Here Comes the Bride

Sunday, October 1, 2006

On Tuesday, the Style Network premieres its fifth season of "Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?" -- just one in a trove of television shows about the Big Day. Oxygen and TLC also offer takes. And WE has an entire programming block -- "Wild Wedding Night" -- devoted to documenting the joys, trials and loss of rationality that often come with this (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Why so many wedding shows? Because viewers like them, says Steve Cheskin, WE's senior vice president of programming. "Everybody is interested in them," he says. "If you're married or if you're not married, you still care about wedding shows, because you've either gone through it, you know people who are going through it or you're looking forward to going through it -- all of those combinations."

Wedding shows and their surplus of information -- sometimes helpful, sometimes bizarre -- can be downright alarming. To help brides- and grooms-to-be searching for a little guidance or some comic relief from the stress of planning the Event of a Lifetime, here's a rundown on nuptial programs -- some new shows, others living only via repeats -- on the tube.

-- Sarah Schmelling

Bride vs. Bride
WE, Times vary

Summary: Two bridal parties in full wedding attire battle through nuptial-themed games (Appetizer Obstacle Course, Toss the Bouquet) that often require diving into colored liquids to win cash and prizes. The ultimate goal is to find a ring inside a wedding cake the size of a compact car to win a honeymoon package. Interspersed throughout are mini-interviews with team members.

Typical quote: "He just always surprises me with romantic dinners. And he's romantic." -- Kristen, describing why fiance Ed is "the most romantic"

Bridal takeaways: Fake teriyaki sauce is easier to wash off silk organza than fake honey mustard dressing. . . . Ask your fiance to don a corset and pantyhose and risk never seeing him as "most romantic" again.

WE, Sundays, 10 p.m.

Summary: Cameras follow high-strung brides, like this one at right, as they wreak havoc on fiances, family members, clergy and random passersby in the days leading up to their weddings. Sobbing, plundering in SUVs and kicking furniture are par for the course. Three "Gayzilla" episodes will air this month.

Typical quote: "Will she become an over-spending, card-maxing, attention-grabbing, out-of-control BRIDEZILLA?" -- narrator Mindy Burbano Stearns

Bridal takeaways: If fake eyelashes go missing, perhaps it's not wise to castigate the family. . . . Just because your fiance wears a "Yes . . . You Look Fat" T-shirt doesn't mean he won't get his teeth whitened by a "celebrity" cosmetic dentist.

Platinum Weddings
WE, Sundays, 8 p.m.

Summary: Insanely wealthy couples spend ridiculous amounts of money on their weddings. Helpful subtitles inform us of various costs (e.g., Baccarat crystal chandeliers to be hung from trees = $10,000) and provide other notes on grandeur (e.g., the saxophonist playing this wedding tours with Billy Joel).

Typical quote: "I really wanted to get married in Cabo . . . and right away I just said, 'This is totally where I want to get married.' " -- bride Erin, demonstrating how wealth has strengthened her descriptive abilities

Bridal takeaways: If spending more than $300,000 on a wedding, people will hand you cocktails everywhere you go. . . . The cost of a wedding does not improve a guest's -- or bride's -- dancing ability.

Real Weddings from The Knot
Oxygen, Saturdays, 3 p.m.

Summary: A profile of a couple preparing for and executing the event, narrated by the bride herself, for better or worse. (Better: Bride runs around saying things like, "Everything's more fun in a veil!" Worse: She reads from a script like a third-grader in a school play.) The more unusual the wedding, the better: Recently aired shows featured a conversion to Judaism on wedding eve and an 800-guest backyard extravaganza.

Typical quote: "All of a sudden, the menu is your world, and your world comes crashing down on you." -- bride-to-be Kaijsa, on keeping perspective

Bridal takeaway: Obviously, everything's more fun in a veil!

Wedding Story
TLC, weekdays, 11 a.m.

Summary: The elder of the wedding shows features a sweet, if sappy, overview of how the couple met and got engaged, followed by highlights of the wedding day. Includes plenty of hand-holding and strolling accompanied by piano music, or jaunty keyboards for "fun" scenes such as a wedding party volleyball match.

Typical quote: "I think what really attracted me to her was her values, her honesty and how real she was." -- David, a stand-up comedian not being funny while discussing Julie, a former Rockette

Bridal takeaways: If Dad writes a special Ode to Daughter, don't let him read it for a national viewing audience. . . . Try not to feel pressure from the shows often airing before or after, such as "A Baby Story" and "Bringing Home Baby" (though those are better than a show promo from this summer: "One Week to Save Your Marriage").

Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?
Style, Tuesdays, 10 p.m.

Summary: Cameras follow hardworking wedding planners dealing with the behind-the-scenes details of their jobs. As they navigate through bridal tantrums, delinquent vendors and decorating mishaps, it's still hard to get through one episode without hearing a planner say, "I just want her to feel special."

Typical quote: "Mark's choice of crushed linens should make Adrienne's pirate fantasy come alive." -- narrator Debra Sperling

Bridal takeaways: Don't let Mom near a copy machine with the invitation. . . . Worry about the wedding planner's personal life if he weeps more than your parents as you walk down aisle.

Wild Weddings
TLC, air times vary

Summary: Bloopers of slip-ups, uncontrolled giggle fits, table knock-overs, unusual ceremonies and overzealous cake-shoving -- enhanced by sound effects, slow-mo and canned laughter -- all from real video footage that often appears to be circa 1988.

Typical quote: "Ever get the feeling that everything is about to become unglued? Watch this." -- narrator Preston Elliot, just before dancing guests get planked by a room divider

Bridal takeaways: Keep flammable bridesmaids away from church candles. . . . Don't let groom do a handstand on a rickety bridge over a river, especially with wedding rings in pocket. . . . Be happy to not have wedding during the Years of the Big Feathered Bangs. Or the Years of the Bridal Hats with Netting. Seriously.

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