Last year was a year of several firsts for me but one that really stands out is my appearance on the reality TV show, Say Yes to the Dress, Atlanta. For the complete story of exactly how I came to be on the show, check out Barbara Vey’s Beyond Her Book Blog, here. Today, I’m sharing the story of what I learned by agreeing to tape an episode of the show.
1. When they cast you for the show, the producers send you a big list of dos and don’ts including what to expect. One was don’t wear white or houndstooth. Certain colors and prints aren’t great for the small screen and white and houndstooth are at the top of the list. White can make you blend into the background and look like a floating head (Note: Ironic that you’re not supposed to wear white on a wedding dress show, no?). Houndstooth can seem to waver on-air and give the viewers a headache. Oh, and they warned us not to wear red or pink and they meant that, too: the background in the room where we did interviews was a bright pink. My friend who wore pink had change her clothes. Good thing she brought another outfit just in case!
2. Want to take pictures behind the scenes? You’re out o’ luck! You can’t take your cell phone with you. They’ll confiscate it. And they’re not kidding, just ask my friend, Candice. They kindly took her phone away. (Yes, she eventually got it back). They don’t want you snapping pictures of the cameras and director, etc. Perhaps it would spoil the magic.
3. There is no food. You may hear tales of “green rooms” and Kraft service tables on movie sets but in reality TV land, they warn you to eat before you come and it’s a LONG day. We filmed from 8am-2pm and I only tried on 3 dresses. I wonder how those brides who try on half a dozen make it! I wished I’d thought to sneak a snack in my purse, but I wonder if they would’ve confiscated it.
4. Watch what you say! Yes, we all know that reality TV isn’t really real but it’s definitely less real than even I knew or expected. They spliced entire parts of sentences together with other sentences to the point where they had me saying, “My sister is the villain of this story.” A sentence I never actually uttered myself. To see this in action, pay special attention to which words you hear when a person is not on-screen saying them and which are actually being said on film. It’s quite eye-opening and you can hear the inflection in voice change if you’re paying close attention. It’s changed the way I watch reality TV for good.
5. Trying to speak in present tense on purpose is not as easy as you’d think! After I tried on the dresses, I had to go back into the interview room so they could get some more sound bites from me based on what happened during the fittings. The trick is to say everything as if it’s happening NOW (not as if it happened—in some case— hours ago). The director interviewed me and she kindly pointed out when I began speaking in past tense. I’d have to repeat everything in present tense.
All in all it was an interesting time. They showed my book covers on the show and I’ve had viewers write to me and tell me that they got one of my books after seeing me on TV, which is so fun and amazing.
Valerie Bowman is an award-winning author of Regency-set historical romance novels aka racy Regency romps! Her latest, The Unexpected Duchess, is available now from St. Martin’s Press.
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