Chris Perry and Kimberlee Drew

Wedding Shows Don’t Set the Best Example

There’s no doubt that the media has an influence on public perception. TV shows featuring a certain type of dog inevitably trigger a rise in popularity of that of breed. Shows like CSI or other crime shows on cable TV shape public perception about how crimes should be investigated. Law and Order and E.R. influenced public expectations in the legal and medical fields. As another wedding season is about to begin, a similar phenomenon is set to unfold in the wedding industry.

Avid watchers are likely aware that bridal shows now pretty much have their own genre. “A Wedding Story” has been on the TLC network since 1996. A show called “Whose Wedding Is It, Anyway?” has been running on the Style Network since 2003, and the popular “Bridezillas” began in 2004 and now airs on the WE cable network. Newcomer “Say Yes to the Dress” has been airing on TLC since 2007. Its popularity has led to a spin-off series, “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta” in 2010.

flickr photo by CherieJPhotography

With such a variety of sensationalized wedding-related programming flooding the airwaves, many new brides and grooms are developing unrealistic expectations about their own weddings. If you enjoy watching wedding shows and plan to get married, you should be aware of the differences between “reality” TV and what’s truly possible for your own wedding. Here are some tips:

Being a Bride Doesn’t Give You a Free Pass to Be Intolerable

The show “Bridezillas” features over-the-top brides who are insufferable control-freaks. They want their big day to be perfect, but in doing so they make everyone around them miserable! While some future brides who watch the show get the clear lesson NOT to act in this way, others seem to feel entitled to emulate the behaviors they see on the show. Some wedding service providers have even started putting clauses in contracts that allow them to release a client for discourteous or disrespectful behavior. Be warned: most wedding planners lack the patience and tolerance shown to the bridezillas (and groomzillas) on the show.

Extravagance Will Cost You

Wedding vendors have complained that misperceptions about the cost of services are the number one point of contention caused by wedding reality shows. While some of the shows like “Say Yes to the Dress” talk openly and realistically about pricing, most of the shows do not. Because of this, many brides and grooms have unrealistic expectations about price. When they start contacting wedding planners and bridal industry professionals, sticker shock is inevitable.

The couples on wedding TV shows usually have access to a wedding planner that decorates the venue from the ground up. This is not standard procedure for most wedding planners, and pricing for this type of service will reflect the work involved. Flowers, lighting and photography are areas that trip up couples when pricing services for their wedding. The TV shows feature perfectly-lit venues befitting a national TV series. What viewers don’t always realize is that achieving this perfect look involves thousands of dollars of lighting and camera equipment.

Eleventh-Hour Changes are Not Free — or Guaranteed

Another expectation created by the reality shows is that last-minute changes will be executed perfectly and free of charge. This is simply not the case. While vendors will do their best to be accommodating, results are not guaranteed, and they will certainly not be free. A lot of venues have contractual or union regulations to abide by, and some changes will just simply not be possible.

Indeed, wedding reality TV shows have skewed the expectations of some engaged couples; however, the effect has not been all been negative. The wedding industry is receiving a great deal of publicity and exposure from these shows on cable, inspiring brides and grooms to be more creative and aware of the latest trends in weddings. Ultimately, this means more business for wedding photographers and the entire wedding industry.

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