It’s “Non-Wedding” Wedding Season on TV and Film

Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner

My oldest friend got married in January, so I made my way down to sunny Florida to be a bridesmaid in a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding. It’s what she had always dreamed of doing when she got married, and I couldn’t be happier that she got to have her giant, magical spectacle while also knowing that if I were faced with the same scenario on my own wedding day, I’d fake my own death to get out of it. I have never really had a vision of my wedding day because while I’d love to get married one day, I absolutely do not want a wedding.

There’s nothing wrong with big weddings — I understand that joining two lives together is something that many people want to celebrate with their loved ones and that weddings are of huge importance in various cultures, and that’s a beautiful thing. But to me, the thought of being the center of attention makes me break out in hives and the added humiliation of pouring your heart out during one of the most personal and intimate moments of your life while people watch you?! Hideous. I can’t think of anything worse. If I am ever to tie the knot, I want to elope somewhere far away and get married in the presence of absolutely no one. 

All those things considered, my romantic wish fulfillment in media comes in the form of wedding vows exchanged without all the pomp and circumstance. I wish more television and movie marriages started that way — not unsentimental or unspecial, just more…un-wedding. One of the best examples is Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann’s impromptu mid-battle wedding in the pouring rain during the climax of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. My first real OTP; they get married during absolute chaos because it’s important to them to do it right then and there after waiting so long. Their vows keep getting interrupted by the need to sword fight with cursed fish people, with nobody except the two of them and Barbossa aware that it’s going on, and yet the whole scene is still swoon-worthy and romantic. That’s the Disney wedding for me. It’s so much more perfect for them than the interrupted wedding at the beginning of Dead Man’s Chest would have been. (Admittedly, the shine gets taken off of their sweet moment when Will is stabbed through the heart and dies about two minutes later, but still!)

Ben and Leslie's wedding

But my all-time favorite wedding takes place in Pawnee, Indiana. Parks and Recreation had a lot of great weddings during its run that really embrace the spirit of everything I think a wedding should be. First, April and Andy sprung a wedding on everyone during a party at their house. Andy wears a Colts jersey because the only thing he loves as much as April is his football team, and Animal Control releases a bird that thumps to the ground dead as the couple seals their vows with a kiss, which makes me ugly laugh every time I see it. Leslie and Ben are similarly spontaneous in Season 5 when, on the night of the gala for Pawnee Commons, they decide to scrap their plans for a more traditional wedding and get married then and there at the end of the event.

The usual hijinks ensue as everyone tries to make it happen, but just when it seems like they’re going to pull it off, everything derails when Ron ends up in jail after punching a drunk Jeremy Jamm in the face. I could have told them that it wasn’t going to work out. Weddings are a mess, and this is what I’m saying. They marry in the end, in the perfect way, and in the perfect place. Right in the middle of the Parks DepartmentBen and Leslie join their lives together, surrounded by the people they love the most. It’s simple and perfect, but it’s still not my favorite Parks wedding. That honor belongs to the opening scene of Season 6.

Ron and Diane's wedding
(Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

After Diane tells Ron that she’s pregnant, they embark to the fourth floor of Pawnee City Hall for the greatest television wedding of all time. They’re both practical people, no-nonsense haters of fuss. They don’t want a big event, they just want to be married, and the entire thing takes about three minutes. The only reason there’s any wedding party at all is because April and Leslie happen to be walking by Ron and Diane on their way to the elevator, and if they hadn’t been, there’s a good chance nobody would have known that Ron and Diane tied the knot for weeks. Best Man April films the ceremony on her phone while Maid of Honor Leslie (clad in wader pants) frantically tries to add details on the fly as the nonplussed couple says “I do” in someone’s office, and that’s it. Lest anyone have the insane idea that there’s more to follow, the groom sets things straight in the way only Ron Swanson can:

“Great job everyone. The reception will be held in each of our individual houses, alone.”

It is quite simply my favorite line about weddings ever, and it could not be a more perfect expression of what I want for myself. Truly, a dream. Ron and Diane go on to have a beautiful family and a happy marriage, so there was no need for entire episodes of buildup and a season finale event for something that wouldn’t have felt genuine to their relationship anyway, just for the sake of it.

Even when romance is at the center of a story, I’d argue that the audience doesn’t need to see the actual exchange of vows. I didn’t at all miss seeing Kate and Anthony’s nuptials in Bridgerton’s second season. (Lest we forget, Anthony and Edwina had a bright and sunny wedding, and I think we all agree that it wasn’t anyone’s favorite day.) Even in the book, the details are glossed over, taking up just a scant bit of page space in The Viscount Who Loved Me. There’s a good chance there’ll be weddings between the main couples in future seasons, but I’m pleased it wasn’t considered a requirement for all of them. Maybe it’s the distaste of being fed the lie that a wedding day should be the single most important event in a woman’s life that makes me so happy when I see them presented as a nonentity that can take place off-screen, or perhaps it’s the reassurance that it’s not just me — plenty of other people, even ones who are in love, don’t care about weddings either. Whatever it may be, bring on all the midweek city hall weddings, the elopements, the spur-of-the-moment “I guess today is as good as any” weddings with zero planning. For a certain subset of people, that can be just as much of an exhilarating and joyous beginning to a marriage, so it always makes me happy when I get to see them play out in characters’ love stories.


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