What It's Really Like Being on a Wedding TV Show

If you've ever turned on TLC, you've undoubtedly seen a show (or five) about weddings. From Say Yes to the Dress to I Found the Gown to Four Weddings, they've got the genre on lock. We recently chatted with one of the recent winners of Four Weddings, where four brides agree to be guests at each other's weddings and judge which is best.

We sat down with recent winner Michelle Novak Bischoff and her husband, Rob, to get the inside scoop on what really goes on behind the scenes.

four weddings

Michelle and Rob were high school sweethearts, but they didn't get realize they'd found "The One" way back then until many years (and failed relationships) later.

The first time Michelle laid eyes on Rob back in high school, it was like “everything else blurred out. Rob used to have really long blonde hair, and it was the beginning of the school year, so I hadn't seen him since the previous year. I didn't really know him, but over the summer, his hair grew, and he looked like a rock star,” said Michelle. “It was like everything stopped. And I'm like, 'Wow. Where did he come from? That guy is beautiful; I have to find out who he is.'” But a few days later, she found out that Rob had just started dating her best friend. “I felt like I got kicked in the stomach." After that relationship ended, Michelle and Rob began dating  but it was far from the perfect relationship. “He was jealous, manipulative, and controlling, and I couldn't have it anymore, and he was suffocating me, and then he gave me crazy ultimatums, and I just felt like I couldn't deal with it anymore. So we broke up, and he married the wrong woman,” said Michelle. “In all fairness, I was very antagonistic back then.”

Despite the breakup, they stayed close friends over the years. “Michelle was engaged like four times to four different guys but could never pull the trigger,” said Rob. “There was always something missing; I just couldn't figure out what it was,” added Michelle. “One day, it dawned on me that what was missing from my life was him.” She took a huge leap and asked Rob to end his unhappy marriage and be with her instead, and he agreed that it was the right move. After a divorce that “took 900 years,” Rob proposed during a trip to Lake George, where they had shared their first vacation together back in high school. “25 years later, we finally got it right, and we're married,” said Rob.

The couple tied the knot on January 10 at The Venetian in Garfield, NJ. Rob fell in love with its over-the-top vibe: “Meadow Soprano would get married here, so I want to get married here.”

“It's a huge place, but the feeling is so warm and intimate when you walk in, and let me tell you, they treat you like you have royal blood running through your veins,” added Michelle.

Here, they talk to BG about their experience filming Four Weddings.

four weddings at the venetian
Photo Credit: John Agnello Photography & Video

Why did you decide to go on the show?
"After registering on a wedding website, I actually received an email from TLC about Four Weddings. I had never seen the show, but I thought, 'Well, that could be fun. Maybe we'll get like $500 if we win.' Every time I tell this story to someone, they get very, very upset with me, because apparently it's very competitive to get on this show, and people send in application after application. I sent one email, and they called me two days later to set up an interview."

Why do you think you were chosen?
"I must've been in a cheeky mood when I filled out the application, because it was pretty amusing. As soon as I hit submit, I called Rob at work and said, 'Oh, by the way, I just submitted this application to be on a show Four Weddings, so our wedding is going to be on TV.' And he's like, 'Okay, I'm busy right now, I don't have time for your shenanigans and tomfoolery." ("'Sure it will,' I think were my words," added Rob). "And I believe your other set of words were, 'We are not nearly as interesting as you think we are.' And I said, 'Ye of little faith. Our wedding's gonna be on TV.'"

What was the application process like?
"Two days later, they called and wanted to set up an interview  like a screen test. So I went into New York, and I met with Semiseweet Productions, and as I'm coming out, I called Rob and I said, 'I just got done with my interview; they said they'd let us know in maybe 8 to 10 weeks, but I feel really good. I think we're really gonna be on the show.' And he said, 'Yeah, they're never gonna call, it's not gonna happen.' They called me the next day. It all happened so fast."

four wedding
Photo Credit: John Agnello Photography & Video

Did being accepted change your wedding plans at all?
“Watching the show upped the ante a little bit,” admitted Rob. “When she signed up to be on the show, we had never even seen an episode. So we sat down and watched bunch of episodes, and that upped our game. We put flowers in places we didn't have flowers before and tried to make it even nicer, because it is on TV. We certainly got some ideas from watching other episodes.”

tall centerpieces
Photo Credit: John Agnello Photography & Video

But that didn't mean stretching their budget. “We came in severely under budget,” said Michelle. “We budgeted for what we could afford. Rob was adamant about certain things, and I was adamant about other things, and we each got exactly what we wanted, down to the very last detail. I don't think I would’ve done one thing differently. I'm incredibly happy with all of our decisions and how everything turned out. And because he did a lot of the creative effort behind it, we saved so much money.”

“I'm very meticulous, so the things we did for the show and spent time and money on, we would've done if we weren't on the show,” said Rob. 

winter wedding card box
Photo Credit: John Agnello Photography & Video

One project Rob tackled was the light-up escort cards. "I saw them online, and I had to do them. I ordered all of the components online, and I actually sat there and engraved each one with a machine," said Rob. "My two daughters helped it; it was like an assembly line. It took three weeks to get through them all, but we did it."

light up escort cards
Photo Credit: John Agnello Photography & Video

How did your venue react to the filming?
“First, they told us no, but I convinced them," said Michelle. "The contract didn't say anything about not having film crews, so I basically said your contract doesn't stipulate that we're not able to, so you can't change the terms of the contract once it's been initiated."

After not getting an immediate "yes," Michelle tried a different approach that invoked the venue's competitive side. "I said, 'Why, you don't think you can win? Maybe you don't think you can win and you don't want to be embarrassed.' And they're like, 'We of course can win!' So my venom seeped into their veins, and they signed the release. And then we gave the owner a very, very nice bottle of wine. He was awesome, he was so nice, but I wore him down on the phone. I must've called him every 15 minutes until he was just so sick of me that it was easier for him to say yes.”

four weddings first dance
Photo Credit: John Agnello Photography & Video

Did you receive any perks for being on the show?
“The only thing I was tasked with by my wife was finding the cake topper,” said Rob. “So I found a cake topper online that I absolutely fell in love with and tracked down the woman who made it. The sample of that exact cake topper was online, and I asked for that one. And she says, 'Oh no, we can't make that anymore, it's too difficult. When we cut it, it breaks a lot, and it costs us money.' And I said. 'Oh, that's a shame, we're gonna be on TLC's Four Weddings, and I really wanted that cake topper. So, lo and behold, she made it for us. Being on the show helped because it got us the cake topper.”

winter wedding cake topper
Photo Credit: John Agnello Photography & Video

What was the filming process like on your wedding day?
“I don't know how they do it  the camera crew is so stealth,” said Michelle. “After the initial 15 minutes of seeing the lights, you forget they're there. When they pulled us in for our wrap-up interview at the end, I was like, 'Oh yeah, that's right, you guys are here! I forgot!' They're not intrusive, they're so accommodating, and they're fun. It was probably one of the best experiences I've ever had.”

“I couldn't tell who was our videographer and who was from TLC; they just blended right in,” Michelle added. “Even the guests were really impressed that it wasn't so overwhelming with cameras in their faces.”

four weddings
Photo Credit: John Agnello Photography & Video

Did your guests know what was going on? Where did you seat the other brides?
“Initially, about 20% of the guests knew, but word spread quickly,” said Michelle. “We sat the other brides with all of the female cops [from Rob's work], because they're insane. I wanted them to have fun, and I wanted them to feel relaxed and included, and I know the crazy broads he works with will talk to a tree if it stands still long enough. So I thought it would be a welcoming table and that they would be included in the discussions.”

venetian desserts
Photo Credit: John Agnello Photography & Video

venetian desserts
Photo Credit: John Agnello Photography & Video

What was it like attending the other weddings?
“Friends and family asked me if it was a pain having to go to other weddings, but actually, it's a really good time because you get to talk to people you don't know, you get to see how other people and their families interact, and it's nice seeing other brides' taste, because it's completely different from mine. Just because I wouldn't do my wedding the way you did your wedding doesn't mean either of us are right or wrong; it's just different. One of the girls had a princess-themed wedding. I'm not a princess theme type of girl, but I wanted to go to see that, because it's something I would never do.”

For the weddings, TLC provided car service to and from each event and also gave the brides some guidance on what to wear “so that we're not all wearing blue,” said Michelle. After each wedding, the three attending brides had to do post-wedding interviews to give their scores. This could go on until 4 in the morning!

"If a wedding ends at midnight, and they interview each bride for an hour, by the time you get in the car and get home, it could be 4 or 4:30 in the morning,” said Michelle. “But TLC was really cognizant about not making the same person last for the post-wedding interviews each time, so it wasn't the same person out until 4 in the morning each time. One of the girls got married really far out on Long Island, so they did my post-wedding interview first because I had the farthest to go home. And they let you know this ahead of time; they are very transparent. We all knew what we were getting into — and it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be."

Were you nervous after attending the other weddings?
“I was never really nervous to begin with because I figure, if it's meant to be, it's meant to be. All things happen for a reason. Whoever is meant to win, it's going to happen. What made it ever easier  and I'm surprised I felt this way, because I'm very, very, very competitive  was that the other girls were so nice, and after a while, you just feel like you know them. I would've been happy if any of us had won, and I stick by that. And I remember when they interviewed me for TLC, they were like, 'Do you really feel that way?' I said I absolutely feel that way. I would've been happy for any of us, because they're all good people.”

You won a honeymoon trip to Mexico. How was the trip?
“We haven't gone yet! There's no trip until the show airs,” explained Michelle. “The production company is very, very upfront with the brides — they tell you that whoever wins, just know that you don't get anything until after that show airs. And if they decide, for whatever reason, to pull the episode, there's no honeymoon for the winner.”

Luckily, Michelle and Rob's episode aired last week, so they'll soon be jetting off to sunny Mexico for a relaxing retreat!

—Kristen Klein

Four Weddings airs every Friday at 9/8c and 10/9c on TLC.