Don’t Tell The Bride

My sister and I are fans of this series, in which a couple are given £12,000 to pay for their wedding — on the condition that the groom, and only the groom, plans the wedding, in three weeks.

I think the three weeks thing is worse than the bride not having any input (the couple are separated for the three weeks preceding the wedding), but you wouldn’t think it from the series. The episodes are totally formulaic — it’s usually about how rubbish the groom is and how bridezillary the bride is, but how at the end of the day the bride will be happy and forgive her groom because she’s so happy about getting married.

It’s not, y’know, intelligent TV in any way, but despite the stereotypes — obsessive/controlling bride, criminally laidback groom — and allowing for the limitations of the format, which requires drama to be manufactured along predictably stereotypical lines, it’s actually charmingly diverse, with a number of interracial couples and a couple of gay weddings.

And sometimes the show really hits it out of the ballpark. I don’t watch for the drama — my favourite episodes are where the couple obviously really like each other, and the groom is taking it seriously, and the bride isn’t that fussed. You’d think these characteristics wouldn’t be that hard to find, but I guess the show is kind of set up to maximise drama, so you do get couples where they don’t even seem to like each other all that much.

This week’s episode was awesome, though, precisely because the three characteristics for a good wedding (under Don’t Tell The Bride conditions) were present. The couple really liked each other, the bride wasn’t hung up on the details, and the groom obviously wanted to make the day special for both of them.

It was an intercultural English/Barbadian wedding — with delicious-looking Caribbean food; when they showed pictures of the food I sat up and said aloud: “I want to marry this guy!” — and the cutest thing about it was how the bride obviously loved the groom so much. Because I’m ridiculous I sometimes get vicariously stressed for the bride or groom when watching Don’t Tell The Bride, but there was no vicarious stress here because there was no drama. The high point of drama occurred when the bride’s sister complained about how irritating she was being and the bride was just like, “Yeah, but I’m bound to be in a bad mood when I’m not with Rodney.”

How cute is that? The bride was delighted with everything. The groom produced an, er, amateur wedding invitation printed on crumped yellow A4 paper with some clip-art of wedding rings and the bride kissed the envelope: “He’s obviously done it last minute, bless his cotton socks.” The dress didn’t look much like the one she chose (in Don’t Tell The Bride they make the bride choose her ideal dress and venue, just so she can regret What Might Have Been when she sees her groom’s inferior choices), but she danced around in it in delight, pretending to say hello to all her guests. The groom was two hours late; the ceremony was in a church about 10% as pretty as the one her mom got married in; the shoes provided were white flats from Primark for £8 — and she just clearly did not give a shit. She knew what was important. They must have smooched about six billion times when they were pronounced husband and wife.

It was the sort of wedding that reminds you about why, ideally, people want to get married, and it looked enormous fun to attend. I’m probably this starry-eyed because I’ve had two glasses of wine, but all the same, it bodes well for their marriage. Best of luck to Paula and Rodney.

(You can watch the episode here if you are able to access iPlayer.)


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