The loose and episodic plot of "Wedding Present" during its early scenes establishes the rapport between reporters Charlie and Rusty, played by Cary Grant and Joan Bennett. Their coverage of the breakup of a royal wedding and an improbable rescue at sea are enjoyable chiefly because of Grant. This seems to be the first film in which he exhibits the charm, deft comedic timing, and physical grace that we associate with the Grant screen persona. Although he seemed stiff and stilted in his earlier Paramount romantic comedies (like "Thirty Day Princess"), here he seems to have finally broken through and found the character that would make him a major romantic comedy star for three more decades.
The plot seems to be a prequel to "His Girl Friday," but Howard Hawks has always insisted that only by reading lines with his secretary in preparation for the 1940 version of "The Front Page" did he hit on the idea of casting a woman as Hildy Johnson. When you consider the plot similarities between "Wedding Present" and "His Girl Friday," it would not be surprising if Hawks got his inspiration for Friday's back-story from this film.
The setting is a Chicago tabloid (as in "The Front Page") with Grant as a ruthless editor. Although the two reporters were never married in "Wedding Present" as they were in "Friday", they did apply for a license in the Hall of Records. Like Hilda Johnson, Rusty becomes engaged to a stuffy socialite (Conrad Nagel as opposed to Ralph Bellamy.) Other analogous characters include his snooty mother (Mary Forbes as opposed to Alma Kruger), and Grant's gangster friend (William Demerast as opposed to Abner Biberman,) who helps him frame his rival with the police.
All in all, "Wedding Present" is an unheralded minor gem in the "screwball comedy" canon and would serve as a good opener on a double feature with "His Girl Friday."