Movie Review: Steel Magnolias


[Note this is really only a review of the first 45 minutes of the movie, the wedding part of the movie.  This blog is much more suited to "my colors are blush and bashful" than "I want to know WHYYYYY!"]

I remember a time in my childhood when Steel Magnolias was the go-to chick flick for lazy sitcom writers.  What I truly hate about the “chick flick” designation is the idea that by being “for women,” a piece of entertainment becomes categorically NOT for men, without the reverse being true.  Lazy sitcom writers never rely on the innate hilarity of a woman watching Predator.  Anyway, Steel Magnolias‘ reign as the quintessential chick flick probably ended with Sex and the City‘s coup of the cinema screen.  I’m guessing current scouting-aged girls are unaware of Steel Magnolias.  Which is really a shame, because it is a delightful movie.

I certainly watched this movie on basic cable at least a half-dozen times in my girl scout years, but there were certain things that I only noticed for the first time this viewing.  Things you can only see through wedding-obsession goggles!


Blush and bashful != pink and pink.  ColourLovers confirms “one is much deeper than the other.”

When I was a kid and people asked me what I’d want to do when I grow up, I went through a phase where my answer was, “I want to name the colors in catalogs.”  I thought that was a job, and I wanted it.  I suspect if that imaginary career existed, the real money would be in the bridal field.  Because selling a cashmere cardigan in “morning sky” is one thing.  Selling “morning sky” as a wedding color means you can sell bridesmaids dresses, stationary, bouquet holders, ring pillows, nail polish, candied almonds, ribbons, photo albums, confetti, place setting chargers, cupcake liners, vase filling “crystals”… pretty much any object that can come in a color and could be conceivably related to a wedding.  Cha-ching.1

2. Bunting

I read wedding blogs for a while before I finally figured out that “bunting” means “those little flags on strings.

However! Steel Magnolias suggests bunting may be any festive use of fabric to decorate.  Because Shelby tells the ladies in the salon that her ceremony decorations include “pink silk bunting draped over anything that would stand still.”

Which looks like this:

The Big Green Dictionary of I’m Right and You’re Wrong sides with wedding blogs: “Bunting, n.  A thin woolen stuff, used chiefly for flags; also, a cotton stuff imitating this; hence, flags collectively.

3. Morning Coats!

The HitchDied debate of suit vs. tux rages on, but at least we’re not getting married during the daytime so I don’t have to push the hard sell of morning coats.  I think morning coats are the coolest.  I think I like the idea of the men being in wedding costume, because the women usually are (although as matching bridesmaid dresses become considered a sign of rudeness, and brides eschew the long and the white “requirements” for wedding dresses, this may become less and less true).  I’ll just have to become Solicitor General to satisfy my morning coat lust.

4. Backyard Business

This movie certainly makes it clear that a backyard wedding reception can be a huge production.  Before the first line of dialogue, we see at least a dozen wedding professionals milling around the house carrying rented glassware from trucks, hanging flowers, carrying umbrellas.  It reminded me of Rachel Getting Married, minus the musicians and people of color, plus Tom Skeritt shooting off blanks to scare away pigeons.  I wonder if big shot wedding planners have birdscare technicians on staff.

5. Groom’s Cake

Two years ago, I went to a cousin’s wedding in Texas, and I said I’d never heard of a groom’s cake.  Someone said, “How could you forget the armadillo in Steel Magnolias?”  Friends, I do not know how I could forget such a wonder:

I am now fantasizing about being a guest at a Southern wedding, wearing a simple pastel frock with a string of pearls and stunning hat, and eating a slice of groom’s cake meant to look like a piece of dead animal.  Whether the cake is deliberately an homage to Steel Magnolias is immaterial, either way it will be the best wedding I’ve ever been to.

1Although based on my reading of Qualitex Co. v. Jacobson Products, Inc., 512 U.S. 159 (1995), I think that you couldn’t actually get trademark protection for “morning sky” because the color would be functional instead of source-identifying; and before you’d be able to establish secondary meaning in the marketplace you just know David’s Bridal would add “Dawn” to its color swatches and you’d be screwed. But I suppose the legal particulars of an imaginary profession aren’t that important.


  1. This has me all kinds of excited. I am going to a Southern wedding in a few weeks and I PRAY for an armadillo cake! I know for sure there will be ponies, I mean horse rides. I kid you not. The bride owns like two. You bet your bottom dollar I’m chuggling a few flutes and hopping on that bad boy!

    And your review makes me crave this movie. I have to see if it’s on Netflix tonight. Oh wait! You have Netflix on Wii, too! Let me know if you find out first!

    p.s. a medium iced coffee from Fuckin Gonuts* (aka Dunkin Donuts) this morning and a large diet pepsi at lunch result in diarrhea of the mouth. Sorry…

    * I cannot take credit for Fuckin Gonuts. An ex coined the term 8 or 9 years ago. He also took pictures of his poop and texted it to me. I know, winner….

  2. haha! I love that cake! It looks like something you’d see on Cake Wrecks!

  3. I belieeeeeeve that “Forces of Nature,” that not-so-great late 90s movie with Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck, also features an armadillo grooms cake. Not sure if the armadillo is ~a thing~, or if they were ripping off Steel Magnolias. Or, alternately, if I am just mixing up my movies.

  4. Okay, so now I have to go watch Steel Magnolias. I haven’t seen it for years. I think because it is so very sad?

    No groom’s cakes over here, but I’m hoping to have the reception do a baked alaska for the Groomie, it would make him all kinds of happy.

  5. couple things:

    1. i want that color naming job
    2. i love tom skerrit (I am a big ‘picket fences’ fan)
    3. that cake is horrifying

  6. 1. I have never seen Steel Magnolias. Then again, my parents didn’t believe in TV or popular culture until we finally wore them down in our teens. I may need to rent this.

    2. The now explains my Southern partner’s early desire for fabric draping at our venue. I visibly recoiled and began wailing about the impracticality of DIY fabric banners hung from the rafters, though I really just thought it was hideous. Since then, we have agreed to disagree about the aesthetics and agreed to agree about the minimal levels of DIY effort for our decor.

    3. You didn’t mention that the cake is clearly a red velvet armadillo of amazingness. That is sculpted cream cheese frosting and red food dye art. Of course, the one dessert I am insisting upon is a red velvet cake and I happen to think armadillos are pretty darn cool (Texas Southern boy’s influence again), so perhaps I’m a little biased about the joy of an animal shaped sugar bomb of joy.

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