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Memorable Movie Weddings

Updated on September 10, 2011

Weddings are one of the best parts of movies. Often hilarious, sometimes surprising, and always fun, a wedding ceremony makes any movie more entertaining. There are countless great movies with weddings as a central theme, and everyone has their favorites. These are some of the most memorable movie wedding scenes of all time.

The Philadelphia Story

The 1940 classic "The Philadelphia Story" is all about weddings, past and present. The all-star ensemble cast includes Katharine Hepburn as Philadelphia heiress Tracy Lord, Cary Grant as her ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven, John Howard as her fiancé George Kittridge, and Jimmy Stewart as reporter Mike Connor. The story revolves around the upcoming nuptials of the very wealthy and very spoiled socialite Tracy Lord. Her previous brief marriage to playboy Dexter had ended in divorce, and she had become engaged to the "right" sort of man, George Kittridge. Plans are well under way for the lavish home wedding when Tracy's ex-husband shows up out of the blue several days before the wedding is to take place.

Dexter has become an employee of the tabloid "Spy" magazine, and he arrives at the Lord mansion with two reporters in tow, posing as friends. The reappearance of her former love throws the steely young socialite into a tizzy. Tension mounts as she begins to realize that she is also attracted to reporter Mike Connor, who is played by Jimmy Stewart. Things come to a head on the evening of an engagement party for Tracy and George. She becomes incredibly drunk, takes a midnight swim in her pool, and then makes out with Mike the reporter. All this the night before she is to marry the respectable and upright George Kittridge!

The following morning, the bride-to-be is hung over and confused. Her memory of the night before are foggy, but gradually all of the details begin to emerge. When George discovers that his fiancée was exchanging kisses with another man the night before their wedding, he is none too pleased. Tracy decides that she is none too pleased with George's attitude and realizes that she does not truly love him; he ends up departing the mansion just moments before the ceremony is scheduled to begin.

The wedding guests have already arrived and been seated by the time George takes his leave, and the entire group is wondering what on earth Tracy will do and say. Dexter takes her aside and counsels her about what to say to her guests. He advises Tracy to tell her guests that they did not get the chance to witness the marriage of Tracy Lord and Dexter Kittridge the first time around, but that this time they would. Imagine how surprised everyone must have been when the lovely bride marched down the aisle while a band played...and married a different man than the one whose name was on the wedding invitations! Only in Hollywood, right? This is definitely one of the most memorable weddings in movie history, thanks to the surprise ending to the love triangle (or make that rectangle) between Tracy, Dexter, George, and Mike. The thing that really makes the wedding in "The Philadelphia Story" so fantastic is the superb acting by the big name cast.

The Graduate

There is another classic movie that has an incredibly dramatic and surprising wedding at the end. Perhaps no wedding movie is better known than the one at the end of 1967's "The Graduate". The groundbreaking film starred a young Dustin Hoffman as recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock, Anne Bancroft as the legendary suburban seductress Mrs. Robinson, and Katharine Ross as her naïve daughter Elaine. The producers of the movie made what was considered to be a bold choice when they cast Dustin Hoffman in the lead role instead of a classically handsome leading man like Robert Redford. The film was a smash hit, thanks to the great cast, the Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack, and of course, the famous wedding scene.

As "The Graduate" opens, Benjamin Braddock has just graduated from college and is trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life ("One word: plastics."). He is quite literally adrift, spending much of his time floating around in his parents' swimming pool. Enter the neighbors: Mr. Robinson attempts to give young Benjamin advice on how to enter the adult world, while his wife Mrs. Robinson decides to give Benjamin a different sort of adult education. Their affair is one of the legendary older woman/younger man relationships in the history of film ("Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs. Robinson?"). You might say that Mrs. Robinson was the original "cougar".

Then things get even more interesting. Benjamin gets pushed into going out on a date with the Robinson's college age daughter Elaine, and he discovers that he has a real connection with her. The illicit affair with Mrs. Robinson is thrilling, but Elaine is the sort of girl that Benjamin can build a life with. As Benjamin and Elaine's love grows, so does Mrs. Robinson's jealousy and spite. She steps in to destroy the relationship between her daughter and her lover, with predictable results. Her heart broken, Elaine leaves Benjamin and goes back to college.

Benjamin is not so easily discouraged, however, and this sets up the fantastic scene at the end of "The Graduate". He chases after Elaine; by the time he gets to her, however, it is too late: she is getting married. Elaine's marriage is not so much one of passion, though, as one that is sanctioned by society, her parents in particular. In the great finale, Dustin Hoffman runs from his car to the big ugly modern church where the wedding is taking place. We watch him run up several flights of stairs, finally arriving at an enormous window which overlooks the altar where the ceremony is being conducted. He arrives just in time to see the kiss that signifies the end of the wedding and the start of the marriage.

In a panic, Benjamin begins to pound on the giant pane of glass shouting "Elaine!" over and over. All eyes in the church are upon him, and the irate faces of guests and Elaine's parents and husband are shown mouthing all sorts of nasty oaths at him. Finally, Elaine turns to face him and yells "Ben!", at which point she begins dashing down the aisle and he races down the staircase. They are reunited in the entrance of the church. There is a terrific scene in which a fight ensues between Benjamin and Elaine's father, as well as assorted others. A seminal moment in the film occurs when Mrs. Robinson hysterically informs her daughter that "It's too late!", and Elaine retorts, "Not for me.". During the scuffle, Benjamin grabs a big modern cross from the wall and swings it at his attackers. In a moment rife with symbolism, Benjamin jams the giant cross into the door handles on the outside of the building, locking Elaine's husband and family inside so they can make their escape.

The film ends with another famous scene: Elaine and Benjamin dash away from the church filled with outraged guests and hop into a passing bus. To the amazement of the other passengers, the bride, still in her gown, full veil, and carrying her bouquet, makes her way to the back of the bus with her boyfriend. The film ends with Simon and Garfunkel's classic tune "The Sounds of Silence" playing as the bus drives away to Elaine and Benjamin's unknown future. The song is particularly appropriate as Benjamin and Elaine did not exchange a word throughout the entire dramatic dénoument of "The Graduate".

The Graduate

Sixteen Candles

A much more lighthearted film involving a wedding is the 1984 John Hughes hit "Sixteen Candles". The wedding in this great 1980s comedy does not always make the lists for the top wedding scenes in movies, but to my mind it is one of the funniest and most memorable. The movie "Sixteen Candles" revolves around the teen angst of Samantha (played by Molly Ringwold) whose sixteenth birthday is forgotten in the excitement of the days before her big sister Ginny's wedding to Rudy the "oily bohunk". The house fills with family members, none of whom remember Samantha's birthday until her father finally does at the end of the night. As her sister prepares to walk down the aisle, Samantha spends her time pining over the school hunk Jake, who is played by Michael Schoeffling. Jake, naturally, is unavailable, as he is dating the beautiful Carolyn, one of the most popular girls at school.

Much hilarity unfolds (often thanks to Anthony Michael Hall who plays "the geek"), and finally the day of the wedding arrives. By this time, Jake has become interested in Samantha, who let's face it, is a much nicer girl than the one he has been dating. He arrives at her house, only to find her gone. Jake is utterly confused when he is informed by Samantha's grandparents' exchange student that she went to the church to get married. Perplexed, he tracks her down to the site of the wedding.

Meanwhile, Ginny's plans for a perfect wedding have been derailed by a killer case of menstrual cramps, which she tries to alleviate by taking a massive dose of muscle relaxers. The actual wedding ceremony is hilarious. Fully decked out in a formal wedding gown, veil, and pearl bridal jewelry, Ginny is so medicated that she is barely able to walk or speak clearly. She manages to make it down the aisle (barely) and get through the ceremony, though she does lose her veil in the process. At the conclusion of the service, bridesmaid Samantha stays behind to retrieve her sister's lost veil.

The best part of the movie actually follows the funny wedding scene. As the cars pull away from the front of the church, Samantha is very surprised to see none other than Jake standing beside his red Porsche. It is a great moment, one that accurately captures the awkwardness of the teen years perfectly. Samantha cannot believe that the object of her dreams is actually there for her; Jake waves to her, and she looks behind herself, assuming that he must surely be there to see someone else. Samantha mouths "me?", and self-assured Jake goes, "Yeah, you". In the end, she decides to skip her sister's reception, and goes off with Jake. The film ends with a classic moment, in which Samantha and Jake share a kiss over a birthday cake ablaze with sixteen candles. The wedding may not be the best known scene in the '80s pop culture classic, but it is surely one of the funniest.

Father Of The Bride

Another very funny movie about a wedding is the 1991 remake of "Father of the Bride" starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton as George and Nina Banks, the parents of bride-to-be Annie Banks. George Banks is taken aback when his daughter Annie returns from a college semester spent abroad and announces her engagement. He struggles both with the idea of his little girl growing up and with the staggering cost of the wedding being planned by Annie and Nina. The funniest scenes in "Father of the Bride" are definitely those featuring Martin Short as wedding planner "Franck". He guides Mrs. and Miss Banks along in their quest to plan the perfect wedding – at a price of course. George spends a lot of time loosening his collar trying to catch his breath when he gets bill after bill for Annie's "perfect day". The pressure from his wife, daughter, and wedding planner is magnified by the fact that Annie's fiancé Bryan comes from an affluent family.

There are numerous memorable moments that occur in the course of planning Annie's wedding. In an effort to save money, George pulls his old tux out of the attic, which Franck scorns because it is navy blue, not black. The old tuxedo ends up ripping (apparently Mr. Banks has put on a pound or two over the years), and everyone is relieved when he is forced to get a new (black) tuxedo. Annie's wedding is at her parents' home, but it is far from a casual backyard affair. The wedding is a very formal one full of orchids and ice sculptures, and Annie looks beautiful walking down the aisle on her father's arm in her lovely bridal gown and special jewelry. There is one nod to the bride's tomboy origins and her dad's shoe business; underneath her traditional gown, the bride wears a pair of the sneakers made by her father's company.

The day of the wedding has many funny events. There are swans on the lawn, tulips that Franck insisted on planting in the yard freezing due to a freak Los Angeles snowstorm, and a valet parking fiasco because George refused to pay for enough parking attendants. "Father of the Bride" is a very sweet and funny movie, and the wedding scene is one of the best. In the end what makes the film especially memorable is George's love and devotion to his daughter, and his conflicting feelings of joy for her new happiness and sadness over losing her to another man.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Another great comedy about a wedding is the 2002 surprise hit "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". Written by and starred in by Nia Vardalos, the hilarious film chronicles what happens when a girl from a traditional Greek family decides to become the first in her family to marry a non-Greek, played by John Corbett. If you have a yen for a movie that is both amusing and a real tearjerker, check out the wonderful Southern wedding in the 1989 movie "Steel Magnolias". The best part about Shelby (Julia Roberts) and Jackson's (Dylan McDermott) wedding is the groom's cake which is made to resemble an armadillo. When the cake is cut, under the armadillo colored icing is a red cake that looks a bit too much like the inside of an actual armadillo. Disturbing, but funny.

Memorable Movie Weddings

Those who enjoy British films can get their fill of weddings with 1994's "Four Weddings and a Funeral". There are many other weddings in movies that are funny, sweet, or both. This is but a short list; movie buffs and wedding enthusiasts alike will find many delightful weddings on film that will create lasting memories.


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    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      This is an excellent list of films. I've seen all of the wedding films you mentioned in entirety except the Graduate- I only saw the wedding but it was definitely memorable.

      My personal favorite has to be Father of the Bride- it reminds me of childhood and I always love how Annie had her sneakers on at her wedding. I always though that's what I would do and am still considering it.

      It is interesting how much there is in a film that builds up to a wedding. I really enjoyed reading this.

    • Andy Webb profile image

      Andy Webb 

      8 years ago

      The wedding in "The Graduate" has to be one of the best, full of stunning camera work and leaving the whole thing open to individual interpretation.

      One of my favourites and it’s only a very small part of the movie is the wedding at the end of "Honeymoon in Vegas" which is as you would expect if you’ve seen the movie heavily Elvis related.


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