By BILL HARRIS
Special to The Lede
What do modern couples worry about too much when planning their wedding, and what should they worry about more? And what are the REAL perils of a beach ceremony, besides sand in your dress?
These are just a few of the many subjects Canadian property and design expert Tommy Smythe touched upon as he set up Season 2 of the Canadian Screen Award-nominated WHERE TO I DO?, which debuts Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on Gusto. In each episode, Tommy presents a bride and groom with three spectacular venue options for a possible dream wedding, within their specified budget, and then it’s up to the couple to decide.
Here’s what Tommy had to say about the new season of nuptial challenges on WHERE TO I DO?:
Q: Having watched the show, my first question has to be, how did anyone ever pick a wedding venue before the invention of computer graphics?
Tommy Smythe: “Everybody loves our animation so much, it’s the actual star of the show! I’m not actually a wedding planner, I’m an interior designer by trade, so we’ve always used renderings, whether they’re hand-painted or, now, digitally created, to walk our clients through their project concepts. So for me it’s a very logical aspect of my design vocabulary. But for viewers, they’re just like, ‘Whoa!’ And for our couples, of course, it’s a really beneficial tool to help them choose which place they want to get married in.”
Q: You go further afield in Season 2 of WHERE TO I DO?, to places such as New York City, Vancouver, Banff National Park, Atlanta, Ottawa. Are some places way easier for finding wedding venues than others?
Tommy Smythe: “Almost every place provides its own logistical issues. For example, beach weddings are very popular, everybody wants to get married barefoot on a beach. But when you actually think about a beach resort, there’s only a certain amount of linear beach that you get. But on either side of that, even though you don’t tend to see it in the wedding photographs, just outside the frame, there might be ‘not necessarily attractive’ people in bathing suits, standing there watching you get married. Finding a deserted beach anywhere in the world is not easy. So all those things that look really great in photos can be logistically difficult to pull off.”
Q: What do brides and grooms tend to worry about too much, and what are the things they don’t worry about enough?
Tommy Smythe: “I think most couples worry too much about the program of events and things going off flawlessly. Which is why most of the couples that I work with hire a professional wedding planner, and a day-of wedding coordinator. A ton of the venues that we visit on WHERE TO I DO? provide a day-of wedding coordinator, so you don’t have to think about that. The things that I think brides and grooms don’t worry about enough have more to do with the actual decor, and the planning of the food, those elements. There’s a lot of emphasis these days on the dress - we have TV shows that are entirely devoted to that - but the dress should be the least of your worries, because every bride is beautiful, no matter what. It’s the other things. But by the time that all happens, I’m long gone. I just help them decide on the venue. Brides don’t turn into Bridezillas until long after Tommy has left the building.”
Q: Is a willingness to compromise age-dependent in any way? In other words, are older couples more likely to be set in their ways, or is it the younger couples who tend to be entrenched?
Tommy Smythe: “That’s a great question. It’s a mixed bag. With young couples now, it’s surprising - or at least it’s a big surprise to me - that the grooms-to-be are really involved in unexpected choices, like the decor, even the dress sometimes, the more traditional bridal responsibilities. I think that speaks to gender equality in relationships, in workplaces, in life in general, and that’s a positive shift. Traditional gender assignments with regard to weddings are out the window, especially with young people. But the No. 1 thing our couples say is, ‘We don’t want to get married in a traditional venue.’ It’s a harder assignment, but it’s more fun for me.”
Q: How often are you shocked by the couple’s choice?
Tommy Smythe: “I will tell you, not often! I actually have a pretty good idea of which venue each couple is going to choose, mostly because I’ve gotten to know them so intimately. But the fun factor for the viewing audience is, they really don’t know, because each of the three venues that we see in each episode is fantastic. Each one has to be so fabulous that the viewer doesn’t know which one the couple is going to pick. But I usually know.”