[show=marriedmyspace size=large]Last Thursday, I came as close as I’ll probably ever get to crashing a wedding. I was invited by MySpace to the final taping of Married on MySpace, a reality show that set out to give one happy couple the wedding of their dreams — or rather, the wedding of the MySpace community’s dreams.
Produced in partnership with Endemol and wedding site TheKnot.com, Married charted the wedding of Elle and Tito from the very beginning, and gave viewers the option to vote on nearly every element, from cake to centerpieces to what they would wear walking down the aisle. I’ve heard from some people that planning a wedding is an awful lot of work, so those people might envy the Married approach. The catch, of course, was that the bride and groom had to abide by the audience’s choices, whatever they might be.
I’ve been to a lot of weddings and a lot of reality show tapings, and when I showed up to see the show’s stars be joined in matrimony, I was expecting the latter. Married On MySpace, after all, was every inch a reality show in look and feel, thanks to slick production values and a heavy emphasis on confessional interviews with its subjects — over the course of the series, Elle and Tito even received news and assignments on specially printed Married on MySpace index cards. At times the result could be a little cloying, especially when a voice-over would repeat something that was already expressed in an interview or the bride and groom would over-act their reactions to getting a startling piece of information. And thus I figured that we were in for a long night of retakes and restagings and very little genuine wedding-ness.
I figured totally wrong. The ceremony, performed outdoors at sunset by the bride’s family’s 72-year-old pastor, was intimate and well-paced, the gorgeous ocean view unsullied by a crying baby and helicopters zooming nearby. The groom was nervous and jokey, the bride gorgeous and smiling, and there were no retakes. Honestly, I’ve been to weddings where the camera crew was a lot more obtrusive — and those weddings weren’t being filmed for an audience of millions. (Prior to its finale, Married had received more than 13 million views, with one million votes being cast on various decisions. Nearly 65 percent of those voting were female.)
Like a wedding should be, it was all about the couple getting married. Twenty-five-year-old musicians who met as teenagers, Elle and Tito were selected by the MySpace community from among three couples as the most deserving of a nice ceremony, and their unmistakable likability (their “Vote for us!” video is genuine and sweet) immediately drew in viewers and secured their ability to get everything what they wanted.
When you hear about the concept of this show, the natural instinct is to imagine that those voting at home would vote for the most ridiculous options to indulge some sort of sadistic pleasure. For example, the night before the wedding, the site was taking votes on how Elle and Tito should arrive to the ceremony. The choices included an Escalade, a classic Rolls Royce and a tandem bike; I voted for the latter, because tandem bikes are funny.
But according to Endemol’s head of digital production, Drew Brown, with whom I chatted prior to the ceremony, Elle and Tito were so embraced by the community that the audience always picked what they liked best (they arrived at the resort in the Rolls, not the bike, alas). The only conflicts arose when Elle and Tito disagreed on options, and while more people sided with Elle, the audience voted in favor of Tito’s choice of cake, the carrot cake. Executive producer Cristian Cussen of MySpace mentioned during the reception that there are currently talks about doing a second season of the series, but that second season’s success will totally depend on the quality of the couple being featured.
When I left that night after a decent fish dinner, I wondered how much of the actual wedding was going to make it into the final installment. As it turns out, not much: Episode 13, which went online a week later, is almost 20 minutes long and is mostly devoted to giving Tito and Elle a ton of free stuff before their ceremony. The only two major moments of drama are when, early in the preparations, MySpace tricked Tito into thinking he’d have to get married in a kilt (which triggered a near breakdown on his part, until the host revealed the gag) and later, after they’d both gotten into their formal gear, Elle asked for a private moment with Tito to tell him how much she loved him.
The actual wedding and reception accounts for about four minutes of screen time (a good chunk of which is a montage of the reception set to Don’t Wanna Say No, the song Elle and Tito recorded specifically for the wedding). But apparently that was satisfying enough for those who spent the last dozen weeks watching and voting — the comments are overwhelmingly enthusiastic, with many viewers admitting to tears.
I didn’t cry when I watched the episode, though I may have teared up a little during the ceremony. It was a better wedding than it was a series. But let’s be clear — it was a really good wedding.