Separating the TV wedding 'reality' from actual reality

Tuesday, 19 January 2010 00:00
holliandrobert_optBY RHONDA BASSAT-RIVERA

DEAR RHONDA: I watch some of the wedding TV shows but wonder how true to life they are. Is there a place I can go to get advice from real experts who aren't trying to "perform"? – ROZLYN IN LONG BRANCH

DEAR ROZLYN: There are so many wedding "reality" television shows being produced, and they do make for some interesting dramas. However, for a couple looking for useful information and ways to make their big celebrations free of drama, TV may not be the best place to try to get your information. In fact, I have been approached many times by TV producers asking if my clients would like to be on a show, and my response is always that my clients hire me to avoid having the types of dramas usually depicted on TV!

If you are looking to listen to some real advice about the wedding industry, I recommend you tune into the Wedding Podcast Network (WPN),, the No. 1 wedding talk show on the Internet. Robert Allen and Holli Ehrlich, founders and producers of the WPN, are dedicated to sharing firsthand information with brides and wedding professionals. They are educating today's mobile generation in a personal way.

As a happily married couple (17 years) that has spent the past 20 years servicing the wedding industry, their original programming talks about what's really important when planning a wedding and marriage. Guest experts such as Sylvia Weinstock, Preston Bailey and Mindy Weiss inspire couples with creative ideas, resources and tips to help them better plan for the big day.

On the WPN, programming focuses on real stories, today's trends, topics of concern and – most importantly – advice on how to do it. At the WPN, Allen and Ehrlich are very careful that the information shared is good, solid, proven advice. Guests are chosen to share their expertise in an honest and forthright fashion that will help couples have a successful wedding experience.

"As a professional videojournalist, I have documented thousands of weddings. They were all highly emotional in their own way. Rarely did I ever encounter a bride that I would call a ‘bridezilla.' Most of what we see on the wedding TV shows is an over-manipulated situation where drama is what sells. If it doesn't happen naturally, you can rest assured there is a producer creating it," says Allen.

Allen advises: "Be careful to make sure you watch wedding television with a giant salt shaker so that you have plenty of grains of salt in which to digest the information."


DEAR RHONDA: I just got engaged over the holidays and I'm wondering if I should hire a wedding planner? What does a planner do that I can't do for myself? – BRANDI IN CHERRY HILL

DEAR BRANDI: First of all, congratulations! This is such an exciting time for you and your family!

wedding011910_optIn response to your question, an experienced wedding planner can make your wedding extra special by adding touches that you may not have even thought about – or known existed. Want to give cookies as your favor? Your wedding planner can offer an array of unique packaging ideas. Want to have ceremony programs that are truly meaningful? Your wedding planner can recommend custom designers who will work with you to create a program that reflects your theme, style and colors. In short, a wedding planner adds value to your wedding planning with his or her knowledge of the industry, what items are available and providing invaluable resources.

Keep in mind that there are approximately 120 decisions that you'll be making during the course of wedding planning. Your wedding planner certainly can take a lot of guesswork out of both the big and small issues that pop up. He also will create a timeline for you for the months preceding your wedding day so that you don't go on "overload" or not give yourself enough time for orders to be placed.

While a wedding planner will charge you a fee, keep in mind that her knowledge of the local vendors will save you time and stress. There are a multitude of wedding vendors vying for your dollars. Sorting through all of them to figure out which one is right for you, within your budget and will perform as advertised can be daunting, if not exhausting. An experienced wedding planner will be able to make recommendations for your specific needs and alleviate much of that stress. According to the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC), it is unethical for a wedding planner to receive a commission from a vendor, so you should inquire about the planner's policy when interviewing.

In order to find local wedding planners who abide by the ABC's Code of Ethics and who have received education in the field, go to

I wish you all the best, Brandi, and hope that your wedding will only be enhanced with your wedding planner's assistance!

Rhonda Bassat-Rivera is a wedding planner & consultant and the founder of West Orange-based Bride Ideas. In this monthly column, you will get answers to all of your wedding questions. Have a question for The Wedding Expert? Send Rhonda an email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .