In less than a week I’m getting married! As most people are, my fiancé and I are excited but almost overwhelmingly nervous. This psychological response to the unknown is typical and the only sure way to combat these nerves is to be as prepared as possible. For most, that would mean making checklists and confirming guest counts and things like that. For us, it means watching (or rewatching) as many wedding-related movies as we can. What better way to educate ourselves on meeting the parents, proposing, hosting killer bachelor/bachelorette parties, keeping alert for fiancé-stealing wedding planners/best friends/exes/random uninvited guests/singers, dealing with rival couples, finding vendors, and, of course, big day catastrophes then by watching all of the worst-case scenarios that have ever been thought up?
Our exploration of wedding-related cinema spanned over twenty movies (with many more we simply didn’t have time for…cut us a break, we’re planning a wedding) and what follows is a very brief recap of those films, as ranked from best to worst.
- Father of the Bride – More so then any other film on this list, this movie is the one that captures the emotion of wedding planning and the love and joy that a family shares. It doesn’t make light of it as others do. It’s real, it’s beautiful, it’s funny.
- The Proposal – Comedy gold in a clever and well-cast movie. While not particularly emotional, it does have heart and the chemistry between its leads make it believable.
- The Wedding Singer – A killer soundtrack and classic Sandler humor make this a fun watch. The airplane scene alone is a hallmark for great romantic gestures.
- The Hangover – Distinctly non-lovey dovey, this is perhaps the best comedy of the last two decades. An original story mixed with a great blend of slapstick and one-liners make for a comedy that will endure as a classic.
- Meet the Parents – No film captures the potential awkwardness of trying to make a good impression on the future in-laws better than this one. While the situations are increasingly over the top, the struggle is very real.
- Table 19 – The unique premise of this movie makes it stand out. Here the focus is not on the bride and groom but rather on the invited outcasts. Some really funny moments and great cast help elevate what could have been a really boring movie to a great wedding flick.
- I Love You, Man – Really funny but not particularly emotional, this movie shows how fleeting real male friendship can be when it comes to important moments in one’s life.
- Mamma Mia! – This movie is pure escapist wedding cinema. It’s lighthearted, has great music, and is simply fun! The singing isn’t always the best (*cough* Pierce Brosnan *cough*) but that adds a little to the overall enjoyment strangely.
- Wedding Crashers – Equal parts hysterical and heartfelt, this buddy-flick benefits from a great comedy duo and a wonderful assortment of supporting players. A wedding comedy classic!
- Meet the Fockers – The awkwardness is amped up in this sequel and there are still laughs a plenty mostly ushered in this time by Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand but most of the charm of the first one is gone in favor of some more low-brow humor.
- The Five-Year Engagement – A solid premise, great cast, and hysterical moments elevate this film but the meandering storyline and inflated runtime make this film just a little too tedious as it goes on, particularly given the rushed ending.
- The Wedding Ringer – Kevin Hart steals the show but Josh Gad falls flat through most of this offensive comedy that follows basically the same premise of I Love You, Man. Its unexpected ending is a downer to some but makes the movie stand out as something a little different.
- The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement – It’s a Disney sequel; nobody is expecting it to be weighty. But it is charming and the side characters breathe such life into the royal proceedings that it is a fun watch. Plus, Julie Andrews.
- The Wedding Planner – Clichéd storyline? Check! Sappy performances? Check! A couple solid laugh? Check! This one is just about as generic as a wedding rom-com can get. Writer’s note: Our wedding coordinator is named Jennifer Lopez. I consider this movie a cautionary tale.
- Bridesmaids – While widely regarded as a triumph for female-led comedies, this one never struck the right chords. While it does have a who’s who of great female comedians, it is painfully long and the characters portrayed do not even approach likable making it even harder to care.
- My Best Friend’s Wedding – Definitely not the first in the best friend steals the bride/groom storyline but perhaps the best executed. While it plays very dated today, Julia Roberts is a wonderful lead and lends gravitas to what could be another paint-by-numbers feature.
- Bride Wars – An intriguing premise that is never brought to full potential due to (mostly) poor acting and an insufferable level of stupidity on the part of the would-be wedding coordinator. The constant one-up-manship and sabotage is increasingly amusing but never really pays dividends at the end.
- 27 Dresses – Yet another movie with a jealous, noncommittal protagonist suddenly wanting to break up the wedding of her crush and her sister. Add to that the rogue other suitor and you get a messy polygon of emotions. There are a couple of fun moments, mostly led by James Marsden, so it isn’t completely wasted.
- Something Borrowed – Maybe stop putting Kate Hudson in wedding movies. While this one has a more sympathetic protagonist, she still ends up with the wrong guy at the end and the writers never allow her to find her true happiness. The saving grace here is a delightful and spontaneous apartment dance break.
- Made of Honor – Another in the best friend steals the bride/groom wheelhouse, this one lacks from Patrick Dempsey’s unlikeable hero. This is one where you root against the protagonist and in a movie where you want them to succeed in destroying the love of another couple, that doesn’t fly.
- License to Wed – A stellar cast isn’t enough to elevate this to anything resembling a fun wedding flick. Robin Williams’ manic energy is too contained and barely shines through at points and that alone is the biggest let down.
- Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates – Loud, obnoxious, unfunny, and offensive, there is nothing redeeming about this groaner. All four protagonists are blisteringly unlikeable and the plot, though based on real events, is nearly too ridiculous to function.
- American Wedding – On its own, this movie simply doesn’t work. Even when viewed as an installment of a series it is clearly the weakest. While there is a laugh or two to be found, it isn’t elicited by anything new or original. This wedding flick might as well end in divorce.
Our takeaway from this particular marathon is one of our friends secretly yearns for one of us but is probably too shy to say something (sorry, you missed your chance), some last minute disaster is going to happen (like my tux being delivered sans pants or a jacket), pets are only going to cause trouble (sorry, Cherokee), and no matter what happens we are going to get married, have a great day, and all the little details don’t really matter.
For those interested in knowing which films we did not get to, in no particular order, here they are:
- Wedding Daze
- Corpse Bride
- Runaway Bride
- Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding
- The Princess Bride
- Sweet Home Alabama
- Four Weddings and a Funeral
- The Big Week
- The Wedding Date
- The Big Day
- Love, Wedding, Marriage