Photo: David Franklin/? 2009 David Franklin
Over the next two weekends, audiences will be treated to not one, not two, but three wedding-themed romantic comedies: Something Borrowed, Jumping the Broom, and Bridesmaids. While this is a particularly concentrated dose of wedding-related cinema, this romantic-comedy subgenre has been flourishing for the last two decades. We’ve had warring brides (Bride Wars), awkward brides (Muriel’s Wedding), runaway brides (Runaway Bride), wannabe brides (My Best Friend’s Wedding, 27 Dresses), wannabe grooms (Made of Honor), and frequent wedding attendees (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Wedding Crashers), among many, many others, and there is no sign of a letup. (Just today comes news of another one.) All of these movies share the basic conventions of its mother genre, the romantic comedy (the man you hate is perfect for you; women binge eat when they get bad news; the girl gets the boy, and vice versa … except, of course, to its eternal credit, in My Best Friend’s Wedding). However, wedding comedies have a list of specific staples all their own. Herewith, a checklist of the many elements no wedding-based romantic comedy would be perfect without.
Little Girl Who Has Dreamed of Getting Married Her Whole Life
In most cases, there is one kind of woman in a wedding-based romantic comedy, and that is the kind who has been keeping a hope chest since she was born.
See: Bride Wars, 27 Dresses, The Wedding Planner, Muriel’s Wedding, License to Wed, Runaway Bride, Sweet Home Alabama
Frequent Wedding Attendee
When not dreaming of the weddings they have been planning since they were sentient, the protagonists of these films are usually tortured by attending other people’s weddings. This can make them bitter and/or sad if they are a woman; if they are a man, it will get them laid frequently.
See, for bitter and a little sad: Bride Wars, 27 Dresses, The Wedding Planner, The Wedding Date, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. See, for laid frequently: Wedding Crashers, Four Weddings and a Funeral
Men Perplexed by Women
Weddings make women act weird and crazy, right? Better leave all the wedding planning to them!
See: Bride Wars, 27 Dresses, Made of Honor, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Wedding Crashers, Runaway Bride, My Best Friend’s Wedding, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Wedding Planner, Father of the Bride, License to Wed, Sex and the City, The Wedding Date
There are two variations on this scene: the bridesmaid-dress fitting and the bridal-dress fitting. The first is usually played for laughs (the dresses are horrible, something rips, etc). The second is played for laughs, until it ends in a sentimental “Aw, she really looks beautiful” note.
For bridesmaids and laughs, see: Bridesmaids, My Best Friend’s Wedding, 27 Dresses, Kissing Jessica Stein. For laughs but “aw,” see: Four Weddings and a Funeral, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Made of Honor. For just pure fancy wedding dress, no comedy, see: Bride Wars, Sex and the City
In movies where the engaged person has not yet noticed that his/her true love is actually not the person he/she is engaged to, the person he/she is engaged to is, inevitably, a total dud, or worse, a Sack. Dud-ness corresponds exactly to the actor’s position in the movie’s credits: The lower down on the list, the more dud-ly they are.
See: Four Weddings and a Funeral, Made of Honor, Wedding Crashers, The Wedding Planner, Runaway Bride, Bride Wars, Sweet Home Alabama
Ultracompetitive Bouquet Toss
In real life, no one cares about this (except the couples on America’s Funniest Home Videos). In the movies, the bouquet toss is a full-contact sport.
See: Bride Wars, Muriel’s Wedding, Clueless, Wedding Crashers, Father of the Bride
America may no longer have a draft, but in wedding movies, selective service has never ended. In these films, if you are asked to be in someone’s wedding — regardless of whether you are in love with the bride/groom, no matter if you are otherwise totally inappropriate — you cannot say no. Usually results in sabotage (see below).
See: 27 Dresses, Made of Honor, Bride Wars, My Best Friend’s Wedding
Memorable Wedding Speech
In movies, marital toasts are notable because they are sweet, or because they are drunken/extremely awkward.
For sweet, see: My Best Friend’s Wedding, Four Weddings and a Funeral, License to Wed, Wedding Crashers (delivered by Rachel McAdams) For drunken/extremely awkward, see: The Wedding Singer, Old School, Wedding Crashers, Rachel Getting Married
Rings, they get stuck on people’s fingers! They get inscribed with the word “fart” instead of “part”! They get lost and people have to get married using a skull ring instead!
See: My Best Friend’s Wedding, License to Wed, Four Weddings and a Funeral, American Wedding
Adorable Old People
They attend weddings. Sometimes they rap.
See: The Wedding Singer, Wedding Crashers, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Father of the Bride, Four Weddings and a Funeral
In almost all wedding movies, someone is scheming to destroy the wedding. Sometimes the motives are malicious — a vengeful bridesmaid, anxious father, or bizarro priest is hoping to call the whole thing off; sometimes, the motives are benevolent, like if it is in the name of true love. In both cases, embarrassing actions, particularly blue hair dye (Bride Wars, Runaway Bride) and drunken videos (Bride Wars, 27 Dresses), are deployed.
See: Bride Wars, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Runaway Bride, 27 Dresses, Made of Honor, Father of the Bride, License to Wed
At the wedding, someone interrupts to declare their love, someone flees, someone doesn’t show, or, you know, someone tackles another bride as she goes down the aisle.
See: Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Graduate, Made of Honor, Runaway Bride, The Wedding Planner, Sex and the City, Bride Wars, Wayne’s World 2, The Wedding Singer (Okay, fine, this last one happened on an airplane ride to the wedding, but it still kept it from happening.)