Web surfers become wedding coordinators

July 09, 2000|By Susan Reimer

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. And each sentimental token chosen by an anonymous poll of Web surfers.

That's the wedding formula for Peter and Melanie, a couple of New York City yuppies who have been selected -- also by an online vote -- to turn the planning of their big day over to the "Today" show and TheKnot.com, which have joined together in an unholy matrimony of television and the Internet.

Peter and Melanie were chosen from among more than 1,000 couples who volunteered their love stories for the chance to get married live on the "Today" show in September.

In return, The Knot, the leading online wedding planner, will put the rings, the gown, the tux, the cake, the flowers -- even the honeymoon destination -- up for an Internet vote each week on "Today."

Peter and Melanie will then comport themselves on the happiest day of their lives in a manner chosen by a couple of hundred-thousand strangers.

Yuck.

This is the reality of reality TV. NBC, trailing Fox and CBS in the race to spectacular intrusiveness, raises the stakes. Not content to simply watch, we will now decide.

Melanie, an administrative assistant and graduate student, and Peter, a trial attorney, met and fell in love in a manner wholesome enough for "7th Heaven." Struck by her good looks while sitting across from her at lunch during college, Peter tried to pick her up by giving her a ring he'd found and asking her soulfully never to take it off. It didn't work; they parted without even exchanging names.

A year later, she is jogging and turns her ankle in front of a frat house. Hobbling to the door for help, she is greeted by Peter, who carries her to the emergency room. During the wait, she recognizes him and holds out her hand: She is still wearing the ring.

Is that adorable, or what?

Seven years later, he gets down on one knee and offers her a wedding ring. Thanks to Katie and Matt, however, it will be a ring chosen by a plurality of complete strangers from among four possibilities posted on a Web site. We are voting on her wedding dress and his tuxedo next. "With this groundbreaking series, we're allowing our viewers to have a hand in the planning of a real couple's wedding," says "Today" executive producer Jeff Zucker.

Is this creepy, or what?

Even the "Today" show regulars seemed a little unnerved.

Katie, Matt and Ann frequently asked the couple if they minded giving up the planning of their wedding. Even Carley Roney, one of the founders of TheKnot.com, said, "I guess I am a little bit surprised that some people are going to let us plan their wedding," she said.

TheKnot.com, a spectacularly successful concept, is just the thing for busy "to-be-weds." It has advice, tips, planning help and one-stop shopping for the bride and groom. (Or bride and bride or groom and groom; TheKnot.com has a long-term companion arrangement with PlanetOut.com for the planning of gay marriages.)

But now that Peter and Melanie have opened the door to the grasping forces of television and the Internet, what's next?

Is Howard Stern going to pick the trousseau? Do we take an Internet poll on whether Melanie should lose a few pounds before the big day? Does Dr. Ruth report live from the honeymoon suite? Or Dr. Laura help sort things out after their first big fight?

Somebody should have told this sweet, young couple that their wedding day is a last chance to fantasize, and fantasies should be personal and private.

Marriage is too real, even for TV.

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