27 Dresses: Is There a Real-Life Inspiration Behind the 2008 Film?

‘27 Dresses’ is a romantic comedy film filled with cheer and delight tailor-made to entertain its audience. While the film is bound to make you smile, it also adds philosophies of belonging and self-discovery into the mix. The film centers around Jane, a woman who can’t seem to say no to her friends, owing to which she has served as a bridesmaid 27 times. Yet, in her own life, she has yet to find love. However, things drastically change when Jane’s sister, Tess, announces her engagement to a man Jane has been secretly in love with. Through these events, she is now conflicted between standing by her sister and revealing her true feelings.

The 2008 film encapsulates modern elements of longing, desire, and sibling drama, with a lot to chuckle about on the way. Featuring a star cast of Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, and Malin Åkerman, the film’s premise and incidents do seem over-dramatized for something that could actually happen in reality. However, its essence, character traits, and intentions are more relatable than one would think. This raises the question: could ‘27 Dresses’ be based on a true story?

27 Dresses is Partially Inspired by a Real Woman’s Story

Although the incidents and narrative from ‘27 Dresses’ are completely fictitious, the main character, Jane, is loosely inspired by film writer Aline Brosh McKenna’s friend Kate. Spilling the beans on the same in a 2018 interview with Decider, McKenna explained, “The movie was inspired by my friend Kate, who was, and kind of still is, a perpetual bridesmaid. Now she’s graduated to performing ceremonies for people, marrying people. But she has been in so many weddings, and I was really fascinated not just by the idea of being a perpetual bridesmaid, but the inveterate people-pleaser.”

McKenna went on to describe her friend Kate as being “unbelievably nice” enough to say yes to 12 weddings, which was the number of weddings she had been a part of during the time the project was being developed. This over-excessive agreeableness can very evidently be seen in the film’s main character, Jane. McKenna further expressed her fascination with Kate’s situation, reiterating the kind of incredible affinity with people one would need to have to be a bridesmaid at so many weddings. In reality, this would mean an individual had to be 12 different people’s best friend, or as McKenna put it, “To be ranked in the Top 4 of 12 different people when you’re still not out of your 20s is pretty impressive.”

We get to understand how much of Jane’s situation and personality is like that of Kate’s. The overarching and overbearing depiction of her being particularly close to so many people and her willingness to be a pivotal part of arguably their most important moment shows how much of a people-pleaser Jane really is. However, accompanied by her inherent selflessness towards her friends and her ability to always be supportive, Jane is also portrayed as a great human being. While considerably dramatized for cinematic effect, McKenna said that she saw these attributes in Kate, which led her to become the primary inspiration for Jane.

In the film, Jane’s sister also plays a significant role, as she announces her engagement to Jane’s boss, George, with whom Jane is secretly in love. However, the writer did not confirm if the “sister angle,” that’s present in the film, was also based on Kate. This would imply that the scenarios, secondary characters, and narrative surrounding Jane are completely fabricated. McKenna used a real-life person and their traits to create a comparable fit-for-cinema reflection of that person, sprinkling in comedic aspects and relatable emotions and reactions, completing a compelling Jane.

While it is unlikely that the writers picked up on any real-life incidents from Kate’s life, it is quite certain they were close to achieving the same number of bridesmaid invitations. McKenna went on to admit that she had to drastically increase the number of “dresses” to 27, which was effective enough for a big-screen experience. However, she did reveal that Kate was still a perpetual bridesmaid. This could likely mean that she was a part of more weddings after the 12th, which made her story unique in the first place.

The writer further described her fascination with the fact that Kate was not just invited to these weddings, she was also the one hustling and planning it out. From picking up people from the airport to even dog-sitting for some, McKenna stated that Kate was the ever-present and trustworthy bridesmaid everyone could count on. Apart from that, if traditions are followed and according to common practices, bridesmaids are supposed to be unmarried. Hence, Kate was also unmarried, as is the case with Jane in the film.

When McKenna intertwined the elements of Kate being a bridesmaid for several weddings, along with her refined qualities of selflessness and support, the fictional character of Jane emerged. In the film, we see that her character is seeking love, and for once, trying not to be a people-pleaser, akin to the way McKenna sees Kate as a friend. To provide more support, Kate was credited as a consultant on the film, authenticating her experience as the inspiration for Jane. Considering all the facts, we reiterate that though Katherine Heigl’s character in ’27 Dresses’ is exceedingly dramatized for the big screen, her humble inspiration is quite well rooted in reality.

Read More: Movies Like 27 Dresses