It’s not often that I find a bridal reality show that I actually find fun and intriguing. Yesterday, though, I spent an afternoon watching Don’t Tell the Bride on BBCAmerica, and I’m pleased to say it was head and shoulders above most bridal infotainment on television.
So what’s the deal with this one? It’s pretty simple. A lovestruck – but broke – couple is chosen by the show. This couple is handed a cool 12,000 pounds to plan their wedding. The catch? They must live apart during the process and not speak to one another, and the groom does all the planning. He has four weeks to organize everything from the venue to the order of service to the wedding gown and accessories… everything for the wedding. He is allowed help from one friend, usually the Best Man, and he is allowed to add any funds to the budget that he can scrape up out of his own savings or donations from either family.
The day before the wedding, the bride is introduced to her wedding clothes so as to make sure they fit reasonably, but everything else is a surprise on the day of the wedding.
What did I enjoy so much? Well, among other things it shows the realities of juggling a moderately limited budget. I watched grooms haggle for deals on the perfect venue, bake their own wedding cakes successfully and not so successfully, make the hard choice between the perfect flowers and the perfect meal, and tear their hair out over finding a church and a reception venue that have the same day open at the last minute. I watched them develop and carry out DIY projects so as to save a buck or two.
More than that, I saw these men shine. I saw them allow their personalities to take the stage at the same time they tried to please their brides. And while some brides expressed reservations about the process, it was more often about whether that particular groom would know what she wanted for one particular aspect of the wedding rather than the endless head shaking one usually sees about the idea of a groom doing more than showing up in the suit his bride picked for him.
Were all the brides happy with the results? Well, it was a little bit of a mixed bag reaction – which was also refreshingly realistic. One bride was so dismayed by the gown her groom had chosen that she wound up borrowing another dress from the shop that happened to fit her perfectly. Another, Mayita in the photo at the top, told her groom that she would never have picked that gown, but that it was better than what she probably would have bought for herself. Some brides cringed when they saw the invitations while others were fairly pleased. By and large, most of the women were mostly pleased with their weddings.
The thing I liked most about this show was the way it clearly rewrites the annoying social script that grooms have no business being involved in the planning of their own weddings. Maybe one groom didn’t get the chair covers his bride dreamed of, but she considered that more than made up for by the surprise of the can-can dancers he brought in to entertain their guests.
Ideally, the wedding is a chance for the bride and groom to make a major social statement as a couple. This is what we stand for. This is how we want to make our friends happy. This is who we are.
The majority of these men got that part absolutely right. Now that’s entertainment.