Here comes the ex
As Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding approaches, we’re devouring every detail trickling out about their big day — including who will be in attendance. Amid reports that Harry’s ex-girlfriends Cressida Bonas (right), Ellie Goulding, and Chelsy Davy (left) made the guest list for the royal nuptials, we’ve revisited movie and TV weddings where one (or more) of the bride or groom’s exes made a memorable appearance (the outcomes of which vary significantly). Read on to relive 11 such ceremonies.
“I, Ross, take thee, Rachel…”
Of all the horror stories that could arise from having your ex attend your wedding, accidentally saying their name in your vows is probably the worst. Ross (David Schwimmer) makes a faux pas for the ages when he names Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) in his vows during his wedding to Emily (Helen Baxendale) in the Season 4 finale. Rachel hadn’t planned to attend the wedding in London, declining the invitation, but she flies there at the last minute planning to confess she still loves Ross. In the end, Rachel decides not to be the worst wedding guest ever and instead merely wishes Ross luck — but her presence does the damage on its own, causing Ross to mistakenly name her during the ceremony. In the end, it’s for the best — elongating the “will they-won’t they” narrative of Rachel and Ross’ love and adding a comedic moment to their decade-long star-crossed romance.
My Best Friend's Wedding
Julia Roberts stars in the ultimate tale of the other-woman-at-the-wedding. Julianne (Roberts) and Michael (Dermot Mulroney) make a pact to marry if they both reach 28 unmarried, but when Michael gets engaged to Kimmy (Cameron Diaz), Julianne decides she wants him for herself regardless of age and goes to all kinds of lengths to win him back. She’s ultimately unsuccessful, but luckily her (other) best friend (Rupert Everett) is there to pick up the pieces.
How I Met Your Mother
“Don’t ever invite an ex to your wedding,” the disembodied voice of middle-aged Ted (Bob Saget) advises his children before this particular chapter in the tale of how he met their mother. He learned that lesson the hard way: Despite the vehement protestations of his fiancée Stella (Sarah Chalke), young Ted (Josh Radnor) more or less accidentally invites one of each of their exes to the big event. Then, when he and Stella separately confront their own respective former partners, Ted gets his own ex to leave before the ceremony, but Stella isn’t so successful — she runs away with hers. But you know what? It’s fine! If Ted had married Stella he never would have met your mother!
Four Weddings and a Funeral
This Richard Curtis rom-com has not one, but two cases of exes attending weddings and both of them are utterly disastrous experiences. Charles (Hugh Grant) attends Carrie’s (Andie MacDowell) wedding, after having already confessed his love for her while helping her select her wedding gown! Not only is Charles utterly miserable there, but he also finds out his best friend Fiona (Kristin Scott Thomas) has been carrying a torch for him for years and their other friend, Gareth (Simon Callow), suffers a fatal heart attack during the groom’s toast. Carrie also attends Charles’ wedding to tell him she has separated from her husband, causing him to realize she, not the woman standing next to him at the altar, is the only woman he’s ever loved. Ruined weddings galore!
Will & Grace
We know that if Will (or Grace for that matter) was going to be the ex at the wedding there was going to be plenty of neuroses and drama. When Will discovers that his ex Vince is getting married, he becomes obsessed with figuring out what went wrong in their relationship. In true sitcom style, everything is resolved by the end of the episode, but not before Will makes a toast to himself for being a sad, lonely man. Oh, dear.
The Philadelphia Story
In pop culture, an ex at the wedding means they might end up being the one walking down the aisle (or running away with the bride/groom), and it’s a time-worn trope providing an excellent narrative framework for The Philadelphia Story. When C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) arrives for Tracy Lord’s (Katharine Hepburn) wedding weekend, he’s there purely on work pretenses (or so it seems) — helping a team of reporters attend to cover the nuptials for Spy magazine. But over the course of the wedding festivities, we learn that Dexter never got over Tracy — and as she does some soul-searching (and gets drunk for the second time ever in life), she finds herself drawn to her first husband who she once dismissed for the grave sin of being human.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Not that we’re here to condone ditching your betrothed on the big day, but when it comes to soul mates, we’re good with a little altar jilting. Sabrina and Harvey go way back to her first day at Westbridge High School, when he complimented her on her symmetrical face. Though they drifted as they got older, there was nothing keeping them apart in the end. The no-longer-teenage witch flees her wedding at 12:36 — the exact time she and Harvey met for the first time. Magic!
The fifth season of Girls opens with Marnie’s (Allison Williams) unfortunate marriage to the insufferable Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). In attendance at their faux-boho ceremony is Marnie’s onetime lover Ray (Alex Karpovsky), who talks the groom down from a pre-nuptial meltdown despite his own tortured longing for the bride. As if the monstrous makeup weren’t enough of a sign that the whole thing is doomed.
One of the most iconic final scenes in New Hollywood history immediately follows a young man crashing his ex’s wedding (where he could count both the bride and her mother among his former paramours). After Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) successfully interrupts the ceremony and escapes with the almost-married Elaine Robinson (Katharine Ross), their fleeting moment of triumph fades away into doubt as they both grasp what they just did, and wonder where their lives are headed from there.
This one is less ex-at-the-wedding and more random-guy-from-work at the wedding, but it still worked as a way for Alex to get out of marrying Dave. Note to would-be wedding crashers: Rollerblades seem to woo the ladies away from their grooms.
The Mindy Project
Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) has a lot of exes — so it’s inevitable that she would attend at least a couple of their weddings. The series began with one such event, with Mindy giving a drunken, cringe-worthy speech at ex Tom’s (Bill Hader) wedding before crashing a bike into a swimming pool, leading her to vow to reform her personal and professional life (hint: she doesn’t — at least not at first). But that wasn’t the only ex’s wedding she attended — perhaps even more disastrously, in the second season, she goes to ex Josh’s (Tommy Dewey) wedding with Peter (Adam Pally) as her date. Mindy actually is totally cool, but Peter ruins everything when he sleeps with the sex addict bride in the bathroom during the reception. Mindy tries to save things by giving a speech, but the irate guests end up literally throwing cake at her (and each other).