Reality Bites

Reality Bites: Four Weddings

Weddings are a pain in the ass. Everybody's clothes and hair must be just so, families have to be restrained from killing each other, and somehow you have to keep all your bitchy friends from making a spectacle of themselves.

I understand the bride has stuff to worry about, too.

And think how bad it would be if you were *judged*. Now, I don't mean the silent judging that all of us do at someone else's nuptials (a CASH BAR?), but rather allowing three strangers to attend your wedding ceremony and reception, and then rate the whole shebang on four criteria. The winner gets a paid trip for her and her new husband to an exotic destination, where the happy couple will have a week to ponder the horrible decision they've just made. Welcome to TLC's Four Weddings.

The judging goes like this: "overall experience" counts for 1 to 10, then they rank each of the other brides 1st to 3rd on venue, dress, and food. Okay, for starters, how is each of the other brides not just marking "1" for everyone else's overall experience? Free honeymoons don't just fall out of the sky, ladies. Shit, for an all-expenses paid opportunity to guzzle pina coladas on the beach, I'd release a crate full of live scorpions in the church.

The four brides in question present variations of well-worn themes. For example, Jamie's the traditionalist, except she and her fiancé are serving ice cream instead of cake. And pizza. This will be great if she only invited the people I roomed with my sophomore year of college (in which case, she'll need to play some Zappa at the reception). Lauren, on the other hand, inviting a whopping 400 people (do you even know 400 people?). Brittany, the youngest, is 19 and her fiancé looks like Nelson Muntz. And if that wasn't enough, they already has a 17-month son. "Ha ha," indeed.

Jamie's the first one married, and the ice cream bar is a hit, the cutting of the pizza less so. The 3.5 hours between wedding and reception offer the three other contestants the chance to hit golf balls in their dresses and heels, as much for our amusement as theirs.

Next up is Brittany, and the best thing I can say about her wedding is it certainly looked like something a 19-year old would come up with, insofar as the princess motif wouldn't have looked out of place in a preteen girl's bedroom. Weather puts the kibosh on their outdoor ceremony, leading to space issues and raising the ages old question: who but desert dwellers plan outdoor weddings?

Britten's theme is "Romance in the City" and is black tie, which has to be fucking annoying for her guests. Their seafood-heavy reception is atop a skyscraper in downtown Chicago. I only point out the seafood because Brittany complained incessantly about it. I give Britten high marks, because she reminded me a lot of KHOU's Chita Johnson and not four her weird "Trump Tower" cake.

Finally, there's Lauren with the 400 guests (most courtesy of her Irish husband-to-be). Their reception goes off very well -- and I just want to jump in and say kudos to all the DJs involved for not playing "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang or the fucking "Chicken Dance" -- and her dessert "candy bar," with all red candies in keeping with the wedding's theme, is a big hit. Unsurprisingly, she and Kevin win.

It feels weird to ask this: if you have kids, can you in good conscience let them watch The quote-unquote "Learning" Channel? Between Toddler & Tiaras (and it's unholy spawn Here Comes Honey Boo Boo), 19 Kids and Counting, and Four Weddings, it doesn't look like kids will learn much of anything from TLC except that it's okay to continue treating women and showpieces and brood mares.

Then again, I secretly want to see a Four Weddings/My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding crossover. Every episode would turn into Thunderdome by the second commercial break.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar