11 user
In 1950s Massachusetts, a wealthy black woman engaged to a poor white beatnik learns about her family history. The stories revolve around the racial and class complexities of interracial and class-based marriages.


Charles Burnett


Dorothy West (novel), Lisa Jones (teleplay)
5 nominations. See more awards »


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?



Cast overview, first billed only:
Halle Berry ... Shelby Coles
Eric Thal ... Meade Howell
Lynn Whitfield ... Corinne Coles
Carl Lumbly ... Lute McNeil
Michael Warren ... Clark Coles
Marianne Jean-Baptiste ... Ellen Coles
Cynda Williams ... Liz Odis
Charlayne Woodard
Richard Brooks ... Lincoln Odis
Gabriel Casseus ... Hannibal
Shirley Knight ... Gram (Miss Caroline)
Ethel Ayler ... Eunice
Paul Butler Paul Butler ... Preacher
Peter Francis James ... Isaac Coles
Carl Gordon ... Mr. Hawkins


Shelby Coles is engaged to marry talented white jazz musician Meade Howell, but the pair face opposition from both Meade's family, who object to an inter-racial marriage, and Shelby's parents, who want her to marry a professional. As Shelby is afflicted by premarital doubts, handsome Lute McNeil arrives on the scene, determined to make Shelby his at any cost.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Two men. Two different worlds. One final decision. See more »


Drama | Romance


See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Meade Howell: I need to talk to you, Shel.
Shelby Coles: No, it's not a good time.
Meade Howell: No, I need to talk to you now. Listen, I thought that music came first, and I was wrong. You come before that. I love you. And I am not going to let you just walk away with no good reason.
Shelby Coles: I think I've given you very good reasons, Meade.
Meade Howell: Why, Shel? Because we can't stay in the same hotel in Georgia? We'll make them let us stay in the same hotel!
Shelby Coles: No, it's because I don't think I want to spend my whole life fighting, defending who we are. Proving ...
See more »


References Late Spring (1949) See more »

User Reviews

A flawed production based on a flawed book.
12 April 2007 | by kmm1128See all my reviews

I read the reviews of this movie and I am shocked and appalled that so many people found this a worthwhile production. While, it is true that the movie is an accurate portrayal of upper class black socialites in the 1930s-1950s, there are so many elements of this movie and the book on which it was based that I found offensive.

First of all, let me set the record straight for all those who do not know. This movie was based on "The Wedding," a book by the renowned Harlem Rennaissance writer Dorothy West. It is NOT based on a true story in any way, shape or form.

I have read other works by Dorothy West and found them to be very interesting. She set herself apart from the other Harlem Rennaissance writers at the time by writing about black upper middle-class, a social hierarchy that has gone virtually unexplored throughout African-American Literature. However, when I read "The Wedding," I was deeply resentful. The underlying tone of racism against interracial relationships staggers me, as I am a multiracial person. I found the characters detestable and the fact that there is virtually no plot progression throughout the novel is a huge problem. Ninety percent of the novel is backstory.

Many of these same elements are portrayed in the movie version of this book to the nth degree. First of all, Shelby Coles is supposed to be white. She is not light-skinned like Halle Berry. She is WHITE. She has blond hair and blue-eyes. She is the product of so many blends of black and white that her blackness has been genetically wiped out on the surface. The fact that they cast Halle Berry to play Shelby Coles destroys the only redeeming quality I found in the book. This is the scene where Shelby gets lost as a little girl and no one can find her because the police report says that she is black, but she looks white. Using this scene to establish the unequal treatment society puts on whites and blacks was the only redeeming quality I found in this book.

There are several other elements that I found so offensive from this movie (mostly character-wise) that it would be impossible to mention them all.

This is a deeply resentful movie about interracial relations, and should not have been made into a movie. This was the last book that Dorothy West wrote before she died, and I'm wondering if that has something to do with its irregular quality. All I know is that if you are multiracial or biracial, do not, under any circumstances, watch this movie or read West's book. Read some of the other books by West. They are so much better.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 11 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

22 February 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding See more »

Filming Locations:

Southport, North Carolina, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed