First Chelsea, Now Me: Poptional Weddings
I'm not at my desk this week because I'm off gettin' myself hitched. If all goes well, by the time you read this, I'll be away on my honeymoon.
Weddings are rough to write about for a pop-culture editor, because they're certainly pervasive in media—but, let's be honest, most of the wedding pop culture out there is terrible. Movies especially. To me, all wedding movies fall somewhere on a spectrum of (usually female) desperation, from low-level, I-realized-who-my-true-love-is-and-need-to-stop-a-previoulsy-planned-wedding movies (Runaway Bride, Made of Honor, My Best Friend's Wedding) to type-A, I-need-to-be-married-or-my-life-is-meaningless movies (27 Dresses, He's Just Not That Into You, Leap Year). Then there's whatever kind of movie Bride Wars is. It doesn't paint a pretty picture of weddings, marriage, or the female of the species.
I hate pretty much all of the movies I listed above. But there are a few wedding movies that don't make me want to throw popcorn at the screen. (And I'm talking movies that are about weddings and getting married, not movies that feature a wedding or have one scene at a wedding.) Here, my faves, in chronological order:
Seven Chances (1925)
Okay, this one definitely fits on that spectrum of desperation. After all, Buster Keaton's character is chased by a horde of brides who only want to marry him for his money! But the chase scene is so spectacular, I'm willing to forgive.
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Although, am I the only one who was rooting for Jimmy Stewart? Magazine writers make the best spouses.
Father of the Bride (1991)
Cheesy? Yes. But some laughs and a little schmaltz is way better than watching evil, scheming women try to trick men into marrying them.
The Wedding Singer (1998)
Not only do I think this is one of the ten best wedding movies, it's also the best Adam Sandler comedy (a fact that becomes more and more cemented as his movies get worse and worse).
Monsoon Wedding (2001)
This film features a gorgeous wedding without a poufy white wedding dress in sight.
Corpse Bride (2005)
Say what you will about wedding movies, but this is the only one I've seen where the band was made up of skeletons that could play their own rib cages (made possible by the magic of stop-motion animation).
Wedding Crashers (2005)
Although, if I'm being honest, the best part of this movie is the Funeral Crasher.
Rachel Getting Married (2008)
Part of me gets annoyed that this movie doesn't really realize that you have to be really, really privileged to have a wedding that laid back. (Our friends will be our wedding band! We just happen to be friends with Robyn Hitchcock and TV on the Radio!) But that's still cooler than all of the other cookie-cutter, princess pop-culture weddings, and Anne Hathway puts in a killer performance in a film that recognizes the tough family dynamics that weddings often exacerbate.
If I could steal one pop-culture look for my wedding wholesale, it'd be the scene, pictured here, from Big Fish.
*Swoon.* It's from another Tim Burton film, but there's nary a skeleton band in sight. It's a shame that shindigs like this only happen in the magical (and possibly made-up) town of Specter.
Weddings on TV shows don't fare much better. There's a cottage industry dedicated to showing how extravagant, indulgent, and just-plain-awful brides can be, from My Fair Wedding (starring Westchester resident David Tutera) to Bridezillas, the show that coined a new noun. (I will admit to watching Say Yes to the Dress, but I consider that more of a business show about how to merchandise to women. Just kidding—I like looking at the dresses!)
On fictional shows, weddings often signal the moment when a series jumps the shark, but they still fare better than movie weddings. I think the most honest, real, played-for-laughs wedding planning in pop culture happened during the second season of How I Met Your Mother. Marshall and Lily got in over their heads, argued about their budget, were jealous of other brides and grooms, broke up and reconciled, and had to roll with the punches when things went wrong on their wedding day. I also enjoyed watching them because they met at Wesleyan, where I happened to meet my current beyoncé (boyfriend/fiancé), and they got married in a historic mansion just outside of the city (they called it the Van Smoot House, which I assume is veiled reference to Van Cortlandt Manor), similar to yours truly. The Office pretty much stole the sentiment behind the How I Met Your Mother wedding-day episode, but since they nailed it so perfectly I didn’t mind watching it twice.
And finally, because I'm a glutton for punishment, I also loved the most recent season of Peep Show that they aired on BBC America. The British series—whose gimmick is that all of the episodes are done entirely in point-of-view shots—spent an entire season with one of its main characters trying to get out of marrying his fiancée. The season finale concludes with the main character and his best friend figuring out how to give the bride a "proper jilting" while she waited at the alter. (So British!) I watched the whole thing while making boutonnières for my groomsmen. Hopefully, it didn't give my Beyoncé any ideas.
What about you? Tell me about your favorite pop-culture weddings in the comments. (I have a big gap of wedding movies from the 1950s to the 1990s that needs to be filled. Was there a lack of great wedding movies in these decades, or have I just not seen them?)
The Office photo: Byron Cohen © NBC Universal, Inc