Would you ever agree to get married on television? Or even do part of your wedding planning in the camera's eye? Plenty of couples do — and most of you are watching those shows!
But seriously, famous people sell clips of their weddings to the tabloids all the time, and major morning shows sponsor televised weddings that become national news. So it isn't surprising that in the last 10 years, more couples are agreeing to put the most important day of their lives in front of a significantly larger viewing audience than just their families and friends. In fact, when producers advertise that they're looking for engaged couples to participate in wedding reality shows, they're usually swamped with volunteers. What's the incentive? Is it all about the excitement of feeling famous on your wedding day or is it about what they get in exchange for participating? There is usually some form of compensation for the participants, but that's not why everyone applies. Many couples figure it's like getting a free wedding video (btw, it's not). For others, it's their 15 minutes of fame, times 100, because it's their wedding and it's going to be on television like a celebrity's.
Other brides and grooms do participate for the incentives. Discounts on wedding apparel, or just flat-out free stuff from vendors for some couples may entice them to put it all out there. Actual cash payments that can be put toward their wedding or honeymoon are offered to some couples who allow their entire wedding to be filmed, inside and out. True, it can help defray the cost of other things. Often the production companies involved contribute additional funds because they want to "goose up" the décor or activities (think more flowers, better lighting, and brighter décor). As trendy as white décor is for weddings nowadays, it looks terrible on television and it's the bane of existence for TV producers.
Are there downsides to being part of a wedding reality show? It depends on what kind of show you've signed up to do. Obviously, "Bridezillas" wasn't going to paint the bride in her most flattering light. "Say Yes to the Dress" can be totally fun and harmless, unless you're bringing your evil friends or family who can't keep in their snide comments. My show, "Wedding Island" on TLC, was more about how our wedding planning company worked behind the scenes and less about the couples. But, with that said, when somebody did something stupid, it was all on film. Fortunately, it was mostly guests behaving badly while the brides and grooms had beautiful wedding experiences.
Find out what is expected of you — how many hours of interviews in addition to the actual filming. Don't think of it as a "wedding video" unless they promise you the raw footage of your wedding in writing. Otherwise, you're only going to have the clips of your big day that don't land on the cutting room floor.
Owner of Weddings in Vieques, a destination-wedding planning company off the coast of Puerto Rico, Sandy Malone has helped countless couples plan their big day since 2007.