Jul 8 2013 2:30pm

Author Beth Harbison’s 10 All-Time Favorite On-Screen Wedding Scenes

Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger by Beth HarbisonHeroes and Heartbreakers is pleased to welcome author Beth Harbison to the site today. Beth's latest release, Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger has a heroine who bolts from her own wedding after hearing something about her groom-to-be. Today, Beth counts down her favorite actual wedding scenes on screen. Thanks, Beth!

10. Caleb and Julie on The OCOkay, it wasn’t actually Caleb and Julie that made this wedding so romantic, it was the scene outside afterwards where everyone was dancing to Jem’s version of “Maybe I’m Amazed.”  The romantic tension between Ryan and Marissa was exquisite as they went through the motions of a slow dance while in fact it was a torturous scene of love and yearning and loss.  There is nothing more excruciating than lost love at a happy wedding. 

9. Lazar and Tzeitel in Fiddler on the RoofI can’t think of a more touching snapshot of life than the young couple standing serious at the altar while “Sunrise, Sunset” plays over the scene (pause for me to cry a moment) and the camera pans over the faces of the elders, some crying, some stoic, some happy, all faces showing stories untold.  There is a tremendous sense of beginning in this wedding scene, and isn’t that what a wedding should feel like? Just thinking about it makes me want to get a glass out of the kitchen and stomp on it.

8. BridesmaidsI was going to talk about how much fun the wedding in the opening scene to The Godfather was, with the grandparents up there singing “Tarantella” and everyone dancing, but, actually, if I could pick between going to that wedding or the one with special guests Wilson Phillips singing “Hold On,”,- I’m going Wilson Phillips every time.  Not that I DON'T want to ask Don Corleone a favor on his daughter’s wedding day, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t work out all that well.

7. The GraduatePrior to this, I’m not sure Dustin Hoffman would have been up there as a choice for “Romantic Hero," but his intensity in the scene where he stops Elaine’s wedding is absolutely compelling.  Rattling the windows and calling her name until she sees him and cries, “Ben!”  Then fighting his way down the aisle to her, beating people with a cross,  then escaping into the real world with his true love…. I always wonder what happened that night, but that? Was a great day.  One of the best runaway bride scenes ever as well.

6. Carrie and Big in Sex and the City—Yes, the original planned wedding at the New York Public Library would have been excellent, I’m sure. But ever since seeing the old Norman Rockwell picture of the couple signing their wedding license at City Hall, I have always found the idea of a courthouse wedding to be the utmost in romantic. In this case, the fact that it took those two crazy kids so long to get to “I do” made the simplicity and intimacy of the quickie wedding that much more satisfying.

5. Mike and Carol on The Brady BunchThe backyard, the sunshine, the hair, the dress, the kids, the dog, Tiger (in his one and only appearance on the show)…It’s just the epitome of a happy day.  You can almost smell the pigs in blankets and taste the Jell-O mold you just know are waiting on a picnic table for the backyard reception!

4. Maria and Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of MusicAdmittedly, it is not a dream of most little girls to someday walk down the aisle to a seemingly massive chorus of nuns singing about what a pain in the ass she is (“How do you solve a problem like Maria?”) but that wedding was the emotionally necessary conclusion to a ton of romantic tension we viewers had to endure.  The scene in the Gazebo where they almost kiss but don’t?  The scene on the terrace where he teaches her to dance The ländler?  Oh, I almost couldn’t take it.  Thank goodness for the wedding so they could finally have sex!

3. Princess Diana and Prince Charles—I am, of course, aware that this union didn’t work out ideally. But for a lot of us, spanning a lot of ages, this wedding in 1981 was the bomb diggity. Having watched every bit of coverage I could catch on TV (harder in those days than in these) and even read Time Magazine for tidbits, I got up at 5 a.m. to start watching the summer wedding to beat all summer weddings. Unfortunately I was in summer school that year and had to go at 8 a.m. Fortunately, though, my teacher was also a hopeless romantic and she had a TV wheeled into the classroom and that’s what we did from 8 to noon, when I went home and continued watching what was left of the coverage of the aftermath. 

2. Luke and Laura on General HospitalIf the Charles and Diana thing didn’t date me, this one will.  But everyone who watched this wedding (and apparently there were thirty million of us) knows just how long we’d waited for it and how exciting it was that it finally happened.  Filmed outside in bright sunlight, everything about it was optimistic, but the thing that struck me the most as a young girl—and the thing I remember now with the most clarity—was how triumphant Luke was after they were pronounced man and wife.  That is what a wedding should be—the man thrilled that he won the woman, not the old cliché of a woman finally having beaten him down. Yes!

1. Tracy and Dex in The Philadelphia StoryAnd here it is, the mother of all runaway bride scenes, only she doesn’t run away.  As Tracy’s (Katherine Hepburn) ex-fiance, Dex (Cary Grant), helps calm her nerves as the jitters take over and she stops her wedding to Jeff (Jimmy Stewart), by feeding her lines to explain to the guests, she hears herself announcing that the wedding is on but instead she will be marrying Dex…“as originally and most beautifully planned.” Picking between Jimmy Stewart and ending up with Cary Grant? I don't care what generation you are, THAT is romance!


BETH HARBISON is The New York Times bestselling author of When in Doubt, Add Butter; Always Something There To Remind Me; Thin, Rich, Pretty; Hope In A Jar; Secrets of a Shoe Addict and Shoe Addicts Anonymous. She grew up in Potomac, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C., and now shares her time between that suburb, New York City and a quiet home on the eastern shore.

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1. juliagabriel
Well, I'll date myself too and confess to watching Charles and Diana's wedding. I had to watch it up in my room on the small tv because my brothers wanted no part of that! It's a good reminder, I suppose, that sometimes the prince turns into the frog.
Heather Waters
2. HeatherWaters
I''m a sucker for the royal weddings. Love the spectacle. William and Catherine's was gorgeous as well.

Also, this: Picking between Jimmy Stewart and ending up with Cary Grant? I don't care what generation you are, THAT is romance! Couldn't agree more.

Great list!

And I just have to say that the title of your new novel is fabulous. Love it.
3. RaeAnn
I completely agree with the choice for number one.

Just a couple things:
1. C. K. Dexter Haven and Tracy Samantha Lord Haven were divorced. It's the first scene of the movie - he's leaving and she throws his golf clubs out after him, breaking one over her knee. It's also mentioned when they see each other again ("I thought it was for life, but the nice judge gave me a parole. ")
2. Tracy's fiance is named George Kittridge, a nouveau-riche factory owner.
3. Jimmy Stewart's character is named Macaulay. Mike is a writter for Spy magazine - a tabloid. He inadvertently causes the break-up between Tracy and George, however, he offers to marry her instead. Tracy declines graciously. She is about to tell the guests there will be no wedding when Dex offers himself as groom, a re-do of a wedding that didn't happen years earlier when they eloped.

It's my favorite movie and I'm a bit of a geek about it. (High Society wasn't nearly a good.)
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