Lucy Eleanor Moderatz (Sandra Bullock) is a lonely fare token collector for the Chicago Transit Authority. She has a secret crush on a handsome commuter named Peter Callaghan (Peter Gallagher), although they are complete strangers. On Christmas Day, she rescues him from the oncoming Chicago 'L' train after a group of muggers push him onto the tracks. He falls into a coma, and she accompanies him to the hospital, where a nurse overhears her musing aloud, "I was going to marry him." Misinterpreting her, the nurse tells his family that she is his fiancée.
At first she is too caught up in the panic to explain the truth. She winds up keeping the secret for a number of reasons: she is embarrassed, Peter's grandmother Elsie (Glynis Johns) has a heart condition, and Lucy quickly comes to love being a part of Peter's big, loving family. One night, thinking she is alone while visiting Peter, she confesses about her predicament. Peter's godfather Saul (Jack Warden) overhears the truth and later confronts her, but tells her he will keep her secret, because the accident has brought the family closer.
With no family and few friends, Lucy becomes so captivated with the quirky Callaghans and their unconditional love for her that she cannot bring herself to hurt them by revealing that Peter does not even know her. She spends a belated Christmas with them and then meets Peter's younger brother Jack (Bill Pullman), who is supposed to take over his father's furniture business. He is suspicious of her at first, but he falls in love with her as they spend time together. They develop a close friendship and soon she falls in love with him as well.
After New Year's Eve, Peter wakes up. He does not know Lucy, so it is assumed that he must have amnesia. She and Peter spend time together, and Saul persuades Peter to propose to her "again"; she agrees even though she is in love with Jack. When Jack visits her the day before the wedding, she gives him a chance to change her mind, asking him if he can give her a reason not to marry Peter. He replies that he cannot, leaving her disappointed.
On the day of the wedding, just as the priest begins the ceremony, Lucy finally confesses everything and tells the family she loves Jack rather than Peter. At this point, Peter's real fiancée Ashley Bartlett Bacon (Ally Walker), who happens to be married herself, arrives and also demands the wedding be stopped. As the family argues, Lucy slips out unnoticed, unsure of her future.
Some time later, while Lucy is at work, Jack places an engagement ring in the token tray of her booth. She lets him into the booth, and with the entire Callaghan family watching, he proposes to her. In the last scenes of the film, they kiss at the end of their wedding, then leave on a CTA train for their honeymoon. She narrates that he fulfilled her dream of going to Florence, Italy, and explains that, when Peter asked when she fell in love with Jack, she replied, "it was while you were sleeping."Sandra Bullock as Narrator/Lucy Eleanor Moderatz
Bill Pullman as Jack Callaghan
Peter Gallagher as Peter Callaghan
Peter Boyle as Ox Callaghan
Jack Warden as Saul Tuttle
Glynis Johns as Elsie
Micole Mercurio as Midge Callaghan
Jason Bernard as Jerry Wallace
Michael Rispoli as Joe Fusco, Jr.
Ally Walker as Ashley Bartlett Bacon
Monica Keena as Mary Callaghan
Julia Roberts was offered the role of Lucy Moderatz but turned it down.
The film was a tremendous success, grossing a total of $182,057,016 worldwide against an estimated $17,000,000 budget. It made $9,288,915 on its opening weekend of April 21–23, 1995. It was the fifteenth-highest grosser of 1995 in the United States. Also, the film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:2002: AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions – Nominated