The 35 Best Mother-Son Dance Songs for Weddings

From Tom Petty to The Pretenders

best-mother-son-dance-songs-for-wedding: a mother and son dancing at a wedding.
Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

The big day is approaching and there will undoubtedly be a dance shared between the groom and his mother…but to what song will they sway? From sentimental, slow dance tunes to upbeat dance tracks that will get the crowd going, here are our top picks for mother-son dance songs for weddings.

67 Father-Daughter Songs That Just Might Start the Waterworks

Slow Mother-Son Dance Songs

1. “This Must Be the Place” by The Talking Heads

  • Release Year: 1983
  • Genre: alternative, indie
  • Notable Lyrics: “I'm just an animal looking for a home, and /share the same space for a minute or two/And you love me 'til my heart stops/Love me 'til I'm dead”

This gentle Talking Heads song has a dreamy vibe, positive messages about love and a soft beat that’s perfect for swaying to on the dance floor.

2. “I Wish You Love” by Natalie Cole

  • Release Year: 1993
  • Genre: R&B
  • Notable Lyrics: “I wish you bluebirds in the spring/to give you heart a song to sing/and then a kiss, but more than this/I wish you love”

This poignant song has a tinge of sadness related to saying goodbye, but an uplifting message that captures the spirit of a mother’s well wishes to her son.

3. “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

  • Release Year: 1967
  • Genre: jazz
  • Notable Lyrics: “I see trees of green/red roses, too/I see them bloom/from me and you”

This uplifting Louis Armstrong ditty is a favorite that will fill everyone, mother and son including, with nostalgic joy.

4. “In My Life” by The Beatles

  • Release Year: 1965
  • Genre: pop
  • Notable Lyrics: “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 more”

Thoughtful, nostalgic and full of quiet love—this happy-sad Beatles song isn’t as upbeat as some of the other options on our list, but it’s very tender and quite pretty, too.

5. “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole

  • Release Year: 1951
  • Genre: jazz
  • Notable Lyrics: “unforgettable in every way/and forever more/that’s how you’ll stay”

For mothers and sons who want to gaze into each other's eyes and really lean into the sentimentality of the occasion.

6. “(They Long to Be) Close to You” by The Carpenters

  • Release Year: 1970
  • Genre: pop, soft rock
  • Notable Lyrics: “On the day that you were born the angels got together/ And decided to make a dream come true”

Saccharine and cheesy? Yes. But maybe that’s what mother and son want for the wedding dance. Bring on the big feelings and maybe bring some tissues for the slow dance that’s in store.

7. “Twelfth of Never” by Johnny Mathis

  • Release Year: 1958
  • Genre: pop
  • Notable Lyrics: “You ask how much I need you, must I explain?/I need you like the roses need the rain.”

Here, classy, old-school vibes and Johnny Mathis’s silky voice combine to create a truly dreamy song that captures both the romance of the occasion, as well as the unbreakable bond between mother and son.

8. “Gentle On My Mind” by Glen Campbell

  • Release Year: 1967
  • Genre: folk
  • Notable Lyrics: “You’re moving on the back roads, by the rivers of my memory/And for hours you’re just gentle on my mind.”

Glen Campbell’s heartfelt folk song has a ponderous and nostalgic mood; it’s just right if you’re looking for a mellow dance song that’s poignant, but not too cheesy.

9. “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra

  • Release Year: 1961
  • Genre: jazz, pop
  • Notable Lyrics: “Someday when I’m awfully low/When the world is cold/I will feel a glow just thinking of you/And the way you look tonight.”

Another old-school favorite—this beloved Frank Sinatra tune exudes class and is a fitting expression of admiration that will make mom feel both beautiful and loved.

10. “Thank You” by Dido

  • Release Year: 1998
  • Genre: pop
  • Notable Lyrics: “And I want to thank you/For being the best thing I ever had.”

This straightforward expression of gratitude for mom is elevated by Dido’s angelic voice and the beautiful simplicity of the lyrics.

11. “Right Down the Line” by Gerry Rafferty

  • Release Year: 1978
  • Genre: soft rock
  • Notable Lyrics: “You’ve been as constant as the Northern Star/The brightest light that shines/It’s been you, woman/Right down the line”

A major late ‘70s hit, Gerry Rafferty’s “Right Down the Line” is an atmospheric and pretty groovy tune with a powerful message that can be interpreted as a son-to-mother expression of gratitude and unremitting love.

Emotional Mother-Son Dance Songs

12. “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King and the Drifters

  • Release Year: 1961
  • Genre: soul, R&B
  • Notable Lyrics: “if the sky we look upon/should tumble and fall/or the mountain should crumble to the sea/I won’t cry, I won’t cry/no I won’t shed a tear/just as long as you stand/stand by me”

This classic from Ben E. King and the Drifters is a good choice for a mother-son dance, so long as both parties are comfortable getting a little misty-eyed, that is.

13. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel

  • Release Year: 1970
  • Genre: pop, soft rock
  • Notable Lyrics: “all your dreams are on their way/see how they shine/oh, if you need a friend/I’m sailing right behind”

Simon and Garfunkel bring on the big feelings with their classic song “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and let’s just say water will likely be spilling from a couple pairs of eyes by the time the dance is over.

14. “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers

  • Release Year: 1972
  • Genre: soul
  • Notable Lyrics: “lean on me/when you’re not strong/and I’ll be your friend/I’ll help you carry on.”

This beloved and oh-so sentimental Bill Withers song about steadfast friendship and unconditional love is a beautiful expression of the lifelong mother-child bond.

15. “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

  • Release Year: 1975
  • Genre: folk rock
  • Notable Lyrics: “well I’ve been afraid of changin’/’cause I’ve built my life around you/but time makes you bolder/even children get older/and I’m getting older, too.”

The vibe of this Fleetwood Mac song is a bit sad, but the melody is absolutely beautiful and the lyrics about growing up and accepting change certainly address empty nest feelings in a way that might be fitting for the occasion.

16. “A Song for Mama” by Boyz II Men

  • Release Year: 1997
  • Genre: R&B, soul
  • Notable Lyrics: “you taught me everything/and everything you’ve given me/I’ll keep it all inside/you’re the driving force in my life”

It’s all in the title—this Boyz II Men track is an unabashed ode to mama that’s sure to make any mother feel remembered and appreciated on her son’s big day.

17. "I'll Stand by You" by the Pretenders

  • Release Year: 1994
  • Genre: pop
  • Notable Lyrics: “when you’re standing at the crossroads/and don’t know which path to choose/let me come along/cause even if you’re wrong/I’ll stand by you.”

We probably don’t need to tell you that this song from The Pretenders has some really big feelings, vocals to match and lyrics that express a (somewhat desperate) devotion that could, perhaps, apply to a very strong mother-son bond.

18. "Everything I Own" by Bread

  • Release Year: 1972
  • Genre: R&B, soft rock
  • Notable Lyrics: You sheltered me from harm/kept me warm, kept me warm/.you gave my life to me/set me free, set me free/the finest years I ever knew/were all the years I had with you”

The ‘70s soft rock band, Bread, is famous for its unabashed sentimentality. Here, David Gates sings a very poignant ode to his deceased father, but the lyrics are a perfect fit for a mother-son relationship, too. If you’re looking for a melody that’s tender, slow and brimming with raw emotion, you can’t go wrong with this track.

19. “Child of Mine” by Carole King

  • Release Year: 1970
  • Genre: pop, folk
  • Notable Lyrics: “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.”

This incredibly sentimental and beautiful song from Carole King, written from a mother’s perspective, will bring on the waterworks. Don’t take our word for it, though—just read the top comments on YouTube, one of which reads, “this was the song I sang to my perfect wonderful son as we danced the mother-son dance at his wedding. The lyrics were so real for us. He’s 30 now, but he will always be my baby.”

20. “Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton

  • Release Year: 1971
  • Genre: country
  • Notable Lyrics: “Now I know that we were poor/But I was rich as I could be/In my coat of many colors/My mama made for me/Made just for me.”

Dolly Parton’s ode to her mother is a real tearjerker that speaks to the power of maternal love, present under any and all circumstances, and the profound effect it has on the child who receives it. (Pro tip: Make sure your mom wears waterproof mascara before you dance to this one.)

21. “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

  • Release Year: 1970
  • Genre: country-rock
  • Notable Lyrics: “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.”

Reassuring words can be found in the lyrics of this sentimental song from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The takeaway? No love is lost on this happy occasion.

22. “Kathy’s Song” by Simon and Garfunkel

  • Release Year: 1966
  • Genre: soft rock
  • Notable Lyrics: “And as I watch the drops of rain/Weave their weary paths and die/I know that I am like the rain/ There, but for the grace of you, go I.”

I sing this gentle and poetic song to my children every night as a lullaby and would happily (and tearfully) dance to it at my son’s wedding. As such, you might consider it for a slow dance option that beautifully captures the bittersweet feelings of an evolving bond and the undying devotion of a mother to her son.

23. “You Ask Me To” by Waylon Jennings

  • Release Year: 1973
  • Genre: country
  • Notable Lyrics: “Feel simple love is simple true/There’s no end to what I’d do/Just because you asked me to/Let the world call me a fool/But if things are right with me and you/That’s all that matters.”

Waylon Jennings’ sincere lyrics can communicate a son’s loyalty to his mother, or vice versa. Indeed, the beauty of this twangy track is that it’s an expression of the reciprocity of love and the loyalty that goes hand in hand with it.

Upbeat Mother-Son Dance Songs

24. “I’ll Always Love My Mama” by The Intruders

  • Release Year: 1973
  • Genre: soul, disco
  • Notable Lyrics: “I’ll always love my mama/she’s my favorite girl/I’ll always love my mama/she brought me in this world.”

Here, a soulful disco track with lyrics about loving mom that leave no room for doubt.

25. “More Today Than Yesterday” by Spiral Staircase

  • Release Year: 1969
  • Genre: pop
  • Notable Lyrics: “I love you more today than yesterday/but not as much as tomorrow.”

Not much to explain here; if you’re looking for a powerful expression of everlasting love that will make you want to sing, this one fits the bill.

26. “O-o-h Child” by The Five Stairsteps

  • Release Year: 1970
  • Genre: R&B, soul
  • Notable Lyrics: “o-o-h child things are gonna get easier/o-o-h child things are gonna get brighter.”

Enjoy this upbeat celebration of things to come with enough soul to make the whole party want to sing along.   

27. “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty

  • Release Year: 1994
  • Genre: folk rock
  • Notable Lyrics: “runaway, find you a lover/go away somewhere all bright and new/I have seen no other/who compares with you”

This wistfully happy tune is thoroughly loving—a perfect choice if you’re looking for a song that’s gentle, but in a way that doesn’t bring sad vibes to the dance floor.

28. “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder

  • Release Year: 1972
  • Genre: pop. soul
  • Notable Lyrics: “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”

You can always count on Stevie Wonder to bring big emotion and beautiful vocals. Here, he sings about his overwhelming love for his wife, but mother-son duos will have no trouble relating to the sentiment.

29. “Happy Feelings” by Maze ft. Frankie Beverley

  • Release Year: 1996
  • Genre: R&B
  • Notable Lyrics: “happy feelin’s in the air/touching people everywhere/plenty love and everything/listen to the people sing.”

If you want to avoid some of the more heavy-handed songs (i.e., like the one just above), this is a great feel-good choice that boasts a celebratory vibe and a subtler, less personal message about love.

30. “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge

  • Release Year: 1979
  • Genre: disco, soul
  • Notable Lyrics: “all the people around they say yeah, yeah/can they be that close/let me state for the record/we’re giving love in a family dose.”

Leave it to Sister Sledge to serve up the feel-good, party vibes. There’s no slow dancing to this one, but if you’re looking for a track that celebrates family, you can’t do better.

31. “I Say A Little Prayer” by Aretha Franklin

  • Release Year: 1968
  • Genre: gospel, soul
  • Notable Lyrics: “forever (forever), forever (‘ever)/you’ll stay in my heart/and I will love you.”

Aretha Franklin builds emotion in the refrain like a badass in this tender and passionate ode to unconditional and lifelong love. As a result, the song encourages a progression from slow, intimate dancing to more celebratory and carefree moves. In other words, it checks all the boxes.

32. “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

  • Release Year: 2009
  • Genre: alternative, indie
  • Notable Lyrics: “Home is wherever I’m with you.”

Though it doesn’t come across as an expression of familial love necessarily, this passionate and somewhat theatrical track from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros has positive vibes and lyrics that touch on poignant memories and unconditional love, plus a strong “home is where the heart is” message.

33. “It’s Wonderful to Be Loved by You” by Jimmy Ruffin

  • Release Year: 1969
  • Genre: R&B, soul
  • Notable Lyrics: “There must be a word that says how much I love you/One fulfilling word that shows how much I care/Wonderful, to be the world.”

This throwback tune is full of unrestrained love and unadulterated joy. It’s also sure to bring tearful smiles to the faces of both mother and son.

34. “I’ll Be There” by Jackson 5

  • Release Year: 1970
  • Genre: motown
  • Notable Lyrics: “With unselfish love that respects you/Just call my name and I’ll be there.”

Mother and son will always be there for each other—that’s the message delivered by this timeless classic from the Jackson 5. And we’re guessing it’s a helpful reminder for any mom whose son has just flown the coop for good.

35. “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” by Randy Newman

  • Release Year: 1995
  • Genre: pop
  • Notable Lyrics: “And you’re miles and miles from your nice warm bed/You just remember what your old pal said/Boy, you got a friend in me.”

Simple, sweet and totally happy—this bluesy tune was originally created for the first Toy Story movie and has since become a feel-good classic that boasts just the right amount of emotion.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Most Popular Mother-Son Dance Songs for a Wedding?

Different sources rank songs differently, so there’s no clear cut answer here. That said, Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” and “A Song for Mama” by Boyz II Men both consistently make the list of top choices. That said, for a more meaningful tango with mom, it’s better not to take generic recommendations and instead really consider the relationship you share (but more on that below)

Who Picks the Mother-Son Dance Song for a Wedding?

It’s customary for the groom to pick the mother-son dance song at a wedding, as this is an opportunity for the son to show appreciation for his mother on his big day. In other words, the groom should spend a little time reflecting on his bond with mom and select a personal and thoughtful tune that speaks to said relationship. The more care put into selecting the song, the more poignant the dance will be.

How Do You Prepare for the Mother-Son Dance at a Wedding?

First step: learn to dance. And we’re saying that only partly in jest, since the experts at Lake Shore Dance Academy recommend that the groom and mom start practicing as early as three to four months in advance of the big day. Other factors to consider include the length of the song, the size of the dance floor and, of course, attire that’s conducive to comfortable movement. That said, it also depends on how seriously you want to take the dancing. It’s also perfectly acceptable to pull your mom onto the dance floor and make fools of yourselves together. After all, you’re only being watched by friends and family.

purewow author

Freelance PureWow Editor

Emma Singer is a freelance contributing editor and writer at PureWow who has over 7 years of professional proofreading, copyediting and writing experience. At PureWow, she covers...