NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Jyoti, Ancient Wisdom, Modern Times.
The movie opens with a couple exiting a church after just being happily married. Scenes of Reverend Frank (Robin Williams) are cut in intermittently with him explaining that “Good marriages are my business. Finding the right partner is up to you”. Then we get a quick montage of Sadie Jones (Mandy Moore) at a Starbucks with Ben Murphy (John Krasinski) standing behind her line. Ben leans on the security belt aisle guard which comes loose and snaps all of the customers behind in the body and face. As they are walking out Sadie is about to cross a street into an oncoming car when Ben puts his arm out to block her. He stops her but finds his hand on her breast. She makes a joke about him getting to second base when they have skipped first base. Then they kiss.
The montage continues with Ben and Sadie moving in together. She comes across a copy of an old Sports Illustrated with a letter Ben wrote to Brian Boitano, complimenting him on his triple axle and asking him for tips on how he keeps his hair in place.
Then 6 months later, the proposal phase comes. Ben and Sadie are at the 30th Anniversary party of her parents. Sadie’s sister Lindsay is there. We find out through a toast Sadie’s father makes that Lindsay is recently divorced and that Carlisle, Sadie’s best guy friend, used to bathe with Sadie when they were younger. Sadie father then makes a toast to his wife saying that without her in this life the last 30 years, life would mean nothing, to which his wife retorts, “That makes one of us”. Ben then gives an awkward interruption of this moment between them and wants to make an announcement. He gets down on one knee and proposes. Sadie is thrilled, and her father, though looking a little annoyed at first, embraces the moment and welcomes Ben into the family. Sadie says she has always had a dream of being married at St. Augusten’s church. Ben dream to be married on the beach in the Caribbean. But as Rev. Frank had baptized Sadie and their Great-Grandfather built the door of St. Augusten’s, Ben readily agrees to be married there at the church.
The next day they arrive a little late at the church to meet with Rev. Frank. We first meet “the choir boy” who looks like a mini-reverend. The choir boy guides Ben and Sadie to meet Rev. Frank. Rev. Frank is finishing up a Sunday school class of sorts. The children are playing a Family Feud type of game called the Commandment Challenge. After the game is over, Rev. Frank takes Ben, Sadie and the choir boy into his office. We find out that it has been 10 years since Sadie has been to church. There are many pictures on the wall of Rev. Frank posed with various VIPs, the Pope, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Pres. Bush, the Dalai Lama.
When Rev. Frank looks through the next available date for the wedding, the choice is 2 years or, in 3 weeks. Rev. Frank also tells that all couples must undergo a marriage counseling program in order for him to do the wedding. All couples he has put through this program remain together 100%. Sadie is excited and commits both she and Ben to the course and the wedding in 3 weeks. Their first assignments: they must both write their own marriage vows, and have no sex until the honeymoon. As they are leaving, Rev. Frank reminds them of the 11th Commandment, Thou Shall not Be Late.
Ben visits his Best Man Joel who is married with 2 children. He starts giving Ben bad advice about marriage and counseling. Ben is not comfortable with the marriage counseling, but ignores most of what Joel is saying.
The next day church is in session when Ben and Sadie arrive late and try to sneak in. Rev. Frank catches them and brings the entire congregations attention to them. He says it’s the first offense, we’ll let it slide. After church, Ben is supposed to meet with Rev. Frank for a one on one session. Sadie gets in a sports car with Carlisle and goes off to make some arrangements for the Wedding. Rev. Frank takes Ben to play some one-on-one catch. They start tossing around a baseball in the Church recreation area while Rev. Frank questions Ben about what he loves about Sadie. Ben says she is beautiful inside and out, motivated, organized, fun to be around. Rev. Frank reads this back as a good-looker and control freak bordering on OCD. As Ben protests he gets hit in the nose with with ball.
Next meeting, Ben and Sadie go to a group counseling session which is held at a restaurant with other couples. They arrive late. Rev. Frank runs a few drills on role playing to understand arguments, such as getting a flat tire in a rain storm with no cell phone coverage. The first time Ben and Sadie role play, they are two loving to each other. So another couple shows them how it’s done. Basically they blame each other for their predicament. When Ben and Sadie do it again with role reversal in changing the tire, things heat up and they start to take smart jabs at each other over controlling behavior and indecisiveness. All the while this is going on, the choir boy breaks into the their apartment and bugs their bedroom. That night Ben wants to have sex with Sadie, but she wants to abide by the rules until their wedding day. Rev. Frank and choir boy are outside listening in the van.
Tension starts to build between Ben and Sadie. Sadie confessions to Lindsay that she wants Ben to take their vow writing more seriously. She has finished writing hers and he has not begun his, but is only drawing some pictures. Ben talks to Joel also about the tension while they are attending a basketball game.
Next day Rev. Frank takes Ben and Sadie to a maternity ward to learn about parenting. We find out Sadie wants 4 children while Ben wants 2. At the end of the tour, they are giving robotic baby twins to care for. When they get home we find out these babies cry, burp and droll loads of wet snot from their nose. But both Ben and Sadie seem to handle it okay.
The next morning Ben and Sadie have to go to Macy’s to do their gift register. But before they can leave, Joel drops by with an emergency baby sitting job of his 2 children because his wife’s father fell of the roof and hurt his leg. So off they go for shopping, two robot twins and two small children. The choir boy is following them on the shopping trip and turns up the robot baby’s remote to “meltdown” mode. Ben starts banging one of the baby’s head on the counter until it decapitates.
Rev. Franks next test comes during the selection of the wedding food. All of the in-laws are there and he wants Ben to play word association with all of the family members. The first to exchange are Ben and grandma. Ben says “Wisdom”, grandma says “particular”. Next with Lindsay, Bens says “Blonde … I mean like Golden”, Lindsay says “Assertive”. With Sadie’s father, Ben says “Outgoing”, but is egged on by the Rev. Frank for real word. Ben says “Pompous, likes to hear his own voice”, to which Sadie’s mom calls Ben “Vanilla, as in plain”. Ben calls her “Stepford”. Everyone is still laughing and breaking the ice, until Ben starts saying things like throwing money at the everything to make problems go away.
Back at their apartment, Sadie is upset with Ben. But Ben tries to brush of the argument by having sex with her. A listening Rev. Frank is forced to go in and interrupt. In their apartment he engages them is talk about their sex life which makes Ben very uncomfortable, but Sadie later argues back that the first man to ask her what she likes in sex is her priest. Sadie likes things out of the ordinary.
In the morning Ben discovers the bug in the lamp. With Joel advising him they come up with a plan to get some dirt on Rev. Frank. The do internet searches and at the library and discover the Rev. Frank was actually married before.
Later Ben goes to pick up their wedding rings and finds that the inscription on the ring reads “Never to Fart”, when he wrote “Never to Part”. The jewelers are actually pretty funny in this scene and seem a bit clueless that any mistake was made on their part. When Ben says it is supposed to read Never to Part, the female jeweler is genuinely moved and says what a beautiful phrase. The jewelers ask for another $250 to correct the inscription in the urgent manner as the Wedding day is now just 2 days away.
Ben now is encouraged by Joel to break into the Reverends house to get more information on his marriage. While Rev. Frank is in the shower, Ben goes in through a window to be caught by the Rev. dog who drools heavily all over Ben’s face. Ben succeeds in finding both a marriage and divorce certificate for Rev. Frank’s marriage to a Maria Gonzales.
Now there is one final test from Rev. Frank. It is a communication exercise called “The Marriage Road Test”. While Sadie drives blind-folded, it is Ben’s job to guide her through the traffic. Ben is loosing it in the back seat and finds this exercise dangerous and ridiculous. Tensions escalate. At the end of the road test they arrive at the church for the wedding rehearsal. It is obvious that Ben and Sadie are on the verge of calling it off.
While at the alter of the wedding rehearsal, Rev. Frank asks them to turn in their vows. Sadie does, but Ben says he will turn his in tomorrow. Sadie looses it and an argument breaks out where she says she wants to think about everything. Ben then reveals to the whole family Rev. Frank big secret marriage and that he is a hypocrite who has no right to be a marriage counselor.
Rev. Frank confesses. Everyone is shocked. He goes on to say that he married Maria Gonzales who was an illegal immigrant and about to be deported to Honduras and face certain torture on her return. She had children. So he married her and helped her children get proper education. Her son went on to Harvard Law School and became an attorney bent on immigration reform. He divorced Maria as soon as she was a legal citizen. Sadie is embarrassed and calls off the wedding right then. Ben is furious with Rev. Frank and punches him in the nose.
Later Rev. Frank encourages Sadie to go away for awhile, to take their honeymoon ticket and just go take a break. Ben is also distraught. While at a bar with Joel, Joel encourages him to just move on and go out and find some other honey for now. Ben is upset with this suggestion and then realizes that he doesn’t want anyone else. Ben takes off for Jamaica to find Sadie. On his way out of the bar, he sees Rev. Frank and choir boy’s church van and knows they have been bugging him again.
In Jamaica Ben tries to call Sadie, but she hangs up on him and won’t let him talk. Sadie is in Jamaica with her whole family, including her best guy friend Carlisle. Rev. Frank is on a plane with choir boy to Jamaica knowing that they are about to get back together. That night Sadie has a dream involving Ben’s crazy drawing in his marriage vow book and she wakes from it with a renewed love for Ben. Just then Ben calls on her mobile and tells her to look out her window. We see him outside. He has written his marriage vows in the sand. He says there were just so many things to say to her, he couldn’t pick just a few. She comes running down and they make up.
Later, they get married on the beach. When Ben gives her the ring, it was never corrected and still says “Never to Fart”. He apologizes and says he’ll get that fixed. But Sadie says no way. I love it just the way it is. They kiss and then they kiss Rev. Frank. At the reception, Ben asks Rev. Frank when he knew they would make it. He says when Ben told Joel in the bar that he did not want any other woman.