Don’t Tell The Bride is one of the most unmissable shows on TV.
Over the past 14 series, we’ve watched couples tie the knot on a rollercoaster, pig farm, and even underwater at the local leisure centre.
There’s been full Beauty and the Beast fancy dress, a skydiving bride, and a Men in Black themed day with an alien conducting the service. And then there was THAT Vegas wedding. To be honest, we’re surprised a few of these couples even managed to get to their first wedding anniversary.
In theory, we’d all love to be handed a huge chunk of cash to design our dream day. But when you’ve only got three weeks and all the planning is down to the groom, it almost inevitably turns into a car crash.
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So how exactly does Don’t Tell The Bride work? Are Don’t Tell The Bride weddings real or staged? How much money do the couples get? We’ve answered all your Don’t Tell The Bride questions and found out some behind the scenes secrets just for you.
When is Don’t Tell The Bride On?
Don’t Tell The Bride airs on E4 on Wednesdays at 9pm.
Are Don’t Tell The Bride Weddings Real?
The premise of Don’t Tell The Bride is this: a couple are given money for their wedding ceremony, but every aspect must be organised by the (often hapless) groom in just three weeks with no contact from the (very stressed) bride. Yep, that’s the dress, the hen do, the venue, everything – yikes!
The DTTB couples are genuinely not allowed to plan anything in advance; they have to sign a contract saying so. If the production crew get wind of the fact they may have conferred about any part of the process, they stop filming. So yes, everything you see in the programme is real.
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As for the ceremony, the vows the couple exchange aren’t legal. It’s written into their contract that the ceremony is not legally binding and to head to their local registry office to make it legal at a later date.
There’s only been one wedding so far where the couple have decided not to make their wedding legal. Last series, Craig planned Oktoberfest themed nuptials for bride-to-be Sofia. She refused to “let him make a fool of me” but eventually relented and they held their ceremony for the show. It was revealed at the end that they decided not to have a registry office wedding later.
Are Don’t Tell The Bride Couples Really Not Allowed Any Contact?
Absolutely none. Producers make them shut down their Facebook pages, hand over mobiles and any phone numbers. They’re given a basic phone with no wifi for the three weeks’ filming so they can’t contact each other. It’s very strict.
It goes beyond the bride and groom too. All phone calls between the bridal party and the groom are filmed to make sure nothing gets leaked about the big day. It really is a complete surprise to the bride!
How to Apply For Don’t Tell The Bride
Couples can apply for Don’t Tell The Bride via an online application form. The form asks for a recent photo of you both, links to your social media accounts, and whether you live together or have children.
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You’ll need to tell them about your proposal, why you want to take part in the show and anything else about yourselves. You can speed up the process by sending them a five minute video of you as a couple.
Applications are currently open for the 2019 series.
What’s The Filming Schedule Like?
If you’re considering signing up yourself, be aware it’s a big commitment (although not as big as marriage, of course). The couples who apply can be contacted by the production company and expected to start filming and planning just a week later.
Some couples have had a cameraman follow them around from 8am-midnight almost every day for the whole three weeks, so it’s a huge undertaking.
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The poor camera crew also spend three whole weeks away from their families to do the filming so the couple and the crew really are all in it together. The same crew film the bride and groom so they have the tricky task of not letting any details slip!
How Much Money Do They Get On Don’t Tell The Bride?
Couples are given £13,000 to plan their wedding day on the show.
There’s no restrictions on what the money can be spent on (as long as it’s for the wedding), hence mega expensive stag dos and only £200 left for the wedding dress! The grooms aren’t given any guidance on what they need to plan for either, so you’ll see episodes where he forgets he needs to hire wedding cars for the bridal party (sadly true).
How Many Don’t Tell The Bride Couples Are Still Together?
The majority of the couples are still happily together, but there have been a few disasters on the show. Obviously there was Sofia and Craig who didn’t legalise their Oktoberfest wedding.
More recently, it was announced that Bianca and Adam, who appeared in series 12 of the show, had split after 18 months. At the time Bianca labelled their nuptials “the world’s worst wedding” so it was bad from the start.
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The heavily pregnant bride wanted a destination wedding but instead was subjected to a ceremony on a plane at Bristol Airport before a Full Moon party-inspired reception in a warehouse full of sand. Bianca was distraught with her £140 dress off the internet (she labelled it “a cheap bit of tat”) and her bridesmaids were in £10 dresses that turned out to be see-through. Can’t say we didn’t see that one coming.
What’s Happened on Don’t Tell The Bride So Far?
We’re currently on series 14; here’s what disasters, ahem, weddings we’ve already seen:
You only get married once was groom Lee’s thinking, as he blew almost a quarter of the whole wedding budget on a stag do to Las Vegas. His love for Sin City didn’t stop there as he planned a Vegas themed bash in a shed, complete with Elvis impersonator and rings off Gumtree.
Bride Becky would love a traditional church wedding, but groom Lee has other ideas. How about a two-mile long walk down the aisle around a maze? Yes, that sounds delightful in a heavy wedding dress and heels.
Your wedding day is one you’ll never forget – and groom Nathan made sure of that by having the time and date tattooed on his leg as his bride-to-be’s wedding invite. Choosing a 60s Northern Soul themed day, Nathan had his bridesmaids in Parkas and a mod-style scooter entourage.
Groom Gavin was a big one for symbolism. A Thai-themed wedding to celebrate the country they met in seven years previous, and a wedding at a Somerset viewpoint where he’d proposed. Sadly, what that turned into was the bride riding to the venue on a tractor, a muddy hike to the top of the hill in her dress ALONE, and a reception in an industrial grain barn with no lighting, toilets or electricity.
Groom Courtney ignoresd Lauren’s wishes to feel unique and special on her wedding day, and sent her to get wed at the caravan park she visits every. Single. Year. He also ran out of money two days before the ceremony and had to ask his future Mother-in-Law to bail him out. Awkward.
Groom Bobby was not one for simplicity. He also wasn’t one for thinking things through; that became apparent when he sent his fiancée Jas (who can’t swim) on a white water rafting hen do. She refused to take part, unsurprisingly, and spent the rest of the day worrying about whether her wedding would be just as unsuccessful. (It looked like it might be, since Bobby had given their day a Titanic theme when all she wanted was something traditional…)
Famously unorganised Micky from Tamworth was set to marry fiancée, Sophia, in episode seven. Whilst the bride had very set ideas on how she’d like her big day to pan out (think Katie Price marries Peter Andre – all the bling and a very big dress), Micky had his heart set on a winter-themed celebration. Oh, and Sophia hates the cold. It was a disaster waiting to happen.
Episode eight saw fitness-loving groom Ben plan a wedding for his wife-to-be, Hayley. Ben was not afraid to show off his physique, so whilst he began work on a unique hot tub wedding, his fiancée was at home dreaming of a traditional Jewish celebration. It was touch and go right until the end, but unsurprisingly the prospect of saying ‘I do’ in a hot tub left Hayley bubbling with fury.
Sam was given £13k to spend on the perfect wedding for his love Luanne. Sounds pretty straightforward, but when all of that money goes on a pixie-themed bash for your traditional bride? Not so much. Sam splashed most of his cash on a smelly cattle market venue, a stag-do in Benidorm and a lot of beer.
Episode 10 saw Phil plan a wedding for his super-organised fiancée Elle. Elle has always dreamed of a classy wedding in Liverpool’s iconic Liver Building, but instead her hubby-to-be was set on a dinosaur-themed day complete with walking, life-sized robotic dinosaurs… yes, really.
Much to bride-to-be Leanne’s dismay, over-enthusiastic groom Calvin first popped the question whilst the pair were surrounded by all of his friends. When it came to their upcoming nuptials, he had a lot of making up to do… but clearing a gift shop to use for his Scottish-themed wedding reception? That was probably not going to do the job.
“Particular” bride Jemma had a very specific idea of what she wanted her wedding day to be, but when her hubby-to-be Nathan admitted that he could write everything he knew about weddings on a post-it note, we expected there might be trouble.
Determined not to let his lack of wedding knowledge put him off, Nathan was keen to learn quickly and prove to his fiancée that he could design the day of her dreams. Sadly, Nathan’s Mexican day of the dead themed day was more likely to be the wedding of her nightmares… especially since he wanted to hold it in a graveyard. A little different to that vintage barn venue she’d hoped for, we have to say.
Ex-soldier groom, Reece, picked a very alternative form of transport for his bride-to-be Lucy in the thirteenth episode. Despite the pair’s love story which saw them meet at army training and fall in love in Afghanistan, Lucy was adamant she didn’t want any reminders of the military on her wedding day.
This didn’t stop Reece from splashing his cash on an army tanker, camouflage draping fabric, a military helicopter and an army themed hen-do, though. Not what Lucy was after.
In a programme which was dubbed the “cringiest episode ever” by viewers, childhood sweethearts Charlie and Kain tied the knot at a gangster-themed day. Not only was the princess-obsessed bride kidnapped by the groom’s wannabe gangster friends prior to her ceremony, Kain splashed £1300 of his budget on a stag-do and chose a nightclub as his reception venue. Talk about poor decisions…
Excitable groom Jonny (otherwise known as “Half-a-Job-John”) was over the moon to be planning an adrenaline-fuelled wedding for his bride-to-be Kate. The one thing he hadn’t considered was that his future wife had always dreamed of a simple, fuss-free day. Perhaps arranging pre-ceremomy paragliding and jet skiing was not the way to go, after all…
If you want to know if you’ve found the right one, check out our 13 signs he’s husband material. Does you partner tick all the boxes?