For most of Jennifer Lopez’s action rom-com, “Shotgun Wedding,” she’s wearing a wedding dress, and the challenge was finding the perfect color for her to wear in the new Amazon Prime film.
The origin story of the dress is that it once belonged to Jennifer Coolidge’s character, Carol, her future mother-in-law. Costume designer Mitchell Travers, who worked with Lopez on “Hustlers,” said he looked at how vintage wedding dresses aged when he was settling on the perfect color for the gown.
“I started looking at what happens to them over time. What a 20-year-old dress would look like, a 40-year-old dress, and they have this lovely patina that starts to happen and they yellow with age. When you work with JLo, we don’t do that,” Travers explains. “We went to a nice warm rose or as I call it, ‘warm blush.'”
With that, Travers had the perfect canvas to throw “sweat, blood, dirt and everything else that comes with the action.”
“Shotgun Wedding” sees Lopez’s big day hijacked by pirates — literally. Set on an idyllic Filipino island, the wedding guests, who are played by a cast of characters that includes Coolidge, D’Arcy Carden and Cheech Marin, are held hostage, while the bride and groom, played by Josh Duhamel, figure out how to save their guests and their relationship.
Cue live grenades, ziplining, plenty of sand, a fight in the kitchen and much more. Lopez’s wedding dress needed to be a character. “It’s going through as much as the bride,” explains Travers. “It had to be reflective of how she’s changing and what she’s learning.”
To come up with the design and shape, Travers reverse-engineered everything. “I knew what I wanted for the slo-mo run on the beach, so I had to get to the beginning of that.”
Travers says there was only one perfect dress, and every other iteration of it needed to work with the action sequence. For a sequence that involves riding a golf cart, Travers says the dress needed to “envelop and overwhelm her. It’s the beginning of this day and she doesn’t know how she’s going to get through it.” With the ziplining scene, another alteration was made to the dress. “It needed to trail behind her and be chaotic.”
By the end of the film, when Lopez transforms into full-action mode and is ready to take on the pirates, Travers says, “We get to this reveal, where she’s lost her sleeves, she’s covered in blood, and I wanted the dress to be where she’s pulling up her straps and she’s locked and loaded.”
Travers said they had seven different versions of the dress that went through numerous phases of construction and deconstruction, whether it was pulling off the train, sleeves or skirt as the action ensues. In total, there were 28 variations of the dress which Travers collaborated on with couture designer Galia Lahav to create.
“The dresses were built from 20-30 layers of stretch net. It’s a bit of a superhero suit that looks like a wedding dress,” Travers says of the ideal fabric used for the custom-made dress. “It gives her the ability to bend her body and move her arms and legs.”
As for the other Jennifer in “Shotgun Wedding,” Coolidge shot the film shortly after wrapping the first season of HBO’s “The White Lotus,” and Travers says he had no idea what the show was since it hadn’t aired at the time.
His challenge for her was finding the perfect dress for a character who spends a large part of the film held captive in the infinity pool. “I just wanted to keep her comfortable. I found a printed neoprene for her dress. It came with this huge shoulder, which we modified a little. But it was a product of knowing the environment that she was going to have to shoot in.” He adds, “In a way, it was like having her in the wetsuit because it was this perfect dress that she could get in and out of the water, have mobility and it still looks great when it was both dry and wet. Having that extremely exaggerated hat and shoulder helps me tell the story of somebody who had never left her state, and was so excited to be at a destination wedding.”