The Wedding Ringer
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‘The Wedding Ringer’: You can’t hurry love

by Jay Lavender

It all started with a laugh.

I was sitting at CAA in 1998, working on Adam Krentzman’s desk when I first heard Mara Jacobs‘ new assistant, Jeremy Garelick, laugh from around the corner. A fast friendship formed over long days and late nights at 9830 Wilshire as we found a shared love for movies and sports and a common bond in how we much we loved our family and friends. By 2001, I was writing full time and Jeremy was working for Joel Schumacher when we decided to make good on a desire to partner up.

Jeremy’s pitch was simple, “What if there was a professional best man?” As soon as I heard it, I knew he’d struck gold. We were at the age when our friends were starting to get married, yet we were still a couple of smartasses far from being ready to do so ourselves. Where others might have seen a special life-changing ceremony, we saw comedy to be mined.

The Golden Tux was born.

We spent almost a year writing the script, emailing pages back and forth while rarely in the same place. In the spring of 2002, we were close to finishing the draft but couldn’t quite get over the hump. I hopped a last-minute flight to Dublin where Jeremy was filming a movie so we could spend a few days in the same room and bring the script home.

We gave our finished spec to manager Allen Fischer who loved it and gave it to agents Ramses Ishak and Mike Sheresky at William Morris, who shared it with their colleague Todd Feldman who slipped it to Todd Phillips, whose assistant Scott Budnick read and loved it. With attorney Todd Rubenstein negotiating for us, Brad Weston and Andrew Rona bought it preemptively for Bob Weinstein’s Dimension and Robbie Brenner joined the project as an executive.

A couple of pals who’d bonded playing basketball and flag football while grinding it out as assistants were launched as a writing team. For the next few years, we had an incredible run that culminated in getting our first movie, The Break-Up, made. But success came with challenges. We were both driven and passionate. Creative differences turned into personal differences and the band broke up.

By then, we’d spent six years working on The Golden Tux and been fortunate to be paid for countless drafts. Throughout our partnership, through all the ups and downs, we never stopped loving that script. And we were both repeatedly heartbroken when the movie stalled on the precipice of getting made. By 2009, we’d left it for dead.

But life is long and the road often comes full circle. A couple of years ago, Jeremy reached out with the amazing news that producer Adam Fields had dug it up from its grave and the head of Sony Screen Gems, Clint Culpepper, was considering making the movie. After a decade of dreaming about seeing our story on the big screen, the pieces finally fell into place as The Wedding Ringer came to life with producer Will Packer and stars Kevin Hart, Josh Gad and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting joining the team. Jeremy was hired to direct, getting the life-changing shot he’d been chasing since we met when he was 22.

It was absolutely worth the wait. I can’t begin to express how much I love the movie. Experiencing the exuberant response we’ve been getting from our advance screenings has been a pinnacle of my career. Jeremy’s launched as the next big comedy director. Kevin Hart’s the best he’s ever been. Josh Gad’s fantastic. Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting’s the next superstar. And our supporting cast is phenomenal.

It’s been an incredible journey and I’m so grateful to be on this side of it. Jeremy was 25 when we started this script, I was 26. He’s now married with three kids and I’ll turn 40 while our movie’s in theaters. But we’ll always be the age at heart that we were in this photo… snapped after a game of catch on Mayfield Avenue in Brentwood on a Tuesday in June 2002 while trying to calm our excited nerves on the day our spec went out and later sold.

Jay Lavender and Jeremy Garelick, 2002.  Photo by Meredith Lavender.

Jay Lavender and Jeremy Garelick, 2002.
Photo by Meredith Lavender.

This whole wedding hustle started with a couple of assistants who dreamed of being filmmakers. It started with a couple of friends who wanted to make each other laugh, figuring if we could do that, we’d make our friends laugh, and if we did that, we’d make their friends laugh. It started with a couple of guys who wanted to tell a story about life, love, friendship and marriage. After 17+ years of riding the Hollywood roller coaster, of a friendship made, lost and revived, we’re finally getting to share those aspirations with the world.

Now it’s all in your hands. So please make a date, rally your friends and get your family together to enjoy some laughs and a rollicking fun movie — and help us launch The Wedding Ringer when it opens nationwide this Friday 1/16!

Jay Lavender

About Jay Lavender

Jay Lavender is the co-writer/executive producer of The Wedding Ringer, co-writer/co-producer of The Break-Up, and co-founder of NSPYR (“inspire”), a publishing and production company focused on great inspiring stories. Jay graduated from Dartmouth College where he played on the golf team. He worked as an assistant at Creative Artists Agency until selling his first screenplay to Warner Bros. in 1999. He currently lives in Virginia. Please follow Jay on Twitter: @JayLavender Facebook: /byJayLavender Instagram: @byJayLavender

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