEART” BY PHIL COLLINS
Another famous movie song is “You’ll Be In My Heart,” which was composed for the Disney animated film Tarzan. Collins wrote the song for his daughter, Lily, and it went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Sweetest lyric: “You’ll be in my heart / Yes, you’ll be in my heart / From this day on / Now and forever more”
13. “SONGBIRD” BY FLEETWOOD MAC
Simple yet beautiful, “Songbird” is a mom-son wedding dance song that’s perfect for a micro wedding or intimate reception setting. It’s soft and gentle, but it wonderfully captures the feelings of devotion a parent has for their child. When Fleetwood Mac toured this album, this was often the last song they played of the night.
Sweetest lyric: “And I wish you all the love in the world / But most of all, I wish it from myself”
14. “STAND BY ME” BY BEN E. KING
It’s hard to resist the beautiful melody and captivating rhythm of “Stand By Me.” In fact, it’s been recorded by more than 400 different artists and bands, making it one of the most covered songs in history. Chances are your wedding band can probably play this song with their eyes closed.
Sweetest lyric: “No I won’t be afraid, no I won’t be afraid / Just as long as you stand, stand by me”
15. “YOU ARE THE SUNSHINE OF MY LIFE” BY STEVIE WONDER
This blissful and loving tune is another one of the most popular mother of the groom songs for weddings. If your mom is worried about shedding tears in front of everyone during your dance, choose this song to keep a happy and upbeat vibe without losing any of the sentimental meaning. This song earned Wonder a Grammy in 1973 for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
Sweetest lyric: “You are the sunshine of my life / That’s why I’ll always be around / You are the apple of my eye / Forever you’ll stay in my heart”
16. “THEN THEY DO” BY TRACE ADKINS
Sometimes a tearjerker is just the right kind of song for this momentous event when a mother sees her son wed. That’s exactly what you’ll get in this country song, which details the way kids seem to grow up in the blink of an eye.
Sweetest lyric: “I see them as babies / I guess that’ll never change / You pray all their lives / That someday they will find happiness / Then they do”
17. “CHILD OF MINE” BY CAROLE KING
Don’t confuse this one with “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses. This song is a gentle folk tune with lovely lyrics addressed to a child from a parent. Although a segway into the eclectic guitar power chords of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” might be just the recipe for filling the dance floor after the mother-son duet.
Sweetest lyric: “You don’t need directions, you know which way to go / And I don’t want to hold you back I just want to watch you grow”
18. “TEACH YOUR CHILDREN” BY CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG
This classic 1970s song has a light, warm sound and wonderful lyrics about imparting important lessons to your children, something any mom can relate to. Fun fact: Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead plays pedal steel guitar on this track!
Sweetest lyric: “Don’t you ever ask them, ‘Why?’ / If they told you, you would cry / So just look at them and sigh / And know they love you”
19. “YELLOW” BY COLDPLAY
This contemporary mom-son wedding dance song will make for a particularly memorable moment if you’re having an evening reception outside under the stars. Chris Martin, Coldplay’s lead singer, has said that the word “yellow” in the song symbolizes “brightness and hope and devotion.”
Sweetest lyric: “Look at the stars / Look how they shine for you / And everything you do / Yeah, they were all yellow”
20. “YOU WILL BE MY SON” BY ANTHEM NIGHTS / COVER BY CALEB + KELSEY
This 2017 release is by an American Christian group originating from Los Angeles, CA. ‘You Will Always Be My Son’ is a heart-warming track portraying a parents feelings towards their son. He makes confident use of cheesy lyrics, while skillfully eliminating any awkwardness with pure honesty and seriousness in every line, and infusing the song with the deepest of metaphors.
Sweetest lyric: “I don’t ever wanna let you go / But I can’t wait to get to watch you grow / And no matter what this life might bring / I want you to know that you will always be / You will always be my son”