The mother-son dance doesn’t have quite the iconic status of the father-daughter dance. But you want to make your mother happy, so you still need to get it right. A big part of getting it right is picking the perfect song.
Whether it’s a slow ballad (which gives your mother plenty of time to savor these last few moments of being the most important woman in your life) or an upbeat dance track (which gives her the chance to bust out like one of Bruno Mars’ backup dancers), you need to find the song that fits the tone of your wedding, while also saying something about your relationship to the woman who gave you life.
Take a look at our suggestions for the best tunes for your mother son wedding dance. A lot of our picks are older songs, but that’s because they’re just like your mom: timelessly elegant and endlessly cool.
BEST MOTHER SON DANCE SONGS
You’ll find these on a lot of lists, but there’s a reason for that: these are the tip-top ones, the crowd-pleasers, the classics.
The classic pick for marryin’ country music fans: a straight-ahead prayer from a mother who is letting her child go out into the world.
We don’t know if this was written specifically as a mother dance song, but it might as well have been: soulful, direct, romantic in exactly the right way. Also, contains the line “you will always be the girl in my life,” which every mother will love.
An outstanding story of love through hard times, and a surprisingly sweet performance from such a legendarily hard-core follower of the thug life. A particularly good choice if you gave your mom a lot of hip-hop-themed aggravation growing up.
This one seems to be on all the lists, which makes sense, as it’s a sweeping statement of selfless love for another. Perfect to express a mother’s love for her son. Her sweeping, dramatic, and altogether overwhelming love for her son.
MOTHER SON DANCE SONGS: COUNTRY
For the mother and son who like both kinds of music: country and western.
Though Garth is singing about a romantic relationship that went south, the song could just as easily apply to a mom’s bittersweet feelings about her son moving on with his life. Also, it’s just the right tempo for a mom who doesn’t want to throw her back out.
Another one that was probably written about a romance, but that actually works really well as a song about a woman’s journey to motherhood. A little faster than some others on this list, but still appropriate for a lingering maternal embrace.
Great for a slow dance, and spot on with its theme of kids growing up and leaving the nest. We also like the classic country feel of this one: it feels like something Hank Williams could have sung, if not for all that drinkin’, wandering, and being so lonesome you could die.
Sang from the son’s point of view, this one has the disadvantage of its last verse, in which the son rushes back to his mom’s deathbed–and in true tragic country music fashion, arriving just too late to bid her goodbye. But that little detail aside, this is a great portrait of a mother’s love for her son. Especially good if the groom in question is the youngest of the pack.
For the classic country fans, George Jones’ ode to his mother’s vocals has a decidedly gospel feel, but there’s no doubt of the love for her in his words. True, the song is about a mom who had died, so maybe not so great for a wedding, but if you overlook that little fact, this one’s a winner.
A real old country classic, perfect for the wedding of any reformed former hellraiser. The narrator is in jail “serving life without parole,” which is pretty badass, but the Mom in this song is a true example of maternal love. (Extra bonus: this also works for Deadhead moms, as Jerry and the boys used to play it all the time.)
MOTHER SON DANCE SONGS: R&B
Smooth and soulful, these mother son wedding songs will bring an urban feel to the reception–sexy enough for the younger crowd, but romantic enough for the older folks.
Perfect tempo, perfect lyrics (written for an ex, but totally works for a mom) and calibrated to produce just the right amount of weeping among the guests.
Told from the mom’s point of view, this R&B ballad is a pretty fair summing up of the bittersweet feeling of watching your kids grow up and leave the nest. It will also give your mom a vicarious moment as the diva of the wedding, which is the least you can do for the woman who bore you.
Oh, dip! Wasn’t this already on the list? Yes, the original Lee Ann Womak version was, but not this cover by Gladys Knight, who brings a whole lotta soul to the track, and some fine classic R&B attitude.
A lot of people pick Williams’ “Oh How The Years Go By,” but we prefer this one, which has a good slow tempo without being too draggy. A nice way to let your mom savor this last dance.
Prince is responsible for so many great tracks it’s hard to pick just one. But add the context of a mother son dance and the field narrows a bit. Sex was of course a big subject for Prince, and that’s probably not what you want here. But this songs is near perfect, because of course a son thinks his mom is the most beautiful girl in the world, even at his wedding.
MOTHER SON DANCE SONGS: ROCK
An early ‘90s hit for Stewart, this lovely ballad reveals a tender side of Rod the Mod, miles from his “Do You Think I’m Sexy” days. Your mom will especially like it, as the answer to the question in the song’s title is most likely “no,” knowing you.
Van The Man’s 1989 album Avalon is primarily remembered for “Have I Told You Lately?” (yeah, it’s actually Van’s song), but this album closer is not to be ignored. Just the right tempo and sentiment with which to give your mom a slow turn on the dance floor.
Sure, you could go with the Guns ‘n Roses original, but unless your mom likes to ride her Harley down the highway at 90 miles an hour, Crow’s version might be more her speed.
“In My Life” is the usual Beatle pick for wedding songs, but we prefer this one, which explicitly talks about both dancing and moms. She might not like the line “though she was born a long long time ago,” but the rest will warm her heart.
A great song for the groom with a New Wave mom, this 1977 hit from Cheap Trick makes a case for parents actually being kind of cool. Your new wife might not like that first line (“Mama told me, yes, she told me, I’d meet girls like you…”), but after that it’s smooth sailing.
UPBEAT MOTHER SON DANCE SONGS
When genre doesn’t matter, as long as everyone has a lot of fun.
Yeah, kind of annoying, but think how much fun everyone will have when your mom does her best Lady Miss Keir. Bonus move: you can give your groomsmen slide whistles and have the chime in at the right moment.
Lyrically probably not appropriate, but it’s got that retro groove that will allow your mom to dust off her teenage disco moves, while still keeping the young folks’ attention.
Wait, what? This one comes out of left field, we admit, and is not at all right for a mom who wants to have a lingering slow dance with her son. But if she wants to work up a sweat bopping to some old time rock ‘n roll, this one is a winner. Also, the first line is “Mama said yes…” which has to count for something.
True aficionados will go with Van Morrison’s far superior original, but as we’ve already mentioned him on this list, we’ll recommend Dexy’s version. It’s serviceable, and the song is so fun you probably won’t realize the difference anyway. Of course, you could just go straight to the source, and play an actual Jackie Wilson song, like Higher and Higher.
Yeah, yeah, we know. Probably overplayed by this point. But it fits the occasion so perfectly….