Season 5 premieres Friday (Aug. 15); another season of brides not-so-silently judging each other on one of the most important days of their lives in order to get a killer honeymoon. But there's something kind of refreshing and well, nice, about this premiere. Happily, the four brides in "And a Flying Trapeze" actually liked each other, and saved the drama for another time.
If you don't know the premise of the show, all four brides attend all of the weddings -- once as the bride, of course, and three times as a guest. They then rank each wedding on best dress, venue and food, and give an overall score value as well. After some number crunching, each bride gets a score out of a possible 120 on their wedding. There's no do-over, no second takes. These are their actual weddings being judged by strangers.
Is it all based on opinion? Absolutely. And none of the brides who have ever been on this show are non-opinionated shrinking violets. With a mix of structured traditional and eclectic, laid-back funky styles, the weddings are all different and hard to compare side-by-side. But they do it anyway so of course there's a winner. The "Four Weddings" bride with the highest score wins a luxury honeymoon trip that is pretty darn amazing.
spoke with two of the brides from the season premiere, who are still fast friends, Monica and Kari. Kari is co-owner of
Emerald City Trapeze
in Seattle, so of course, she made her grand entrance dropping from the trapeze school's ceiling on an aerial silk. Monica provided her guests with the most lasting wedding favor possible: a free tattoo. A tattoo artist was set up at the reception to mark guests with a signature piece of art: an infinity symbol-slash-number 8. Who needs Jordan almonds, really?
"It was a little awkward to be saying something so personal when you have a camera right behind your head, but no, we're used to being in the public eye because we do a lot of shows," says Kari. In fact, she didn't tell her then-fiance Gary that she'd signed them up to be on a reality show. "I didn't tell him we'd made the first round of interviews until it happened. We were eating teriyaki and I said, 'This thing happened ... is this OK?'"
Importantly, the four brides tried to maintain a sense of camaraderie and togetherness from the start. "There wasn't going to be drama between us, because we liked each other, and we supported each other," says Kari of their relationship. "None of us wanted to tear each other apart. It wasn't an 'alliance' or anything, but we were all on the same page."
Monica, the funky "cougar" bride who married a man a wee bit younger than herself, actually signed up to be on the show without seeing it first, and then "freaked out a little bit" once she caught a particularly drama-filled episode. "The girls were so mean to each other, and catty, and I'm not a mean person," she says. "So I worried a little bit that things had to be perfect so people didn't put me down.
"I was most excited about going to awesome weddings," says Monica. "I learned that I didn't want a certain kind of decoration. I totally changed my centerpieces."
Did either bride change anything about their wedding because they were going to be for public consumption eventually? Monica says yes; Kari, no. "I worked harder on losing weight because I knew it was going to be on TV, but I still made my dream wedding," Kari says. "I just intensified what I was already doing."
Kari promised her team at Emerald City that nothing would change because it was going to be on TV. "We made a pact between ourselves and staff and said we're not going to change a single thing," she says. "We want it to be a completely authentic experience and we did that. We did exactly what we wanted."
Monica credits their hometown of Seattle for some of the laid-back vibe of this episode. "They put me with really cool people, and I assumed I would be up against people who would be opposites of me. I figured that's what the show was about," says Monica. "I made a commitment to myself in the very beginning that I would not insult anyone personally."
In a time when all reality shows seem to survive by either capturing or manufacturing flat out meanness, this joyful episode stands out because Kari, Monica, and the other brides, Briana and Karen, respected each other's choices and had, gasp, fun at each other's weddings. These women had fun being brides on a TV show about weddings and love and honeymoons and pretty dresses and flowers. Shocking.
That does actually make for good TV amidst all the hair-pulling and name-calling you can see on pretty much any other bridezilla show. Not that we don't want to see some of that at times too, but reality TV can actually feed the romantic in us without making our jaws drop. As Kari says, "We've formed some life-long friendships, and the group is still in contact." Nice, eh?
How many people took Monica up on her free infinity symbol/8 tattoo as a wedding favor? A fabulous 53 guests are now walking around as part of Monica's tribe.
So who won the luxury getaway honeymoon? Tune in Friday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on TLC to find out.