If the slate of shows on television is any indication, Americans love to watch shows about weddings! The ever-expanding list of “reality” shows about weddings has just added another entry to its roster. Four Weddings on TLC is a wedding reality show with a twist: brides actually judge each other’s weddings from start to finish, and the winner gets a fancy honeymoon.
The competition factor is one thing which sets Four Weddings apart from other wedding shows. Most of the wedding programs follow brides through specific parts of their nuptials, such as shopping for a bridal gown (I must confess to loving Say Yes to the Dress!), working with a planner (Whose Wedding is it, Anyway?), fighting over budgets (Rich Bride, Poor Bride), throwing budgets out the window (Platinum Weddings), or just plain throwing things (Bridezillas!). The fun part about the competition is not so much finding out who wins the honeymoon prize as watching the groups of contestants attend each other’s weddings and pass judgement.
And judge they do! Each bride gets to give her three competitors a score on her bridal gown, venue, food, and overall experience. To try to keep greedy brides from shortchanging her competitors with lowball scores, the experience is graded from 1-10, but the other three categories are ranked. The brides get points depending on how the other women ranked her gown, venue, or food from first to third, and then those numbers are tallied up with the experience scores to determine the ultimate winner. In the first few episodes which have aired so far, it does appear that spending a lot of money on the wedding does give brides an edge in coming out on top and winning Four Weddings, which is probably no big surprise.
Perhaps the best part about Four Weddings is listening to the comments that each bride makes about the other weddings she attends. It is often obvious that they are trying to find ways to make negative remarks without coming across as catty. Being strangers before the contest begins, the four brides know little about the other women and their customs, making for some interesting exchanges. I was particularly amused by a recent bride who made her lack of religious knowledge evident by complaining several times about a Jewish wedding which was scheduled for a Sunday. Every time she said how inconsiderate it was for a bride to inconvenience her guests with a Sunday wedding, I just cringed at her obvious lack of understanding about the fact that Jewish weddings are often scheduled on Sundays as they cannot take place until after the Sabbath ends on Saturday after sundown.
It is also entertaining to watch the competitors judging the gowns and food chosen by the other brides. Limited food selections, poor presentation, and cold steak are among the horrors that the guest brides must endure. Undoubtedly each of the women believes that her gown and bridal jewelry are beautiful, but to hear the comments, beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder! “I guess if that’s how she wants to look…” is bride-speak for, “I can’t believe she would be seen wearing that dress in public!”. Hilarious!
The total experience score for Four Weddings can apparently be based on whatever vague criteria each bride wishes. Was the ceremony a tear jerker? Did the bridal gown and jewelry meet expectations? Was the reception venue impressive, the centerpieces original, and music well chosen? The interesting part about the show is that the personal tastes of the competitors are so varied (and their expectations for the other women so high) that you never know how they will cast their scores. In the end, each bride walks away thinking that her wedding was the most perfect, whether she wins the grand prize or not.