Every wedding dress tells a story. And the story behind these wedding dresses is that the bride should have picked another gown.
There’s nothing worse than watching a rom-com wedding and wondering, Gee, is that the best they could get for happily ever after? Some films use an awful wedding gown to symbolize a doomed relationship, while others just fall prey to fleeting fashion trends (looking at you, 27 Dresses).
Without further ado, here are the 15 on-screen wedding dresses I hope to never see again.
1. Gone with the Wind (1939)
Before you think I’m deriding the classic film Gone with the Wind, you should know that Scarlett O’Hara’s wedding dress worn to marry her first husband, Charles Hamilton, is meant to be ill-fitting. The two rush to the altar after the Civil War breaks out. It’s supposed to be Scarlett’s mother’s dress and was fitted to that actress instead, according to NPR.
The giant-sleeved gown was designed to look like something 20 years out of style (and this film takes place in the 1860s, mind you). The costume, along with several others, was nearly lost to time but was rescued by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin.
Gone With the Wind is streaming on Max.
2. Coming to America (1988)
Coming to America is a comedy classic, but I don’t think many of today’s brides would be caught dead in Lisa’s over-the-top pink wedding dress. (Believe it or not, this isn’t the only pink dress on the list.) It’s certainly an embodiment of ‘80s excess – big veil, big skirt, big jewelry!
Although Lisa’s crown is made with real gems and 14-karat gold, her dress is made out of cheap nylon tulle, which may explain why it looks more like a Barbie doll dress than a royal wedding gown. But hey, if you’re already planning for Halloween, you can buy a replica of Lisa’s ensemble for roughly $60 at Walmart.
Coming to America is streaming on Netflix.
3. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
The very British film Four Weddings and a Funeral was a hit stateside and made Hugh Grant a star. But the character everyone remembers as the bride – Carrie – is actually an American. Unfortunately, I wish I could forget her wedding dress (did they sabotage her with an awful frock as revenge for the Boston Tea Party?).
Promo photos show Carrie in an even more over-the-top dress than the one she actually wears in the film – a “meringue,” as Grant’s character Charlie calls it. Even so, the pearl bolero and extra-thick headband Carrie wears in the film quickly became dated. The silhouette is more matronly than matrimonial – and it’s hard to make the beautiful Andie MacDowell look bad!
Four Weddings and a Funeral is streaming free with ads on Amazon Prime Video.
4. My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
Everyone has seen the iconic movie poster for My Best Friend’s Wedding that features Julia Roberts plucking a miniature bride off a wedding cake. If you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t spoil it, but I will say that Cameron Diaz’s Kimmy does not deserve either the events of the movie or the awful dress the costume department put her in.
My Best Friend’s Wedding is streaming on Hulu.
5. The Wedding Planner
I’m sorry, but supporting character Fran’s gown in The Wedding Planner looks more like a First Communion dress to me. And even though her character isn’t exactly likeable, she does have some great looks in the movie (the girl can rock a blazer). If only her wedding dress were one of them!
The Wedding Planner is streaming on STARZ.
6. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a gem of a movie. I think of it fondly every time I use Windex (if you know, you know). And as a viewer, you can’t help but root for Toula and Ian. Luckily, Toula’s style has evolved since the first movie – that’s right, we not only got a sequel, but My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is coming to theaters in September. I can’t help but think that Toula laughs out loud when she looks back at pictures of her gown covered in fake pearls, plastic beads, and giant rosettes. Oh, and that veil.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is streaming on Max.
7. 27 Dresses (2008)
2008…not exactly a year known for its incredible fashion trends (just check out this roundup). Katherine Heigl wears a beautiful, form-fitting wedding dress as perpetual-bridesmaid-turned-bride Jane, but it’s her sister Tess’s gown that’s heinous. Jane and Tess have a huge fight when Tess completely alters their late mother’s wedding dress – without consulting Jane. But honestly, I’d be just as mad at Tess simply for the fact that the altered dress looks more like a beach coverup than a wedding gown.
27 Dresses is available to rent on YouTube.
8. Made of Honor (2008)
I’m starting to think that filmmakers pick ugly wedding dresses to symbolize weddings that shouldn’t happen – pretty smart, right? Well, the number one example for this theory is Hannah’s horrible ensemble for her wedding to Scottish nobleman Colin.
The crunchy bouffant updo… the frame-swallowing creampuff of a dress… the awkward double-layered veil… Hannah’s look is all wrong. So will she say I do to Mr. Right?
Made of Honor is streaming on Hulu.
9. The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)
The Time Traveler’s Wife was a box office hit, so you’d think the makers of the film would have put a little more effort into the leading lady’s wedding look! The gorgeous Rachel McAdams looks like a plain jane in this strapless dress and severe hairdo. I wish the film’s costumers had given us a more romantic look! Even a necklace would help!
The Time Traveler’s Wife is available to rent on YouTube.
10. The Proposal (2009)
As much as I love the idea of wearing a family member’s vintage wedding dress, it just doesn’t work for Sandra Bullock’s character in The Proposal. The wedding dress, which belonged to Grandma Annie (played by the iconic Betty White), is more of a gag than a costume at first because it’s way too big for Bullock’s character Margaret.
Even though the dress is altered to better fit Margaret, the overall look just doesn’t come together. Wearing her hair in such a modern style looks odd with the antique gown, and the blue necklace looks cheap against the sumptuous cream silk.
The Proposal is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.
11. The Office, Season 6 (2009)
Jim and Pam from The Office made TV history in season 6 of the hit show when they finally tied the knot. Much of the plot of these episodes hinges on the fact that it’s a shotgun wedding – something that the couple tries, and fails, to keep from Pam’s conservative Meemaw.
Pam gets bonus points for the tasteful empire-waist silhouette that camouflages her baby bump, but ultimately, the outfit’s details are its downfall. The teeny tiny spaghetti straps might as well not be there, the sparkly floral embellishments are too teenybopper, and the necklace looks more arts-and-crafts than artisan.
But at least the show’s costume department didn’t go over the top – Daily News reported that the wedding dress was available for $399 at David’s Bridal, something that feels very in-character for the modest Pam Beesly.
The Office is streaming on Peacock.
12. Bridesmaids (2011)
The comedy hit Bridesmaids is not as much about the wedding as it is about the female friendships (and rivalries!) forged on the path to the altar. In an attempt to win over bride Lillian (Maya Rudolph), wealthy Helen (Rose Byrne) secures a couture wedding gown for her. The result is laughable.
Costume designer Leesa Evans told The New York Times she was inspired by looks by Elie Saab and Alexander McQueen – but put her own “comedic twist” on things.
Bridesmaids is streaming on Netflix.
13. The Vow (2012)
You’ll wish you could forget Rachel McAdams’ pink wedding dress in The Vow (sorry for the amnesia joke, I couldn’t resist). Why does it look like something a middle schooler would wear to a homecoming dance instead of an actual wedding gown?
Despite what Glamour wrote at the time, this look is anything but “crazy-cute” – and copying it for your own wedding would be just plain crazy. If you’re thinking pink, check out this roundup of blush wedding gowns instead.
The Vow is available to rent on YouTube.
14. About Time (2013)
About Time is such a touching movie, and the chemistry between Rachel McAdams and Domnhall Gleeson is just too good. But when Mary, played by McAdams, walks down the aisle in a cherry red dress, I was left wondering… Why?
I’m all for brides eschewing the traditional white ballgown (the wedding industry is a scam, y’all!). But if a bride chooses an alternative style, I like to think she should have a good reason behind it. About Time director Richard Curtis’ explanation just doesn’t cut it for me.
“Although I didn't know if the red dress would work … I was very keen that the character, who was Mary, would go for something unusual,” Curtis said, according to MTV.
Well, the dress certainly is an unusual choice – I’ll give him that.
About Time is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.
15. Parks & Rec, Season 5 (2013)
Am I the only one who thinks Leslie Knope wearing a skirt made of newspaper clippings about herself to her own wedding is a little, well, narcissistic?
Whether you love or hate Leslie’s DIY wedding dress, you’ve got to admit that she’s definitely the only TV bride to wear a portrait of Madeleine Albright on her person during the ceremony.
Parks & Rec is streaming on Peacock.
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