Ah, Jim and Pam's Niagara Falls wedding. What a time filled with tissue-paper-box shoes, torn scrotums, and surprise wedding performances.
Recently, in honor of the 10th anniversary of the wedding episodes, Entertainment Weekly did an oral history of "Niagara: Part 1" and "Niagara: Part 2"...and in it we learned that the ending we know and love almost didn't happen!
Paul Feig, who directed the episodes, revealed that "the original ending was a big controversy" that involved Roy coming into the church on a horse and attempting to stop the wedding.
All throughout the episode, Roy’s [David Denman] been kind of haunting around and unhappy that they’re getting married, so when they ask if anybody has reason why this couple can’t get married, he rides into the church on a horse to sweep Pam off her feet like a knight in shining armor and declares, “I have an objection.” And she’s like, “What are you doing? No, I want to get married.” She sends him away, so he has to ride his horse back out of the church. But then, in an absolute insane thing, they had this crazy ending where Dwight [Rainn Wilson] gets the horse and rides it into the falls.
And apparently executive producer Greg Daniels was the one who was really pushing the horse storyline.
I was really committed to the horse for the longest time. [Laughs] It was like Dwight got fascinated with this historical display at the hotel that talked about various animals. It started with a cow had been swept over the falls and survived, and then a couple of people tried to go over the falls in a barrel and were killed, and then some sheep went over the falls and survived. And he came up with this theory that you could survive going over the falls if you were riding a horse, because a horse would have the instinct of how to swim properly. And so he was trying to get people to listen to this theory, and then Roy interrupts the wedding trying to do a big, grand romantic gesture that nobody wants and just abandons the horse and drives home. So Dwight gets on and goes into the river above the falls, but panics and jumps off the horse at the last second, while the horse goes over in the background of the wedding.
However, at the table read for the script, no one was into the idea.
Then we got to the table read and I was the last defender of the horse. The entire staff and actors were yelling at me: “Don’t ruin Jim and Pam’s wedding with a horse!”
Daniels eventually backed down after people said the horse storyline was too "dark and weird," and so then they last-minute had to come up with a new ending...the re-creation of a viral wedding video!
And the best part of the creation of that iconic scene might just be that Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski never saw the rest of the cast rehearse the dance until filming actually started, so they were just as surprised and emotional as the rest of us at home!
According to Jenna, she was actually crying when she first saw the dance!
I hadn’t seen it, they’d all been rehearsing it, and then I was very frustrated that I was stuck in the back of the church. I went up to the front to watch it and I was actually crying during the first rehearsal. It’s so sweet and joyous. I think it was a stroke of genius.