The Big Wedding

“There’s an old expression that marriage is like a phone call in the night. First comes the ring, and then you wake up.” –Don (The Big Wedding, 2013)

“Well, there’s different kind of love. You know, just because you’re divorced, doesn’t mean you’re legally required to hate him.” –Father Moinighan (The Big Wedding, 2013)

Alejandro: “Is it wrong to lie to someone you love if the only reason that you’re deceiving them is to protect their happiness?”
Father Moinighan: “Well, that depends. Are you disrupting the lives of anyone else by enacting your deception?”
(The Big Wedding, 2013)

The thing about “family” is: it’s not paper-based relationship; neither it’s blood-based relationship. It is in the relationship itself; human to human. People who are related by blood can be stranger as much as people who are not related by blood can be family. Divorced by paper doesn’t mean two people just stop being family; moreover when they have known and lived together for more than two decades. On the other hand, being adopted doesn’t make someone less of a child rather than birthed children. See, the thing is: family is about the relationship. It is how we take care of each other, how we understand each other, and accept each other for what we truly are. It is how we embrace each other with all the odds. It is how we respect each other despite any age or generation gap. It is how we are willing to open up as well as to listen toward one another. It is how we love one another. There are kinds of different love, and family love is one of them. Being a family means we are not ashamed to say thanks, to say sorry, and moreover, to forgive. And it is in the movie titled “The Big Wedding”, where family is everything but ordinary.

"The Big Wedding" movie poster | source:

Title: The Big Wedding
Director: Justin Zackham
Starring: Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Katherine Heighl, Topher Grace, Ben Barnes, Amanda Seyfried, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams
Genre: romantic comedy, drama
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release date: April 26th 2013
Running time: 89 minutes

“The Big Wedding” follows the story of the Griffin family who gather for the wedding of their adopted son, Alejandro/Al (Ben Barnes), with his childhood friend, Melissa/Missy (Amanda Seyfried). Eleanor/Ellie (Diane Keaton), Al’s adoptive mother, comes back for the first time in ten years after her divorced with Donald/Don (Robert De Niro), Al’s adoptive father. Don is now living with Bebe (Susan Sarandon), Ellie’s bestfriend who was once he had an affair that led to the divorce with Ellie. Since Al and Missy will get married under the rules of Catholic Church, Al has to lie to her biological mother from Columbia that Ellie and Don are not divorced (she is a strict Catholic). Hence, for three days, they have to pretend as if they were still husband and wife. This leads to high tension between Don and Bebe, as they’ve been together for eight years but Don hasn’t brought up about marriage, yet. Hence she blames Don; stating that Al doesn’t have to lie to his mother if Don and Bebe were married. However, the drama between Don, Ellie, Bebe, and Al’s biological mother is not the only thing that spices up the wedding preparation.
Lyla (Katherine Heigl), Don and Ellie’s first born daughter, also comes back after a long time. She has been estranged from her father since their parents’ divorce ten years ago. And the thing is: she comes back without her husband because she was just splitting with him. She was diagnosed for not being able to have child, which led to her and her husband to argue every time. However, eventually somehow, she is pregnant now, but she feels terrified that leads to her splitting. Meanwhile, Jared (Topher Grace), Don and Ellie’s son, has been a virgin for almost 30 years of his life now. Interestingly, he finds himself getting attracted to Al’s biological sister. And in one funny yet awkward occasion, Jared is busted by Ellie when getting a handjob by Al’s sister. On the other side, Missy’s parents always put some negative remarks upon Al because of his race and originality. All the drama and commotions caused by the whole family have made Al and Missy want to elope. However, they have promised that they will get married in the Catholic Church, which will be conducted by Father Moinighan (Robin Williams).


The Griffins are not ordinary family. And guess what? No family is ordinary. I first watched this movie was years ago. (I cannot exactly point out the date because I can’t remember exactly when.) However, watching “The Big Wedding” at this age, now, is giving me a lot of perspective regarding to family and love. Well, first of all, there is no family that is ordinary. I have to point out the relationship of Don and Ellie, ex-husband and wife who were married for 20 years before they got divorced for 10 years. Apparently, as I said before in the prologue, a piece of divorced paper doesn’t mean that two people stop being family. Yes, it may take some years to be able to feel that way. However, especially when there are kids involved in it, there is nothing impossible. After all that happened between them, they are still and always being a family. Time indeed heals the pain. Even the kids feel that their parents’ arguments feel like home at some point to some extent somehow. And even though they do still love each other, it is not the same kind of love that they had back then. Now they love as family, as their kids’ parents; and that’s how it should be.
I also have to point out the relationship of Alejandro (the adopted son) and the other family members. It depicts that family is so much more than just relationship by blood. Family is indeed a relationship by the heart. It doesn’t matter where you come from, your religion, or your race, as long as we take care of each other and love each other, we are family. That is what it takes to be family. Just because you are blood-related with someone, it doesn’t always mean that you are a family of that person. Just because you are not blood-related with someone, it doesn’t always mean that you are not a family of that person. It is all back to the heart. And the core of the family relationship is in how we take care of each other. Family is not about pushing one’s decision upon another just because one thinks that the decision is right. Family is about understanding and supporting one’s passion and making them believe that we will be just right there for them no matter what will happen. Blood is not thicker than water. And we have to cherish it and preserve it gracefully in order for the relationship to bloom beautifully and healthily.


It is very highly possible that there are misunderstandings in the family. It’s only natural since it’s a human relationship after all. I have to point out the relationship of Don and his first-born daughter, Lyla. Throughout the storyline, we can see that Lyla is the closest one to Don. However, this has led to their argumentations following Don’s infidelity and the divorce. The thing is: they are able to resolve their matters because they are willing to talk and listen to each other, and more importantly, they are doing it by putting down their ego. They listen to understand instead of listening to answer. And that is what a family is supposed to do. We listen to understand instead of listening to answer. As the child, Lyla is not afraid to point out things that went wrong in the family and had broken her heart. As a parent, Don is not ashamed to confess that he is at fault (and also to apologize). And I guess this is what parents-children should have in their relationship, particularly when the children are already mature enough. They are adults and they should act like ones. Though children will always be children, parents should know when they have become adults.
In the end, with all the drama, home is indeed feeling like home. And when you feel that way, that is when you know you are with your “family”. Even when you know things are able to get awkward, or maybe worse again, you feel you belong. And when you feel that way, that is when you know you are with your “family”. Even when you know things are able to be weird, or it is not easy at all, you feel it all makes sense in the end. And when you feel that way, that is when you know you are with your “family”. And marriage is so much more than just a wedding ceremony. Marriage is how we build the family. Marriage is how we build the relationship in a caring and loving way. Even though there are arguments, we negotiate it; we talk through it. Even though there is divorce, we grow through it. Even though there are differences, we cherish it. Family is not killing each other’s dream and passion; instead, family is nourishing each other’s dream and passion. Even though at some point it brings pain and trauma, family is healing together and giving strength to keep up. And it is not always related by blood. It is the relationship of the hearts.


“The Big Wedding” is an American remake of the original 2006 Swiss/French film “Mon frere se marie” (translated in English as “My Brother is Getting Married”), written by Jean-Stephane Bron and Karine Sudan. As a star-studded movie, “The Big Wedding” gives you the kind of satisfaction that you are able to gain only when watching many big names on the same screen. What I love the most about this movie is that their acting is so natural. (Ben Barnes is so gorgeous in this movie, I can’t!) Apparently, those stars are really living up to their name. No one is outshining the other. Every one falls right into place with their character. And they harmonize well when those characters are interacting. The plot is not giving us something so heavy, yet not giving us something so funny. However, it brings many family values within the light storyline. There are awkward moments but it depicts just as natural as it would happen in real life while we’re dealing with family matters. There is no moment that makes me drenched in tears, neither makes me dying in laughter; it was flat riding yet satisfying in a weird way. In a nutshell, “The Big Wedding” is something perfect when you need something light and lovely. And for the special note, I really love that they use Michael Buble’s “Save the Last Dance for Me” for the ending credit title song.

“I merely told her that there are certain things that women should expect from a man before she just jumps into bed with him.” –Ellie (The Big Wedding, 2013)

“How is it that you can make something so beautiful and yet be such a complete douchebag?” –Lyla (The Big Wedding, 2013)

--> “If I’ve learned anything about life, it’s that it’s all but a dream. And there’s no wizard pulling levers behind a curtain, which means, as far as I can see, the only real use in loving someone is that it makes your life better. And my life would suck infinitely more without you in it.” –Don (The Big Wedding, 2013)


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