THREE STARS - WHOLESOME
There are few experiences in life that have the same level of significance as that of a wedding. Dreamed about since childhood, many people come to their wedding day with such a high level of hopes and expectations that reality has no chance of measuring up. Others, trying to protect themselves from such disappointment, downplay its meaning and see marriage as only a civil contract requiring a judge. Still others avoid the experience altogether in an attempt to convince themselves that love doesn’t require such a public pronouncement to endure. But the universal reality is that weddings matter deeply.
This truth has been explored from virtually every angle by recent film makers. Joining the genre with “Runaway Bride” and “Wedding Singer,” “The Wedding Planner” focuses on the entrapment that the wedding plans themselves can become. Though two people may have relationally moved apart, just the experience of planning a wedding together can propel them toward a sacred union neither are ready or want to make. Yet, unless something unusual happens, the plans naturally gestate into the birth of a marriage.
In the lives of Fran Donolly (Bridgette Wilson) and Steve Edison (Matthew McConaughey), the unusual event comes when Steve meets Mary Fiore (Jennifer Lopez).
Mary Fiore has had a life-long fascination with weddings, beginning by playing as a child with her Barbie-doll bride and Ken-doll groom. However Mary was painfully betrayed on her own wedding day and has retreated into creating weddings for others. As a professional wedding planner, Mary’s sublimated pain has given her the ability to create wedding ceremonies of such lavish beauty and mythical style that she has become a legend in her business. Thus, when wealthy and ambitious Fran Donolly is planning her wedding, she hires Mary to create her special day. This decision proves to be providential.
Not knowing Fran’s groom, Mary coincidentally meets him in a moment of need and she spends a magical evening with him. This experience provides a litmus test in both of their lives.
For Mary, she begins to open up once more to the love of a man. For Steve, he begins to question his plans to marry Fran. For both, their lives enter into a whirlpool of emotions and ethical decisions.
Though we won’t spoil the film by revealing these decisions, the film only begins to explore this complex situation.
Though many people “get cold feet” as they approach their wedding day, the presence of doubts should be taken seriously without requiring the temptation of an alternative choice. Doubts are often ignored in the fray of the wedding plans when the momentum of the wedding as a social event carries people into marriages about which they are unsure.
Marriage requires integrity not only in the expression of the marriage vows but also in the expression of feelings, including doubts if they arise. The fear of embarrassment or the desire to not waste the money already spent is not equal to the pain and regrets of making the wrong choice of spouse.
In the final analysis, the process of choosing who becomes our life partner needs to be far more extensive than our wedding plans and be taken far more seriously than the colors of the bridesmaids’ dresses or the decorations of the church. It is our life plans that need even more diligent attention than the planning of a special event.