One Christmas Night my sister and I were trying to find something to watch other than the 20th hour of A Christmas Story, and we both simultaneously suggested watching When Harry Met Sally… which maybe wouldn’t be that weird considering my sister and I have the psychic connection all good sisters have, if When Harry Met Sally… [yes, I am going to type in that ellipsis every single time. Buckle up.] were a Christmas movie.
But then Becky argued that it is a Christmas movie, because of the two scenes where Sally lugs a Christmas tree away from a lot: once, with Harry’s help, and once without it:
Neither of those scenes have dialogue. It’s really just a visual joke and illustration of the Harry-shaped hole in Sally’s life. But to Becky, it’s enough to make it a Christmas movie, and that’s enough for me too.
Similarly, two nights before my sister’s wedding we also decided to watch this movie. That is much less of a stretch: in addition to there being a pivotal wedding scene, the whole movie is about the road to marriage.
So, Christmas movie, check. Wedding movie, check. New Years movie? Obviously. Great background noise for a game night? Can you say “baby fish mouth”? Appropriate assignment for a twelfth grade health class? According to my high school, edu-lutely!. When Harry Met Sally…: a movie for all seasons.
But here I am only going to cover the wedding, because I’ve got siblings to be
celebrating the holidays playing Kinect with.
So here is Marie and Jess’ wedding:
You may recognize this shot because it is in every wedding movie. If you, like me, watch far too many wedding movies, when confronted with this shot your eyes seek out the nuances in the frame. Here: that table of champagne behind the guests at the ceremony. That’s one of my unlimited-budget wedding fantasies: a celebratory drink for the whole crowd immediately post-ceremony. I’ve been to two weddings that had that and loved it both times. But we’ve only got one “free” round of champagne in our contract, and I’m going to use it during the toasting portion of the reception.
This wedding is set around the holidays, and I think the dark green color works well for that scenario. I might have used a piece of holly in the boutonniere instead of ivy, but that might be too on-the-nose. I also think that Sally’s dress holds up pretty well from 1989. It is hard to imagine a grown woman wearing it, but very easy to imagine an adorable four-year-old wearing that style to Christmas Dinner and Grandmama’s house. I think that is high praise for a 1980′s bridesmaid dress.
The reason Harry and Sally look so miserable in the above shot is they’ve just been screaming at each other in the kitchen. My favorite thing about that scene is that the catering staff barely notices them, even though they are screaming at each other. I suspect that sort of thing happens at weddings all the time.
If I hadn’t already contracted with my venue, I would totally ask candidates “How does your kitchen staff handle guest drama spilling over into employee-only areas?” Because I’m gonna lay 3:2 odds on that being relevant to my wedding day.
Harry and Sally reconcile after the above tiff, thankfully, and in the closing couch interview mention that they got married three months after finally getting together. How could someone as anal as Sally Albright plan a wedding in THREE MONTHS? She has a sauce ON THE SIDE for her wedding cake, but she can handle planning this sauce-on-the-side wedding in NINETY DAYS. I need over a year. What does it say about me that I couldn’t plan a wedding in three months and SALLY can? [I don't care that Sally is fictional. It still freaks me out.]
December 22, 2010 at 7:29 pm
So, of course, this movie is going immediately onto my Netflix because I own it in … VHS. Does anyone even remember what that stands for? And why do I still own large black objects that cannot be used on any movie-playing device in my house?
Also, Harry must have really, really, really loved Sally to put up with her wedding-planning nonsense in an intense 90 days. It’s one thing if the neurotic can spread her freak-outs over a year, but wedding freak-out for a concentrated 90 days scares even me.
December 22, 2010 at 7:40 pm
It is on Instant Watch! In HD! Which kind of freaked me out. I used my regular-def DVD for those images, though, so you can’t see every fiber of Sally’s bridesmaid dress.
December 22, 2010 at 7:43 pm
This is one of my all time favourite movies. I own it on VHS and DVD. Haha!
It always made me wonder about the 3 month wedding too. Surely she wouldn’t have trusted anyone enough to help and would have done it all herself! Though at the same time, I can see her brain going “right, we’ve decided to get married, let’s get it DONE and quickly!”
My engagement period will be 18 months all together. And it will JUST be enough in my books.
December 22, 2010 at 10:38 pm
Mine will be around 18 months and I agree that feels like just the right amount of time. [PS I love your blog name! It always gets that Judas Priest song stuck in my head, though.]
December 22, 2010 at 10:54 pm
I think things were different in the 80s. Then again, they were planning a wedding in 90 days in NEW YORK. My god.
I died at your comment re: preparing the staff for wedding drama. I died.
December 23, 2010 at 3:06 pm
I probably should prepare the staff for this likelihood.
December 22, 2010 at 11:34 pm
I’m going to guess that Sally had pre-planned her wedding, and just needed to actually call everyone up to reserve and pay deposits.
December 23, 2010 at 3:06 pm
Brilliant! That must be it.
December 24, 2010 at 4:03 am
Oh man, do I LOVE your movie reviews. I’ve never actually seen it..Hopefully you’re having a lot of fun playing Kinect and celebrating with family
December 24, 2010 at 1:28 pm
Playing Kinect is the true meaning of Christmas.
December 24, 2010 at 9:46 am
The 3-month wedding never bothered me – because the best line in that movie is hands-down, “when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start /right now/!!!” So that lends itself to the three month wedding.
Also Sally is super-anal about food, but not about things like clothing and aesthetics – she dresses like my mom. Which I think is kind of unstylish for even the 1980s.
But can you imagine how long it took her to mail the invitations? My favorite scene might be the one of her mailing all of those cards…
December 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm
That is the best line in the movie. I think about that whenever I worry that Collin and I are getting married too soon.
December 24, 2010 at 1:32 pm
Also, which scene where she is mailing a bunch of cards? I can’t remember that. Which is embarrassing because I watched the movie five days ago.
December 24, 2010 at 10:32 pm
The scene Ellie is talking about is where she puts each envelope in the mailbox, closes it, checks that it fell through, then does another one. I think.
Clearly this is one of my favorite movies as well.
December 25, 2010 at 10:59 am
Josh, you are a hero. And dear god that would be a fright for wedding invitations.
December 29, 2010 at 6:33 am
ha ha 3 months?!?! that is nuts for anyone, nevermind her character. I give anyone credit who can deal with everything in that time! also, think we solved your bridesmaid dress problem! green velvet & big sleeves!
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