Luke & Laura (General Hospital, 1981)
Soap operas — sorry, daytime dramas — may be struggling for survival these days, but back in the early 1980s they were ratings dynamos, and no soap couple was more popular with viewers than frizz-topped Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary) and fresh-faced Laura Webber (Genie Francis). Not only was the couple’s wedding a massive ratings stunt that pulled in 30 million viewers — and a guest appearance by no less than Elizabeth Taylor — but the ceremony became a cultural phenomenon, with numerous magazine covers and news reports devoted to the fake wedding of two make-believe people.
Ken & Deirdre (Coronation Street, 1981)
On the other side of the pond, another fictional soap wedding made headlines when the long-awaited nuptials of Coronation Street couple Ken Barlow (William Roache) and Deirde Hunt (Anne Kirkbride) attracted more viewers on ITV than the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, which took place two days later. The couple subsequently divorced, but remarried in 2005 — and attracted more viewers than the televised wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles. Fortunately, neither actor succumbed to the temptation to yell out, “In your face, Prince!”
David & Donna (Beverly Hills, 90210, 2000)
After years as an on-again, off-again couple, wannabe rapper David Silver (Brian Austin Green) and burgeoning fashion designer Donna Martin (Tori Spelling) finally tied the knot in the series finale, which proved to be a fitting end to 10 years of rich-kid teenage angst. Sadly, their wedded bliss was not to last; in a 2009 episode of The CW’s 90210, we find out these high-school sweethearts subsequently spilt up.
Chandler & Monica (Friends. 2001)
It took several seasons before wisecracking pals and across-the-hall neighbours Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) and Monica Gellar (Courteney Cox) realized they were soulmates and decided to get hitched. The wedding, however, did not go off as planned, thanks to an unplanned pregnancy, the groom’s last-minute cold feet and the tardiness of Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), who was supposed to perform the ceremony but became trapped on a film set when the drunken star (Gary Oldman) got too hammered to make it through a scene. By the end of the special one-hour episode, Joey finally makes it to the church and the couple are married.
Niles and Dapnhe (Frasier, 2002)
Snooty Seattle psychiatrist Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce) had been pining over Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves) for years when they finally wed in the most uncharacteristic of ceremonies: at a low-rent wedding chapel in Reno, Nevada. Not so fast, though — when Roz (Peri Gilpin) tells them that Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) and Martin (John Mahoney) would be devastated to have missed the wedding, the couple is forced to go through with an elaborate fake wedding for their families that becomes beset by one calamity after another.
Robert & Amy (Everybody Loves Raymond, 2003)
Gargantuan cop Robert Barone (Brad Garrett) and girlfriend Amy MacDougall (Monica Horan) tied the knot in this season-seven episode, and although Marie (Doris Roberts) provides annoying interference throughout, what’s atypical about this particular sitcom wedding is how well things actually go. The highlight: the newlyweds’ choreographed wedding dance, a knee-slapping showstopper set to Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation.”
Ryan & Trista (The Bachelorette, 2003)
Let’s be honest, The Bachelor and it’s female-centric counterpart haven’t exactly had the greatest track record when it’s come to everlasting love, and these relationships usually last about as long as one of the show’s commercial breaks. That’s why it’s downright miraculous that Bachelorette Trista Rehn and rose-recipient Ryan Sutter actually got hitched for real. Even more miraculously, they’ve stayed married for nearly a decade and have two children. On the flip side, every nauseating detail of the wedding was chronicled in a garish reality-TV special; we would expect nothing less.
Luka & Abby (ER, 2007)
County General ER doc Luka Kovac (Goran Visinjic) surprised the heck out of nurse-turned-doctor Abby Lockhart (Maura Tierney) when he tricks her into getting dressed up for what she thinks is a formal dinner, but is actually a carefully prepared wedding ceremony. Unfortunately, Abby’s reaction isn’t as rapturous as Luka had hoped, but true love eventually prevails and they exit the episode as husband and wife.
Jim & Pam (The Office, 2009)
Betrothed cubicle drones Jim Halpert (John Krasinksi) and Pam Beasley (Jenna Fischer) devised a clever plan that would entertain their loony Dunder Mifflin coworkers while also providing them with an unforgettable ceremony they could always treasure: by actually getting married ahead of time, on a romantic boat cruise beneath Niagara Falls, before allowing themselves to be subjected to manager Michael Scott’s (Steve Carell) wedding present — a carefully choreographed imitation of a viral YouTube video in which a flash mob erupts in the church, transforming the ceremony into a hilarious disco dance party.
Alex and Izzie (Grey’s Anatomy, 2009)
For the show’s 100th episode, Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes pulled something of a bait-and-switch with viewers by laying the groundwork for a wedding between Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey), but then switching gears when Izzie (Katherine Heigl) learns the hallucinations that have been plaguing her are the result of a brain tumor. Meredith tries to make things better by turning over her wedding day to Izzie and Alex (Justin Chambers), who get married instead.