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A Brief History of Film Weddings: Part 2

All mentioned films in article
Not released
Not released
Not released
Not released

Another week, another wedding. Released by the BFI and joining Nia Vardalos's My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 in cinemas, Koji Fukada's Love Life concludes with a curious Korean wedding reception that is curtailed by a downpour. For more along the same lines, keep reading the second part of Cinema Paradiso's Brief History of Film Weddings.

In the first part of this Cinema Paradiso survey of screen nuptials, we saw how few weddings were incorporated into storylines in Golden Age Hollywood, as they were considered part of the 'happy ever after' that filmgoers were left to contemplate as they left the theatre.

The postwar consumer boom, however, saw glossy magazines promote the notion of the picture perfect wedding, as greater emphasis started to be placed on the bride's big day. As the studios were financially backed by conservative social and religious forces, they were happy to be complicit in the marriage myth and virginal brides in white gowns and grooms in tuxedos became a more familiar part of the movie landscape.

In the first article, we covered films devoted to wedding days and those that slip in a service en passant. Now, we shall focus on the funny side of marriage ceremonies and recall some classics of the kind.

In Olden Days

A still from Seven Chances (1925)
A still from Seven Chances (1925)

It's often said during church services that marriage is not to be entered into lightly. Yet weddings keep getting laughs, as we shall see in this section. Take Buster Keaton's classic slapstick silent, Seven Chances (1925), which sees hundreds of women crowd into a small church after seeing a want ad for a bride in the newspaper. Buster winds up marrying sweetheart Ruth Dywer, but not without a chase through the streets and Gary Sinyor recreated the scene before Chris O'Donnell and Renée Zellweger get to say 'I do' in The Bachelor (1999).

Having already botched Oliver Hardy's elopement with Babe London in James W. Horne's Our Wife (1931), Stan Laurel fails to get him to the church on time to marry James Finlayson's daughter when they become preoccupied with a jigsaw in Lloyd French and Charles Rogers's Me and My Pal (1933). These hilarious two-reelers can be rented from Cinema Paradiso on Laurel & Hardy, Volume 4: Ollie and Matrimony (2004).

Sadly, we can't bring you the equally relishable double act of William Powell and Myrna Loy in Richard Thorpe's Double Wedding (1937), but admirable compensation comes in the form of George Cukor's The Philadelphia Story (1940), which sees first husband C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) and Spy magazine reporter Mike Connor (James Stewart) complicate the upper-bracket nuptials of Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) and George Kittredge (John Howard). Grace Kelly found herself caught between Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra's battle of the crooners in Charles Walters's impeccable take on Cole Porter's musicalisation of Philip Barry's hit Broadway play, High Society (1956).

Der Bingler had already flirted with matrimony in Frank Tuttle's Waikiki Wedding (1937) and Frank Capra's Here Comes the Groom (1951). Neither is currently on disc (tsk tsk), but we can offer you a Ginger Rogers double bill that sees her leave four fiancés at the altar before deciding that Cornel Wilde has the right stuff in Don Hartman's It Had to Be You (1947) and make a man of singing cowboy Jack Carson in Richard Whorf's The Groom Wore Spurs (1951).

Despite divorcing Joel McCrea, Claudette Colbert is still determined to help finance his inventions in Preston Sturges's The Palm Beach Story (1942), even if it means having to marry millionaire Rudy Vallee. The trouble is, Mary Astor has set her cap McCrea and it's going to take twins to get them out of a sticky situation. Such comic errors would not have been out of place in Richard Wallace's Bride By Mistake (1944), which is frustratingly as out of reach as the Bette Davis duo of Bretaigne Windust's June Bride (1948) and Richard Brooks's The Catered Affair (1956). What's up with these Hollywood studios, withholding gems that UK viewers would snap up if they were available to Cinema Paradiso?

Thankfully, we can offer you Vincente Minnelli's Father of the Bride (1950), which joins Stanley T. Banks (Spencer Tracy) as he struggles to come to terms with the fact that his little girl, Kay (Elizabeth Taylor), is about to get married to Buckley (Don Taylor). Wife Ellie (Joan Bennett) is far more in control of the situation, as she will be when the prospect of grandparenting looms in Father's Little Dividend (1951). Steve Martin and Diane Keaton made splendid surrogates when Charles Shyer updated the scenario in Father of the Bride (1991) and Father of the Bride, Part II (1995), with Kimberley Williams as their daughter.

A still from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
A still from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

We mentioned the Windsors in the first article, but return to the 1947 union of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten in recommending Stanley Donen's Royal Wedding (1951), which sees American sibling show people Fred Astaire and Jane Powell arrive in London and bump into a dancer (Sarah Churchill) and an impoverished toff (Peter Lawford) with nothing better to do on the big day than tie the knot themselves. Donen would add four more weddings to the mix in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954), after Jane Powell tires of caring for hubby Howard Keel's six uncouth siblings and helps them find partners. And frontier country also provides the setting for David Butler's Calamity Jane (1953), which rustles up a double wedding of its own after Calam (Doris Day), Wild Bill Hickok (Howard Keel), Lieutenant Daniel Gilmartin (Philip Carey), and accidental chanteuse Katie Brown (Allyn McLerie) finally work out who is actually in love with whom.

Complications also abounded for Margaret Lockwood and Derek Farr en route to the altar in Anthony Asquith's Quiet Wedding (1941), which was adapted by Terence Rattigan from an Esther McCracken play. Cinema Paradiso users can see how Ian Carmichael and Janette Scott fare along the same primrose path in Roy Boulting's remake, Happy Is the Bride (1958), which boasts a splendid supporting cast. Patricia Medina and Jimmy Hanley have an equally eventful wedding day in Paul L. Stein's Kiss the Bride Goodbye (1945), as the bride started it betrothed to her boss.

A young Jean Simmons co-stars as Medina's sister, while Julie Harris contributed an Oscar-nominated performance as the 12 year-old feeling neglected when her brother marries in Fred Zinnemann's charming adaptation of Carson McCullers's The Member of the Wedding (1952), which is long overdue a release on disc. But Hayley Mills can be seen in duplicate in David Swift's The Parent Trap (1961), as identical, but separated twins Sharon McKendrick and Susan Evers are rewarded for reuniting their parents (Brian Keith and Maureen O'Hara) by being bridesmaids at their wedding. Lindsay Lohan similarly did the maid of honouring in Nancy Meyers's The Parent Trap (1998), while Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen have much the same role in Andy Tennant's It Takes Two (1995).

Anything Goes

There's a happy ending of a different kind in Mike Nichols's The Graduate (1967), the counterculture classic that begins with Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) being seduced by Mrs Robinson (Anne Bancroft) and ends with him banging on the glass partition in the church to prevent her daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross), from marrying her college sweetheart. Fighting off the angry guests with a large crucifix, Ben whisks Elaine out of the church and they escape their pursuers by hopping on a bus. But the elation drains from their faces, as the enormity of their act of defiance starts to sink in.

The frantic vehicular moment comes at the start of Brian De Palma's The Wedding Party (1969), as Charles Pfluger is transported from the ferry to the Shelter Island estate of wife-to-be Jill Clayburgh, whose family cast judgemental glances while groomsmen Robert De Niro and William Finley try to persuade him to flee. Released six years after it was made, this nouvelle vague-esque satire finds curious echo in the manic cake-flinging finale to Gerald Thomas's Carry On Loving (1970), as discontented clients take their revenge on newlywed marriage brokers, Sidney James and Hattie Jacques.

A still from Invitation to the Wedding (1983)
A still from Invitation to the Wedding (1983)

With deaf vicar Joseph O'Conor in full flow, crime writer Patrick Cargill and literary agent Jill Melford decide to call things off at the altar in William G. Stewart's genial sitcom spin-off, Father, Dear Father (1973). However, there's no stopping dotty bishop Ralph Richardson in Joseph Brooks's Invitation to the Wedding (1983), as he accidentally marries Susan Brook to Paul Nicholas, who was standing in for groom Jeremy Clyde at the rehearsal. Luckily, evangelist John Gielgud is on hand to save the day, eventually.

Risk averse Manhattan dentist Alan Arkin is appalled to discover his daughter is about to marry the son of CIA agent Peter Falk and pleads with her to call the whole thing off in Arthur Hiller's The In-Laws (1979). Doctor Albert Brooks has similar misgivings about Michael Douglas in Andrew Fleming's remake, The In-Laws (2003). But it's not just US fathers who can be tricky customers when it comes to matrimony. In John Landis's Coming to America (1988), King Jaffe (James Earl Jones) is so insistent on Prince Akeem Joffer (Eddie Murphy) following Zamundan arranged marriage protocols that he decamps to Queens under the name Randy Watson in order to find a girl who loves him for himself. But who winds up wearing the dazzling pink dress on his wedding day?

For now, we can't bring you Craig Brewer's Coming 2 America (2021). But consolation comes in the charming form of Emile Ardolino's Three Men and a Little Lady (1990), which piles on the pre-nuptial agony when Peter Mitchell (Tom Selleck), Jack Holden (Ted Danson), and Michael Kellam (Steve Guttenberg) discover that Edward Hargreave (Christopher Cazenove) plans putting Mary (Robin Weisman) in a boarding school after he marries her mother, Sylvia Bennington (Nancy Travis). Complete with mercy dashes, kidnapped vicars, and last-minute twists, this finds echo in three more films in which kids take exception to a parent's (re) marriage.

In Jonathan Sanger's Children of the Bride (1990), Rue McClanahan's brood might have flown the nest, but they still don't like the idea of her starting again with Patrick Duffy, who is barely older than they are. Dennis Quiad and Rene Russo have the qualms of 18 offspring to overcome in order to form a single functioning family unit in Raja Gosnell's Yours, Mine & Ours (2005), which is a remake of a 1968 Melville Shavelson comedy of the same name that had starred Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. Film star Glenn Close hopes it will be fourth time lucky when she marries writer Patrick Stewart in Damian Harris's The Wilde Wedding (2017). But her children and hubby No.3, John Malkovich, don't entirely approve of her choice.

Mother Diane Keaton is so concerned about Juliette Lewis's intellectual disability that she tries to prevent her from marrying Giovanni Ribisi after he proposes to her during her sibling's wedding in Garry Marshall's romcom, The Other Sister (1999), which not only references The Graduate, but also makes stirring use of '76 Trombones' from Morton DaCosta's The Music Man (1962). However, it's Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's 'If This World Were Mine' that ensures Omar Epps and Richard T. Jones are able to get missing Inglewood groom Taye Diggs to his wedding with LisaRaye McCoy in Rick Famuyima's flashbacking saga, The Wood (1999).

A still from The Wedding Tackle (2000)
A still from The Wedding Tackle (2000)

The soundtrack's one of the highlights of Rami Dvir's The Wedding Tackle (2000), which begins with London photographer James Purefoy getting cold feet a week before his wedding to Susan Vidler and turns around the attempts of buddies Adrian Dunbar and Tony Slattery to sabotage the relationship. By contrast, it's bride Kate Hudson who isn't sure about plighting her troth in Robert Altman's Dr T and the Women (2000). So, when the heavens open during the outdoor event, she takes the opportunity to kiss maid of honour Liv Tyler rather than the groom and psychiatrist father Richard Gere is suitably inspired to propose to golf pro, Helen Hunt.

The Mother of the Bride

The actual ceremony is the least of everyone's concerns in Edouard Molinaro's La Cage aux Folles (1978), as gay couple Renato (Ugo Tognazzi) and Albin (Michel Serrault) have to prevent the bride's ultra-conservative parents from discovering the truth about the groom's background. In fact, Albin has to find a wife to inherit a fortune in George Lautner's La Cage aux Folles 3: The Wedding (1985), which isn't currently available, although Molinaro's La Cage aux Folles II (1980) is. Robin Williams and Nathan Lane assumed the roles as Armond and Albert in Mike Nichols's The Birdcage (1996), which only found room for the nuptials in the closing credits.

Ang Lee inverted this premise in The Wedding Banquet (1993), as gay man Winston Chao hides boyfriend Mitchell Lichtenstein from parents Gua Ah-leh and Lung Sihung so he can marry May Chin and help her get a green card - a situation that had caused Andie MacDowell and Gérard Depardieu to exchange rings twice in Peter Weir's Green Card (1990). Mother Debbie Reynolds is determined for son Kevin Kline to marry Joan Cusack in Frank Oz's In & Out (1997). But, when he comes out during the church service, she settles for renewing her own vows instead.

The outdoor setting is suitably romantic, as Camp Firewood director Janeane Garafolo marries Michael Ian Black and Bradley Cooper to the sound of flute and guitar while they're standing in the lake in David Wain's Wet Hot American Summer (2001). Certainly things are simpler here than they are for Andrea Marcellus, whose attempts to hide the fact she's dating a bi-racial man lead to her being mistaken for a lesbian when she arrives for closeted sister Desi Lydic's big day in Lee Friedlander's Out At the Wedding (2007).

A still from Love, Weddings and Other Disasters (2020)
A still from Love, Weddings and Other Disasters (2020)

By contrast, Philipp Karner races to prevent old flame James O'Shea from being trapped into marriage in C. Jay Cox's Kiss the Bride, only to discover that Tori Spelling is anything but the bridezilla he had presumed her to be. The least said about 2007's other bromantic comedy the better, however, as the relationship between firemen Adam Sandler and Kevin James in Dennis Dugan's I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry is rooted in attitudes that society is hopefully now long past. Dugan sort of atoned with Love, Weddings & Other Disaster (2020), which follows the rivalry between wedding planners Maggie Grace and Jeremy Irons when they are hired for the same event.

More parental shenanigans come courtesy of the off-Broadway play Alessandro Genovesi adapted for My Big Gay Italian Wedding (2018), as Monica Guerritore, Berlin-based actor Cristiano Caccamo's doting mamma, tries to take over his espousal to the bearded Salvatore Esposito, who is estranged from his own disapproving mother. And completing this mini-detour is Andrew Haigh's Looking: The Movie (2016), which sought to tie up the loose ends following the cancellation of Looking (2014-15) by accompanying the gay San Francisco trio of Jonathan Groff, Frankie J. Alvarez, and Murray Bartlett to a wedding.

Members of the Wedding

Weddings are not all about the bride and groom, of course. In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), there's no denying that Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and Arwen (Liv Tyler) make a happy couple. But can anyone beat a groomsmen line-up that includes Faramir (David Wenham), Éomer (Karl Urban), Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) ? The guest list isn't too shabby later in the film, either, when Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) ties the knot with Rosie Cotton (Sarah McLeod).

Novelist Taye Diggs learns a lesson about basing his new book on his friends in Malcolm D. Lee's The Best Man (1999), when he's confronted by a disgruntled Nia Long at the wedding of mutual friend, Morris Chestnut. Sharing a title, Stefan Schwartz's The Best Man (2005) also centres on a novelist, Stuart Townsend, who comes to regret his promise to write a speech for uni buddy Steve John Shepherd after he bumps into childhood friend Seth Green and falls for bride-to-be, Amy Smart. Similarly, Christopher Wiehl wishes he hadn't made a wager with fellow groomsman Alex Nesic to seduce a bridesmaid because he's been set up with longtime crush Lisa Brenner in Lawrence Gay's The Wedding Bet (2003).

A still from 27 Dresses (2008) With Danielle Skraastad
A still from 27 Dresses (2008) With Danielle Skraastad

Jane Nichols (Katherine Heigl) is the living embodiment of the maxim, 'Always the bridesmaid, never the bride,' in Anne Fletcher's 27 Dresses (2008). She has put up with being maid of honour to many friends, including the one who decided to get spliced underwater. But she finally begins to feel that life's unfair when younger sister Tess (Malin Akerman) announces that she's going to marry George (Edward Burns), the boss for whom Jane has long held a torch. Once again, Jane agrees to grasp the flower spray, but not before she meets Kevin Doyle (James Marsden), a marriage-loathing journalist who just happens to be covering the event.

Heigl finds more obstacles in her bridal path in Mary Agnes Donoghue's Jenny's Wedding (2015), as parents Tom Wilkinson and Linda Emond are devastated when she announces that her life partner is her lesbian roommate, Alexis Bledel. Younger sister Grace Gummer is so furious at the closeted deception, however, that she refuses to be Heigl's bridesmaid. There's also a LGBTQIA+ element to Edward Burns's The Groomsmen (2006), as prodigal buddy John Leguizamo returns for Burns's wedding to the pregnant Brittany Murphy to discover that the groom is having second thoughts and that brother Donal Logue, cousin Jay Mohr, and friend Matthew Lillard all have differing views on the best way forward.

Having no male mates, groom-to-be Paul Rudd asks gay brother Andy Samburg for tips on meeting a man who could stand beside him on his wedding day in John Hamburg's I Love You, Man (2009). However, he stumbles across Jason Segal at a house sale and they bond over a mutual love of the rock band, Rush. Unfortunately, however, fiancée Rashida Jones takes an instant dislike to Rudd's new bff. Having proposed to Rebel Wilson after a whirlwind Tuvalu romance, Londoner Xavier Samuel whisks Kris Marshall, Kevin Bishop, and Tim Draxl to the Australian Outback for the wedding in Stephan Elliott's A Few Best Men (2011). But things quickly start to go wrong after the trio meet new in-laws Jonathan Biggins and Olivia Newton-John, and their guzzlingly inquisitive flock of sheep.

Childhood ties seem to count for nothing in Paul Feig's Bridesmaids (2011), as Annie Walker (Kristen Wiig) struggles to cope with the fact that bestie Lillian Donovan (Maya Rudolph) has chosen four other maids of honour for her big day, namely domestically disillusioned cousin Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), newlywed co-worker Becca (Ellie Kemper), boisterous sister-in-law Megan Price (Melissa McCarthy), and competitive trophy wife, Helen Harris (Rose Byrne). The big event's a bit of a bust. But what comes before has established this as one of Hollywood's all-time wedding gems.

If you're in the mood for more of the same, Cinema Paradiso suggests Leslye Headland's Bachelorette (2012). This adaptation of the director's own play shows what happens when the friends of bride-to-be Becky Archer (Rebel Wilson) - Regan Crawford (Kirsten Dunst), Gena Myers (Lizzy Caplan), and Katie Lawrence (Isla Fisher) - endure a long night of the pre-wedding soul that involves the best man (James Marsden), a former classmate (Kyle Bornheimer), an old flame (Adam Scott), a torn and bloodstained dress, and an awful lot of cocaine.

My Awful Wedded Wife

A still from Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
A still from Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

A clutch of nuptial classics appeared around the millennium in the wake of the worldwide success of Mike Newell's Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). Scripted by Richard Curtis, the comedy follows a group of friends as they attend various ceremonies across the country, involving Angus and Laura (Timothy Walker and Sarah Crowe) in Somerset, Bernard and Lydia (David Haig and Sophie Thompson) in London, and Carrie and Hamish (Andie MacDowell and Corin Redgrave) in Perthshire. However, a sudden death casts a pall that also creeps over the planned union of Charles and Henrietta (Hugh Grant and Anna Chancellor). Everyone must know what happens by now, but we'll remind you that there are four more weddings in the closing montage and possibly five if Fiona (Kristin Scott Thomas) did actually manage to snag Prince Charles.

Scott Thomas won the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress, while Grant took the BAFTA and the Golden Globe for Best Actor. He missed out entirely at the Oscars, however, and Toni Collette was equally unlucky to be overlooked for her magnificent performance in P.J. Hogan's Muriel's Wedding (1994), as Muriel Heslop, the misfit from the backwater of Porpoise Spit who dreams of a glamorous ceremony while listening to her ABBA records. Having been escorted from the reception of mean girl Tania (Sophie Lee) and Chook (Nathan Kaye) for wearing a stolen dress, the newly styled Mariel appals best friend Rhonda Epinstall (Rachel Griffiths) by agreeing to marry South African swimmer David Van Arkle (Daniel Lapaine) so that he can qualify to represent Australia at the Olympic Games.

Hogan enjoyed a second hit with My Best Friend's Wedding (1997), which turns around the disappointment of food critic Julianne Potter (Julia Roberts) when she learns that a pact to marry sportswriter Michael O'Neal (Dermot Mulroney) if they are still single at 28 has crashed and burned three weeks before her birthday because he's become engaged to tycoon's daughter, Kimmy Wallace (Cameron Diaz). Desperate to prise them apart, Jules enlists the help of gay friend George Downes (Rupert Everett), who finds the whole thing so amusing that he's next to no help at all.

Helping repopularise 'Say a Little Prayer' and 'The Way You Look Tonight', this impeccable romcom earned Roberts a Golden Globe nomination and Cinema Paradiso users can make a double bill of it with Garry Marshall's Runaway Bride (1999), which reunited Roberts and Richard Gere after their success in the same director's Pretty Woman (1990). This time, Gere is reporter Ike Graham, who gets into trouble with his editor when he publishes an error-riddled piece on Maggie Carpenter (Roberts), the Maryland woman who is preparing for her wedding after leaving three prospective grooms waiting at the altar.

A still from Very Bad Things (1998)
A still from Very Bad Things (1998)

Those of a nervous disposition should look away now because there isn't a wedding day in Hollywood history to match the one in Peter Berg's Very Bad Things (1998). While fiancée Laura (Cameron Diaz) makes the final arrangements, Kyle (Jon Favreau) heads to Las Vegas with buddies Robert (Christian Slater), Charles (Leland Orser), and brothers Adam (Daniel Stern) and Michael (Jeremy Piven). When the latter's involvement in a sordid accident threatens to land them all in trouble, the quintet conspire in a sinister cover-up. But sleeping corpses refuse to lie and Kyle and Laura's big day descends into murderous chaos.

Released the same year, Frank Coraci's The Wedding Singer (1998) presses the romcom reset button to show how Robbie Hart (Adam Sandler) is crushed when Linda (Angela Featherstone) calls off their wedding because she's embarrassed by his job. Waitress Julia Sullivan (Drew Barrymore) is keen to have Robbie sing at her reception. But he's not sure fiancé Glenn (Matthew Glave) is worthy of her. Much loved for Ellen Albertini Dow's rendition of 'Rapper's Delight', this would pair up nicely with Adam Shankman's The Wedding Planner (2001), in which Mary Fiore (Jennifer Lopez) falls for Steve Edison (Matthew McConaughey) after he saves her from a runaway dumpster. Unfortunately, he turns out to be the fiancé of Fran Donnelly (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras), the socialite whose wedding could take Mary's planning business to the next level.

A still from My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016) With Louis Mandylor
A still from My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016) With Louis Mandylor

The obstacle preventing Fotoula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) from finding happiness with Ian Miller (John Corbett) is her father, Gus (Michael Constantine), the owner of the Dancing Zorbas restaurant in Joel Zwick's My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002). Mother Marie (Laine Kazan) does what she can to talk her husband round. But, even after Ian converts to the Orthodox religion, Gus still tries to sabotage the nuptials using spelling mistakes and fashion abominations. The fact that he failed is evident from the fact that Vardalos followed the breakthrough that earned her an Oscar nomination for her screenplay and a Golden Globe nod for her performance with two sequels, Kirk Jones's My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016) and the self-directed My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 (2023), which should be available on disc soon.

The fictional Greek island of Kalokairi provides the setting for Phyllida Lloyd's big-screen version of Catherine Johnson's jukebox stage musical, Mamma Mia! (2008). With her wedding at the Villa Donna hotel coming up, Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried) is keen to discover which of her mother's former lovers is her father. However, Donna (Meryl Streep) is dismayed to see Irish-American architect Sam Carmichael (Pierce Brosnan), British banker Harry Bright (Colin Firth), and Swedish travel writer Bill Anderson (Stellan Skarsgård) hiding in her goat house. As one might expect from the title, there's plenty of ABBA to ease the storyline through its gleeful contrivances and there is more of Benny and Björn's magic in Ol Parker's poignant prequel-cum-sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018).

The actions of divorce mediators John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) are more scurrilous in David Dobkin's The Wedding Crashers (2005), as they assume false identities to seduce women at receptions. When they wangle their way into the event for the daughter of Treasury Secretary William Cleary (Christopher Walken) and his wife Kathleen (Jane Seymour), they find themselves entangled with the bride's younger sisters, Claire (Rachel McAdams) and Gloria (Isla Fisher). But they also run into Claire's boyfriend, Sack Lodge (Bradley Cooper), her gay brother, Todd (Keir O'Donnell), and the Cleary matriarch, Mary (Ellen Albertini Dow).

Be warned, some of the 'jokes' haven't worn well into the supposedly more enlightened 2020s. But the same could be said for Todd Phillips's The Hangover (2009), which won the Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy and became the most commercially successful comedy at the US box-office since Martin Brest's Beverly Hills Cop (1984). The narrative accompanies Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper), Stu Price (Ed Helms), Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis), and Doug Billings (Justin Bartha) on the latter's bachelor trip to Vegas. But, with time running out before Doug's wedding to Tracy (Sasha Barrese), the friends have to track down the missing groom and discover why Stu is missing a tooth and why there is a baby in a cupboard and a Bengal tiger in the bathroom. The sequel, The Hangover Part II (2011), took the gang to Thailand for Stu's wedding, while The Hangover Part III (2013) wrapped things up down Mexico way after the friends are pursued by Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), the Chinese gangster of whom they fell foul in Bangkok.

Since they were girls, Emma Allan (Anne Hathaway) and Olivia Lerner (Kate Hudson) have longed for a June wedding in the same Plaza Hotel in which pre-wedding nerves had prompted Walter Matthau and Lee Grant's daughter to lock herself in the bathroom in the third Neil Simon vignette in Arthur Hiller's Plaza Suite (1971). However, being besties quickly comes to count for nothing when Emma and Liv discover that they've set the same 9 June date for their dream nuptials and will stop at nothing to become the first to say 'I do' in Gary Winick's Bride Wars (2009). There's nothing edifying about the pair brawling after footage of Liv's drunken spring break antics are projected on to a wall while she makes her way down the aisle. But at least it spares one of them the ignominy of having to marry a prat.

For Better or Worse

Although more couples were choosing to co-habit by the mid-1990s, a lot of women still felt social pressure to tie the knot before a certain age. Hence Jasmine (Illeana Douglas), Tanya (Pauline Porizkova), and Micki (Julie Warner) deciding to go to Vegas, find a man, marry, and get divorced within 24 hours so they can avoid the embarrassment of having been spinsters at 30 in Dana Lustig's Wedding Bell Blues (1996). The numbers also stack up for Gwen Cummings (Sandra Bullock) after she disgraces herself at her sister's wedding by not only drunkenly knocking over the cake, but also crashing a limo at the start of Betty Thomas's 28 Days (2000).

A still from Mrs. Brown's Boys: The Last Wedding: Part 2 (2003)
A still from Mrs. Brown's Boys: The Last Wedding: Part 2 (2003)

Having followed the romance of Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs) and Michelle Flaherty (Alyson Hannigan) in Paul Weitz's American Pie (1999) and James B. Rogers's American Pie 2 (2001), it was only natural that invitations would be extended to Jesse Dylan's American Pie: The Wedding. Typically, thing get skewed from the proposal to last dance, with Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott) doing his best to undo his countless mishaps. Some loose ends also need tying up in Brendan O'Carroll and Jennifer Gibney's Mrs Brown's Boys: The Last Wedding (2003), as Dublin mammy Agnes (O'Carroll) tries to sort out which of her sons nurse Maria Nicholson (Fiona O'Carroll) is actually going marry: Trevor (Paddy Houlihan) or Dermot (Clyde Carroll).

Everyone's favourite Antarctican is invited to a green penguin's big day in Javier Garcia's Pingu: A Very Special Wedding (2004), although the occasion is almost ruined by a wayward Roomba. Politeness ensures that the various weddings pass without incident in Gurindar Chadha's Bride and Prejudice (2004). But Lalita Bakshi (Aishwarya Rai) is far from impressed with Will Darcy (Martin Henderson) when she meets him at a ceremony in Amritsar and her opinion of the American scarcely improves during a stay in Goa.

Retired CIA operative Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) takes an even dimmer view of Gaylord 'Greg' Focker (Ben Stiller) when he attends his younger child's wedding on the arm of his daughter, Pam (Teri Polo), in Jay Roach's Meet the Parents (2000). Wife Gina (Blythe Danner) talks Jack round. But, with a second ceremony in the offing, he's still in need of convincing when the family heads to Miami to meet prospective in-laws Bernie (Dustin Hoffman) and Roz (Barbra Streisand) in Meet the Fockers (2004). Five years later, it's a birthday party for Greg and Pam's twins that provides the backdrop for Paul Weitz's Little Fockers (2010).

Annoyed with herself for letting a man get under her skin, interior designer Christina Walters (Cameron Diaz) decides to crash the country wedding that Peter Donahue (Thomas Jane) will be attending in Roger Kumble's The Sweetest Thing (2002). On arriving with best friend Courtney Rockliffe (Christina Applegate), however, Christina discovers she's got hold of the wrong end of the stick.

Aspiring fashionista Charlotte Cantilini (Jennifer Lopez) thinks she's met her mate in Dr Kevin Fields (Michael Vartan). However, his mother, Viola (Jane Fonda), a recently fired chat show host who refuses to accept passing time, has no intention of playing second fiddle at the wedding in Robert Luketic's Monster-in-Law. A romance-busting piece of advice is behind the feud between New York fireman Patrick Sullivan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and radio relationships expert Emma Lloyd (Uma Thurman). But she takes exception to his cruel revenge in Griffin Dunne's The Accidental Husband (both 2005) when she discovers that she can't marry fiancé Richard (Colin Firth) because Patrick has hacked into the city records to create a fake marriage licence.

A still from Once Upon a Wedding (2005)
A still from Once Upon a Wedding (2005)

A New York Times obituary writer comes to believe that her grandmother and mother were the inspirations for Mrs Robinson and Elaine in The Graduate in Rob Reiner's 'Rumor Has It'. However, when Sarah Huttinger (Jennifer Aniston) quizzes Katharine Richelieu (Shirley MacLaine), she discovers there is more to the story than a runaway bride. Rachel (Piper Perabo) makes it through her wedding day to Hector (Matthew Goode) in Ol Parker's Imagine Me & You. But the omens aren't good when her ring falls into the punch bowl while chatting to Luce (Lena Headey), the florist who had caught her eye in the London church. Shortly before her wedding, Margarita (Charlotte Ayanna) starts to fall for Rogelio (Kuno Becker), the fisherman she ran over with her car. But how do you change course when your father is the dictator of your Caribbean country in Matia Karrel's Once Upon a Wedding (2005) ?

Doubts also begin to creep into the mind of beautician Michelle Gomez, as her wedding to pilot Jonathan Lewis Owen draws closer. However, friends Shirley Henderson, Shauna Macdonald, and Kathleen McDermott are too preoccupied with their own problems to offer any worthwhile advice in Philip John's Wedding Belles, which was scripted by Irvine Welsh. A year after Anderson (Jason Biggs) sees his girlfriend keel over and die while proposing to her in a Cupid costume, he pops the question out of the blue to waitress Katie (Isla Fisher), who bowls him over by accepting in Michael Ian Black's Wedding Daze (both 2006).

As a publicity stunt, magazine publisher Antoni Clarke (Jimmy Carr) selects three couples to compete for a house by staging the most original wedding in Debbie Isitt's Confetti (2006). Editor Vivienne (Felicity Montagu) soon realises she's got a job on her hands, however, as Sam and Matt (Jessica Stevenson and Martin Freeman) opt for a Busby Berkeley musical theme, Isabelle and Josef (Meredith MacNeill and Stephen Mangan) go for a tennis motif, and naturists Joanna and Michael (Olivia Colman and Robert Webb) agree to exchange their vows stark naked.

The action is also based around three weddings in Michael Lehmann's Because I Said So, as both Lauren Graham and Piper Perabo try to use their happy day to set up sister Mandy Moore with her own beau. Mother Diane Keaton arranges a blind date, just as Moore meets a handsome guitarist. But whose arm will she be on when her mother unexpectedly announces her own wedding? Moore finds herself in another pickle in Ken Kwapis's License to Wed (both 2007), as parish priest Robin Williams will only allow her to marry John Krasinski in the last spot available in his church for two years if they undertake a crash course pre-nup programme. What could possibly go wrong?

A still from License to Wed (2007)
A still from License to Wed (2007)
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