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Don’t Tell The Bride

Have you ever wondered what it’s actually like to be at a Don’t Tell The Bride Wedding? How much does the bride really know? Who pays for it? And do the film crew get in the way…

All of these questions will be answered today folks… And I can vouch for the story too because I was at this wedding myself – as assistant photographer to Yvonne Lishman. When Yvonne told me she was shooting a DTTB wedding I thought it would be a great experience and it certainly was a very interesting day.

Many of you will have seen the TV show already – it aired in November 2013 on BBC3 and you can see some clips on the BBC3 Don’t Tell The Bride official page. You’ll recall the racetrack venue, the Harley Davidson escort, the safari themed reception marquee… And today you be able to hear from Luke the groom, Jess the Bride and Yvonne the photographer and you’ll find out how they each felt about being a part of the phenomenon that is Don’t Tell The Bride.

Behind The Scenes  BBC3 Don't Tell The Bride Season 7 Episode 12 Luke And Jess | Motorbike-mad Luke plans a high-octane wedding his traditional bride Jessica won't forget._0001Behind The Scenes  BBC3 Don't Tell The Bride Season 7 Episode 12 Luke And Jess | Motorbike-mad Luke plans a high-octane wedding his traditional bride Jessica won't forget._0002Behind The Scenes  BBC3 Don't Tell The Bride Season 7 Episode 12 Luke And Jess | Motorbike-mad Luke plans a high-octane wedding his traditional bride Jessica won't forget._0003Behind The Scenes  BBC3 Don't Tell The Bride Season 7 Episode 12 Luke And Jess | Motorbike-mad Luke plans a high-octane wedding his traditional bride Jessica won't forget._0004Behind The Scenes  BBC3 Don't Tell The Bride Season 7 Episode 12 Luke And Jess | Motorbike-mad Luke plans a high-octane wedding his traditional bride Jessica won't forget._0005Behind The Scenes  BBC3 Don't Tell The Bride Season 7 Episode 12 Luke And Jess | Motorbike-mad Luke plans a high-octane wedding his traditional bride Jessica won't forget._0006Behind The Scenes  BBC3 Don't Tell The Bride Season 7 Episode 12 Luke And Jess | Motorbike-mad Luke plans a high-octane wedding his traditional bride Jessica won't forget._0007Behind The Scenes  BBC3 Don't Tell The Bride Season 7 Episode 12 Luke And Jess | Motorbike-mad Luke plans a high-octane wedding his traditional bride Jessica won't forget._0008Behind The Scenes  BBC3 Don't Tell The Bride Season 7 Episode 12 Luke And Jess | Motorbike-mad Luke plans a high-octane wedding his traditional bride Jessica won't forget._0009Behind The Scenes  BBC3 Don't Tell The Bride Season 7 Episode 12 Luke And Jess | Motorbike-mad Luke plans a high-octane wedding his traditional bride Jessica won't forget._0010Behind The Scenes  BBC3 Don't Tell The Bride Season 7 Episode 12 Luke And Jess | Motorbike-mad Luke plans a high-octane wedding his traditional bride Jessica won't forget._0011

Luke The Groom

One night I was watching BBC3s Don’t Tell The Bride with Jess and I said ‘it can’t be that hard, bet I could plan a wedding in three weeks easily.’ I said to Jess that if she would get married on TV I’d do it tomorrow. We never thought it would actually happen.

The BBC pays for it but you have literally no time to plan, it’s so last minute and options are limited especially in August. You have to stick within budget but with the money we were given and favours from friends I was able to organise all the things I wanted to for Jess and me.

I wanted it to be perfect for Jess.

I love riding my motorbike and both our parents are Harley Davidson riders and have known each other since before we were babies. It had to be at Donington. Where else? Jess loves old cars and my Godfather has an old vintage Humber that he let me have as Jess’s wedding car. We got two local Harley Davidson chapters to escort her. The sound on the track when they arrived was awesome.

The camera crew follow you everywhere but it didn’t bother me. I was pretty chilled out up until the stag do but the last week was hectic and stressful. On the actual day I was really apprehensive and nervous because there was still so much to do. We were decorating the marquee and doing our cravats at the last minute. One of the TV crew looked on the Internet so we could try to work out how to do our cravats!

It was overwhelming but a relief when it all came together. It was the best feeling ever when I saw the smile on Jess’s face when she arrived and then to find out that she loved it all. It just all went beyond my expectations. It was amazing. It all felt surreal until the programme was aired, it still doesn’t feel real even now. But the DVD we have from the BBC and our amazing photographs from Yvonne are awesome memories.

Jess The Bride

It wasn’t until the last week that I found things stressful. Family and friends didn’t know what was happening and I couldn’t tell them anything because I didn’t know anything! It was impossible for anyone to know how to plan. The night before the wedding was strained because the camera crew were there and I couldn’t spend it with my family alone and I’d always imagined the night before my wedding to be spent with family.

I felt a bit less stressed once I saw my dress, I loved it. Luke got it so right. It was incredible.

I didn’t feel nervous on the day because I was just so excited to see Luke. He’s the person who makes my life so much easier and it wouldn’t have mattered what he’d planned I just wanted to see him. On the morning I was driven to a pub so I thought ok so we’re getting married in a pub! But then all of these Harley Davidson’s arrived. I couldn’t believe they had all come out for us. It was overwhelming and humbling and amazing at the same time. My dad loved it too.

I loved seeing the effort Luke had put in to everything. It was so surprising to see how much someone knows and loves you when you put them in control like that.

I found the backlash on the Don’t Tell The Bride’s Facebook page a bit hard to take as some people were nasty about Luke but I had to tell myself the programme is heavily edited and three weeks becomes an hour and they don’t know Luke. All the people that matter to us love him and know that he’s kind and thoughtful.

I feel so proud of Luke, he made the best day ever for us.

Yvonne The Photographer

Being sworn to secrecy over the show was never an issue; I’m good at secrets but I thought it would feel odd not meeting the bride before the wedding, not having the chance for a pre-wedding portrait shoot, to deal directly with the groom exclusively but it didn’t. Luke was so full of Jess and his plans for the day in order to make it perfect for her that I felt like I’d been dealing with them both for forever and not just Luke for a matter of days.

It was great to be involved in the show and I feel privileged Luke picked me but I felt a little sad that one of the things that didn’t come over in the programme at all is just how kind and thoughtful Luke is. He has to be one of the loveliest, well-mannered, kindest, least selfish men I’ve ever met. The groom really does have only three weeks to plan everything and Luke put his heart in to making a wedding both he and Jess would love and remember but I felt the show conveyed him as jammy and self-centred! He’s neither. But then without crafty editing reality TV wouldn’t be so successful would it?

I’m pleased that I was there to help document forever all of the thought that went in to the day, and convey the genuine and selfless love Luke has for Jess. They both looked undeniably happy and in love. Soon enough I’d forgotten the Don’t Tell The Bride camera crew were there at all, it was simply a wonderful wedding.

Yvonne Lishman Photography
Venue Donington Park Racing Circuit | Boutique Beau Belles | Dress Mori Lee by Madeline Gardner | Florist Buds and Bloom | Marquee Arabian Tents | Decor/Styling Arabian Tents | Balloons Balloon and Party Ideas | Ceremony Bikes Haslam Race School | Catering Finesse Hospitality | Maids Pearl Boutique | Groomsmen Bridgens | Band Mrs Miggins Pie Shoppe | Harley Davidsons Hog Sherwood Chapter Harley Davidsons and East Midlands Harley Davidson Club of Great Britain | Podium created by Everglaze Joinery | Film Renegade Pictures for BBC3 | Second Shooter Adam Crohill | Assistant to Yvonne Lishman Lindsey Browning.

27 thoughts on “Don’t Tell The Bride

  1. Good on the couple for having the bravery to just go for it! It must have been very stressful, but I remember watching this wedding on DTTB and it looked amazing – and still does in the ‘behind the scenes’ photos!

  2. Oh my goodness, this is fascinating! I saw this episode and remember thinking Luke seemed like one of the nice ones. Even more now I’ve seen he picked such a great photographer! I have so many questions that I’ve always wondered about DTTB, altho Luke and Jess may not be able to answer. Like, how much does the bride ‘guide’ her man towards the right dress/venue etc before filming begins? Everyone says they don’t but once you know you’ve been picked for filming there must be some sort of pre-planning?? And do the show’s researchers help set up venue/supplier meetings, or is all the sourcing and research GENUINELY done by the groom and his best man in that 3-week time slot? And how often do people end up putting their own money in on top of the £12k?! Not that I watch DTTB or anything…ahem. Great post RMW, and congratulations Luke and Jess! Xx

    1. Thanks for the great photographer comment. 🙂 It was such an amazing day to be part of. It’s true that the bride has absolutely no say so there’s no pre-planning. Before being a part of it I thought the bride probably had some sort of say but everything had to be top secret. The groom does have to stick within the budget and can’t use any of his own money. Luke had to plan and organize everything although meetings with suppliers like bridal shops has to be organized at times when the public won’t be around so the researchers helped Luke with this. But genuinely the onus is on the groom. Luke did an amazing job. I have such admiration for him xx

  3. Amazing! If I didn’t read the title this just looks like an amazing wedding, everyone looks so happy and like they are really having the best day ever! And wow does Jess look stunning! And her maids are gorgeous!

    I don’t watch the show much because even before I was engaged or in a relationship I found it the type of programme that destroys my soul a little each episode. But I would love to see this episode now! Seems like a genuine wedding which is genuinely about both parties involved! A groom that considers the in laws is gem normally never mind in DDTB.

    Good job luke! Jess has defineltiy got herself a keeper!

  4. Hmmm….I was fascinated to read this post originally but I’m left a little disappointed! Don’t get me wrong, the wedding was lovely, Jess looked gorgeous & Luke looked like he did an amazing job but it didn’t answer the questions on everyone’s lips!!

    I echo Sama’s reaction; there MUST be some preplanning involved! There’s no way you’d find out you were going to be on the show and NOT talk about it! Even just a little…


  5. WOWZAS! If my man pulled this off I wouldn’t be unhappy – amazing!!! So special and the bride is goooorgeous! Some good points made above, but who knows, the groom may have turned to RMW pages for a few pointers 😉 hence the good photographer choice! Maybe there is some pre-planning, but it seems to me there ended up being two very happy, in love people who regardless of how it was planned had their day of magic… thats the most important thing, regardless of circumstance! Lovely post! xx

  6. I LOVE Don’t Tell The Bride and I’m disappointed to find out that they don’t convey the characters and personalities accurately. From Jess & Yvonne’s comments it clear to see that Luke is actually is a lovely man and to be honest I’d rather see that, not the the edited version of a selfish and self centered person the BBC seem to think we all want to see.

  7. OMG this is awesome, I totally remember watching this episode and I loved it, it was amazing to see how stoked Jess was about the Harley escort, it was such a lovely detail and so thoughtful for all the family. As a motorsport fan I think it is a pretty incredible venue to choose (though I am more of a Silverstone girl)! I remember some of the backlash on Facebook as well. I think it is part and parcel of the reality TV bubble but it is so great to see the real story – I don’t remember what I thought about Luke when I watched it to be honest but it is clear from this that he wanted to plan the perfect day for his beautiful bride and he totally did!!

    It has always concerned me that there is rarely any mention of booking the photographer on DTTB so I am pleased to see that they do get some of the best talent in to capture their day, I think it is such an important part of planning because it is your mementos of the day.

    Like Sama, I have always wondered whether any pre-planning goes on. I sit there and think that SURELY they have at least talked about the things they would like and not like?! xx

    1. What awesome comments. Thank you.

      I’ve answered some of Sama’s points but I’m sure if Luke and Jess comment later they’ll be able to add more. From my point of view nothing is pre-planned. I had to be sworn to secrecy, I couldn’t even tell my husband the ins and outs.

      It made it even more special for me as like you I’m a motorbike racing fan so for Luke to find a photographer he liked, who was free on the day at such short notice, who then turned out to be a WSBk/BSB fanatic was spooky. I couldn’t believe for most of the day that my feet were touching such hallowed ground! It made the wedding all the more awesome.

  8. We were the venue for Kallie and Grantts ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’ wedding, and I can honestly say the groom has to do EVERYTHING. They are given no help from the film crew (who were actually lovely!) – in fact I’d say that the production team actually put obstacles in their way, but hey, I guess that’s all in the name of good TV?!
    Just like Luke, I think most of the Grooms do want the best for their future wives, but editing is a cruel thing!!! I can’t say we’d do it again purely because of the anxiety when it finally airs and you have NO IDEA what’s going to be shown, ha ha 🙂
    It is a genuine bonkers couple of weeks but overall it’s a blast x

  9. Morning lovelies,
    Don’t Tell The Bride is definitely one of my guilty pleasures – I start watching each episode very scathingly, but by the vows, I’m always in tears!
    Even on episodes like the one with the boxer dude and his wannabe pop star fiancé (I’m a tragic mess, I know)…
    My boyfriend used to work in TV and his brother still does – and their stories have made me very cynical about TV as a whole. The producers can basically choose how they want someone to come across – even making lovely people seem a certain way. DTTB seems to be particularly good at this.
    As to how much guidance the Grooms have…I don’t know, but they always seem to choose the things the Bride says she hates…
    I really liked Jess and Luke though, and thought that they were by far the most in love, genuine couple on the show!! It’s lovely to see their photos 🙂
    Fern x

    1. I know now not to judge how people are portrayed on reality shows but prior to my experience in the main took what I saw as genuine. The TV crew were lovely. Crafty editing can put a different spin on things and I suppose if it was all nicey nicey folks would switch off so they’re just doing their job in making memorable TV. I still thought the show was good though, you could tell Luke and Jess are both completely in love and in the end that’s what really matters. They are adorable. I love them xx

      1. That’s so true!! The reason why we secretly love watching is for moments like the Las Vegas one…and the skydiving one…
        And the spin is definitely in the editing – I’m sure the crew have loads of fun filming the show with the Grooms.
        But for Jess and Luke I think everyone watching just wanted them to have an amazing day 🙂

  10. That dress!! Luke seriously knows his girl doesn’t he! It looks beautiful on Jess – almost as if it was designed with her in mind. The boy and I whilst not fans of DTTB did on occasion watch an episode or two and discussed what he would do if he was planning the wedding with the 12K budget. And folks it’s hard!! So snaps to Luke for pulling off such a brilliant day!

  11. I absolutely love DTTB and remember watching this episode. I don’t remember thinking this guy was selfish at all (total hottie maybe…) but I think the show makes the guys out to be a bit daft as they always pick the opposite of what the bride wants! I always wondered about the preplanning too, of course you’d tell your fiance which venue you want! I have a friend of a friend who was picked for this show but ended up pulling out as the production team were trying to make the groom pick ridiculous things he knew his fiance would hate just to make a good programme! I think this is how they normally avoid the whole preplanning thing but luckily this doesn’t seem to be the case here as Donnington is an amazing and crazy place to get married anyway 🙂 Congratulations to the couple xx

  12. Congratulations Jess & Luke! Jess, you were a stunning bride and a very grateful one too! It is lovely seeing brides that have been put through so much stress can still be remain dignified and grateful to their other half!

    Seeing as here are so many DTB fans can anyone remember the episode with the ex-Jehovah witness couple who were planning on getting married in Italy but then rescheduled their wedding. The place in Italy looked beautiful and I’d really like to have a closer look at it for my wedding.

    Thanks in advance.


    1. OMG Laine, I remember this one, it was such an emotional episode!!
      I’ll see if I can find anything on Google – from what I can remember the venue was at the top of a hill somewhere??!
      Fern x

      1. Hi Fern,
        Thank you! It probably was ridiculously expensive as it was so beautiful but id like to try :). I tried google but so far have had no luck. It would be amazing if you could find anything x

        1. Ok, so no luck on Google either, but I’ve contacted the TV production company to see if anyone there knows…fingers crossed! x

  13. This is awesome!! What a brilliant insight!! It’s really interesting to hear that the show definitely conveys a slightly different kind of person to who the groom is in reality. I think from now on I’ll be judging those grooms a little differently! 🙂 It looks like he pulled of a brilliant day. And Jess looks absolutely stunning in her dress. Big congratulations to them both. xxx

  14. Thanks for all the great comments,it’s nice to think some people can see past the editing! I’d have to say that any pre planning that you think you could do you might as well scrap as they choose certain places to go(wedding dress shop etc) due to filming restrictions and it all happening at such short notice. I had put most my ideas to the team before it all started anyway which I wasn’t allowed (or prepared) to tell Jess, as it all about it being a surprise for her. I really liked that idea and would have hated the thought of her knowing any details of the day before the day itself.
    We have treated the show as a bit of a bonus and something we just accept as we managed to get an amazing wedding for free, and around 20k worth of wedding with my bartering skills and lots and lots of favours from lots of amazing people (Thanks everyone!). What I would say, as you can clearly see from the photos, make sure you book an Amazing Photographer, as these are the real memories that we look at now and will do for years to come. (thanks Yvonne) Hope that put the record straight and thanks again for the comments,anything else you might want to know il do my best to answer! Luke and Jess.

  15. So glad to have seen this post and that it has put the record straight. Great photography for an amazing and unique wedding. Best wishes to Luke and Jess.

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