The Wedding Contract is the newest Jewish offering on the Hallmark Channel, airing during the network’s June Weddings programming.
Adam (Jake Epstein) works in advertising at the Sanders and Pitts Advertising Agency where he is on the verge of landing his biggest account yet. Rebecca (Becca Tobin) is a teacher doing important work in teaching kids in an afterschool program. Anyway, they start dating for some six months following their meet cute–that’s when Rebecca decides it is time to invite him to her parents for Shabbos dinner.
What we know about Adam early on is that he is not as close as Rebecca in their Judaism. Rebecca’s family comes off as being more religious than Adam’s. Adam’s father died when he was young and when his mother remarried, it was to a non-Jewish man. This brings us to where we are now: Adam is on the verge of a promotion and having to relocate to LA. This would force Rebecca to resign her job and move away from her family. Being close to one’s family is very important for Rebecca. Could this be the thing that makes or breaks their relationship? Will Adam and Rebecca be able to build a healthy marriage and family if all Adam does is focus on work? Watch the film and find out!
My approach to Hallmark Channel’s Jewish programming is that I don’t expect any Orthodox observances. Hell, asking for a Conservative Jewish family probably would not be too much to ask for. Instead, what we get is the typical Reform family that one tends to find in such movies. At least, that’s what I’m assuming through the Shabbos dinner and wedding ceremonies. It’s interesting how Becca dreams of having a traditional wedding in a synagogue. Most Jewish weddings that I know about are ones that usually take place at a hotel or other venues!
The Shabbos dinner is rather abbreviated. Not so much in a cut for time type of way but only one woman lights candles rather than all the women in the family, the Kiddush completely cuts out the entire second paragraph, and there is no washing before Hamotzi. It’s through watching the Shabbos dinner rituals in which one can tell which denomination that they are. The other part is through looking at where they’re eating and going shopping for the wedding. To me, they do not feel like the type that keep kosher but this is minor for the time being.
The other thing about the film is that Jewish weddings do not traditionally have rehearsals, let alone a rehearsal dinner. I grew up in a Conservative home before becoming Orthodox. As such, I’m writing from what I know. Outside of weekday weddings, Jewish weddings are commonly held on Sundays. This allows families to host their out-of-town guests at a Friday night dinner and sponsor a Shabbos Kiddush lunch (or hold a separate lunch) following the groom’s aufruf during the Torah reading. Another thing is that the witnesses to the Ketubah must be Jewish and not necessarily the Best Man.
My main problem with the film is not even its Jewish rituals or depictions. No, it’s the fact that what one assumes would be Lincoln Park looks nothing at all like Lincoln Park. Going off of skyline views, I cannot even tell where Becca’s parents are supposed to be living. The skyline is too close to be Lake Forest and not far enough to be Skokie, where many Jewish families live outside of Chicago itself. When one goes off of the establishing shots, one can assume that Becca works in the West Loop or somewhere just to the west of it. It’s very telling when I have more problems with the Chicago content than the Jewish content!
While The Wedding Contract focuses on a Jewish wedding, the film still falls in line with the typical Hallmark storytelling beats.
DIRECTOR: Peter DeLuise
SCREENWRITER: Karen Berger
CAST: Becca Tobin, Jake Epstein, Colleen Wheeler, Laura Soltis, Morgana Wyllie, Barry Levy, Michael Benyaer, Garfield Wilson, and Peter Benson
Hallmark Channel aired The Wedding Contract on June 17, 2023 at 8 PM ET/PT. Grade: 2.5/5
Please subscribe to Solzy at the Movies on Substack.