If you haven’t already noticed, wedding season is almost upon us. If your calendar looks anything like mine, you likely have most weekends booked from now until fall. Even my own mother is getting married this year. So in between dress or suit shopping and gift buying, I’ve composed a list of some of my favorite wedding-themed films to even further prepare you for the upcoming onslaught of unions.
5) My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
One of the reasons I enjoy this rom-com so much is because it’s completely atypical for the genre–the girl ends up alone at the end. Well, at least not the girl we think. Julia Roberts plays an aggressive food critic who, after realizing she loves her best friend, will do almost anything she can to stop the guy (played by Dermot Mulroney) from marrying an uptight sweet-as-can-be girl (Cameron Diaz). Throughout the film you definitely go back and forth with whom you root for, but ultimately I’d say it ends just the way it should.
4) Father of the Bride (1991)
Based on the 1950 classic starring Joan Bennett and Spencer Tracy, this ‘90s remake is perfectly executed. Steve Martin and Diane Keaton star as the parents of a bride-to-be, and Steve Martin’s character is incredibly reluctant to let go of his daughter, who still lives at home. This one is perfect for anyone who has a child getting married (or who is already married), and can relate to the fear of your kids growing up and leaving you.
3) Sixteen Candles (1984)
On the day of Samantha Baker’s sixteenth birthday (played by ‘80s queen Molly Ringwald), her family completely forgets what day it is. From there, she continues to have the worst and most embarrassing day. The primary reason her family (grandparents included) forgets about her birthday is because her older sister is getting married the next day. Samantha pines after the dreamy Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling) while resenting her sister for garnering the family’s attention. After she scores the guy (though in my opinion, she should have chosen the nerdy-as-ever Anthony Michael Hall), she’s finally able to drop her bratty demeanor and be happy for her sister on her wedding day.
2) The Philadelphia Story (1940)
In classic screwball fashion, The Philadelphia Story starts out with the separation of the two main characters, C.K. Dexter Haven (Carey Grant), and the wealthy Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn). They can’t stand each other, and Tracy eventually finds a new rich entrepreneur to wed. Meanwhile two reporters for a tabloid magazine (Jimmy Stewart and Ruth Hussey) attempt to get the inside scoop on the wedding to expose the Lord family with gossip. It’s easily one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, and showcases some of the best performances from each of the main actors. The buildup to the wedding is fantastic, and drives home a pretty great message on marriage.
1) Melancholia (2011)
The wedding portion of this film, unlike the others on this list, only takes up the first half of the film, which is broken into two parts. The first part is the wedding reception for Justine and Michael (Kirsten Dunst and Alexander Skarsgård), and the second is the preparation for the possible end of the world. The first half is at first a joyous and warm celebration of two people who seem to be thrilled to have just gotten married. Yet, as the wedding reception continues, Justine’s behavior starts to become erratic and disconcerting. This is Kirsten Dunst’s most nuanced and skilled performance, bar none. She captures the character’s dynamic, shifting emotions, which range from new wedding bliss to deep, insurmountable depression. Maybe it’s not the best idea to watch this film if you’re the one getting married.
Honorable Mentions: Rachel Getting Married (2008), My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), Meet the Parents (2000), Princess Bride (1987), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994).
Author: Catherine Haas
Catherine Haas is a native Philadelphian who received her master’s in film history from Columbia University. She is a freelance film programmer, writer, and an avid pug enthusiast.