What Goes On Behind The Scenes Of ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’?
It's the TV phenomenon which has brought us wedding dress disasters, brides in tears and grooms asking the age-old question: how much for flowers?!
Now, as Don't Tell The Bride launches its search for new couples, past stars have lifted the lid to LADbible about life behind the scenes on the Channel Four hit.
And they reckon that, when the cameras aren't rolling, programme-makers pull a range of stunts to turn the dream day into a nightmare.
The series follows grooms as they're given £13,000 ($18,000) and three weeks to plan the perfect wedding - without any contact with the bride.
But among the tactics apparently employed by production company Renegade Pictures are tactics such as overruling the groom's choice of best man, vetoing chosen venues in favour of places suggested by its own team, and sowing seeds of confusion so brides don't get the dress they dream of.
A contract clause means that once couples sign up, they cannot pull out without owing more than £1,000 ($1,400) a day for the filming which has already taken place, according to people who have taken part.
"It's a stitch-up but once you realise that, you're already trapped in this contract," says Mark Kelly, who married bride Kelly in the 2015 series. "These guys have a storyboard in mind and they manipulate you into living that out.
"My best man was supposed to be the guy who's been my best friend since school. But producers wanted me to have someone I'd known only a few years. When I said I was unhappy with that, their reply was that the chemistry between me and my best friend wouldn't work as well for TV and that if I went with him, they couldn't guarantee the show would go ahead and I might have to pay everything back."
He adds a venue he had chosen - a hotel in his home city of Manchester which he knew Kelly would love - was scuppered by show-makers, who told him it had become unavailable. Instead, the pair were encouraged to marry on a ship in Italy, despite many friends and family not being able to attend.
"We had a lovely wedding in the end but I wouldn't necessarily encourage other couples to sign up," adds the 45-year-old entertainer, who is currently hoping to win a place on Big Brother with Kelly.
Teacher Ryan Palmer appeared in 2016 - marrying Maria - and was equally surprised by how things went.
"I loved the experience as a whole," says 26-year-old from London. "But the programme makers do everything they can to make you look incompetent.
"I had a dress specially designed for Maria. I knew exactly what she wanted but after I'd been to the dress-maker once, I wasn't allowed to go again to check it was coming along okay. So, when they gave it to Maria, it was nothing like I'd asked for. You can't tell me that was an accident. It was all done to get a reaction out of us."
The show is already reeling from scandal after it was revealed just last year that the weddings themselves are not legally binding - couples have to visit a registry office after filming to properly tie the knot.
And this isn't the first-time couples have criticised the show.
In 2016, Melissa Lindsay-Mensah, of Liverpool, described her experience as 'hellish'.
"Although it is your day, it is on their schedule and they have a set plan," she said. "The photographer was leaving at 8.30pm, and we never managed to get a picture of everyone all together because we had to film. I felt quite vulnerable and, looking back, I would have done things differently. It is artificial."
Renegade insisted couples always have final say on venues and best man - but back-ups are requested in case first choices are unavailable or don't meet 'the parameters of production'.
Sarah May, executive producer, told LADbible: "The contract the couple sign prior to filming states, should they decide to withdraw from filming part way through the three weeks, they will need to repay any money spent on the wedding so far and cover the costs of filming to that date."
For couples who still fancy taking part, she added: "We are making 15 new episodes, for E4 and looking for couples nationwide now. The new series is due late summer."
Words and interview: Colin Drury
Featured Image Credit: Supplied