Bridesmaids Beat Sheet: A Plot Guide for Writers

A female-driven romantic comedy favorite, Bridesmaids serves up a very funny road-to-the-altar plot with a memorable protagonist. As the competition between the maid of honor and a friend in the wedding party who is determined to run the show increases, the plot takes several twists and turns. In this Bridesmaids beat sheet, we examine the plot using the classic Three Act Structure narrative framework.

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Act 1: Setup

Beat 1 – Exposition

We meet the protagonist Annie, who is in bed with Ted, her casual boyfriend. Their relationship seems one-sided, and Ted awkwardly asks Annie to leave. She tells her best friend, Lillian, who seems concerned; she wants Annie to make room for someone nice for her, not someone who makes her feel bad about herself.

Annie’s troubles follow her to her day job at a jewelry store, where she has worked since her bakery closed. She overshares personal issues with customers, causing them to leave. On top of that, her rent is due—and she’s scrambling to get the money.

Beat 2 – Inciting Incident

Lillian gets engaged to Dougie, and asks Annie to plan the wedding and be the maid of honor. She quickly agrees, but also seems a bit freaked out about what it entails.

Beat 3 – Plot Point 1

Annie goes to the engagement party at a very fancy estate, where she meets some of Lillian’s other friends and Dougie’s sister Megan. Annie also meets Helen, who is married to Dougie’s boss, planned this party, and is amazingly together.

After Annie makes a brief maid of honor speech, Lillian makes a longer one, leading to a back and forth as each tries to get in the last word. There is clearly a rivalry for Lillian’s attention. Afterwards, Annie confronts Lillian, who in turn asks Annie to hang out with Helen as a favor. She agrees.

As Annie’s driving home, a cop, Officer Rhodes, pulls her over for broken tail lights. But when he realizes she is the owner of the bakery he loved, he refers her to a body shop instead. There seems to be a spark.

Act 2: Confrontation

Beat 4 – Rising Action

After Annie and Helen play an awkward game of tennis, the bridal party goes to a Brazilian restaurant at Annie’s suggestion. When Annie suggests a French theme for the wedding shower, Helen suggests they consider other options.

They go to a fancy wedding shop to look at dresses, and Helen gets them in without a reservation. Lillian reveals that Helen has arranged for a French designer to make her a custom dress, which annoys Annie further. And then everyone becomes outrageously sick from the food while trying on their gowns.

Later, after Ted declines an invite to the wedding, Annie runs into Officer Rhodes at a convenience store. He says she should be thinking about starting a new bakery and takes her to use the speed gun to track drivers on the side of the highway. They have fun.

Afterwards, Annie suggests having the Bachelorette party at Lillian’s family’s lake house, but Helen suggests Vegas, which everyone agrees to even though it’s expensive. While everyone else flies first class, Annie can’t afford it and becomes plane sick sitting in coach. She takes a pill and a glass of whiskey to calm down, but then proceeds to hallucinate and make a scene on the flight.

Beat 5 – Midpoint

After being thrown off the flight for making a disturbance, Annie and the rest of the bridal party must take a bus the rest of the way to Vegas. On the bus, Lillian asks Annie not to be in charge of the bridal shower. She says Annie seems overwhelmed, and it would be best for Helen to do it.

Beat 6 – Plot Point 2

Annie asks Officer Rhodes out, has sex, then decides it was a mistake when she awakens the next day to see he has assembled materials for her to bake (because she should do what she loves).

A series of disasters follow for Annie and, not only does she has to go home to live with her mom but she also has a fight with Lillian at the bridal shower. It Annie may not be going to the wedding.

After her car breaks down on the way home, Annie stays over at her friend Megan’s house. Megan has overcome her own difficulties and helps Annie have a realization—Annie is her own problem and solution.

Act 3: Resolution

Beat 7 – Pre-Climax

Annie starts to bake again. She bakes a cake for Officer Rhodes and leaves it at his door. Driving past several times, she sees he’s left it out there. Her car is fixed for free because Officer Rhodes made an arrangement with the body shop, but Annie seems depressed and doesn’t want to go to the wedding.

Helen shows up at the door with a problem: Lillian is missing. Helen apologizes for getting between Annie and Lillian, admitting she’s basically alone and has no female friends. Turns out Lillian is at her own apt.

Annie goes in by herself to find Lillian is upset because Helen took over the wedding—it’s been terrible without Annie. She’s also worried about the ways her life will change and what it means for their friendship. And then there is the problem of the hideous wedding gown Helen had made for her.

Beat 8 – Climax

Annie and Lillian modify the dress. The wedding itself is perfect, with fireworks and a laser show, plus surprise guest Wilson Phillips to sing Lillian’s favorite song.

Beat 9 – Denouement

Annie and Helen reconcile and agree to take steps toward being friends. As the weeding ends, Officer Rhodes is waiting outside the venue. Annie and Officer Rhodes kiss, then ride away in his police car.

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