Trust in Erika. Fifty Shades of Grey creator and mastermind E.L. James went into very little detail about Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele’s wedding in her books, but she envisioned something entirely different for the intimate moment in the final film installment of the franchise.
“I think the most important aspect were the vows,” the author tells The Knot in an exclusive interview. “I didn’t cover the wedding within the book, and I did get a bit of a hard time about that. It was something I didn’t think it was necessary, but it was important for the movie that we saw perspective for how beautiful it could be.”
The resulting scene was filmed in a private country club, according to the film’s production designer Nelson Coates. “It was actually a large, vaulted, wood-beamed, private country club,” he previously told The Knot. “And that was transformed for the wedding.” The entire wedding was dreamed up in three weeks by set and production crew, while the filming itself took far less time.
For the occasion, the bride wore a custom, lace, sleeved gown by Monique Lhuillier, commissioned directly by costume designer Shay Cunliffe, while the groom looked handsome in Burberry. While the overall imagery and footage was appealing to the eye, James herself calls out a rather intense scene in the film as her personal favorite.
“It’s when Anastasia [Dakota Johnson] finally gives Christian Grey [Jamie Dornan] the dressing down that he deserves,” she muses. “Both the actors knock it out of the park and it’s, by far, my favorite scene.” For her advice for the newlywed couple (and others out there), read The Knot’s complete interview with the scribe below.
Let’s talk about Ana and Christian’s wedding. What was the most important aspect of the ceremony to you, the creator, and why?
I think the most important aspect was the vows… I didn’t cover the wedding within the book and I did get a bit of a hard time about that. It was something I didn’t think it was necessary. But it was important for the movie that we saw perspective for how beautiful it could be.
For me, it was the vows and also the fact that christian was giving over himself and his wealth and his goods, and his love, to Ana. It was important to hear Ana’s vows to love him unconditionally. That’s what these books have been about: Unconditional love—when you have it as a child and it leaves you. So those were the most important things and we shot a movie with them.
In terms of marriage, what is your main marriage advice for Ana and Christian? What about other newlyweds?
Listen to each other, and really listen to each other. As you do. It’s important to be tolerant as well. One of the things I love about Ana is her compassion for this man. And I think that’s important. To bring those elements of tolerance into marriage is very important.
Communication is the primary thing. Just listen, be kind to each other, and just listen.
What is your favorite moment in a wedding and why?
That’s a tricky question. I love people exchanging their vows and saying it out loud, and flipping rings on fingers.
Also when the officiant says “you may now kiss the bride,” there’s this almost collective sigh of relief. You can feel the joy from everybody in the church or wherever you’re getting married. When the ceremony is finally over, that feeling and that joy in the room is just like nothing else.
For our couples currently planning their weddings, how would you encourage them to #EnjoyTheJourney while wedding planning?
I think it’s important to set at the beginning to have the same wedding in mind. To agree what it’s going to be. Everything will flow from that. If you want somebody who wants a huge wedding, and you know someone who has something small in mind that’s stressful because you have different expectations.
What makes a good wedding guest—and why?
Someone who doesn’t get drunk and doesn’t throw up… [laughs]. A good wedding guest is happy for the couple. And through that, extends that happiness to everybody within the wedding. That’s the most important thing to bring—your happy. It’s such an important day. That makes the perfect wedding gift.
What about your wedding—what was your favorite moment and why?
I’ve been married for 30 years… I remember most visibly that I had a train on my wedding dress and when I’m anxious, I get very grumpy. My father kept treading on my train, and I shouted… ‘Get off my f—king dress!’ And you could hear that echoing though the church. And I remember that very vividly now because he’s no longer with us, but he was just trying to keep the calm. It doesn’t speak well of me, but he handles it really really well. [Laughs.]
I actually was laughing about it on the day. I have to say, as soon as we turned the corner, that mood just lifted. I was like, ‘Yay! We’re doing this!’ Maybe I just needed to swear at my dad. It was like a cloud lifting.
What makes a good honeymoon? How can they experience that fully?
It depends on expectations, budget. Again, if you’ve got an agreement, I think while you’re on honeymoon, it’s to just concentrate on each other and again, it comes down to the listening thing. The start of your married life should be wonderful. Even if it isn’t, tell the grandkids in years and years to come, find the humor in situations. I deal with a lot of things through humor. And it makes a great story for later on.
I’m quite far removed from getting married, but it was such a fabulous day. I appreciated the photography and all of that. Make sure to have time to see everybody and talk to everybody.