Why you should ignore trainwreck wedding reality shows

wedding reality shows

Not a week goes by that I don't get an email from a reader who's freaking out about some new awful wedding reality show. Sometimes I get whole clusters of outraged emails, imploring me "Please write about this! OMG, it makes me so angry!" Then there are the posts on the Offbeat Bride Tribe, with members confessing that they hate these shows, but they watch them, but they get so angry!, but they can't stop watching, etc.

So, what do I think of think of these shows? My answer: I don't. I know how media publicity works, so I ignore all wedding reality shows, and you should too. Here's why…

To understand these shows, you need to understand the concept of trainwreck media, which is best summed with this line recently used to advertise a new daytime reality show: "Love them or hate them, you WILL be talking about them." That's what television producers count on, because they make their living selling advertising. They don't care if people watch because they love the show or hate the show — all that matters is the eye-balls. It's the same reason some bloggers write contrarian posts that are just BEGGING to be argued with: when you go argue, you're providing eyeballs. And eyeballs sell ads.

I might sound cynical, but I used to work in PR so I know how this stuff works. Yes, positive coverage is always the ideal for any publicity campaign, but in the world of public relations, coverage is coverage. The ultimate goal is people talking, and even if you're saying "OH MY GOD, CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT SHIT!?" you're essentially playing directly into the hands of the publicists and producers who make this garbage. In fact, for all I know, the emails I receive from outraged readers may be sent by publicists fishing for coverage.

So no, I don't write about wedding reality shows. I'd rather devote my energy to making an awesome alternative to the competitive, conventional, high-end wedding industry.

If you really hate those shows, the best thing you can do is stop talking about them. Don't watch them and don't spread the word about them. If someone mentions a trashy wedding reality show to you, just say "Meh, whatever: that's why I read [fill in the name of your favorite wedding blog, which may or may not be Offbeat Bride.]" Don't be a trainwreck media stooge; don't do publicists' work for them. Rather than gawk at a trainwreck, go make something awesome.

Because with media, word-of-mouth is power. And when you stop giving these trainwrecks your energy, you've got more energy to devote to spreading the word about shit you DO like.

  1. I used to watch those shows when I was a teenager (mostly because nothing else of any real interest was on on Sundays), and at one point I even had TJ's brothers watching it as well. Then I got an apartment, decided to forgo getting cable, and forgot that they even existed.

    Best way to avoid them if you ask me. :)

    10 agree
    • I also am sans-cable. Since 2003. I may be out of the loop on some things, but at least my week isn't dictated by getting home in time to catch ___________ .

      Also, thanks for the post. Keep us away from the maddness! :)

      6 agree
  2. Case in point: I discovered OBB while googling 'tacky wedding'. Assholes bitching about other peoples weddings linked to stuff here and while it was negative publicity it got Ariel another reader and her advertisers another pair of eyeballs. (I've even clicked some ads which is unusual for me.)

    Completely the other end of the scale but I'd also have never heard of…a certain reality TV show…if it wasn't for people bitching about it. All the comments I read got me curious enough to watch an episode online, which ironically put me off by being dull.

    4 agree
  3. I love those stupid wedding shows…but I have also realized since I am planning my own wedding that they have given me a free pass when it comes to being sane….

    Ex. I'm not AS bad, I didn't spend AS much…etc etc…

    I never even considered of this until now…

    Thank you :)

    9 agree
  4. Right on! This is the whole reason I can't stand watching "reality" TV in the first place. It's all product placement and it feels like one endless advertisement. Bah! The very concept annoys me.

    Ignore them!

    6 agree
  5. Well said. Go make something awesome.

    And "trainwreck media." I love this. I don't do much in the trainwreck media vein, though I do always (cough, cough, cough) have a few blogs that I secretly read (cough, cough). But fair is fair. I may be someone else's trainwreck. And I'm FINE with that, as long as they don't leave mean comments.

    2 agree
  6. Yes! Thank you! This is why I like OBB…because you celebrate the great stuff, and ditch the rest!

    1 agrees
  7. Heather, my fiance got me to watching a few episodes of Bridezilla, and he got to see how sane I am in comparison (especially since I've been especially interested in centerpieces.)

    1 agrees
    • Hah hah my future father in law LOVES bridezilla and he keeps telling Mike how sane I am because of this show.

      1 agrees
  8. we don't really get reality wedding crap on irish telly – apart from the UK's "don't tell the bride" – but cause it's on a channel that requires me to type an extra code into the remote to get it, i just don't bother, lol

    1 agrees
  9. Well said! Talking about trash tv is trash conversation unless you are an academic!

    You are so cute in that interview! Very charming!

    0 agree
  10. We don't get them all here in Aust. But the ones I do see, I quite enjoy, despite them being full of hideous OTT weddings.

    Occasionally a show makes me angry, but it's rarely a wedding one.. would actually love to see the ones that are making people angry, just for curiosities sake! (Guess I prove your point!)

    0 agree
    • I heard that one of the egregious ones is on a certain free-to-air network now. Still not gonna watch it.

      0 agree
    • Don't do it. I watched one of the (supposedly) more obnoxious and controversial ones and if anything it was a huge dissapointment. All that was actually going on was some people planning their wedding, then the narrator (the single most annoying person on there) went out of her way to blow every little thing out of proportion to try and make it seem like there was this constant huge drama. Which just came across as stupid because you could see what was actually happening on the show.

      So not only is it reality TV at it's worst, it's not even good train wreck TV.

      0 agree
  11. To be honest, the more I plan my own, the less interested I am in anything wedding related. After getting my dress, I stopped watching say yes to the dress and find it dull. I come here every day to read the new site posts, but haven't been on the tribe in probably a month. Another reason is because I want my wedding to be things I want and I kept finding myself wanting things others were having. So I had to force myself to stop looking so much. And that includes trashy wedding shows. Plus, I'm tired of wedding planning and just want to go to the courthouse. *sighgrumbleaboutdepositsalreadybeingpaid*

    9 agree
  12. Tee hee… I love that your talk show photo :) Anyway, THANK YOU for writing this. Up until a few weeks ago I worked for a casting office in good ol' Hollywood so I know how all the PR BS works. Over on the OBT I saw sooo many posts & felt I needed to comment on every single one of them, even wrote an update about how everything works in free advertising. I did this in hopes that I could save one bride unnecessary stress. Eventually I realized "Brides love to hate these shows" and stopped putting forth the [what felt like wasted] effort. Hopefully this post will be a bit of an eye opener. If not, at least your inbox won't be so full ;)

    4 agree
    • Yep, Halle: your post on the OBT made me realize that I should really be a bit more public about why I won't write about this stuff. Thanks for your perspectives!

      2 agree
    • If nothing else your OBT post reassured me that a lot of the crap that goes on during these shows (and I don't mean just the wedding ones) is staged, or at least re-shot more dramatically. Sometimes the idiotic arguments are enough to make me loose what little faith I have in humanity so it's nice to know it's not actually real.

      (Disclaimer: I don't watch these shows but my sister does, it was hard to avoid in a small house.)

      0 agree
  13. I've seen clips of a few here and there, but never seen one beginning to end: I live abroad and we don't get those shows. Hulu and many other free internet TV sites don't work here, and while I suppose I could get them through a paid service, WHY WOULD I?!

    Oh yeah, and we don't have a TV. So there's that. :)

    1 agrees
  14. I too used to watch those reality bridal shows til they started bring in really bad attitude brides in it just to make show ratings. One show that made me stop watching it was when a bride yelled at a flower girl for not doing "her job" and quit whinning because its not her wedding…. needless to say I was pretty upset with that and stopped watching that show altogether. The only bridal things I do is go on here offbeat and a few wedding magazines only for fashion and helpful tips thats all. Thank goodness for offbeatbride!! I love reading stories here and looking at different pictures of amazing weddings!!!

    1 agrees
  15. Agreed with all this!

    Networks/producers etc. don't…really care about anything but "ratings" – whether people love or hate the show, it's irrelevant. Annoyed with (for example) "Jersey Shore" and want it to go away? If everyone stops talking about it, it will.

    0 agree
  16. I work at a TV production studio and we're struggling right now because we can't come up with shows that are trashy enough. It's good to know that there are people interested in non-trashy TV. Though we all have our trashy moments (I love me some Top Model).

    2 agree
  17. Here's one good point about those bad shows: I had to postpone my wedding because my parents wanted to save a better budget, but my sister just got accepted to a great school. Of course her diploma is a big deal, much much bigger than one day of partying! So I decided to hold off for a year so everyone could calm down and collect slowly and easily.
    Sometimes, I get serious pangs where I want to plan my wedding, and get the gears rolling, and I can get downright green with envy that four of my friends this year alone all got to have their big days.
    I watch one hour of Bridezilla, and wedding pangs cured. So as infuriating as that show is, sometimes it keeps me grounded. But as soon as I start really planning, the tv is being turned off and staying off. OBB will be my only source of wedding information.

    3 agree
  18. I watch these shows for the same reason I watch Spongebob Squarepants – because they are entertaining and require no brain activity. It's just TV, seriously.

    8 agree
  19. As everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I would like to give mine…
    My wedding was filmed for tv. My dress was a surprise, my husbands clothes were a suprise, and we had all of 6 weeks to inform all our family and friends about it. And I do NOT consider my wedding to have been a trainwreck.
    Were the company getting something from us? Hell yeah. But at the end of the day we got something from them too. We had a really fun day and everyone had a good time and we got what we really wanted which was to be married. It was unlike anything I could have planned myself and it was great. So before we all go throwing stones, try to remember that you're seeing maybe half an hour of and entire day/week/month and just because it's not something you would do yourself, doesn't mean it was fantastic for the people whose actual wedding it was.
    Ta guys!

    5 agree
  20. I am so glad there are other people out there who don't watch this stuff. One of my friends is a stylist on a show that rhymes with "Spray Jes to the Guess" and I still haven't watched it! What's more, I don't feel like I am missing out on anything.

    I spent a few years working at an unnamed luxury bridal salon, and I think lots of these shows bait the brides. Don't get me wrong, I have personally experienced plenty of crazy. There's nothing like having a box of invitations thrown at your head to turn you off to the whole idea of watching people be ridiculous. At least I was (barely) paid for my trouble, but I have to pay for these shows to give me horrific flashbacks? No spanks.

    Planning a wedding is stressful, and I've found that the biggest stresses come from other people. It's just cruel, concocting the environment for a perfect bridal storm, and incredibly gross to me.

    Almost everyone else in my life, however, always feels the need to keep me abreast of these shows. I just can't convey to my family that I don't watch any form of reality television.

    That said, if it's your bag, or even your guilty pleasure, enjoy!

    1 agrees
  21. Reading this is actually kind of funny – I *love* these shows. I laugh my pants off at them. If I'm having a bad day, I know that it will cheer me up immensely to watch a spoilt princess screaming at her increasingly terrified fiancee and crying about a bridesmaid refusing to get a pre-wedding nose job. Mainly because I can look at her and say, "wow, I'm so glad I'm not you".

    You know, people who are against gay marriage often say things like "it will destroy the sanctity of marriage and devalue my heterosexual one", which is rubbish. I get the feeling that a lot of more offbeat brides don't like these shows for the same reason. I look at it this way – they are not what I would choose for myself, but they don't impact on *my* wedding or my marriage.

    4 agree
  22. Haha, I actually just saw a commercial that bugged me so I came here to see if anything had been said about it. A certain celebrity planner was shocked about a bride getting a black wedding dress(and I can only assume the dress will no longer be black). I still enjoy watching these train wrecks, but after being a big OBB fan for a while now, I take them with a grain of salt.

    0 agree
  23. not even gonna lie, I love me some Bridezillas, but it's because I can actually find some of the non-sociopathic women on that show (not the evil female-Ted-Bundy "you nine dollars an hour human being" ones) completely relate-to-able. A lot of them are just normal women who are tired and under a huge amount of stress and don't have anyone telling them to knock it off because our hilarious wedding culture somehow dictates that telling a bride that the world isn't going to come to an end is apparently a bigger sin than kicking puppies. Lord knows I say some whackadoo shit when I'm stressed out, but seeing someone else do it on national television is a pretty decent reminder for me to stop, breathe, and not flip out even when it seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

    3 agree
    • Yeah I was just talking to a friend about Bridezillas, and how yeah some of these girls are being total whackos because they bought into the "it's their day" kind of nonsense and they have too much of a Type A personality or whatever. But then you get these women that are just so stressed out and exhausted, and the only support they're getting is super-begrudging half-assed support from bridesmaids, and the groom is AWOL, and they just start snapping over little things because they obviously don't handle stress well. And I feel for those women, I really do. But I also recognize that it's a TV show, and they signed up to have their neuroses broadcast nation-wide. And then I remind myself to keep my wedding simple so I don't end up losing my mind too.

      0 agree
        • Okie dokie…I've never heard of it…maybe it never made it to Canadian TV.

          Googled it, and Oh My Gods! What has the world come to? Frighteningly, I am going to see if I can watch bits of it on YouTube…because I REALLY can't believe the premise!

          1 agrees
          • See, that's what they count on! "Love it or hate it, you WILL be talking about it."

            5 agree
  24. I think reality tv reflects in some small way american culture. if it were "just tv" it probably wouldn't piss us off so much.i find the premise of bridalplasty offensive and disgusting. it pisses me off that anyone can turn on their tv and see women competing for multiple plastic surgeries instead of focusing on the huge commitment they are about to make. it pisses me off that this is "entertainment." the psychological landscape of america is so fucked. tv shows like "bridalplasty" and "the swan" are just evidence of this. i don't watch these shows, but i can't help talking about them. i'd rather speak out against it than say meh.

    0 agree

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