The Invaluable Life Lessons I've Learned From Don't Tell The Bride

Good news for fans of watching true love being tested on national television: Don't Tell The Bride is back.
It may feel like the show has been gone forever but it's actually only been a year. See, for one season, Don't Tell The Bride aired on Sky – which means there might be an entire season that you haven't watched yet (thank us later).
Now, though, DTTB (as we I call it in the industry the confines of my bedroom) is in the trustworthy hands of E4 meaning that a) you can watch it for free and b) it's with the same safe and reliable parent company that brings you other excellent reality TV shows such as First Dates, Come Dine With Me and, if your taste is as hip and trendy as mine, Four In A Bed.
Full disclosure: I have watched nearly every episode of DTTB. From its meagre beginnings in the mid-2000s, when everyone had rubbish haircuts and the video quality made people look a bit ill, right up until the most recent season, which kicked off with an episode where a guy decided to marry his heavily pregnant bride while standing in the aisle of a budget airliner as it flew loops around the south Wales coast.
Thanks to my love affair with DTTB, I have experienced human beings I thought only existed in jokes told by lazy comedians on Live at the Apollo (see: the poisonous mother-in-law, the financially illiterate manchild), come to comprehend the many subtle nuances that are involved when someone says they "want to be treated like a princess" and learned that – crucially – despite what many women say, the wedding dress is not the most important thing in their entire life.
Other life lessons DTTB has taught us? Read on...
1. A kebab van doesn't make for "occasion" food
Shocking I know. This hard and fast rule applies even, it turns out, when you're celebrating your wedding under duress in lads-on-tour hotspot Magaluf.
Jemma from season six, who was very nice, had to endure the indignity of handing over several of her own euros for a lamb shawarma during a break from her wedding reception. Incidentally, the reception was taking place in one of those open-air bars that populate the main strips of Benidorm, Magaluf and other areas of Spain that British people have managed to ruin through a steady diet of lurid shots and unprotected sex.
New husband Noel hadn't even hired the van in a kitsch-street-food kind of way. It just happened to be there. Noel, mate, wyd.
FYI, a creepy internet stalk makes it look like Jemma and Noel are still together. Which is nice. Maybe Jemma likes kebabs more than she let on.
2. Just because you love something, doesn't mean it needs to be the basis of everything you do
What's the most stereotypical lad-mad thing a mad lad could do if he were left to his own mad lad devices on his wedding day?
Levi from season seven was mad about Stoke-on-Trent FC (other notable fans: alien-truther Robbie Williams) and so, in a move so literal that literally everyone saw it coming, he decided to make his bride, the lovely Jade, get married at a match, at half-time, on the pitch.
Sadly, the couple were only afforded a small corner of the pitch and had their special moment somewhat dampened by entirely predictable half-time happenings like team announcements and people leaving to get Bovril and hot dogs.
The reception also took place in the stadium, in one of the executive suites. But not before Levi headed out to watch the rest of the game. Really, truly.
3. Breaking someone works best when you go straight for their Achilles heel
Due to societal expectations beyond our control, even the most wedding-averse women have, at some point, had a little think about what they'd wear if they got married. Even if it's an 'eff the system' reimagining of Celine Dion's back-to-front Oscars outfit from 1999* (incidentally, if you haven't seen Celine's actual wedding dress then what are you even doing with your life).
The chances, therefore, that one's future husband-or-wife manages to get every subtle nuance regarding their beloved's wedding attire right, after it's spent years and years percolating in their brain, is nigh on impossible.
DTTB grooms have a nearly 100% fail rate with dresses. Sometimes, they'll get lucky and pick a banger of a dress in a style the bride hadn't previously thought of. But mostly, the grooms find themselves on the wrong end of the phone while a scary mother-or-sister-in-law shouts at them about "responsibilities" and "keeping Sarah happy at any cost". All the while the groom is looking sadly at the crumpled fiver in his hand, which is all he's got left in the budget after being talked into spending three grand on a horse for his wife to ride into the reception, despite her being scared of horses anyway.
Perhaps the most memorable dress meltdown, though, was Pippa.
Pippa manages about 10 seconds of looking at her dress, bottom lip wavering, cheeks reddening, while her mum and sister (who, it should be said, seems to be enjoying the whole thing a lot more than she really should) say semi-encouraging things, before she bursts into tears. Things go downhill from there. It's a tale as old as time.
4. Weddings and stunts don't go together
Oh, where to start. There was the guy who wanted to get married jumping out of a plane (it was a hard "no" on behalf of his wife-t0-be), the guy who thought getting married underwater in a local swimming pool (post-hair and makeup) was a marvellous idea, and the guy who opted for Thorpe Park as his venue.
Tbf though, there have been some stunts that were kind-of marvellous. Kallie, a science teacher in season seven, was treated to a LARP wedding at the hands of her English teacher fiancé Grantt. For those not in the know, LARP stands for Live Action Role Play. Kallie was literally rescued by "Prince" Grantt from an evil villain on the way down the aisle. It was nerdy af, but really kind of lovely.
5. Love will save the day
The true magic of Don't Tell The Bride, though, lies in the fact that two people, neither of whom is perfect, love each other enough to see beyond the fact that one of them is moronic enough to book a wedding so far away that no one can afford to come, or that one of them is more high-maintenance than Mariah Carey on a power trip.
Don't Tell The Bride exists to show us what real relationships look like. Relationships that last are not picture-perfect movie snapshots. They are exasperating, frustrating, require a lot of hard work and huge doses of rose-tinted love (and alcohol; alcohol always helps).
There's a reason that all the brides go through with all the weddings on DTTB, despite how thoughtless, how stupid and how outlandish they may turn out to be. And that is because, despite the edited version we've seen of their partner, they know there's something in there worth committing to; they know that past the wedding, the rest of their life is going to be worth it.
That or they're not up for paying back the £12,000 their fiancé's just blown on props for his underground alien lair.
Don't Tell The Bride starts again on E4, Wednesday 26 July at 9PM
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