It’s that time of year again. Summer wedding season is upon us and the endless string of busy weekends filled with drunken speeches, tearful vows, and wardrobe emergencies can finally begin. With all of its drama and passion, weddings have always been a fertile ground for writers and directors to plumb. Cinematically, they represent hopeful beginnings and are often used to exacerbate already fraught family dynamics. In other words, it’s hard to find a wedding movie that isn’t a funny and sad portrait of a couple or a family. For the best wedding movies, Collider has your back with a list of some of the greatest “I dos” in movie history.
When the newest version of Father of the Bride came out, it was clear it was going to be a hit. With a cast that includes the likes of Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan, this movie brought the classic broad comedy of the previous two versions, but also explored Latino family dynamics that had not been given the spotlight in the past. However, we could not have known just how successful it would be. Coming out at the beginning of the summer, everyone has Father of the Bride fever and the film has attracted the largest audience of any HBO Max movie that has streamed exclusively on the platform. Fans of the original will find something familiar to love, and others will love its refreshingly odd and beautiful family dynamic.
This musical made waves on Broadway and years later broke records at the box office. For the very few who are unfamiliar with the story, Mamma Mia follows Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), a 20-year-old girl on the brink of getting married in a quaint Greek island hotel owned by her single mother, Donna (Meryl Streep). When she finds her mother’s old diary from the summer she was conceived, she decides to invite her three possible fathers to the wedding so one of them can give her away. All told through the infectious and beautiful songs of ABBA, Mamma Mia may not be a high art masterpiece, but it will have you singing along and waiting with bated breath as the story takes crazy twists and turns.
Adam Sandler was never as charming and sweet as he was in The Wedding Singer. In his first romantic comedy collaboration with Drew Barrymore, The Wedding Singer centers around Robbie (Sandler), a local rock star turned wedding singer, whose fiancé leaves him on the day of his wedding. His world gets turned upside down when he meets the bubbly and sweet Julia (Barrymore), a waitress who is engaged to another man. Now the Barrymore-Sandler collaboration is classic, but this film cemented them as not just stars with comedic talent, but actors with great chemistry. It’s a beautifully earnest and hilarious movie that gave us a more mature Barrymore and a more sensitive Sandler.
Rachel Getting Married (2008)
This drama gives a cinéma vérité look at family dynamics during weddings and also showed the world that Anne Hathaway deserved to be considered a serious actress. Rachel Getting Married follows Kym (Hathaway), a woman who has been in and out of rehab for the past ten years as she returns home for her sister’s wedding. Veteran director Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) delivers a story that is so raw, that it’s sometimes hard to watch. We sympathize with Kym as her family and friends try to police her, and yet we can’t stand her erratic and ill-conceived actions. This movie does what all wedding movies should do. It provides a complicated portrait of a family that only gets exaggerated by such a huge and life-changing event.
Destination Wedding (2018)
Since Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves were some of the most bankable stars of the 1990s who also showed they were viable romantic leads and critical darlings, it’s crazy to imagine that they had not previously been cast in a romantic comedy together. Destination Wedding follows two people who meet on a flight and come to find the other utterly obnoxious. When they realize they are going to the same destination wedding in Paso Robles, they end up stuck with each other the entire weekend. You may be used to seeing Reeves and Ryder in states of utter despair or evading supernatural terrors, but this movie showcases their biting wit and charm in the best way. Their innate likability makes even these very difficult characters, ones you can root for.
This is one of the best movies about the American Dream and immigrant heritage. This movie may be called My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but it could easily be Italian, Latino, or Asian because it speaks to every first-generation kid’s anxieties and joys. The movie centers on Toula (Nia Vardalos), the black sheep daughter of Greek immigrants who feels like a burden to her parents as she is not married to a nice, Greek boy. When she falls for a WASP high school English teacher, Ian (John Corbett) she has to fight for her independence as well as let go of her embarrassment over her family’s eccentricities. It’s an endlessly quotable movie that will make you proud of your own family’s strange traditions or at the very least, make you wish you were Greek.
The Wedding Banquet (1993)
Many are familiar with Ang Lee’s latest works from kung fu masterpieces like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as well as sad and tender films like Brokeback Mountain, but his early career was marked by films that were much less intense and much funnier. The Wedding Banquet begins when Wai Tung, a gay Taiwanese man settled in New York, decides to placate his traditional parents by marrying his Chinese tenant Wei-Wei who is in need of a green card. To his surprise, his parents won’t let him get a simple ceremony and travel to America to put together a real wedding. As a part of Ang Lee’s early “Father Knows Best” trilogy, the movie infuses traditional Confucian ideals with a new world sensibility. It’s an extremely enjoyable film about how lies can spin out of control and the strange ways we choose to show our love.
Every Christmas season, millions of viewers tune into the Richard Curtis classic, Love Actually, for its heart as well as Hugh Grant’s clumsy charm. However, when it comes time for wedding season, you have to turn to the film that launched Grant and Curtis’ careers. Four Weddings and a Funeral centers around a group of single friends during that time in everyone’s life where almost every weekend is booked with weddings. The protagonist, Charles (Grant) is cynical and hopeless when it comes to his own romantic life until he meets Carrie (Andie MacDowell), a vibrant and exotic American woman. Because of the film’s mix of poignant sentimentality and biting humor, this is the perfect movie for every romantic dressed up as a cynic.
My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
It’s safe to say, the greatest subgenre of the romantic comedy is “Julia Roberts tries to sabotage a wedding.” With films like Runaway Bride and the upcoming Ticket to Paradise, Julia Roberts has blown audiences away, but the best of this subgenre is definitely My Best Friend’s Wedding. The film begins when successful food critic Jules (Roberts) receives a call from lifelong friend Michael (Dermot Mulroney) with whom she previously had a pact to get married if they were still single at 28 years old. When he tells her he’s getting married, she decides to sabotage the wedding through wild antics and deceptions involving her gay best friend, George (Rupert Everett). As one of the few movies about love and marriage featuring an antihero, it constantly subverts romantic expectations and gives us a fuller, more understanding portrait of the “gay best friend”.
As the movie that gave the world this decade’s most criminally underrated actress, Toni Collette, this Australian classic is an ode to the comic relief girls of romantic comedies. Muriel’s Wedding follows Muriel (Colette), a socially awkward ABBA-obsessed girl whose only dream has ever been to get married. When she meets Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths), a vibrant and confident former classmate, and moves to glamorous Sydney, her life begins to change, and she is forced to come face to face with the ugly side of her dreams. Muriel’s Wedding is both darker and funnier than you think it is, a unique quality for any film. For an inspirational wedding movie that shows us, there’s more to life than saying “I do”, this is the film to see.
For a wedding movie that focuses less on the love between the bride and groom and instead on the platonic love triangle between a bride and her friends, Bridesmaids is the perfect option. Co-written by and starring SNL legend, Kristen Wiig, the movie follows Annie (Wiig), a struggling baker who is forced to deal with a series of misfortunes when her lifelong best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) asks her to serve as her maid of honor. Annie is confronted with food poisoning, bumpy plane rides, and most of all, Helen (Rose Byrne), another bridesmaid aggressively vying for Lillian’s love and attention. The fact that this wedding movie prizes friendship over romance and features a cast of greats like Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, makes this movie a rare gem.