True Romance

The newlyweds (my parents) married at home in 1947. Aren’t they a good-looking couple?

Everyone loves a wedding.  Why else crash? They’re so much more fun than a parade or a circus, although sometimes they are a circus.

In 2000 a FOX television producer attending a relative’s wedding, presumably caught up in the excitement of the festivities, conceived of the game show Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?  In the two-hour special fifty willing brides-to-be competed in a beauty-pageant-style contest, answering questions about themselves and parading in swimsuits and evening wear, although not tap dancing or tossing a baton.  By the time the predetermined groom, Rick Rockwell, slipped a thirty-five thousand dollar, three-carat ring on the finger of the so-called lucky winner, Darva Conger, twenty-two million wedding guests were enthralled with the proceedings from the comfort of their living rooms.

Like so many spur-of-the moment unions it was a bust, Conger filing for an annulment as soon as she could, and critics assailed the show, never to be aired again, as a new low in television programming. However, the ratings spoke for themselves.

Over the past decade several so-called reality television series have been based on couples meeting, falling in love, and getting married on camera.  That’s certainly the premise behind The Bachelor and its many spin-offs. On the first season of The Bachelorette, Trista Rehn chose Ryan Sutter.  They married – and happily so – on a three-episode special for which they were paid a million dollars.

None of the other contestants has faired as well.

And, of course, there’s Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, whose relationship, beginning, middle and end, was filmed as part of the on-going Kardashian money-making machine. The event cost an estimated $10 million, but the couple netted $18 million in network and photo rights.  Well, we all know how that turned out.

But sometimes true romance is captured for a viewing audience. Bride and Groom, an old time radio show in the late forties, featured a real-life bride and groom. The couple told their love story:  how they met, where he proposed, and what she said when she accepted.  The ceremony was then held in private at the chapel on the grounds of the Chapman Park Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.  When the program moved to television in 1950, the ceremony took place in front of the camera.

For sharing, the newlyweds were showered with gifts – silverware, towels, and appliances, those sorts of things, to set up their household.  As a memento, they received a 16MM copy of their marriage.

The weekday show was so popular it ran for three years.  For many of the participants the run lasted a lifetime.

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved