Success or failure? We rated every episode of Sky1’s Don’t Tell the Bride

"1/10 – no gnomes"


August Bank Holiday is closing in, heralding the end of summer, and with it an onslaught of actually decent, worth-your-time, high-quality television programming. I know; it’s been a while.
But the lump-in-your-throat downside is that Don’t Tell the Bride is going on hiatus. A preposterous scheduling decision, I’m sure you’ll agree, especially given that Sky1 still has six episodes up its sleeve (and we are reassured that it will be back ‘soon’). But ours is not to question why. Ours is to watch, ours is to rewatch, ours is to marvel at the marvel of male miscalculation in this, television’s finest celebration of female resilience.
First of all, how did it withstand the move from BBC3? I don’t want to get all ‘Charter Review’ about it, but there’s no doubt that Don’t Tell the Bride’s natural home was Freeview channel 7, late on a Friday night, in from the pub, nestled among Snog, Marry, Avoid, the Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special and an old episode of Two Pints.


But much like when my parents cruelly sold the house I grew up in and forced me to dismantle my Harry Potter bedroom so they could move four minutes round the corner where the air is greener, the broadband slower, and the foxes more likely to extirpate your chicken coop, times have changed and thus we must change with them. Except on this occasion, instead of a double bed and an en suite bathroom (an obvious upgrade – thanks after all, Mum), fifteen precious moments were robbed from me and the nation alike, to make advertising space for Clearblue pregnancy tests, dishwasher tablets, Simply Be clothing and a slew of other products that I am 100% certain have no correlation whatsoever to the target audience of Don’t Tell the Bride.
It’s shorter, yes, but there have been no other ostensible differences from its old incarnation. The budget is still fourteen grand, the participants are still very good at convincing the viewer that the number of bodily cells they possess above the neck has yet to reach double figures, and presumably in order to persuade programme-makers the couples are worth putting on television, the wedding ‘themes’ continue to veer further from the traditional – spring, autumn, beach, abattoir – and into the downright daft.
If you have Sky1 (and really, it seems a great injustice to keep this series as the preserve of the elite satellite dish-owners) then Don’t Tell the Bride still does what it says on the tin. Namely, it reassures you, as you sit alone in your dimly-lit flat with a bottle of Albariño and wait for your housemates to return home with their significant others in tow, just checking the WhatsApp ‘Last Online’ time OF NO-ONE REALLY, NO-ONE IN PARTICULAR – that actually, you are probably better off on your own – while simultaneously updating your ‘wedding songs’ Spotify playlist and ‘wedding inspo’ board on Pinterest – wait, they’re set as private, aren’t they? That’s not synced to Facebook? Dear God, tell me they haven’t been public all this time…
The other great purpose of this programme, of course, is to keep Preston from the Ordinary Boys in fags and polo shirts. I strongly suspect the bulk of his income is now royalties from the repeated use of his anthemic 2005 ode to lads everywhere, “Boys Will Be Boys” over stag do montages in DTTB.
So in sum, it’s ticked those two primary boxes. But before I move onto the next thing on my To Do list – calling the Sky publicist to find out if they know yet when it’s back on, so I can update my calendar – let’s quickly review the journey we’ve been on over the past six weeks. 


We got off to a mile-high start with these two, who travelled the world together, and fittingly tied the knot on a round-trip from Bristol to Bristol. I mean why not? There’s nothing more romantic than the extra legroom seats of a budget 737.

HIM: 8/10 creativity for taking inspiration from the dating app Tinder which united him with his bride and devising a scheme in which Bianca blindly chose left or right and made every decision for him, so he couldn’t be blamed if she didn’t like anything. 6/10 for not bothering with vows – who needs ‘em?
HER: 10/10 for not jumping out of the emergency exit. I would have. 


Next up were Maria and Ryan, who had their ceremony back at their old sixth-form college, where Cupid’s arrow first struck them as they stood by the vending machines – understandable, 80p for a Snickers will set anyone’s heart racing. There was Marbs, there was a dodgy dress, there were chicken nuggets – vintage DTTB.
HIM: 9/10 for the venue. It’s not often you hear the words ‘burger sauce’ at a wedding reception, but that’s why this programme is so important. It takes your conventional understanding of romance and turns it on its head.
HER: 10/10 dress meltdown, 6/10 for approving the dodgy centrepieces.


Cole likes gnomes. They mentioned it once at the beginning, they got my hopes up, but there were, in fact, no gnomes involved in the ceremony, which I’m afraid left a bitter taste in my mouth throughout this episode. It was Wild West themed, in the end, which violated a few of my personal provisos – no livestock, no firearms, no tins of beans, no chafing – but it ended alright. They did marry.

HIM: 1/10, no gnomes
HER: 1/10 by association.


Right, all you need to know here was that Lawrence is a man who wanted to get married WHILE SITTING IN A BUMPERCAR. I prefer sparks to fly because of passion, rather than the exposed cables on a dilapidated dodgem ride, but I know little of passion, I know little of romance, I know little of sparks, unless you count those bins in the field behind my house that I keep setting fire to… I digress.
HIM: Dodgems. Nil points
HER: 9/10 hissy fit on arrival at venue, 10/10 for forcing him to stand up, and not get married in a bumper car. Also 10/10 for going all the way to Mallorca beforehand for a colourful bit of “Let’s have a look at what you could have won!”


Opposites attract, they say, and never were it more true than with these two – she shy, him gregarious, she desperate for an intimate do of no more than 30 guests, him planning to celebrate their African heritage by turning her into a queen with a triple-figure audience spilling out of the church.

HIM: Alright bloke, probably, but apparently not an attentive listener, and 0/10 for not respecting all eight of the bridesmaids by adequately noting down their measurements.
HER: She couldn’t really have been clearer about the dress, could she? White. A white dress. It must be white. I am getting married in white. Wore: a gold dress. Did not set fire to it. Commendable, but what else will she let him get away with further down the line?!! 5/10 – I’m worried for her. Give an inch they’ll take a mile, that’s what my self-help book says. Watch it, Ade.


I can’t give away too much, as this has yet to air, so I will copy, paste and truncate our own preview which is already published here and on coffee tables throughout the nation, so I can’t spoil more than I already have:
It may come as little surprise that this writer has never had a wedding – but when I do, I plan to walk down the aisle to Carl Orff’s O Fortuna, or the portentous intro to Elvis Costello’s Watching the Detectives, to ensure my husband-to-be is suitably intimidated. Tonight’s young Zoe displays similar flashes of Bridezilla – her mother warns that “it really is scary” when she doesn’t get her way, so we know she’s come to the right place. 

Zoe loves girly, vintage styles, which is good, since her beloved Matthew has indulged his passion for history and gone really, really vintage with an ancient Rome-themed spectacular – replete with gladiators, and a pillory. There’s no Caligula, more’s the pity, but there is curry.


Don’t Tell the Bride concludes tonight at 9pm on Sky1