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The One with Ross's Wedding

"The One with Ross's Wedding" is the fourth season finale of the American television situation comedy Friends, which aired on NBC on May 7, 1998. The plot revolves around Ross (David Schwimmer) and the rest of the group flying to London for his wedding to Emily (Helen Baxendale).

The episode was directed by Kevin S. Bright, with the first part being written by Michael Borkow and the second part by Shana Goldberg-Meehan and Scott Silveri (from a story by Jill Condon and Amy Toomin). Scenes for the episode were shot on location in London and in front of a British studio audience. For many broadcasts (and the DVD release) it is presented as a double-length episode, though sometimes it is aired as two separate parts. For this, the two parts are differentiated by the suffixes Part 1 and Part 2.

Plot

Part 1 begins as the group heads off to Ross's wedding in London, leaving behind a heavily-pregnant Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), who has declined the invitation. In London, Joey (Matt Leblanc) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) see the sights, with Joey filming everything on his camcorder. Chandler becomes embarrassed by his friend's enthusiasm, and after Joey buys a large Union Jack flag hat from a vendor (Richard Branson), they part company. They reunite in their hotel room and Chandler apologizes. Joey impresses him with a video recording of Sarah, Duchess of York. Emily takes Monica (Courteney Cox) and Ross to the hall where the wedding will be, but they discover it is being demolished. Monica later suggests Emily postpone the wedding until everything is perfect. She passes the thought on to Ross, angering him; he tells her people have flown from America to be there and that it is "now or never"; she chooses "never". Monica berates Ross for his insensitivity and Ross apologizes to Emily, showing her the ceremony can still take place in the half-demolished hall that he has tidied up. She agrees. In New York, Rachel realizes she still loves Ross, and flies to London to tell him.

In Part 2, Phoebe tries to contact someone by phone to warn them about Rachel, eventually getting through to Joey at the hotel and stirring up homesickness in him. At the rehearsal dinner, Ross introduces his parents, Jack and Judy (Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles) to Emily's, Steven and Andrea (Tom Conti and Jennifer Saunders). Jack and Judy have volunteered to pay for half of the wedding expenses but when they discover extravagant costs Ross spends much of the evening trying to bargain down his future in-laws. Chandler makes a toast that is not well received by the guests and Monica is taken aback when a drunken guest mistakes her for Ross's mother. She and Chandler console each other over alcohol and wake up in bed together the next morning. Rachel eventually boards a plane, after forgetting her passport, and annoys other passengers (including guest star Hugh Laurie) by telling them about her relationship with Ross. At the hall, she sees how happy Ross is with Emily and just wishes him luck. Phoebe phones to hear the wedding. As Ross says his vows, he accidentally says Rachel's name, leaving a shocked registrar to ask Emily if he should continue.

Production

During the summer hiatus of 1997 the producers were contacted by Channel 4, the British first-run broadcaster of Friends, with a proposal to film an episode in London. Producer Greg Malins is quoted as saying "We had to come up with a storyline that would cause all the Friends to go to London [...] and that ended up being Ross getting married, because they would all have to go to his wedding".

The episode featured numerous supporting roles from British actors. For her role as Andrea Waltham, Saunders "heard Joan Collins' voice in [her] head". Her Absolutely Fabulous co-star June Whitfield appeared in cameo as the housekeeper. Felicity, the bridesmaid who Joey entices, is played by Olivia Williams. Further cameos were made by Sarah Ferguson as herself, Richard Branson as the vendor who sells Joey a hat, Hugh Laurie as the man sitting next to Rachel on the plane, and Jane Carr as the ticket agent. Lisa Kudrow did not join the others in London as she was too heavily pregnant to fly. Elliott Gould inadvertently revealed that Rachel was to turn up at the wedding, upsetting Marta Kauffman.

Scenes not involving the main apartments were all filmed in London during the week beginning March 30, 1998. Location shooting was done mostly for scenes featuring Joey and Chandler; outside the London Marriott, Westminster Abbey, and the top of an open-top London bus as it crosses Tower Bridge (this scene was excised from the final cut but features in the opening titles of the next episode). Interiors, such as the restaurant, the Waltham's hallway and the hotel rooms, were all filmed on purpose-built sets at The Fountain Studios, Wembley. The reaction from the audience when Monica came out from under Chandler's bed covers meant the actors had to hold their position for 27 seconds. When filming ran late one evening, the production team ordered pizzas for the audience.

The episode was a coup for Channel 4, who erected crush barriers outside their building to hold back fans when the cast arrived for a press conference (though no fans actually turned up). The broadcaster also commissioned a behind-the-scenes program from Princess Productions. Hosted by British television personality Johnny Vaughan, The One Where Johnny Makes Friends features comedic tongue-in-cheek interviews with all six main cast (Vaughan contacted Kudrow by payphone, claiming that he couldn't make international calls from his dressing room) and was broadcast on Channel 4 on May 6, 1998.

Two brief behind-the-scenes featurettes were filmed, titled Friends Goes to London and Friends on Location in London, which were included on the DVD releases of seasons four and five. A tie-in book, Making Friends in the UK (ISBN 0752221949) was published by Channel 4 Books in November 1998. Said book was bundled into a gift pack entitled "The One with the Whole London Wedding", which featured an extended cut of this episode merged with the next episode.

Ross and Emily's marriage was originally planned to last, but Helen Baxendale did not wish to remain in America while pregnant. The writers could not script a convincing story for why Emily would not be seen, despite being married to Ross, so Baxendale was written out in the next season, making only three cameo appearances after the season premiere.

Reception

Entertainment Weekly gives the episode an A rating, calling it a "near-perfect finale that finds everyone at the top of their game" with a "tantalizing cliff-hanger, and, in Chandler and Monica, a relationship that will have reverberations for seasons to come". The authors of Friends Like Us: The Unofficial Guide to Friends state there are "too many 'best moments' to list in detail", but single out Monica describing the perfect wedding to Ross, and Sarah Ferguson's cameo (though they call Branson's "embarrassing"). Following the broadcast of the episode in the UK, The Independent was critical, saying "Twice the length of a normal episode, last night's offering was approximately half as funny" and suggested the cast were behaving out of character.

David Schwimmer has expressed dissatisfaction that Ross was married again, saying it was "a mistake" and that Ross was not given "enough credit". He says that Ross' "taking on the world would just be shattered" following the character's first divorce and that he wouldn't have risked another divorce. David Crane has said that filming in front of a different audience "energized the actors and writers". The hall where the wedding ceremony took place would inspire the location for the wedding of David and Victoria Beckham. The events of this episode are revisited in the seventh season episode "The One with the Truth About London", where flashbacks reveal how Monica and Chandler ended up in bed together. The hotel room set was recreated for those scenes.

References

External links

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