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Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller-Bing, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, and Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green in season 7, episode 24 of Friends, “The One With Monica And Chandler's Wedding.”
Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller-Bing, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, and Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green in season 7, episode 24 of Friends, “The One With Monica And Chandler's Wedding.”
Photo: Danny Feld/NBCU Photo Bank

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‘Friends’ Costume Designer Looks Back on 10 Seasons of Weddings

From Rachel’s unforgettable dress in the pilot episode to Monica and Chandler’s big day.

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Friends may have ended its 10-season run more than a decade ago, but it’s hard to overstate the sitcom’s lasting pop-cultural impact; what other television show can lay claim to one of the most popular hairstyles in history? Or still inspire fans to wait in an hour-long line to visit a temporary replica of its famous coffee shop?

While Central Perk and Jennifer Aniston’s still-enviable hair both played crucial roles in the beloved NBC series, weddings were just as much of a plot fixture. After all, it’s Rachel’s (Aniston) decision to leave her fiancé, Barry, at the altar that leads her to reconnect with Monica and Ross — and meet the rest of the gang — in the first place. Over the course of the show’s run, nearly every central character winds up tying the knot, sometimes with each other and occasionally more than once.

Of course, those multiple weddings called for a lot of wedding (and bridesmaid) dresses — making costume designer Debra McGuire, who spent a full decade dressing America’s favorite Friends, a bona fide expert in nuptial style. Below, McGuire looks back on some of the show’s most memorable marital moments.


Season 1, Episode 1: “The One Where Monica Gets a Roommate”

Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, and David Schwimmer as Ross Geller in season 1, episode 1 of Friends.
Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, and David Schwimmer as Ross Geller in season 1, episode 1 of Friends.
Photo: NBCU Photo Bank

“That wedding dress came from Warner Bros. stock from the costume department! I was in the costume house, [where] there were millions of dresses, and I remember going through and pulling that one out and it looked perfect. I knew it’d fit her — that it was going to just be one zip up the back — and I was right! It was one of those fast and furious moments. But I wouldn’t give myself any real kudos aside from having picked out a gown that was perfect and fit her perfectly.

“You know, it’s rare on a pilot that you can design anything, because you get hired and it has to happen in five seconds. And with Friends, we got scripts on Monday and shot on Friday. We rarely got a heads-up on the big events. Occasionally we’d get an extra week if there was a wedding coming up, in which case I’d manage to make at least some of the clothing. But with this pilot, we were moving so quickly — and I’d just given birth! My daughter was born three days before we started shooting. She was three days old, and I brought her [to the set] in a little basket!

“Also, you have to remember, we had no idea that Friends was going to be a huge hit. it would’ve been great to have multiples of that dress, since we wound up having to dig up a dress that looked like it for that flashback episode later on. But I mean, how could we have known? Your main goal on a pilot is just to really communicate who these characters are, and you do it the best way you can.

“At that time, Rachel was a Jewish princess, and this was kind of a perfect Long Island princess dress, slightly over the top but not too much. It had to be tasteful, since she had good taste. And those shoulders! Let me just tell you something: Jennifer’s body is a work of art, so anything you can do to show it off is always a really good idea. She has the most beautiful shoulders — the most beautiful everything, really.”


Season 2, Episode 11: “The One With the Lesbian Wedding”

Jessica Hecht as Susan Bunch-Willick and Jane Sibbett as Carol Willick-Bunch in season 2, episode 11 of Friends.
Jessica Hecht as Susan Bunch-Willick and Jane Sibbett as Carol Willick-Bunch in season 2, episode 11 of Friends.
Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

“For this wedding, I made everything. We had a heads-up on this one, and it really took a lot of thought because it was a radical thing. I really loved the idea of these women being women, of them looking beautiful and feminine, because of the stereotypes about gay women. We took it very seriously.

“I remember the colors being really soft and beautiful, and I was really proud of that ensemble. You know, sometimes with these scenes, you want it to turn out exactly the way it was in your mind, and that was one of the times that it really was. I think it had a lot to do with the actresses and the energy they brought to it; they were so excited and they loved the clothes so much. And you know, it was an exciting thing to portray at the time, and everybody was so excited and really embraced it.

“My inspiration was very equestrian. For my own wedding — I was a polo player at the time, and I was really into English turn-of-the-century silhouettes. My wedding dress was kind of a riding frock, with a jacket with a bustle, a full skirt, and a top hat that kind of looked like a wedding cake. It was very equestrian, and I remember thinking that that would be a really good look for [Susan]. As for [Carol’s] dress, I really just wanted it to be beautiful and feminine. Generally, my inspiration doesn’t come from other peoples’ clothing. I’m a fine artist and a painter, so it usually comes from that world rather than the fashion world.”


Season 2, Episode 24: “The One With Barry and Mindy’s Wedding”

Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green and David Schwimmer as Ross Geller in season 2, episode 24 of Friends, “The One with Barry and Mindy's Wedding.”
Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green and David Schwimmer as Ross Geller in season 2, episode 24 of Friends.
Photo: NBCU

“Okay, that dress was my favorite thing ever. I was like, ‘What would be the most hellacious outfit we could possibly put together?’ I mean, that bubblegum-pink color was horrible! We made all of it, and everything was bad: The taffeta was bad, the color was bad, the puffy sleeves were bad. It was exactly what I wanted.

“Anyway, it was such a joke to us, and we had so much fun doing it — and then, wouldn’t you know, people contacted us to tell us they honestly loved it! We thought there was no way that anyone would ever want to wear that dress and that hat. Seriously, it blew our minds. It made us realize what a bubble we live in. We think we know everything, but we don’t really know anything!”


Season 4, Episode 20: “The One With All the Wedding Dresses”

Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, and Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay in season 4, episode 20 of Friends, “The One With All the Wedding Dresses.”
Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, and Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay in season 4, episode 20 of Friends.
Photo: NBCU

Friends casting director Leslie Litt’s mom and sister owned a bridal shop down on Ventura Boulevard, Lili Bridals. They were so kind to us — whenever we had a wedding scene coming up and needed dresses, we would buy them from there. They have beautiful stuff. And the store is still there! I went back years later, and they remembered me. Anyway, I got Phoebe and Rachel’s dresses from there.”


Season 4, Episode 24: “The One With Ross’s Wedding: Part 2”

Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, and Helen Baxendale as Emily Waltham in a promotional still for season 4, episode 24 of Friends, “The One with Ross's Wedding: Part 2.”
Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, and Helen Baxendale as Emily Waltham in a promotional still for season 4, episode 24 of Friends.
Photo: Oliver Upton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

“I made Emily’s dress, but [Helen Baxendale] was pregnant, if I recall correctly. So we had to jump through hoops to adjust for that. We had to change the neckline, and I remember having to make that little jacket for her, probably to mask the fact that it wasn’t the same dress [as the one Monica wears in ‘The One With All the Wedding Dresses’].”


Season 7, Episode 24: “The One With Monica and Chandler’s Wedding”

Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing and Courteney Cox as Monica Geller-Bing in season 7, episode 24 of Friends, “The One With Monica and Chandler's Wedding.”
Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing and Courteney Cox as Monica Geller-Bing in season 7, episode 24 of Friends.
Photo: Danny Feld/NBCU Photo Bank

“Courteney’s wedding was painful for me, because I really wanted to design that dress. But we just didn’t have much time. And here’s the other thing: Those girls hated fittings. For the first couple of years of Friends, I made so many of the clothes, and I wore myself out.

“When you make stuff, you have to have a muslin fitting, and then you do it in the right fabric, and then you have to have another fitting, and usually one more after that. It was hard enough to get them in for one fitting per costume, so trying to get them in for three... it was like pulling teeth. They just wanted me to buy [the clothes] from stores so it wouldn’t be such a big deal.

“So while I really wanted to make this wedding dress, I knew there was a chance that I wouldn’t have enough fittings and it wouldn’t be perfect. And that’s exactly what happened. Courteney tried on my wedding dress [that I’d made], I tried zipping it up, and it didn’t fit. So off it came, and on went the backup — I had a couple of backup dresses in the wings, just in case — and it fit her like a glove. She was like, ‘This is perfect!’ And I was like, ‘Shit.’ [Laughs]

“It was so classic and beautiful, and it did look perfect on her. But the thing is, at the same time that I was doing [the costumes for Friends], I had my store in Pacific Palisades, and 50 percent of my business was weddings. I did Lisa Kudrow’s wedding, and lots of celebrity wedding gowns. So that’s why it was such a crushing blow for my dress not to be used.”


Season 7, Episode 24: “The One With Monica and Chandler’s Wedding”

Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay and Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green in season 7, episode 24 of Friends, “The One With Monica and Chandler’s Wedding.”
Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay and Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green in season 7, episode 24 of Friends.
Photo: Danny Feld/NBCU Photo Bank

“Those bridesmaid dresses got the most calls and inquiries of anything on the whole show. We bought them at Neiman Marcus, and they were so beautiful. They weren’t by a big name, just some random formalwear brand — but honestly, if those people didn’t make a zillion dollars as a result of it... [Laughs]

“It went on for years and years, and I still get questions about them to this day. I get emails every week about Friends, because people are always rediscovering it or else just seeing it for the first time, like my 23-year-old daughter! I get these inquiries that are so insane, like ‘I love Jennifer’s yellow dress, can you tell me where I can get it?’ or some guy will be like ‘My wife loves Phoebe’s dress, where can I buy it?’

“I always write back. And I’m like, ‘Thank you so much, I’m so flattered — but that was 20 years ago! If I were you, I would take a really good screenshot and go source some fabric and take it to your local tailor.’”


Season 10, Episode 12: “The One With Phoebe’s Wedding”

Paul Rudd as Mike Hannigan and Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay in season 10, episode 12 of Friends, “The One With Phoebe's Wedding.”
Paul Rudd as Mike Hannigan and Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay in season 10, episode 12 of Friends.
Photo: NBCU Photo Bank

“Phoebe’s dress was amazing. I bought it from a wedding store in Westwood — not a very nice woman who owned the store, if I recall, and she couldn’t have cared less that the dress was going on Friends! It was a light lavender color, just gorgeous. My biggest goal on Friends was to create things and make looks that nobody had ever seen before. I didn’t want it to be about fashion, but rather clothes that looked amazing and that didn’t fit in to trends.

“Before she walked down the aisle, Phoebe wore this embroidered coat over her dress that was from my collection. I had the fabric made in India — it was gorgeous — and it’s lined in faux fur. The colors are just amazing. They pick up the color in her wedding dress, and it really showed her personality. It’s just so Phoebe!”


Season 10, Episode 12: “The One With Phoebe’s Wedding”

Courteney Cox as Monica Geller-Bing and Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green in season 10, episode 12 of Friends, “The One With Phoebe’s Wedding.”
Courteney Cox as Monica Geller-Bing and Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green in season 10, episode 12 of Friends.
Photo: NBCU

“The bridesmaid dresses were Michael Kors, and I loved them. But here’s the thing: When you’re in a bridesmaid dress, you’re not really showing your character. They’re kind of homogenous. So I thought, why not also do coats on the girls that show their individuality?

“For all of the weddings, it was really about the visual assemblage of everyone together. So whenever I would design a wedding dress, I would also think about the bridesmaids. I was really into the palette and how everything looked together — down to the guys, with their ties and vests. I wanted everything to look beautiful together.”

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