Our Favorite Wedding Proposal Movie Scenes
9/24/2020 • 3 min read
2020 has been… tough. But a few things still have the power to turn a bad day around. A call from an old friend; an unexpected encounter with a good dog; and the news that someone you love is getting engaged. When the future seems uncertain, a promise between two people to face it together is still powerful. It’s a moment of pure happiness and oversized joy that can bring a smile to your face even if you are feeling down.
Wedding proposals in movies can create a similar response. Because we want your day to be brighter, here are some of our favorite wedding proposal movie scenes. Hopefully, you’ll say “yes” to all the movies on this list!
SERENDIPITY is an overlooked modern romantic comedy classic; it is streamlined and blithely free from distractions. And while it’s mostly remembered as a romantic romp between reigning romantic comedy champion John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, the proposal we love is actually between Beckinsale’s character and John Corbett. In the moment that undoubtedly still melts hearts, Beckinsale comes home to a house romantically decked out – burning candles, rose petals, the whole shebang. When she finally finds the jewelry box, it’s empty. Corbett informs her that she has to say yes before she gets the ring. Cue tears.
Love, Actually (2003)
There’s a lot of love in LOVE ACTUALLY. In fact, the movie is positively bursting at the seams with it. (Also, it’s a new Christmas classic!) But the proposal scene between Colin Firth and Lucia Moniz has a special power. Moniz is a Portuguese housekeeper who seemingly doesn’t know English, so Firth bumbles his way through a proposal in her native tongue. She answers in English, showing that she has been attempting to learn his language. They met in the middle, which is really beautiful. The sequence highlights the fact that love is universal (even if it kind of breezes by a lot of other potential complications of their union).
The Wedding Singer (1998)
The weight and drama of a proposal are significantly intensified if the question is popped during a high-stakes, race-against-time scenario. It doesn’t get much more down-to-the-wire than THE WEDDING SINGER. A despondent wedding singer played by Adam Sandler has fallen in love with one of his potential clients, played by Drew Barrymore. (Because obviously!) But she is still going through with her wedding when he is struck by the need to profess his love; in fact, he decides to do it while she’s on the way to Vegas to get married. During the flight to Sin City he uses the airplane’s PA system to express his feelings in song. (Good thing this movie is set in the ‘80s because that wouldn’t fly today.) The song title? “I Wanna Grow Old With You.” Cue the awwws.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Rob Reiner’s immortal rom-com classic gives us another pressure-cooker proposal. In WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan play friends who become lovers... and then break up. By the end of the movie, on New Year’s Eve no less, Harry realizes that he absolutely cannot live without Sally. And can you blame him? She’s a rom-com queen! Running through the chilly Manhattan streets, he declares his love for her, and his desire to start loving her right now, for the rest of his life. We’ll have what she’s having.
Love Story (1970)
It’s kind of hard to believe that a low-key romantic drama about two college kids from different backgrounds was the box-office champion of 1970 — and that it is still in the top 50 of the top-grossing movies of all time after adjustments for inflation. LOVE STORY was a monster hit because Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal turned their characters into relatable, sympathetic people. The proposal Oliver (O’Neal) lobs at Jenny (MacGraw) is simple and plaintive. He clearly doesn’t have an elaborate romantic plan, but as he realizes their relationship could end simply because they hadn’t planned for a future together, he acts impulsively. That’s what makes it so tenderly lovely.
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Classical Hollywood is full of swoon-worthy romantic connections but marriage proposals are often merely the cherry on top of a movie’s worth of tangled, lovelorn courtship. There’s more drama in yearning for something than in seeing it come to pass, after all. In an epic, however, there’s room for everything. THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES follows three veterans, Fred, Homer and Al, as they return home from World War II, only to discover that simple middle-American life can be just as difficult as fighting a war. Disillusioned Fred (Dana Andrews) struggles with work and an ill-advised marriage as he tries to fend off his attraction to Al’s daughter Peggy (Theresa Wright). Finally, at Homer’s wedding, Fred approaches Peggy. After their kiss, his words don’t seem romantic out of context: “It may take us years just to get anywhere. We’ll have no money, no decent place to live. We’ll have to work, get kicked around…” But Peggy, understanding what he’s saying, absolutely beams a smile. This is one of the most magnificent movies ever made, and Fred's proposal doesn’t need any of the traditional words to be perfect.
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