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The Modern Wedding Comedy Guide

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This summer has seen a bunch of wedding comedies, with A Few Best Men, The Wedding Video and The Knot attempting to replicate the success of Bridesmaids in a slightly more male-focused way. Of course, these are just the tip of the nuptial iceberg. The last decade or two have seen a veritable flood of wedding comedies ranging from razor sharp to sickly sweet. Here’s your handy guide to telling which is which…

The Happy Couple: Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) and Colin (Kevin McKidd)

The Hanger On: Tom (Patrick Dempsey)

What’s the situation? Tom is BFFs with Hannah (Monaghan) but has no romantic relationship with her, since he’s busy shagging the rest of Manhattan on the regular, the big tart. That’s fine, until she faffs off to Scotland for six weeks on work and Tom, bereft, realises that maybe he’s been in love with her all this time! He’s all set to tell her and live happily ever after – but fate has other plans, in the too-good-to-be-true form of Kevin McKidd, to whom Hannah gets engaged over there. When she asks Tom to be her “maid” of honour (we refuse to countenance that spelling), he agrees so that he can sabotage the wedding and persuade Hannah that he, the guy who’s romantically ignored her for a decade, is the man she should be with. Cue disastrous encounters with waiters, horrendous hen dos and increasingly outlandish attempts to tell her how he feels, culminating in a bloody horse ride across a glen for crying out loud.

Worst moment: So hard to choose. Probably the cringeworthy bachelorette party where the bride’s aged grandmother goes home with a sex toy.

Moral of the story? Horrendous slappers are a much better romantic option than a well-endowed, handsome Scottish laird with his own castle, distillery and great singing voice. Mostly because the former actually exists.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 1/10
The Happy Couple: Matt (Martin Freeman) and Sam (Jessica Hynes); Josef (Steven Mangan) and Isabelle (Meredith MacNeill); Michael (Robert Webb) and Joanna (Olivia Coleman)

The Hanger On: Archie (Vincent Franklin) and Gregory (Jason Watkins)

What’s the situation? A struggling bridal magazine runs a competition for couples looking to have a themed wedding; there are three finalists and the winner will be given a house. Matt and Sam plan a Busby Berkeley musical theme, despite the fact that she can’t sing. Josef and Isabelle, down-on-their-luck tennis pros, plan a tennis-flavoured event; Michael and Joanna want a nudist wedding. Amid all this, devoted couple and wedding planners Archie and Gregory try to keep all the plates spinning. Obstacles to wedded bliss include nose jobs, fist-fights, forced robing, parental rows and temporary break-ups. It’s harder to make fun of this one as it’s actually rather good, and refreshingly free of clichés. Damn it.

Worst moment: Perhaps the inept and thoroughly wimpy (on the groom’s part) punch-up on the tennis court.

Moral of the story? Never trust a magazine; they’re all sinks of iniquity and… wait, that’s not right. Ahem. The moral is that it’s the relationship that matters, not the wedding, and that good gay wedding planners are worth every penny.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 7/10

The Happy Couple: Lillian (Maya Rudolph) and some guy no-one remembers because he’s barely in it. OK, so it’s actually Dougie (Tim Heidecker)

The Hanger On: Annie (Kristen Wiig)

What’s the situation? Lillian’s getting married, but her best friend and maid of honour (note spelling, Dempsey!) can’t quite be happy about it, as it throws her own bad life choices into sharp relief. Then Lillian’s other friend, Helen (Rose Byrne) shows up, all perfect outfits and pots of money, and steals the show. What’s a hapless screw-up to do? Why, give everyone food poisoning, cause the bride to have a really unfortunate accident during a bridal fitting, ruin the hen party and almost lead the bride to back out of the wedding, that’s what. Still, all’s well that ends well, eh?

Worst moment: That dress fitting with THAT toilet moment. There was really NO NEED.

Moral of the story? Carry Imodium at all times. And maybe try to explain your reservations to the bride rather than going off the reservation.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 6/10

The Happy Couple: Kimmy (Cameron Diaz) and Michael (Dermot Mulroney)

The Hanger On: Julianne (Julia Roberts)

What’s the situation? Years ago, Michael and Julianne agreed that if they were still single at the age of 35, they’d marry one another. Because that’s the sort of romantic and pragmatic decision that lies at the heart of many a successful lifelong commitment. Time’s nearly up – but Michael calls up out of the blue to reveal that he’s found wuv, twue wuv, with Kimmy. Julianne, heart suddenly black with the fear of dying alone, heads off to ruin the wedding, despite Kimmy’s best efforts to win her over to the side of truth, justice and the aforementioned true love. Luckily Rupert Everett is on hand to remind Julianne that she’s not a hideous unmarriageable old crone just yet, and that while he himself might be gay, at least she isn’t marrying dull old stick Michael.

Worst moment: Kissing the groom right before his wedding to someone else YOU HARLOT.

Moral of the story? Don’t ruin your best friend’s wedding, you screaming psycho. Get drunk with your awesome mates instead. Jesus, do we have to think of everything?

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 3/10

The Happy Couple: Amy (Amy Adams) and Edward Fletcher-Wooten (Jack Davenport)

The Hanger On: Kat (Debra Messing)

What’s the situation? Amy’s getting married in London, but her sister Kat is panicking because Kat’s ex Jeffrey (Jeremy Sheffield) is best man. Kat is morbidly convinced that attending the wedding without a date will convince Jeffrey that she’s a loser at life and scupper any chance she has of getting him back (which she wants, or whatever). So she hires a male escort to turn up with her, in the shape of Dermot Mulroney – him again – as Nick. He does such a good job of convincing everyone they’re in love that Jeffrey, the cad, takes an interest again, but maybe Kat really prefers Nick after all (obviously) and takes the man-whore over the bounder. Meanwhile, Jeffrey’s revealed as an even worse human than we already thought, Nick turns out to be a paragon and Ed and Amy have a brief wobble before ending up happy ever after.

Worst moment: The whole premise of the film, really. That, or the revelations in the boat house.

Moral of the story? You’re exes for a reason: get over it. Also, someone who is demonstrably a success in every other possible way – career, apartment, fabulous hair – should be able to turn up to one simple wedding alone.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 1/10

The Happy Couple: David (Xavier Samuel) and Mia (Laura Brent)

The Hanger On: Tom (Kris Marshall), Graham (Kevin Bishop) and Luke (Tim Draxl)

What’s the situation? Londoner David and Aussie Mia get engaged after a whirlwind holiday romance. Lacking any family of his own, David invites his mates Tom, Graham and Luke to the wedding down under. Unfortunately, his three friends are world-class fuck-ups – and it’s infectious. The bride’s posh political family are soon coping with missing sheep, coke dealers, giant rolling flower balls of doom and all manner of confusion. Even worse, it’s not funny.

Worst moment: When the gang discovers that the father of the bride’s prized sheep has eaten the cocaine they accidentally picked up from a local drug dealer.

Moral of the story? Choose your friends carefully – and hide the champagne, or at least the car keys.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 1/10

The Happy Couple: Fran (Bridgette Wilson) and Steve (Matthew McConaughey)

The Hanger On: Mary (Jennifer Lopez)

What’s the situation? Wedding planner Mary lands a big account with the wedding of entrepreneur Fran, and meets an interesting man called Steve, with whom she goes to eat M&Ms and watch classic films outdoors, so all seems rosy. Only it turns out her interesting man is the groom, who Fran calls Eddie, and she now has to plan a wedding for him. Meanwhile, her dad is trying to set her up with some totally gorgeous guy – like, drag! All seems lost, in a variety of gorgeous locales around San Francisco, while she’s forced into Steve’s company during Fran’s business-enforced absence. Only where there’s a wedding comedy there’s a happy ending, so Fran and Steve amicably break it off and Mary doesn’t marry the hot Italian and everyone lives to eat M&Ms and watch classic films outdoors ever after.

Worst moment: The explanation that you should only eat brown M&Ms because chocolates already brown and they must therefore have fewer additives. It makes no sense, people!

Moral of the story? If someone really loves you, they’ll take you to see classic films outdoors. Er. Also, be sure you’re getting married for the right reasons.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 1/10

The Happy Couple: Maggie (Julia Roberts) and a number of hopefuls

The Hanger On: Eisenhower “Ike” Grant (Richard Gere)

What’s the situation? Small-town girl Maggie has run away from the altar on three occasions already and is now set to marry fiancé number four. Big-city reporter Ike comes down to cover the nuptials, and finds himself attracted to Maggie. Oh noes! They practice kissing in front of her fiancé, realise they’re in love and Ike steps in for the wedding – only for Maggie to do another runner. Time passes, she gets herself sorted out and realises that she’s in love with him after all yada yada. It’s something to do with how she likes her eggs in the morning, apparently, but the film stumbles in never quite explaining why she’s such an awful person.

Worst moment: The happy ending. How has anyone earned that?

Moral of the story? Lightning doesn’t strike twice. Pretty Woman was yer lot.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead?
(and also yes) Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 7/10

The Happy Couple: Charlie (Jennifer Lopez) and Kevin (Michael Vartan)

The Hanger On: Viola (Jane Fonda)

What’s the situation? You can tell almost at once that dog-walker/artist/whatever Charlie and surgeon Kevin are meant to be together. That’s mostly because they’re on the poster, and also because their first date is swiftly followed by a montage – the very essence of love. But there’s a fly in the ointment: Kevin’s mother Viola, who’s been replaced in her news-reading job by a younger woman and now fears the same result with her son. Cue dirty tricks and hysterics on both sides as they battle for dull old Kevin’s affections. Finally Charlie meets Viola’s own awful mother-in-law and, fearing that the cycle will never end, calls off the wedding – only for Viola to reconsider and the two to actually speak like rational human beings until they’ve worked it all out. Who would have dreamed that could work?

Worst moment: Deciding to deliberately give your son’s fiancée something she’s allergic to, causing her to swell up like a balloon.

Moral of the story? Talk first, poison later.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 3/10

The Happy Couple: Julia (Drew Barrymore) and Glenn (Matthew Glave)

The Hanger On: Robbie (Adam Sandler)

What’s the situation? Robbie is a wedding singer in 1980s New Jersey, and he loves his job. But when he gets dumped by his own fiancée, his life takes a turn for the bitter. Like, screaming insults and public breakdown bitter. The only bright spot is chirpy waitress Julia, whose wedding he helps to plan – only to gradually realise that a) he’s totes in love with her and b) her fiancé is maybe the worst man in the world. As he tries to pull himself back together and save Julia from a horrible marriage, he apparently never stops to question the wisdom of that mullet. It’s a tragic story really – at least from a follicular point of view.

Worst moment: The onstage breakdown. Although that’s kind of also the best moment.

Moral of the story? People had weird priorities in the ‘80s.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 2/10

The Happy Couple: Annie (Kimberly Williams) and Bryan (George Newbern)

The Hanger On: George (Steve Martin)

What’s the situation? Annie returns home from studying in Europe and informs her mother Nina (Diane Keaton) and father George that she’s getting married. This is a shock to George’s delicate system, and he deals very badly with the impending nuptials. The expense knocks him back, the eccentric wedding planner confuses him, he insults his in-laws, goes bananas over a packet of hot dog buns and even gets arrested. And yes, we know this is a remake of the Spencer Tracy 1950 film, but that one doesn’t conform to the OTT stereotype quite as well. That said, this is one of the better wedding movies of its time, because while it may be broad and soppy as a wet rag, it’s also funny and rather sweet.

Worst moment: Probably falling into a pool, clutching the groom’s father’s cheque book.

Moral of the story? Your daughter may one day get married. Take a deep breath and realise this, gentlemen, now before it’s too late.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 5/10

The Happy Couple: Toula (Nia Vardalos) and Ian (John Corbett)

The Hanger On: Her entire family.

What’s the situation? Toula is unhappy in her life so, in a surprisingly sensible move for a rom-com, she does something about it, sorting out her wardrobe and improving her education. In a non-surprising move for a rom-com, this was all inspired by a guy, and leads to said guy – Ian – noticing her and the two striking up a rather sweet romance. Which, against all the odds, survives her very loud, very boisterous family and their attempts to feed the vegetarian Ian some lamb, to dress Toula as a cotton wool ball for her wedding day and their determination to treat every problem with window cleaner.

Worst moment: The dress, a great Greek tragedy in sartorial form.

Moral of the story? We’re still not quite sure. All’s well that ends well? We can all get along if we give it a chance? Something cuddly anyway.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 7/10

The Happy Couple: Whoever they can find.

The Hanger On: John (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy (Vince Vaughn)

What’s the situation? John and Jeremy are lawyers who do everything together, including crashing every wedding they can and pulling like demons while they’re about it. But when John leads them in pursuit of Claire (Rachel McAdams) on a weekend back at the family home, and Jeremy sleeps with her sister Gloria (Isla Fisher), things get complicated and Christopher Walken ends up disappointed in them – which is far worse than simply being found out. The dynamic duo fall out as John pines for Claire and Jeremy keeps on keepin’ on with Gloria on the down low. Can there be a happy ending? Well obviously: this isn’t a bloomin’ drama.

Worst moment: Being hit on by the mother of the woman you love is never ideal. Then again, she’s Jane Seymour so it could be a LOT worse.

Moral of the story? Crash weddings; it’ll totally work out for the best.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 1/10

The Happy Couple: Tess (Malin Akerman) and George (Edward Burns)

The Hanger On: Jane (Katherine Heigl)

What’s the situation? Jane has been 27 times a bridesmaid and never a bride, and has a hopeless crush on her boss, George – who promptly falls in love with her sister, because that’s the way it crumbles, cookie-wise. Jane, stuck with the bridesmaid role again and fuming, is also being pursued by reporter Kevin (James Marsden) for the story of her wedding heroics – but she goes off the rails, ruins the engagement drinks and breaks up the couple, which is pretty harsh even if her sister did cut up their dead mother’s dress. Can she make everything right again? Yes.

Worst moment: The engagement drinks meltdown, where Jane reveals that her sister – contrary to the claims she’s made to her fiancé – is a meat-eating, keg-drinking, cat-abusing liar

Moral of the story? Treat your bridesmaids well: they may one day make you wear those dresses yourself.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 3/10

The Happy Couple: Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and Sky (Dominic Cooper)

The Hanger On: Donna (Meryl Streep), Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Bill (Stellan Skarsgard), Harry (Colin Firth)

What’s the situation? Sophie, daughter of single mother Donna, secretly sends wedding invitations to three of her mother’s old boyfriends, since she’s convinced that one of them must be her father. Cue romantic chaos as all three arrive for the nuptials and every dredges up ancient history. Well, Donna and Sam do, since they’re clearly made for each other and still have unfinished business. Even if his singing’s a bit wobbly for the duets…

Worst moment: We mentioned Sam’s singing, right?

Moral of the story? DNA tests are for losers. Winners get all the contenders together and just have a singalong instead.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score -10/10

The Happy Couple: Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Fletcher (Chris Pratt); Liv (Kate Hudson) and Daniel (Steve Howey)

The Hanger On: Marion St. Claire (Candice Bergen)

What’s the situation? Emma and Liv have been friends all their lives, but when they end up with bookings for the same day at New York’s Plaza hotel, they lose their freakin’ minds and go mental with one another. Before you can say “Chill the hell out, you shrieking harridans!” they’re sabotaging one another’s waistlines, tan lines and hair lines. Amid the chaos, Liv’s relationship gets stronger and Emma’s apparently-solid one begins to come apart at the seams – but the real focus is on these apparently bosom-buddies who are so insanely focused on a wedding ceremony that they trash their lives for it, the awful, awful human beings.

Worst moment: Just the whole situation. Ladies, you can apparently afford $80,000 weddings! If they’re on the same day wouldn’t that be better for you as BFFs? This is the very acme of a first-world problem.

Moral of the story? It is just a wedding, and just a hotel, for just one day. Friendship lasts, hopefully, a good bit longer, so prioritise.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score -10/10

The Happy Couple: Lara (Alice Eve) and James (David Tennant)

The Hanger On: Katie (Kelly Macdonald)

What’s the situation? Lara’s a huge star and determined to marry her fiancé, blocked writer James, away from the glare of the paparazzi. They escape to the remote Scottish island on which James’ novel was set (although he made it all up), only to discover that the locals are willing to sell them out. Lara runs away and local girl Katie steps in as a decoy bride to cover her tracks, only to accidentally get married to James. It’s Local Hero meets The Wedding Planner! And you probably missed it in cinemas because it was barely there.

Worst moment: Is it really that easy to marry someone by accident?

Moral of the story? Honestly, Lara, if Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz can manage a secret wedding, so can you.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 1/10

The Happy Couple: Muriel (Toni Collette) and David (Daniel Lapaine)

The Hanger On: Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths)

What’s the situation? Muriel (“Mariel”) Heslop thinks she’s about to fulfill the dream of a lifetime when she agrees to an arranged marriage with South African swimmer, David van Arckle. It’s a chance to escape her horrible dad and walk down the aisle to her beloved ABBA dressed like a fairytale bride. Unfortunately, her hubby-to-be wants her for her visa, not her heart – or her heart-shaped tiara – as her best pal Rhonda has warned her.

Worst moment: As wedding vows go, it should not be difficult to spot the difference between “Yeah, okay… why not?,” and a declaration of undying love.

Moral of the story? First dances are fun and cakes are nice and all, but you should really find the right person before you start planning your wedding.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 6/10

The Happy Couple: Saskia (Lucy Punch) and Tim (Robert Webb)

The Hanger On: Raif (Rufus Hound)

What’s the situation? Best man and brother of the groom Raif has taken it upon himself to record the run-up to Saskia and Tim’s wedding. As a low-budget Orson Welles he’s privy to all the stresses and strains of the impending nuptials. This leaves plenty of time to reconnect with his old wildchild pal Saskia and throw a giant spanner in the works.

Worst moment: A toss-up between the bit where Saskia’s world caves in or the bit where her mum tries to make her travel to church by unicorn.

Moral of the story? Always follow your heart and never hire a cinematographer.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 2/10

The Happy Couple: Carrie (Andie MacDowell) and Sir Hamish Banks (Corin Redgrave)

The Hanger On: Charles (Hugh Grant)

What’s the situation? Foppish charmer Charles is smitten by American sasspot Carrie (Andie MacDowell) when he meets her at a friend’s wedding. The hitch? She’s getting married to supercilious bagpiper-bothering landowner Hamish Banks in a grand Scottish ceremony while he’s got fatwahs on his head from any number of exes. Some serious tangles need to be untangled before the path of true love can run smooth.

Worst moment: Charles’ table at the reception seats a veritable sea of angry ex-girlfriends. Chances are he has to pour his own wine at this one.

Moral of the story? True love may win out in the end but your hair will probably always be unruly.

Wedding checklist:

Does the wedding go ahead? Does true love triumph? Is there a run for love at the end? Comic relief from elderly relatives? Realism score 7/10

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