For our bridal issue, I knew it was time to explore another trope of romance cinematography: weddings. Whether it’s the central focus of the plot or just a sweet scene in a saccharine will-they-or-won’t-they story, they’re abundant and extravagant across the board, cropping up in a vast number of films. When I started to compile a list, I realized how prevalent they are in quite a few of my favorite movies. Here’s just a small handful (and some honorable mentions). Enjoy!
1. Mamma Mia! (2008)
Just reading the title gets the song stuck in my head. (“Just one look and I can hear a bell ring!”) As a huge theater nerd, I love all the stage-to-film Broadway musical adaptations. While Hairspray and Rent are very high on my list, this one is my absolute favorite. It was our favorite show when we saw it our first time back in 2009 and remained our favorite when we saw it again, just this past summer before it ended its 14-year run on the Great White Way. ABBA’s upbeat songs set the tone for a story of a young bride-to-be searching for her father against a stunning Greek backdrop, which ensured a beautiful cinematic version. Then throw Meryl Streep in as your lead—SOLD. I love this movie. It’s just so much fun and I always have an urge to watch it before I go on vacation to somewhere tropical.
2. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
I’ve seen this flick so many times that I can quote it backwards and forwards. Written by its Greek star, Nia Vardalos, it’s one of very few existing film depictions of Greek life and it is hilarious. Did you know that the root of a word, any word, is Greek? Or that Windex can cure anything from the common cold to poison ivy? Or that the Greeks invented astronomy, philosophy, democracy, and pottery? (And film-making, probably.) It’s full of so many unique and ridiculous moments and it’s always a good time.
3. Father of the Bride (1991)
Steve Martin can do no wrong, can he? From freaking out over the ever-growing bill to going head-to-head with wedding planner Martin Short (in what is arguably one of his best roles), Steve paints George Banks as a stiff and unbearable cheapskate, but by the film’s end, we know it’s just because he’s desperately trying to hang on to his little girl. It’s a really sweet movie, but truth be told, I prefer the sequel. So much funnier!
4. 27 Dresses (2008)
One of Katherine Heigl’s least terrible rom-coms, mainly because of James Marsden’s portrayal of a “wounded, mysterious, and sexy” cynic who manages to write beautiful words about weddings for the fictional New York Journal. Watching the man you love fall for your younger sister, who has basically had things handed to her all her life, is a really sympathetic plot twist which is why it’s not a complete hate-watch situation. That and a really fun musical number midway through set to “Bennie and the Jets.” And being always, always, always a bridesmaid makes for a pretty cute scene where all the dresses are put on display. Bonus points for the beach wedding.
5. The Wedding Planner (2001)
J.Lo’s first official rom-com paired her with alright-alright-alright Matthew McConaughey for a rather predictable, though no less enjoyable, flick where she, as the wedding planner, *GASP* falls for the groom. For every eye-rolling moment, there are also those that make me smile anyway (like the whole scene with the statue and his “I know every fleck of gold in your eyes” speech). I think of it every time I eat brown M&Ms, so something stuck. And for me, it also has the added bonus of a pre-Grey’s Justin Chambers trying to woo the leading lady and his puppy dog eyes always look so desperate that it hurts my heart a little.
I may have managed to pick five out of many, but I left a lot of my favorites behind, including but not limited to: American Wedding, Bridesmaids, Letters to Juliet, License to Wed, Made of Honor, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Runaway Bride, Sweet Home Alabama, A Walk to Remember, Wedding Crashers … and the list goes on …