Courtesy of Friends
There’s an urban myth that men are commitment-phobes when it comes to marriage. If this were true, then why do so many of Hollywood’s brides have cold feet? If I had to guess, it’s probably because most lead women wake up moments before walking down the aisle realizing they are about to get married in order to meet societal expectations – don’t be alone, marry for security, it’s what everyone else wants, your ticking biological clock, all your friends are doing it, it’s not cool to be a cat-lady, etc., etc. – as opposed to a bride marrying for herself and to be with a person she truly loves. I would like to think those runaway brides are sticking it the Wedding Industrial Complex or those icky societal expectations, but the reality is their journey usually ends with another relationship and less self fulfillment. Here’s a list of Hollywood’s ten classic runaway brides and what their feminist (or unfeminist) epiphany was after they said, “F%^& it, I’m running…”
- Rachel, Friends (TV, 1994) – The potato-head Barry’s of the world aren’t a match made in heaven for everyone. In episode one, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) escapes the constricting conventions of marriage and male-dependence by leaving her fiancé at the altar. Escaping to NYC, she finds a life filled with financial, professional and relationship uncertainty, but what she does realize is that you can always depend on friends…
- Maggie, Runaway Bride (1999) – Maggie (Julia Roberts) keeps running away from multiple grooms. It’s not until news reporter Ike (Richard Gere) realizes that her fear of commitment stems from her beaus define who she is and she finds thatsmothering. Kind of like Friends’ Rachel, Maggie learns she needs to be herself without this patriarchal shadow, though it’s Ike who shows her how to find herself (yet another man leading her….).
CeCe, New Girl (TV, 2011-present) – Yet another gal forcing herself to fit into cultural convention (an arranged marriage) via fear of limited eggs and increasing age. There was technically no running away from the altar, but she did call off the wedding at the last minute once she had some unexpected visitors crash through the ceiling. At the end of the day, CeCe ditched marital convention and expectations in order to be with someone she actually loved.
- Jojo, Mystic Pizza (1988) –Jojo (Lili Taylor) knew something wasn’t right about her impending marriage. It wasn’t until she realized that she needed to keep some semblance of herself – as in her surname, that she was able to walk down the aisle. That’s a feminist bride after my own heart!
- Elaine, The Graduate (1967) – Bride Elaine runs away with Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) even though he already slept with her mother (actually the story she was told was that he raped her mother…#complicated). While perhaps motivated by impulsive love, the movie ends with the two escapees quietly sitting at the back of the getaway bus starring out into space instead of romantically at each other. It’s possible this runaway bride was more motivated to escape her parents’ control and a loveless, strategic marriage by any means necessary then by the romantic prospect that Benjamin offered.
- Dr. Who (The Runaway Bride Episode, TV 2007) – If a bride’s instincts are to flee her fiancé it’s probably best to go with her gut than go through with it. Such was the case in a Dr. Who episode where had the bride married her fiancé against her better judgment; she would have helped a devious spider-alien destroy the Earth. Sometimes the universe does in fact send us the message that a marriage is not meant to be.
- Natalie Portman (Dior Fragrance Commercial, 2015) – Oh Dior…where do I start? When it comes to fragrant perfumes, someone laid an egg with this Miss Dior scent. Queue a super rich wedding venue, bridal regrets, the bride running away and stripping down to a black tube dress and being rescued by a helicopter that whisks her off to Paris. Missing from the plot is why she wants to runaway, other than a vague hint she wants to stay single (hence the perfume name). If there’s any type of takeaway here, Dior just wanted to reenact Mariah Carey’s 1997 music video, Honey.
- Linda, The Wedding Singer (1998) – High school sweetheart, Linda broke poor Robbie Hart’s (Adam Sandler) heart when she realized that she couldn’t marry a wedding singer. Not cool on Linda’s part for judging a guy who loves what he does, even if it’s not as sexy as being in a rock and roll band. (To Linda’s credit though, there’s something to be said about not settling.) Being jilted at the altar turned out to be a blessing in disguise though because Robbie then met Julia, who loved him for who he was. Julia could also fall into the runaway bride category as she made it pretty far into her wedding planning before realizing she shouldn’t marry someone just because she committed so much of her time and herself to a relationship and a person who turned out to be a complete jerk.
- Mary, The Wedding Planner (2001) – Mary (Jennifer Lopez) just couldn’t marry sweet Mossimo when saucy Dr. Steve (Matthew McConaughey) was on her mind. While the movie is yet another rom-com, a positive take away is that it’s better to wait for Mr. Right than settle for Mr. Right-Here-Right-Now just because you’re feeling pressured or lonely.
- Melanie, Sweet Home Alabama (2002) – Before Reese Witherspoon was running away from her troubles in Wild, she was a runaway bride in SHA. She originally ran away from her southern, high school sweetheart, when she realized her career ambition outweighed her love for him. When she returns home to get a divorce in order to marry handsome, wealthy and powerful Andrew (Patrick Dempsey), she realizes her that ambition and status should not take precedent over true love; thus becoming a two-time runaway bride. Though, I’m a little dubious that she’s truly resolved her ways; it’s only after seeing that her first husband has become successful that she starts to open her heart to him again…