Don't Tell the Bride

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
Don't Tell the Bride TV Poster Image
British wedding reality show tests limits of "true" love.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Although viewers will see brides behaving badly (some admit to their right to be "totally spoiled"), the show stresses the real purpose of a wedding: to unite two people who are truly in love. And in the end, some brides -- but not all -- realize that the details of a wedding don't really matter, and it's truly the thought that counts. That said, brides do typically expect the very best -- and, by extension, the most expensive -- when it comes to their dress, their flowers, and the wedding site. But grooms can only buy what they can afford.


Brief snippets of footage from bachelor and bachelorette party shenanigans include images of sex toys.


The language is generally clean, although some words (like "f--k") are bleeped. Some accents could be difficult for American audiences to understand.


The show isn't as label-conscious as American television would be, but it does hinge on the inherent conflict between the bride's designer tastes and the realities of the groom's "modest" budget -- which, at 12,000 pounds (about $18,000 U.S.), is still a large sum.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Brief shots of brides- and grooms-to-be partying in bars with their friends, drinking champagne, guzzling spirits, and doing shots.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this series is aimed at adults -- particularly those who might be planning their own weddings -- so it might not appeal to younger viewers. If kids and teens do watch, they could see brief shots of adults guzzling alcohol and playing with sex toys during risque pre-wedding festivities. They'll also see brides who are less than beautiful when it comes to their unrealistic expectations. It's worth noting that this is a British show created for British audiences, so U.S. viewers might have trouble understanding some regional accents.

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What's the story?

Misty-eyed brides and grooms get 12,000 pounds (about $18,000 U.S.) to pay for their weddings in DON'T TELL THE BRIDE. But, of course, there's a catch: It's the groom, not the bride, who's making all the decisions -- and the bride can't say anything about it. In each episode, a new couple puts their love to the test by signing a legally binding contract that prevents the bride and groom from talking to, texting, or phoning each other for four long weeks. On her wedding day, the bride shows up wearing a dress that she didn't pick out ... and not knowing what else to expect.

Is it any good?

It's always refreshing to watch the Brits' take on reality television, mostly because it eschews the catfights, staged dialogue, and "shocking twists" we've come to expect on this side of the pond. But it would be pretty naive to assume that Don't Tell the Bride doesn't have an ulterior motive in presenting brides and grooms with the chance to have their weddings completely paid for. After all, a good reality show needs at least some drama -- and, let's face it, most viewers need it, too.

There's more than a little schadenfreude involved when an overly controlling bride who expects two different dresses -- one for the ceremony and one for the reception -- gets only one, and she hates it to boot. And it only gets better when she screams into her hands and seethes, "He'd better love me forever, and he better never leave me." Blimey. There's a good lesson to be learned here about love, but not everyone will be interested in learning it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether there are real differences between British and American brides and grooms when it comes to the scale of the "average" wedding. Do Americans seem to spend more money, time, and effort on their wedding days, or are Brits equally obsessive? Do you think that agreeing to the show's terms of turning all decision-making over to the groom is a good way for cash-strapped couples to pay for their weddings? What's the true cost of accepting the show's "free" money?

TV details

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