'I Do' Onscreen

By Jen Chaney
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 10, 2008; 12:00 AM

Here's the great thing about wedding movies: They allow us to enjoy nuptial celebrations without all the hassle of finding a gift on the registry, wearing painful shoes or eating undercooked chicken florentine from the buffet.

But let's be honest. Only certain tying-the-knot flicks actually feature ceremonies or receptions worth attending. (Translation: There is no way I'd want to be stuck with Julia Roberts at that "My Best Friend's Wedding" debacle.) With that in mind, here is my list of the 10 Cinematic Weddings I Wish I Had Been Invited to in Real Life.

10. "The Philadelphia Story": Who wouldn't want to be part of this 1940 high society, high-tension affair, especially when it all swirls around Katharine Hepburn at her most smart-mouthed, Jimmy Stewart at his most charming and Cary Grant at ... oh, whatever, it's Cary Grant! The fact that the wedding weekend doesn't exactly turn out as planned is even more reason why I wish I could be there to watch the verbal volleys fly.

9. "Monsoon Wedding": There's plenty of drama in Mira Nair's film about an arranged Indian wedding that seems to have several obstacles standing in its way. But the richness of the cultural traditions and the sheer beauty of all that color -- the rich crimson in the bride's sari, the eye-popping orange in those marigolds -- are what make this event unforgettable.

8. "Steel Magnolias": If you have to go to a wedding involving Julia Roberts, this Southern affair is undeniably the one to choose. Not only would I spend some choice moments gossiping with Truvy (Dolly Parton), I'd also snag a big, fat slice of red velvet armadillo cake. That's good eatin', y'all.

7. "Napoleon Dynamite": Wait just a flippin' second, you say. There is no wedding in "Napoleon Dynamite." Ah, but there is in the extended version that can be found on DVD. The joining of Kip and Lafawnduh is plenty surreal. Add the image of Napoleon galloping in on a white horse and you've got a wedding so weird, you kinda have to be there.

6. "The Sound of Music": When Julie Andrews glides down the aisle with perfect grace in that gorgeous, gothic church to meet her Capt. Von Trapp at the altar, the scene conveys all the majesty of a royal wedding. Except when Prince Charles and Princess Diana said "I do," the song "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" wasn't playing in the background. Again, all the more reason to love the "Sound of Music" version.

5. Tie: "The Godfather" and "GoodFellas": The massive families in (arguably) the two finest mafia movies ever made sure know how to throw a big, festive and (presumably) expensive wedding. Plus, the Corleone affair offers the opportunity to meet Marlon Brando in a receiving line. And that's an offer -- here it comes -- I can't refuse.

4. "About Schmidt": There is something both tacky and charming about the union of Jeannie (Hope Davis) and Randall (a mulleted Dermot Mulroney) in this superb Alexander Payne film from 2002. But the main reason I wish I had been invited to this wedding -- aside from getting the opportunity to hear a cover of Dan Fogelberg's "Longer" during the ceremony -- is to see, in person, Jack Nicholson struggle through his wedding toast. He teeters so close to condemning the entire marriage and everyone peripherally associated with it that one braces for the moment when the father of the bride will ruin the entire night.

3. "The Graduate": The break-up of Elaine Robinson's wedding by a crazed Benjamin Braddock may symbolize the baby boomers' desire to break free from their conventional, close-minded parents. And that's cool and all. But I really wish I had been in that generic, suburban church so I could see Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) bang on the glass, take a swing at Mr. Robinson, then jam a cross into the doors, locking all the guests inside the chapel. Now that's the kind of wedding people talk about afterwards.

2. "Diner": I can sum up my reasons for coveting an invitation to the Baltimore nuptials of Eddie (Steve Guttenberg) and his unseen-onscreen fiance Elyse in two words: Colts colors. After making his bride-to-be take a football quiz, Eddie decks out the whole wedding in the blue and white of his beloved hometown football team. I admire his devotion to the dearly departed Baltimore Colts. Also, I wouldn't mind grabbing a dance with Mickey Rourke back when he was still kinda hot.

1. "Sixteen Candles": Nothing makes for a more memorable wedding than a bride who's all hopped up on painkillers. Ginny (Blanche Baker) is in such bad shape that she can barely make it down the aisle to her oily bohunk of a groom (John Kapelos). It's, as the brother of the bride might say, "Classic." Another huge reason to go: The faint hope that when I leave the church, I'll see Jake Ryan across the street, beckoning, while a Thompson Twins song plays gently on the soundtrack.

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