When I started watching Signed, Sealed, Delivered back in May, I never thought I would fall hard for a tv show/series! But dang, y’all! I have all the feels for this show! And To the Altar was AMAZING times 100. So let’s talk about it!
Spoiler Alert! There are major spoilers going forward.
Mothers and Daughters
To start, I had always found it interesting that this series focused a lot more on father/child relationships. For example, the pilot addresses Shane’s relationship with her dad and then later, we explore Oliver’s relationship with his dad. We even see a daddy/daughter relationship story with Rita and her dad, Bill, in Home Again. Mother/child relationships, at least with the four main POstables, have never really been explored until this movie.
To the Altar is a perfect Mother/Daughter movie. We have two very different story arcs about mothers and daughters. The first story arc is about Rita coping with her mother’s passing. The second story arc is about a redemption between a mother and daughter. I loved how these stories intertwined together and this story had me crying!
Rita’s storyline in this movie took her character to a whole new level. When we first met Rita in the Pilot, she was shy and slightly insecure. Through the series, we watched her grow, but she really seemed to mature between The Road Less Traveled and To the Altar. We’ve seen Rita grow more confident in herself, we’ve seen her grow in her relationship with Norman, and we’ve watched her friendship with Shane blossom. However, it’s a tragic event that has grown Rita the most in this movie– the passing of her mother.
“Oh, grief hath changed me since you saw me last.” Oliver quoting Shakespeare in Truth Be Told
To the Altar takes Rita through the stages of grief and as the story unfolded, Rita seemed to find healing as she was able to help another young lady, Jessica, find grace and acceptance towards her own mother.
How beautiful and powerful was the scene? How often do we just give up on people who probably need our support the most? Or how often do we wait until it truly is too late? This universal truth rings so true today and is a wonderful reminder of seizing every moment when we can. Also, I have to say, Crystal Lowe’s performance was strong in this moment. She absolutely rocked it. It was such a beautiful moment of redemption and grace.
“No, it’s never too late. I know what “too late” feels like.” Rita Haywith
This is a great segway into the letter story of To the Altar. To be completely honest, I was not expecting this storyline to be about mental illness. Martha Williamson did an amazing job tackling the topic of mental illness. One thing that stuck out to me was the hidden analogy of Annalise’s monsters. When Annalise’s daughter Jessica was a young girl, she would tell her stories of these different monsters and villains and how Annalise would fight them and conquer the monsters and villains every time. Unbeknownst to Jessica, her mother was battling her own internal monster– mental illness.
The moment Annalise and Jessica reunited had me in tears. I loved how Jessica wore her mother’s wedding dress for their reunion. I also love how there was forgiveness present, despite the unanswered questions. There are times where sometimes we need to work on rebuilding a relationship first and foremost. The answers will come eventually.
“Goin’ to the Chapel, and We’re Gonna Get Married…”
The movie starts off the week of Rita and Norman’s wedding. Of course, true to Hallmark fashion, there are a few kinks on the way to the altar. Their florist runs off with her client. Norman’s grandma Ardis Pennington Paine is nowhere to be found. Skunks break into the church. And the minister gets the measles, which means Ramon gets to officiate much to Norman’s chagrin. But the biggest obstacle isn’t that of the wedding details, it was the fact that Rita’s mother, Sunny, had passed away unexpectedly.
Rita was not alone in her grief as her father, Bill, also seemed to struggle with Sunny’s untimely passing. While Bill’s grief wasn’t a major storyline, he was able to find his peace as he completed the quilt Sunny started for Rita. (And how fun was it that Norman’s grandma had a part in helping Bill with the quilt?) Also, how sweet was the moment between Rita and Bill before he walks her down the aisle? I need to see more of these two in *hopefully* future films!
One thing that has always drawn me to Rita and Norman is their pure innocence. It has been fun and heartwarming to watch them grow as individuals and as a couple throughout the series. They truly complete each other. They bring out each others strengths. They’ve helped each other grow more confidently. And their love for each other is just that– pure and innocent love.
It’s funny, usually in movies and tv, we are always dying for the kissing and the stereotypical romance. But with Norman and Rita (and even with Oliver and Shane), while I was rooting for them to get together, I appreciated their relationship and how it was a slow burn. It felt very natural watching each movie and their relationship progress. The start of their relationship, the first I-love-you’s, and the first kisses all came at the right time. And most importantly, we watched a RELATIONSHIP blossom. Not just a romance.
Shane and the Wedding Dress
Apparently, the Post Office auctions off undeliverable items at the end of each month and Shane had her eye on a particular package. After Norman accidentally drops it off to the auction shelves, Shane kicks her shoes off (literally) and runs after the package. Thankfully, she finds it and takes it back with her to the DLO. But before she does, Oliver tries to stop her as he can’t “bend the rules” for her. As he starts fumbling over his words as to why he can’t bend the rules, Shane shuts him up as she whispers to him “I love it when you get all “Ms. McInerney” on me.” Shane has then rendered Oliver speechless and went back to the DLO.
And that’s when the POstables started breaking Twitter… because the next shot is Shane trying on the item in that package… a wedding dress. And Shane is glowing.
Oliver walks into the DLO and much to his surprise, he sees Shane in the wedding dress. For a moment, it looks as though he can’t decide if he should leave as if not to interrupt her moment. But…then Twitter REALLY broke down. 😉
Oliver not only WALKED UP to Shane… he also buttoned her right up. WHAAAAAT!
And, y’all. I stopped breathing for a moment. (And I about fell out of the couch when I saw Eric Mabius respond to my tweet about not being able to breathe, haha!) Anyways, as Oliver helps Shane with the buttons, Shane is then rendered speechless (like the rest of the POstables watching) and fumbles over her words as to why she’s in the wedding dress in the first place. This moment ranks high on my scale of #ShOliver cuteness.
Joe, Oliver, and Shane
Can I just say, I love Joe and Shane’s relationship! I mean, Papa O’Toole has been shipping #ShOliver since day 1. And I have been a Papa O’Toole fan from the moment he picked up Shane’s birthday card and said to her “Shane, Come Back, Shane!”
I didn’t make this connection until now but, Shane helped Oliver and Joe reconnect, and Joe helped Oliver move past his past and start a relationship with Shane. #mindblown. No wonder they’re kindred spirits! Anyways, Shane recruits Papa O’Toole to help Oliver plan Norman’s bachelor party, which he is happy to do.
The night of the bachelor party, Papa O’Toole notices that Oliver hasn’t looked Shane in the eye all night and confronts Oliver of that. He pushes Oliver to make a decision on what he wants. I think he was trying to use a little reverse psychology in this moment, because we all know Joe really just wants to say, “Look, Son, marry the girl. She’s PERFECTION. I ship #ShOliver.”
Three Little Words
After the POstables meet Annaliese and witness the reunion with Jessica, Norman and Rita take a phone call, while Shane and Oliver keep on strolling through the hotel. Shane is just so pleased with the way things turned out, despite having to give the wedding dress back, and breezily says “I love us!”
To which Oliver says, “And I love– I love… you.”
*Insert all the heart-eye emojis*
We have been waiting for SO LONG to hear Oliver proclaim his love for Shane. While it’s been a long time coming, the timing was perfect for these two. Oliver had been through so much since the beginning of the series: figuring out how to reconnect with Holly, divorcing Holly, finding out about his biological father, rekindling his relationship with Joe, defining a relationship with Shane, and so much more. As I’ve thought back on the series, every moment with Shane and Oliver was calculated perfectly and every moment– good, bad, and ugly– had to happen in order for their characters to grow and to truly learn and know what true love is. Trust the timing.
The Ugly Green Tie Story
While Joe, Shane, and Oliver set Oliver’s house up for Norman’s bachelor party, we discover a couple of interesting facts about the O’Tooles. First, we discover it’s been a tradition for an O’Toole man to wear an “ugly green tie” only when proposing. Second, we discover that Oliver didn’t propose to Holly! #WHAT Holly proposed to Oliver and three hours later, they were married at the courthouse. And all of a sudden– everything about Holly and Oliver made perfect sense.
At the wedding, Joe hands Oliver his suit coat with a bit of a wink. As Shane walks down the aisle, she makes eye contact with Oliver and…
Oliver’s all like, “Hey, girl, hey…”
And Shane’s all like “HOLY KOMBUCHA, IT’S THE UGLY GREEN TIE.”
Annnnnd Twitter broke… AGAIN.
A lot of people thought it was a little “steal the bride’s thunder” of Oliver to put on the ugly green tie. That was my initial reaction as well, but I’d like to think the Oliver talked to Norman and Rita beforehand. I think it’s in Oliver’s character to discuss the proposal with his two best friends, especially if he had been contemplating proposing for a long time. Not only that, but Oliver is somewhat of a tease with Shane! We all know that Shane is a creature of curiosity and that is what often gets her into some shenanigans. I think that Oliver was playing her at her own game and teasing her about the tie, knowing that it would kill her not know right away. Plus, it was implied that Oliver waited until all of the guests left before taking Shane outside for the big moment.
“Don’t look at my tie, look at my eyes and listen to my heart. Marry me and I will love you forever and I promise I’ll never wear this tie again.”
And to make the proposal even more perfect, Oliver proposed with his grandmother’s ring as she was the “finest woman” he had known until he met Shane. Be still my little POstable heart, y’all!
At this point, I was crying buckets of happy tears. In my opinion, this was the BEST tv proposal I’ve seen in years. They didn’t have crazy twinkle lights, a million glowing candles, a mariachi band, or a banner proclaiming love from the sky. It was just Oliver, Shane, and an “ugly green tie.” I loved how the proposal was personal and special to them. Absolute perfection.
How cute are they! I am #TeamShOliver for life!
The final scene includes our four beloved POstables: Rita, Norman, Shane, and Oliver. And as everything comes full circle, Oliver gives the final toast of the evening:
“When we began together as colleagues charged with delivering so many lost things I believed that to everything there is a season and to every lost letter there is a divine purpose. Only today, seeing you, Norman, and you, Rita, so happy and you, my Shane, my love, promising to love me forever, only now do I realize just how very lost I was too and that your friendship and your faith have delivered me, as well. So, through rain and snow and dark of night– here we are together and I love us! To the POstables!”
As the movie concludes, Shane and Oliver and the new Mr. and Mrs. Dorman dance the night away. Again, perfection.
As you can probably tell, I lovelovelove this movie! It has made my personal list of Ultimate Favorite Movies… and it ranks up there with the 1985 version of Anne of Green Gables and the Sound of Music. That is how much I loved this movie. While the ending to To the Altar seemed like a finale to the series, I really hope it isn’t. (Please Bill Abbott and Michelle Vicary! Pleasepleaseplease renew Signed, Sealed, Delivered!) As I’ve said before, engagement and a wedding aren’t the ends of a love story. That’s just the beginning.
Engagement & a wedding aren’t the ends of a love story. It’s the beginning. #POstables would love to see Shane, Oliver, Rita & Norman embark on this new journey of life!
I think we could have plenty of stories for years to come. Like, let’s meet Shane’s mom and sister. What about Norman and Rita’s family? We could tackle the topics of fostering and adoption. What about the much anticipated Shane and Oliver wedding? And what about married life for both POstables couples? There are so many stories Martha Williamson can tell if Hallmark Movies renews. And I really, really, really hope Signed, Sealed, Delivered gets renewed for years to come!
If you made it this far, thank you SO much! I do hope you enjoyed my thoughts on Signed, Sealed, Delivered: To the Altar. I know it’s been a couple of months since To the Altar premiered, but let me know what you thought! Feel free to tweet at me: @hallmarkmywords.