At the center of every good romance movie is the connection between the main couple. While not all movies show us a memorable meet cute—they aren't often featured in friends to lovers romances, for example—we do love it when a rom com gives us an especially sweet or funny first meeting.
What is a meet cute?
In case you need a meet cute definition, you can think of it as, well, a cute way for a couple to meet. Many romantic books or movies have a moment where two characters meet for the first time in a charming or funny way that sets up their romance. Over the years, meet cutes have become a staple of the genre, especially in romantic comedies.
If you’re looking for a love story that’s adorable right from the beginning, here are a few of the best meet cutes to get you started.
Legally Blonde (2001)
Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is having a rough start at Harvard Law School. She’s only there to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner (Matthew Davis), but so far nothing is going well. She has just been kicked out of class for not doing the assigned reading and was humiliated by fellow student Vivian (Selma Blair) in the process.
As she sits outside and stews, recent graduate Emmett (Luke Wilson) offers some advice for how to handle the ruthless members of the Harvard faculty. He is the only person at Harvard who doesn’t immediately judge Elle based on her appearance, instead choosing to offer her support. Elle and Emmett’s first meeting introduces us to their dynamic of support and mutual respect which is what makes them so perfect for each other.
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is the most iconic love story of all time, so it feels fitting that director Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation has one of the most iconic meet cute moments of all time. While wandering around at a party thrown by the Capulet family he and his friends have crashed, Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) spots Juliet (Claire Danes) through the glass of a fish tank. The two are immediately captivated and just stare at each other in a kind of lovestruck awe.
What’s really notable about this scene is that it happens without any dialogue. We can sense the love between the two only through their expressions. Although the rest of their story is rife with tension and tragedy, this first moment between the star-crossed lovers is certainly memorable.
Related: 8 Romeo and Juliet-Inspired Books
Love Actually (2003)
David (Hugh Grant) is starting his first day as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom when he first meets Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), a new member of the household staff at 10 Downing Street. Anxious not only because it’s her first day of work but because she’s meeting the Prime Minister, Natalie’s nerves get the better of her as they are introduced. She calls him by his first name instead of “sir,” and then immediately curses upon realizing her mistake, and then curses again when she realizes she cursed, and on it goes.
Luckily, David finds the whole situation amusing and it clearly helps him deal with his own first-day nerves. This moment is a cute and hilarious introduction to one of the many romantic stories in this Christmas classic.
Imagine Me and You (2005)
The relationship between Rachel (Piper Perabo) and Luce (Lena Headey) is destined to face a few obstacles considering they first meet at Rachel’s wedding, where Luce is the florist. Before they properly meet, the two women exchange meaningful eye contact as Rachel walks down the aisle.
When they finally get the chance to talk at the reception, Luce attempts to serve herself some punch only to be blocked by Rachel, who admits that her wedding ring has slipped into the bowl. Luce agrees to help her fish it out while Rachel hilariously tries to shield her from view with her wedding dress. It’s a humorous first meeting that begins an incredibly endearing love story.
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Unlike most romantic movies, the leads in Sleepless in Seattle don’t actually meet until the end of the movie. Annie (Meg Ryan) has been unable to stop thinking about Sam (Tom Hanks) since she heard him talk about how much he loves and misses his dead wife on a radio show. The only problem is that she lives in Baltimore and he lives in Seattle. Sam’s son Jonah (Ross Malinger) tries to get his father to meet up with Annie on top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day, but Sam shuts the idea down.
Determined to help his father find love again, Jonah goes to New York on his own to meet Annie, forcing Sam to chase him across the country. He eventually finds his son at the Empire State Building, and they leave together just as Annie arrives. Luckily, Sam and Jonah return to the top of the building, and Sam and Annie finally meet in a moment that can only be described as magic.
When Alex “Hitch” Hitchens (Will Smith) first sees Sara (Eva Mendes), he’s immediately attracted and prepares to woo her using the techniques he teaches other men as a professional dating coach. However, before he can go over to start a conversation, another man begins attempting to chat her up despite clear signals that she’s not interested. When the man won’t leave Sara alone, Hitch swoops in and pretends to be her boyfriend.
Once they are alone, they engage in fun banter about the types of signals men and women send each other in the dating world. Sara’s ability to see right through most men’s strategies for picking up women impresses Hitch and sets up his future realization that he’s met his match.
Any romantic movie that deals with fate and destiny has to have its main characters meet in a memorable way, and Serendipity certainly delivers. Jonathan (John Cusack) and Sara (Kate Beckinsale) first meet while Christmas shopping in a Bloomingdale’s in New York City when they both attempt to buy a pair of black cashmere gloves. He lets her have the gloves and she takes him out to get dessert at the famous restaurant, Serendipity 3.
This begins a magical few hours where they explore the city and get to know one another, but since they are both in relationships, Sara leaves it up to fate if they will ever meet again.
The Big Sick (2017)
Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) first meets Emily (Zoe Kazan) at his own stand-up show. After his set, he comes to find her to call her out for heckling him, which she argues was just her cheering him on. This begins a playful debate on what constitutes heckling that quickly evolves into flirting and later, the full-blown relationship at the center of the film. What makes this moment especially cute is that The Big Sick is based on the real-life romance between Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon, so you know there’s some reality behind the flirty banter.
Featured still from Romeo + Juliet via 20th Century Fox.