Modern Family cordially invites you to the wedding of Mitchell Vincent Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron Scott Tucker (Eric Stonestreet). On May 21, the Emmy-winning ABC sitcom's harried fathers are set to make it official in a momentous, highly anticipated ceremony.
That is, if they can get there. Family drama, wildfires, a runaway bride and a closed dry cleaner all threaten to derail the festivities before they ever get started.
"Things go wrong on a biblical scale," says executive producer Christopher Lloyd during a break in filming on location at Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. "It's to the point where Mitch and Cam start to wonder if there are powers greater than all of them in the family that do not want the two to get married."
In reality, the producers faced their own gargantuan obstacle when it came to crafting the season-long arc: In 2008, voters in California passed the controversial Proposition 8, an amendment to the state's constitution that prohibited same-sex marriages from being recognized. Nobody wanted Cam and Mitch to leave their home state to tie the knot, so when the United States Supreme Court began to review the legality of the amendment in March 2013, the Modern Family writers' room was abuzz with ideas. "We got so excited about it, we started breaking stories even before the thing was defeated," says writer and executive producer Jeffrey Richman.
When Prop 8 was overturned on June 26, 2013, "it was extremely emotional for all of us," Richman says. "It's this thing that, nine years ago [when Cam and Mitch met], they didn't imagine could happen. The straight couples on the show are married and take it completely for granted. Cam and Mitch's relationship has always been recognized, but never in the same way."
The significance of the two-part event (airing May 14 and 21) is also deeply personal to the show's stars. "For a lot of people in America, this will be the first gay wedding that they ever get to attend," says Ferguson, who married lawyer Justin Mikita in New York City last July. "I have a lot of friends who have been together even longer than Mitch and Cam, and they are finally able to exchange vows. So it is very poignant and meaningful to me to be able to bring this relationship into so many living rooms and also into the pop-culture zeitgeist."
Stonestreet agrees. "Gay is a part of who Mitch and Cam are — but it certainly doesn't define them," he says. "This wedding is a great example to just see how relatable their life is."
Of course, it wouldn't be a sitcom wedding if there weren't a couple of hitches. With five hours to go before they walk down the aisle, the husbands-to-be do not find themselves relaxing or enjoying some last-minute pampering. Instead, they're attempting an Ocean's Eleven-style caper to retrieve their tuxedos from a closed dry cleaner. "I don't necessarily know that in real life anyone would wait until the day of their wedding to pick up their tuxedos," Stonestreet says with a laugh between takes, "but that's what we have."
That's just the beginning. When a raging wildfire shuts down their intended venue, the men must pull themselves and their extended family together to find a last-minute replacement. "They both turn into groomzillas just because everything has spun out of control," Ferguson says.
For more on Modern Family, pick up this week's issue of TV Guide Magazine, on newsstands Thursday, May 15!