How Director Jason Moore’s ‘Shotgun Wedding’ Twists Marriage Tropes and Traditions

‘They end up with not a lot of clothes,” Moore says of Jennifer Lopez’s weather wedding gown

Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel in "Shotgun Wedding" (Prime Video)

As a performer, Jennifer Lopez is used to a lot of costume changes. In her new rom-com “Shotgun Wedding,” costumers had a whopping 28 versions of her wedding dress. Lopez approved Mitchell Travers’s very first sketch of the gown, which gets bruised and battered as much as her character Darcy does.

By the film’s end, the dress is definitely in no condition to be passed down.

Darcy Rivera (Jennifer Lopez) and Tom Fowler (Josh Duhamel) are putting the final touches on their destination wedding when several challenges further complicate their big day. Pirates raid the resort where they are staying and take all of their guests — family and friends who don’t always see eye to eye — hostage while the star couple tries to figure out how to get out of the life-threatening situation. Moore feels that the cast’s performances anchored the story’s heightened premise.

“We wanted to start off looking traditional like a beautiful wedding dress that’s big and a little more princessy, but what we want is something much more authentic and singular like you’ve never seen before and also exposed,” director Jason Moore told TheWrap. “That’s what happens. [Darcy and Tom] go through so much. Their clothes get torn off, their hair extensions get torn off, they end up with not a lot of clothes that we wanted it to also end sort of authentic and sexy.”

Lopez’s hair extensions also unravel the facade of the perfect wedding day, playing a key role at the end of the film. The actress’ last rom-com “Marry Me” also highlighted her hair extensions in a funny way.

“She’s not afraid to tear it all down and let you see her vulnerable, more simple side. That’s actually what our movie is about — you take off all the stuff and what’s left underneath is the more authentic version of you, and the more authentic that you can be in a relationship,” he said. “So we have a lot of discussions about hair on our movie because her hair goes from being up and beautiful to down and messy and also beautiful.”

Tom, who obsesses over every last detail, down to the lit-up pineapple centerpieces, gets labeled as a groomzilla while Darcy gets cold feet right before the ceremony. The flipping of these traditionally gendered roles was intentional.

“That was very purposeful and it was in the script from the beginning. We were going to take those [tropes of] a man is a bit afraid of commitment, or a woman dying to have a big wedding — it tends to be true a lot — but I also know plenty of couples where it was the other way around,” Moore said. “It’s fun to watch someone like Josh who is such a big man be on his back foot and try to figure things out all the time, be flustered. Jennifer sits in place of power very easily.”

“This is both their first marriages, but getting married for two people more of this age means something different. So it felt more suitable for her to be like, ‘I don’t need a big wedding. I don’t need a princess dress, I’ve got my life, I like my things.’” 

Ryan Reynolds was first attached to play the groomzilla role. Armie Hammer filled his spot, but ultimately Duhamel brought sensitivity and chemistry to the role, butching it up by just being himself.

“In a movie like this when the two main characters are literally tied together for half of the movie and fall in love and re-fall in love, you need that kind of connection,” Moore said. “Finding Josh was really fantastic because [he and Jennifer] already knew each other, and in the story that couple has been together for like four or five years. They already had chemistry. They already trusted each other.”

Moore liked that the script starts off as a romantic comedy before pivoting to action and drama. The set location on the beach in the Dominican Republic wasn’t a hard sell either.

“I really believe that if you have a really strong, sturdy trampoline, that you can bounce on it as high as crazy as you want as long as you’re coming back to something that’s solid,” he told TheWrap. “I think that means casting great actors like Jennifer and Josh to be at the center. They play the truth in extraordinary circumstances. I hope that’s what grounds the movie. I think that’s what allows it to be big and crazy because it’s not so crazy that you don’t believe it. You always come back something that feels very truthful.”