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NY Post
15 Apr 2023

NextImg:Headline: Stream It or Skip It: ‘The Wedding Cottage’ on Hallmark Casts Erin Krakow and Brendan Penny as Unlikely Wedding Planners

Hallmark’s spring movie lineup continues with The Wedding Cottage. Hallmark Channel regulars Erin Krakow and Brendan Penny team-up to clean up this historic wedding location in time for a high-profile wedding. Is The Wedding Cottage worth checking out on Hallmark or should you plan to get your weekend wedding and home reno fix on another cable network?

The Gist: Erin Krakow (When Calls the Heart) plays Vanessa, an erstwhile wedding planner turned author of a new guide book to getting hitched. In order to juice up the sales, she’s throwing an all-expenses-paid dream wedding for one deserving couple. In true Hallmark fashion, that couple is Staff Sargeant Scott (Drew Henderson) and his fiancée Amy (Matreya Scarrwener), whose parents and grandparents got married at the Wedding Cottage — and, yep, her parents have passed away. There are just a few problems: the couple needs to get married in a month, before active-duty Scott’s transferred to Germany; and on top of that, the Wedding Cottage is closed for business and, as Vanessa learns when she drives to Vermont for an inspection, it’s also fallen into a state of disrepair.

That’s when we meet Evan (Chesapeake Shores‘ Brendan Penny), a sculptor with sculptor’s block, a looming deadline, and also an inherited deed to the cottage. He’s holed up at a workshop adjacent to the cottage in the hopes of finding inspiration, and he has no plans to get into the wedding business. He also has no plans to let anyone else get into the wedding business on his property, until Vanessa promises that the cottage’s repairs won’t get in the way of his sculpting. He won’t even know that an entire construction crew is there! They won’t make a peep! You know that promise is doomed.

More importantly, is the wedding doomed? Will Vanessa successfully fend off a nosy bride and groom-to-be? Will Evan ever get his sculpt on? And will this pressure make Vanessa and Evan more than just begrudging allies in making matrimonial magic?

Photo: Hallmark/Allister Foster

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: The emphasis on home renovation gives me big A Christmas Open House vibes, which was one of the scripted holiday movies that Discovery+ dropped last year.

Performance Worth Watching: I am the exact right age to appreciate when these Canadian productions bring in an actor from the ’00s Battlestar Galactica series, so you better believe I was loving every bit of screen time that Aaron Douglas got as the slightly curmudgeonly, Ron Swanson-esque contractor.

Memorable Dialogue: As Vanessa is told when she dares to try to get anyone to respond to her offers to give them money in exchange for services, she’s told, “You do know this is Vermont and not New York, where I’m assuming you’re from.”

Our Take: I’ll start by asking: is the Wedding Cottage actually a cottage? Cottages, as defined by a quick google, tend to be small, simple homes in the countryside or near water. The wedding cottage feels bigger than that — more like a Wedding Manor. Like, I hear “wedding cottage” and I picture the cozy English house that Cameron Diaz holed up in during The Holiday. In that way, the movie didn’t meet my expectations — but then again, what do I know about house classifications?

The Wedding Cottage
Photo: Hallmark/Allister Foster

Still, that slight misunderstanding is emblematic of the entire movie’s vibe. Things just feel a little off. Erin Krakow and Brendan Penny are Hallmark pros, but they feel mismatched here. Penny’s Evan is a touch too intense and annoyed with Vanessa for just a hair too long. And Vanessa is almost too tightly-wound. The movie begins with a scene where it really seems like Vanessa spends her spare time standing in front of wedding shops, subtly promoting her book to every window shopper that stops to marvel at the gown in the window.

There’s a subtle intensity to both of the characters that you just wish would be dialed back. Proving that point: the scene where Evan provides emotional support to the groom felt surprisingly more open and resonant than most of Evan’s scenes with Vanessa. The movie could’ve gone in a very different direction right there! As for the actual romantic lead, there are moments where Krakow got to play up the silliness of Vanessa’s seriousness. You will laugh out loud when you see how Vanessa handles a leaf blower, for instance. The movie could’ve used a bit more of that energy.

The plot, specifically Evan and Vanessa’s separate obstacles, struggle to coalesce. She needs to get this house renovated ASAP, and he’s a sculptor who’s good with tools. You’d think he would become the contractor, or at least put his artistic handiwork to work during the remodel. Evan is stuck with a property that he’s refusing to let flourish, so it would’ve been satisfying to see himself and his artistry open up and start to thrive as he lets this almost mythical property be what it was intended to be. Or maybe I’m thinking too much about this! I guess that’s the problem: I found myself with a lot of time to think during this one.

Our Call: SKIP IT. The Wedding Cottage has a solid foundation, including a lived-in sense of place, but like the titular structure, the story and central romance needed a little remodeling.