Weddings and Writers

Weddings and Writers

Ruth E. Walker

Later this week, I’ll watch my youngest child get married to his beautiful bride. I’ll likely cry a bit — happy tears. And I’ll be relieved that my son is the last one of our children to choose a life partner. That’s it for now, until the grandchildren start the cycle all over again.

Many mothers of the groom will tell you our role has challenges: Will the rehearsal dinner menu be a nice complement to the wedding themes or a mish-mash of wrong choices? Will my dress be appropriate and not clash with the mother of the bride’s chosen colour and style? Will I remember all the names of the large wedding party, their partners and great-aunt whoozits from out West?

For a writer, there are even greater challenges that come with this territory. For example, my husband and I have written speeches together for all the other kids’ weddings. While we rarely write anything together, this one task seems to go quite well. Over four decades of marriage helps with that one. So, no, that’s a challenge but it’s one we manage to pull off. It helps that we love all our kids’ partner choices.

No, this is a different kind of challenge for me. It’s the mother and son song that is making me run around in a conflicted tizzy. I do love to dance. I’m not very good at it and likely show up in a few party videos as the one who doesn’t quite get the beat or the moves but looks happy while she’s messing it up. No. It’s not the dance itself — it’s the song choice that’s so difficult.

Lots to choose from

If you Google “mother and son wedding songs” you’ll get over 8 million hits. And links to hundreds of sites that list the “top” mother and son dances, from country to rock to contemporary to traditional and variations thereof. YouTube is a treasure trove of music videos for this one important dance. One bride website lists 40 Best Mother-Son Dance Songs. So, with so much to choose from, how can this be a problem?

I’m a complete sucker for the sentimental yet charming film, Love, Actually. I tear up at the great airport love-in montage at the end as the Beach Boys sing their hit, “God Only Knows.”

A song about love — all kinds of love. So logical choice, right?

Not the melody; it’s the lyrics

Let’s get real people. I’m a writer. So while I may love the overall sentiment of a song and enjoy a beautiful melody, the words matter. Let’s consider “God Only Knows” — great lines likes God only knows what I’d be without you — so true. Most of the grey hairs on my head can be traced back to life with children, the youngest perhaps accounting for more than all the others put together. But the opening line on that Beach Boys song stopped me cold: I may not always love you.. Nope. Not that song. Because I will always love him.

Surely, with 39 other songs, I will find the perfect song.

“Forever Young” sung by Rod Stewart. Are you going to drop the bomb or not? Bomb? I don’t think so.

“Because You Loved Me” sung by Celine Dion. I’ll be forever thankful baby/You’re the one who held me up/Never let me fall…  Just who are the lyrics meant for — mother or son?

“I Say a Little Prayer” sung by Aretha Franklin. While combing my hair now/And wondering what dress to wear now/I say a little prayer for you… 

As much as I love my son, I don’t stand before the mirror every day and think of him.  Obsessive mama, I’m not.

Who picks these songs, anyway?

Oh the songs I’ve listened to. Some are so sickly sentimental, I need a glass of water to dilute the sugar. Some stretch the boundaries of rhyme and rhythm to excruciating levels. And some make no sense at all. And speaking of “combing my hair and choosing my dress,” exactly what lyrically challenged person thought “Wonderful Tonight” sung by Eric Clapton is an ideal mother-son wedding dance song? How about that last stanza:

It’s time to go home now and I’ve got an aching head
So I give her the car keys and she helps me to bed
And then I tell her, as I turn out the light
I say, “My darling, you were wonderful tonight
Oh my darling, you were wonderful tonight

Good grief. My son’s bride won’t have to worry that Mommy is driving him home after the reception, putting him to bed while he calls me “My darling.” Nope. Not this mama.

So you see my challenge? I can’t tune out the words because they matter. Words mean something. Right now, I’m waffling between two different songs, the sentimental but lyrically true song, The Man You Have Become sung by Molly Pasutti and the sweetly upbeat 93 Million Miles sung by Jason Mraz.

Of course, my son may have some ideas on the song choice. In fact, he’s written a few lovely songs himself. But remember those grey hairs? It will likely be just before the reception before he manages to tell me what those ideas might be. Ah well. I will always love him no matter what song we dance to.

Which brings me to a song I hope we will dance to: “Love is All You Need” by The Beatles. Because, if I had one thing to tell him, it’s this: Love is all you need. Love for yourself. Love for your family. Love for the world and its inhabitants. Remember love my son, especially at times when it is the furthest thing from your mind. It will bring you back to what really matters.


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8 thoughts on “Weddings and Writers

  1. My sons picked the songs for our dances at their weddings. Mike chose “Hey Jude” because he has taken me to a couple of Paul McCartney concerts where I always feel Paul is singing that to me, particularly the lines “Hey Judy, Judy…”, even though I know he wrote it originally for John’s son Julian.
    Jamie chose “God Only Knows” which I found incredibly moving, and even now makes me tear up at the thought of it.
    Don’t read too much into every line Ruth – this is an occasion to go with the sentiment.
    Congratulations, and have a very special day,

    1. Thanks Judy. “Hey Jude” is one of my all-time favourites from The Beatles. “God Only Knows” — what a lovely song and it makes me tear up whenever I hear it because I do love the sentiment behind it. And I also really like the play on the phrase, which is often used in a negative if mildly humorous way. In this case, the songwriter turned that upside down — which is a true strength for a writer. Just couldn’t get past that first line, otherwise, it would have been my pick.

  2. Congratulations, Ruth. Your article is lovely and I’m sure whatever song is playing, you will love the dance with your son. Al the best to the newlyweds.

    1. Thank so much, Lidy. We ended up dancing to “93 Million Miles” by Jason Mraz. The upbeat style didn’t keep this mother from tearing up. However, it was a delightful wedding, a magical evening and infectious celebration in the historic Sunnyside Pavilion on the shores of Lake Ontario.

  3. Apparently, back in the 90s, Saving All My Love by Whitney Houston was a very popular first dance for bride and groom. Did they not listen to the lyrics?

    A few stolen moments is all that we share
    You’ve got your family and they need you there
    Though I’ve tried to resist being last on your list
    But no other man’s gonna do
    So I’m saving all my love for you

    1. Right on, Barbara. That’s exactly why so many “top wedding mother/son” songs never made it past the first few lines. But as Judy rightly points out, it’s the sentiment of the song; however, if I was “Saving All My Love” for my one son, what was I supposed to do for the rest of the kids, not to mention my husband? 🙂

  4. Beautiful Ruth. I have two sons, who are married with daughters. I really believe that sons are the best. Congratulations on the wedding. May you all go through life singing.

    1. Ah, thanks Lynda. All of my children and their children bring me great joy. Nonetheless, about that singing through life part — if you heard me sing, you’d understand why I tend to do all my singing in the shower. Fortunately, my kids inherited my mother-in-law’s great pipes, so there’s plenty of music happening.

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