Chicks Getting Hitched: A guide to wedding reality TV shows

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If you’re in the process of planning a wedding, something very strange may start happening on your weekends. You wake up on Saturday morning, grab a cup of coffee and decide to watch a bit of TV before you start your day. Next thing you know, the sun is setting, your shades are drawn, you’re still in your pajamas and you’re watching your tenth consecutive episode of My Fair Wedding with David Tutera. Don’t be alarmed. This is perfectly natural pre-nuptial behavior.

There’s a dizzying number of wedding-themed reality shows on television right now. I remember the days when TLC’s sappy series, A Wedding Story, was the only game in town. Today, there are shows about dresses, shows about décor, shows where brides judge other brides’ weddings (eek!), shows about out-of-control bridezillas and shows about the inevitable family drama that unravels when a wedding is being planned. With all the, um, quality programming out there, it’s easy to see how a bride-to-be could get seriously sucked in.

So, in an effort to help you waste your time most effectively, I’ve created a handy guide to some of my guiltiest reality TV pleasures. Grab that remote control and wave goodbye to your Saturday afternoon.

My Fair Wedding with David Tutera

My Fair Wedding has a surprisingly low cringe factor (for a reality show about weddings), and celebrity event planner David Tutera comes up with some pretty spectacular ideas you may want to replicate at your own wedding.

Each week Tutera rescues a loveable but disorganized bride who has a vision for her big day, but isn’t quite sure how to execute it. Here’s how it works. First, the hapless bride-to-be models her wedding dress for Tutera. Then she shows him a table full of crap she’s compiled for her wedding. The table full of crap might include a sunflower, some candle holders, a pile of buttons and a wine bottle. From that incoherent mish mosh, Tutera will magically intuit that the bride is dreaming of a romantic Tuscan-themed wedding. To infuse the show with some drama, the wedding date is usually just a few weeks away. But not to fear, the well-connected Tutera makes a few calls to friends in the biz, and before you know it, the bride has a new dress, a beautiful venue, a dazzling cake and expertly designed décor.

There are inevitably a few tears when Tutera unveils the new-and-improved wedding reception to the couple on their big day. Tutera knows his stuff, so the weddings he designs always look fantastic and go off without a hitch. On one episode, he even managed to turn a goofy Gothic-themed wedding into an elegant affair. Plus, he’s helpful without being condescending or nasty. Here’s a clip of Tutera explaining how to choose a color palette for your wedding.

Four Weddings

Four Weddings is arguably the weirdest of the wedding shows, and makes me wonder what the folks at TLC will think of next. But, it’s one of those train wrecks you can’t turn your eyes away from. In each episode, this show pits four brides against one another. The women all attend the other ladies’ weddings as guests, and then they judge each other based on the dress, the food and the décor. There’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon at stake, so the girls definitely pull out all of the stops to try to beat their competitors. Fortunately, they don’t get too catty when critiquing each other’s big days. But, watch too many episodes of this show and you may start to get a little paranoid about who will be secretly judging your own wedding.


Photo from TLC

Don’t Be Tardy for the Wedding

If you didn’t get enough of chain-smoking, wine-slugging, potty-mouthed Kim Zolciak in The Real Housewives of Atlanta, now you can accompany on her journey to the altar in Bravo’s Don’t Be Tardy for the Wedding. The normally brash and over-the-top Zolciak seems to have softened just enough to make her tolerable for a full 30 minutes. In fact, aside from the super awkward one-sided conversations Zolciak has with her infant son KJ at the start of each episode, the show is strangely endearing. Zolciak has a seemingly unlimited wedding budget, thanks to (I’m guessing) hubby Kroy Biermann, who is a defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons. But, don’t worry: Zolciak hasn’t forgotten where she came from or who she really is, as evidenced by the fact that she has her wedding dress tailored to show two inches of “side boob.” Tune in to be entertained and forget all about your own wedding for a while.

Say Yes to the Dress

An oldie but goodie, Say Yes to the Dress chronicles brides in their quests for the perfect wedding dress. On the original SYTTD, brides shop designer gowns at New York’s upscale dress shop Kleinfeld’s. There’s also an Atlanta version, which provides even better entertainment thanks to the shop’s sassy staff members who keep Southern belles in check with some great one-liners.

If you can tolerate the often-annoying subplots – conservative moms trying to stop their daughters from showing skin or catty bridesmaids attempting to steal the limelight from the bride – you’ll see a parade of beautiful gowns. I consider watching Say Yes to the Dress to be a lazy version of actual wedding dress shopping. I can get an idea of what I like and don’t like without having to be vacuum-sealed into a corset and trotted out for judgment under fluorescent lights. Plus, I can eat popcorn, which is typically frowned upon at dress shops.

The Wedding Party

If Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stenger and perpetually strung-out stylist Rachel Zoe got together and made a little Bravo baby, I believe the result would be Kristin Banta. A high-profile Los Angeles event planner, Banta made her debut in May as the star of the newest wedding-themed reality TV show, The Wedding Party. In the pilot episode, Banta plans a beautiful, out-of-the box wedding for a sweet, creative couple. The bride wore a stunning black dress and the couple served breakfast for dinner at a long table that seated all 100 guests.

The intense Banta takes things like uplighting and place settings very, very seriously. But from the looks of it, she pulls off unforgettable events – for a hefty fee. In the first episode, she bluntly declared that she won’t work with budgets less than $150,000. According to a press release, Banta’s reality TV fate will be decided by viewers. If you want to see The Wedding Party picked up by Bravo for a full season, tune in next time the show airs.


Photo from Bravo

Sadly, there’s precious little LGBT representation on wedding-focused reality TV shows, except, of course, for the ubiquitous gay male wedding planners and dress consultants. Big collective sigh. It would be really refreshing to see a reality TV show feature a same-sex couple tying the knot. Hopefully, reality TV will catch up with real life someday soon and we will get our very own gay wedding reality show that we can all love to hate.

What’s your guilty pleasure when it comes wedding reality TV?

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