A television wedding can be many things. A celebration of love, of course, both between two characters but also for the audiences that have grown attached to their relationship. A zany comedy of errors. A massive spectacle designed to draw in huge crowds for sweeps week. And potentially, the backdrop for the bloody betrayal of the highest order. You never know what you’re going to get when watching a TV wedding. The best of the best, however, are all notable because no matter which approach they end up taking, they bring something memorable to the table that sticks in the minds of fans for years to come.
10. The Office (NBC)
Season 6, Episode 4-5 – “Niagara” (2009)
A sitcom wedding is nothing without a little bit of chaos, and there are certainly plenty of hijinks here that frustrate the couple along the way. But come on, this is Jim and Pam. There were a good few seasons of “The Office” where they were one of the sweetest, most adorable couples in all of television. So, of course, their wedding was going to be one of those episodes where you smile whenever you think about it. What seals the deal? Jim’s admission to the documentary crew, “The boat was actually Plan C, the church was Plan B, and Plan A was marrying her a long, long time ago. Pretty much the day I met her.” Say what you will about their relationship in later seasons, but this is perfect.
9. Boy Meets World (ABC)
Season 7, Episode 7 – “About Time” (1999)
For any kid growing up in the 1990s, Cory and Topanga on “Boy Meets World” were pretty much “couple-goals.” Childhood sweethearts who managed to navigate a complicated adolescence and grow together, they seemed like the closest thing to soulmates we’d seen on television. It’s incredibly rare for a kids’ show to have been on the air long enough to see the main characters from middle school all the way to their wedding day (even taking into account the fact that Cory and Topanga get married really young), but that’s what makes this episode so special. Most viewers had grown up with them and established a strong emotional connection. Add to this Shawn’s anxiety about losing his best friend, and you’ve got a genuinely moving wedding episode.
8. 30 Rock (NBC)
Season 7, Episode 7 – “Mazel Tov, Dummies!” (2012)
When Liz gets married on “30 Rock,” to her boyfriend Criss, she pulls off a wedding that perfectly matches both her personality and the show’s heightened, slight absurd sense of reality. Realizing that she wants a ceremony that feels right to her, she chooses for her wedding gown Princess Leia’s classic white dress from “Star Wars: A New Hope” (complete with trademark buns.) And as though that wasn’t enough to corner the market on the quintessentially quirky wedding, Tony Bennett turns up for a quick song. We would expect nothing less from Liz Lemon!
7. New Girl (FOX)
Season 5, Episode 22 – “Landing Gear” (2016)
The journey of growth from both Schmidt and Cece is ultimately what makes their wedding so emotionally rewarding. Type A Schmidt has gone to great pains to plan the perfect wedding ceremony and reception, but ends up missing the party while on a mission to convince Cece’s estranged mother to attend. Love finds a way, though, and they end up having a cozy, appropriately intimate wedding ceremony back at the loft later that night. Honestly, when you have a location like the loft, which is as much a living character on “New Girl” as any of the actual humans, you kind of have to end up using the space for one of the main character’s weddings.
6. Downton Abbey (PBS)
Season 3, Episode 1 – “Episode #3.1” (2013)
Within the first few episodes of “Downton Abbey,” it’s clear that a marriage between Matthew and Mary Crawley would make life much more straightforward for everyone involved, and the fact that they’re immediately drawn to each other is really just a side benefit. Still, they somehow keep missing each other. But after two seasons of going back and forth on their relationship, the often-at-odds Edwardian World War I era couple finally managed to tie the knot. Known for its dreamy period atmosphere, “Downton Abbey” spared no expense in creating a gorgeously opulent wedding for the Crawleys that would rival the royals.
5. Game of Thrones (HBO)
Season 4, Episode 2 – “The Lion and the Rose” (2014)
It’s just not a “Game of Thrones” wedding unless somebody gets murdered, is it? All seems to be going well for King Joffrey as he marries the lovely Margaery Tyrell, although the rest of the Westerosi court seems to be rapidly running out of patience with the pint-sized tyrant. How much more of this sociopathy can they be expected to bear? Well, all good things come to those who wait, because here is where he gets poisoned to death. Frankly, the surprise isn’t that someone killed him, it’s that he survived that long at all. The Red Wedding left most viewers still slightly traumatized. But the Purple Wedding, where an evil sociopath spends his wedding banquet torturing his friends and family and then quickly dies, is horrifyingly triumphant.
4. Mad Men (AMC)
Season 3, Episode 12 – “The Grown-Ups” (2009)
Whenever you’re dealing with a television series set in a specific historical period, there’s always the question of how to depict major events that would have been occurring at that time. It’s often done rather clumsily, trying to over-insert watershed moments into the lives of the characters. Where “Mad Men” has always excelled is in building out these scenarios carefully with an understanding of how ordinary people would have been impacted. Roger’s debutante daughter’s wedding comes on the heels of the assassination of John F Kennedy, and it’s such a clever idea, because it highlights that no matter what happens, ordinary life carries on. The way that the characters have to negotiate a day of joy during a national period of mourning tells us so much more about how it affects them than most other shows in the same position would be capable of accomplishing.
3. Outlander (Starz)
Season 1, Episode 7 – “The Wedding”
Yes, it’s a marriage of convenience, as marrying Jamie is seemingly the only way to protect Claire from the clutches of Black Jack Randall in “Outlander.” The characters definitely have a bit of a spark, but they’re not in love (yet), so the actual marriage part is undeniably a little awkward. What’s special is the period of time after the wedding: both nervous about consummating their faux relationship, they spend the majority of the night talking, drinking, and getting to know one another. Most people would recommend that part before rings are exchanged, but that doesn’t make their wedding night any less romantic!
2. Parks and Recreation (NBC)
Season 3, Episode 9 – “Andy and April’s Fancy Party”
On a lot of sitcoms, there’s a tendency to have these massive, overblown wedding ceremonies designed for sweeps week, regardless of what actually suits the characters. Andy and April’s wedding is delightfully understated and perfect for both of their personalities in “Parks and Recreation.” First of all, it’s a surprise wedding, seemingly a spur of the moment decision because the two young lovebirds just felt like it. Even though Andy’s wearing a football jersey and snickers when he learns that April has an ugly middle name (which he only finds out when information-gathering for their vows), there’s such a sincerity that makes the wedding surprisingly touching.
1. Game of Thrones (HBO)
Season 3, Episode 9 -“The Rains of Castamere”
People getting married often have a really grand vision of what their wedding is going to look like, and a lot times it’s tough for the actual event to live up to the fantasy. Still though, having the father of the bride turn traitor and slaughter the majority of the groom’s family is going to put a downer the festivities. The Red Wedding sequence of “Game of Thrones” is one of its crowning achievements, both a water cooler moment that comes around once every ten years and a masterful exercise in the slow, painful building of narrative tension. What transpires is a gruesome horror show, brutal and absolutely devastating. And that’s without even taking into consideration the brilliant addition of the haunting, ominous “Rains of Castermere” playing in the background.
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