Season 11 of The Big Bang Theory ended on a tender note with Sheldon and Amy’s wedding. Titled “The Bow Tie Asymmetry,” tonight’s episode contained enough touching moments to satiate fans until The Big Bang Theory returns in September. Was it a little short for a season finale? Sure, but more on that in a minute. The bottom line, though, was that it hit roughly all the right marks—which was no easy feat, seeing as how Sheldon and Amy’s wedding has been a long time coming. Fan expectations were high.
So how did it all come together? How did the show-runners decide what to include in the 22 minutes—and what not to? Now that the episode’s aired, executive producer Steve Holland got on the phone with Glamour to reveal the story behind the second most-important wedding in pop culture right now. (Try guessing the first.)
Why Shamy’s Wedding Wasn’t An Hour-Long Episode: Holland guesses that CBS would’ve given the OK for a 44-minute episode had he and the producers asked for it, but “our feeling is that those hour, super-sized sitcoms never quite feel right.” The trouble show-runners ran into, however, was that they had enough content for a double episode. “Once we were writing it, it was so big that I think our first draft was 65 pages. Usually they come in around 40 pages. So we had to go in and make hard choices [of what to keep and what not to]. But I think the episode is better for it and hopefully never bores you.”
What Didn’t Make It Into the Final Version for Broadcast, Part I: “There’s certainly things that we shot that we had to cut for time and there were some painful decisions to make there,” Holland says. One of those moments (which CBS will have online immediately after the episode) happens after the ceremony when Sheldon and Amy receive a gift from Stephen Hawking, who passed away in March. “It was a way for us to pay tribute to him,” Holland says of Hawking, who guest starred on Big Bang Theory numerous times. “We contacted his family and got their blessing to do it. [In the scene], he sent something to [Sheldon and Amy] before he passed away.”
What Didn’t Make It Into the Final Version for Broadcast, Part II: Diehard fans are probably wondering why Sheldon’s grandmother, MeeMaw (last played by June Squibb on Big Bang), wasn’t in attendance—especially since every other member of his family was. Says Holland: “We had a phone call from MeeMaw where she explains why she couldn’t be there, and that [scene] was hard to lose because I know we’re going to get called out on it. But we had it and there’s a reason for it, so we’ve got the audio of the phone [message] that will be posted online as well.” This message was actually recorded by Sheldon’s OG MeeMaw, Annie Potts, who plays the character in Young Sheldon.
And What About Dr. Beverly Hofstadter? In the penultimate episode in season 11, Leonard says to Georgie and Sheldon that his own mother considers Sheldon to be her greatest achievement. So, considering that Sheldon’s mom was at Leonard and Penny’s wedding, and Leonard’s mom loves Sheldon, where was she? “Yeah, unfortunately that’s the one scheduling piece that didn’t work out for us,” Holland says of Christine Baranski, who plays Dr. Hofstadter. “She was shooting The Good Fight in New York and it was their last two days of production that week.” Of course, another important guest star to get was Sheldon’s own mother, played by Laurie Metcalf, but even that wasn’t so easy. “We contacted her months ago saying there’s going to be a wedding and we really need you to be a part of it and hope you can be available,” Holland said. “She’s doing a play in New York, but she really wanted to be a part of it as well, so she took her one day off, flew here on Sunday evening, shot with us Monday, and then flew back to New York to do her play.”
What Mayim Bialik Really Thought of Amy’s Wedding Dress: Bernadette and Penny weren’t big fans of Amy’s multi-tiered gown, which sort of looked like a Christmas tree, but Mayim Bialik “loved it,” Holland says. “It was interesting because we talked about it a lot with our costume designer when we were [planning] that episode,” he continued. “We needed a dress that Penny and Bernadette could not like, but we wanted to be careful that we didn’t get into cartoon silliness. So there was a lot of conversations. Our costume designed settled on the frame of that dress pretty early, and then it was sort of adding pieces [to it]. There was some concern if it [was too] silly, and Mayim was the one who said, ‘No, I can make people believe that Amy is beautiful in that dress. I think that dress is great for Amy, and I believe it’s not going to look silly. If I’m there and Amy’s there, and Amy’s going to be so excited to be in that dress, it’s going to be sweet.’”
Mark Hamill’s Surprise Big Bang Binge: The Star Wars actor did some serious homework before filming his guest-spot in the finale. “He actually said he caught up on it when he was shooting Star Wars in London. He said there was some channel where it would run six hours a day, so he got to binge watch his way through it. So I think he knew the importance,” Holland said.
Would Wil Wheaton Have Officiated Shamy’s Wedding if Mark Hamill Wasn’t Available? Holland says yes. “I think he would have been the guy that did it. We talked about it and we were always trying to find ways to make Sheldon and Amy’s wedding unique and specific to them, so Wil seemed like a good fit,” he said. “He’s a friend of theirs, so it’s believable, and he’s a part of our world and we love having him on the show. And Sheldon would love the thought of an actor from Star Trek officiating his wedding.”
The Reason Behind Sheldon’s Nod to George Sr.: Sheldon hasn’t really said many nice things about his father on the show. Now that Young Sheldon has been on the air, however, viewers are seeing a different, softer side to George, Sr. So in tonight’s episode when Sheldon says he misses his father, was that a way to pay homage to the Young Sheldon version? “Yeah, I think it was important to us, especially because of Young Sheldon,” Holland says. “I think Sheldon would have referenced his dad maybe anyway, but especially getting to see that character every week now [on YS], it was important for us to pay a little reference to that. I think even as we saw in the episode with Georgie last week, you start to realize that not every Sheldon reflection is 100% accurate.”
The Real Story Behind Amy and Sheldon’s Vows: Amy’s vows were originally going to be much shorter than the final cut, but the writers decided they were too important to edit. “We were like, ‘You know what, we don’t need to make this shorter,” Holland said of the vows. “This is a moment where we can actually let her take her time and give this long speech.’ And then it seemed natural and a nice contrast that Sheldon actually couldn’t find the words to say [in response to her] because he’s so overcome with emotion.”
But What Did Amy Mean When She Said She Doesn’t Know What the Future Holds? Don’t read much into it! This doesn’t mean Amy and Sheldon are on the rocks. “I would be scared leaving my house in the middle of the day if I did anything to break up Sheldon and Amy,” Holland says, laughing. “I think I would change my name and move to a different country. But no, the line was really just to get to the moment where she said right now she’s never been happier than this moment. She doesn’t know what the future holds, but she’s never been happier than she is right there marrying Sheldon.”
Will Shamy Go on a Honeymoon in the Season 12 Premiere? “I mean, it’s a possibility,” Holland admits. “We haven’t talked that much about season 12, but certainly [it’s an option]. We talked about a honeymoon even while we were writing this episode, and we sort of purposely didn’t [put it in the script] cause it leaves our options open a little bit if we want to do something fun next season at the beginning.”
What Will Happen if Season 12 is Big Bang‘s Last: “I don’t think we’re going to leave anything on the table,” Holland says. As for when the group will learn if season 12 is their last, he noted, “I’m sure we’ll know before writing the last half of the season whether we’re writing for the end of the season or the end of the series, but yeah, I think our plan is not to hold anything back.”