12 Super Cheesy Songs For Celebrating Your Mama

During your wedding, or any old time


It’s no wonder mothers have a tendency to go a little crazy during wedding planning. I mean, really. After a all those years of raising your kid and loving the shit out of them, you’re getting ready let go and celebrate their new family, and you get… nothing. Traditional weddings are packed with celebrations of fathers: dads walking daughters down the aisle, father-daughter dance songs, heartfelt father to son toasts. But the moms? They get a corsage and a front row seat, if they’re lucky. We live in a culture that celebrates women in theory, and often doesn’t treat them very well in practice—but we save a special kind of double speak for moms. (“Motherhood is the hardest job in the world, but please don’t nurse in here.) We spend a lot of time thinking about ways to make the role of bride more feminist, but it’s easy to let other traditions slide by, unchecked. In so doing, it’s easy to forget to properly honor the women in our lives.

When a mother wrote in to APW recently, saying that after raising her daughter almost entirely on her own, she was left with no special moment with her daughter at the wedding, my heart broke. So we decided to put some leg-work into creating ways to honor the women in your life, during your wedding. Maybe for you it’s your mama, or maybe it’s your grandmother, or your aunt, or your godmother. No matter what women had a hand in raising you and loving you, today is about giving them a moment of celebration. Today’s playlist works to reflect the complexity and diversity of mother child relationship. We have the folk tributes and the cheesy ballads, but we also have songs for single mothers, and songs for families who survived abuse. This list aims to celebrate the women who helped raise you up, no matter what that relationship looked like.

And as usual, give us your best stuff in the comments. You guys always have the very best suggestions.

1. “Kind and Generous” by Natalie Merchant
2. “Love Me Like A Rock” by Paul Simon
3. “In My Life” by The Beatles
4. “Hey Mama” by Kanye
5. “Unwed Fathers” by John Prine
6. “Oh Mother” by Christina Aguilera
7. “Upward Over The Mountain” by Iron & Wine
8. “Dear Mama” 2Pac
9. “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion
10. “Like My Mother Does” by Lauren Alaina
11. “Nothing’s Gonna Harm You” by Barbara Streisand
12. “Take Your Mama” by Scissor Sisters

Want to hear it right now? You can play the entire list right here!

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  • SamanthaNichole

    I love this. My mother and I did a Mother/Daughter dance and she gave her own toast. Moms are just as important as Dads and I hate that they don’t get a role usually (of course not with APW brides). Reactions were varied. My aunt commented on how nice it was and how she’d never seen it before. My husband said is friend made a joke about it being weird and hoping that he didn’t dance with his Dad. I would love to know what others thought but I don’t care. My Mommas the best and she deserved a moment.

  • Amie

    Another great song is I’ll Be by Reba McIntyre.

    • stealinghoney

      For the conscious out there, I love Sizzla’s “Thank you Mama”


        Yes to Sizzla!

  • Emmy

    We made our own playlist, so I asked folks for recommendations. My mom requested “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark. At first I laughed, but then I remembered that my mom used to leave us at home with my dad and go out dancing all the time when I was little, and she must have danced to that song a lot then. I felt like it was a little tribute to my awesome mama, who showed me how to be a parent without losing yourself. The look on her face when the song came on was totally worth it. She immediately stopped talking and dashed to the dance floor, and we boogied down.

    For your listening pleasure (and watching pleasure, helloooo muscles!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eSN8Cwit_s

  • I used to think “Not While I’m Around” was a real sweet song. Then I performed in a concert version of “Sweeney Todd” and that song is just WAY too creepy for me now.

    Also, I probably should not have listened to this playlist while on a breastfeeding hormone high.

    • Definitely not a song to play if your wedding includes meat pies.

      • AnonCat

        Haha, there was a really good chance our wedding was going to feature meat pies. (We decided to make vegetarian pies instead, because I’m cooking them and food safety is less stressful for vegetarian food, and I want to reduce stress.

    • meg

      1) Yes. The staff commented that it was sweet, and I was like “Yeah. In a meat pies made of people kind of way.”
      2) YES. Don’t even get me started about how many times this playlist made me cry, making it.

  • Kitty

    My mother and I will be dancing to “the best thing that ever happened to me” by Gladys knight and the pips. Thanks for the post, mamas need more and more special moments when they are just (if not more as in my case) as special as dads.

  • Laura C

    Another super-sappy but also great choice: “Mother” by Kasey Chambers. If your mother won’t be offended by the line that says “Light a room with the lines on your face.” But it’s an incredible love song from a woman who’d recently become a mother herself to her own mother.

  • Astro A

    Not that I’m necessarily recommending this…but does anyone else suddenly have “Mama,” by the Spice Girls running endlessly through her head right now? Just me? I figured.

    • scw

      not just you at all. I actually just came back to this post to see if anyone had mentioned the spice girls yet!

    • meg

      I considered it for the playlist, and then nixed it because I didn’t personally love it, but yeah.

  • APracticalLaura

    Instead of dancing with my mom, we had our DJ announce that in lieu of tossing the bouquet, we wanted to call my mom to the center of the dance floor to receive my bouquet as an honor and tribute to her and all that she has done/continues to do for me. It was a nice way to honor her and give her the spotlight for a little slice of the day.

    • meg


    • Sarah McD

      OMG THIS. YES.

      I’m not a fan of the bouquet/garter toss to begin with but was going to roll with it anyway. I also REALLY don’t want the expense of buying/making a toss bouquet, so I was going to throw my real bouquet because I’m not sentimental enough to save it. But this? My mom will love is (and totally IS sentimental enough to want to save my bouquet.) You just solved like, 3 huge issues I’m been turning over in my head WITH TWO SENTENCES.

      THIS is why I love APW.

    • EllaByNight

      I’ve been married for five years, but if I could re-do my wedding this might be the one thing I’d change. What a wonderful idea!

  • Emily H

    Sappy, but Boyz II Men, anyone?


  • SDS

    I would have loved to do something with Mom at our wedding- have her walk me down the aisle along with Dad, a mother-daughter dance,-something (anything!) but she hates (hates, hates hates) being the centre of attention (Dad laps it up). I’m sad I couldn’t figure out something, but she was much happier and more comfortable, so I try not to regret it too much.

  • Marcela

    In Brazil it’s customary for the mother of the groom to walk in with her son, and the mother of the bride and father of the groom walk in together, in addition to the father walking down with the bride. After ward, all the parents stand up with the couple at the altar as a show of support for the union. My in-laws were pretty delighted with this, since they tend to also get kinda shoved aside.

  • My mom and I didn’t do anything official, but I asked our DJ to play “Jump” by the Pointer Sisters, which is a song she used to play when I was a baby and dance with my brother and me around the kitchen before dinner. We got to dance around and be a little goofy, like we would on a normal night. Totally not a song about moms or motherly love, but it was a special moment for us.

  • Keakealani

    We made it a point to be very egalitarian in our wedding, and I think it worked out well.

    For the ceremony, our moms each gave their soon-to-be child-in-law a lei (Hawaiian flower garland) made with flowers from our respective childhood homes. In Hawaiian, the word “pua” means “flower” but has a poetic double meaning as “child” – a garland of flowers from our homes represented the welcoming of a new child into each home.

    (My dad didn’t walk me down the aisle, and our dads also participated equally in the ceremony by doing readings, so they weren’t left out either!)

    And to counterbalance the traditional father-of-groom toast (which we had), we also had a mother-of-bride toast (as well as toasts from each of our siblings). Since we didn’t have dancing at our reception, we had no father-daughter dance… but if we had, you could bet your bottom dollar that we would have definitely had some mom action there, too.

    So those are some ideas that worked for us to include our moms.

  • Cas

    A really important song that I would put on this list is “I will take care of you” by Amy Sky.


    Maybe it speaks more to me because of my particular circumstances, but it’s probably still the most beautiful Mother-Daughter song I’ve ever heard, and so applicable to weddings.

  • Jenny

    My mom and I did a mother daughter flash mob dance to Good Feeling by Black Eyed Peas. We did the first part alone and then had all my friends and my husbands friends join for the second part and then it basically just kicked off the dance party. HIGHLY recommend it if your mom is down.

  • Guys.

    Surely “I’ll Always Love My Mama,” belongs here?


    Plus if she grew up in America, she’ll know it, and she’ll laugh.

  • Erin

    Still toying with the idea of a mother-daughter dance or bouquet presentation or something, but we are TOTALLY doing “I am woman” by Helen Reddy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zu4xpDuf84A). My mom used to sing that song all of the time when I was little, it’s a great nod to feminism. I still sing it to myself all of the time :)

  • Oh oh oh ! My always sang Love You Like A Rock to us, and I totally sing it to O now.

    Also, Unwed Fathers. What a choice. Daniel and I have a joke that there are two kinds of John Prine songs; the ones you’d absolutely play at a wedding, and the one’s you would never, ever play at a wedding. I’d always have put Unwed Fathers in the latter category, but I can see your point.

    • Oops. My *mom* always sang Love you Like a Rock. Comment editor not working or I would have fixed it.

  • Alice

    How about “The Circle Game,” by Joni Mitchell? A little sappy, but in a sweet way, and a huge favorite with my mom.

  • Every time I hear “Somebody Loved” by the Weepies, I think of my Mama.

  • Lesley

    I chose Stevie Wonder’s You are the Sunshine of Life, because she is the sunshine of my life :). It was a surprise for her, I’m not typically a cheesy type but this just fit!

  • NB

    It is so totally because I grew up listening to my mom singing old church songs around the house, but Mama’s Opry, by Iris Dement, just slays me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZpdiY01WBY

    I should clarify, by the way, that I am a little tired and weepy today, so basically everything bluegrass is going to slay me this morning.

  • Caitlin

    Totally late to the game on this, but my older brother & sister LOVE to sing random lines of “Dear Mama” to our mom whenever we’re all together. It makes everyone start laugh-crying, included our mom. Explicit, but tooootally appropriate for my family.

  • Colleen Donovan

    I cried through most of these (including kanye -hah)

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