James and Kathryn Gaughan of Hoffman Estates describe their April 30th wedding as perfect in every way. But on Friday, Aug. 26, it will be put to the test by an all-important panel: three other brides.
The Gaughan wedding will be featured at 9 p.m. Friday on TLC's "Four Weddings" reality show. The premise is that four brides attend one another's weddings before ultimately ranking them based on the bridal dress, venue, food and overall experience.
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At stake for the top-voted wedding is an all-expense paid honeymoon package.
Kathryn Gaughan describes the reality show experience, of attending the three other weddings and commenting on their elements as being a "once-in-a-lifetime" event.
"Having all the cameras and microphones following you around all the time was something I'll never experience again," she says. "I had a lot of fun with it."
The Gaughans were married at the historic Genesee Theatre in Waukegan and worked with its event coordinator, Rena Morrow. Its gilded curtain and main stage, as well as its crystal chandelier and impressive lobby, all are featured in the show.
The couple found the location on The Knot, a search engine for wedding vendors, and felt that it reflected their desire for something unique.
"We fell in love with it when we saw the pictures online," Kathryn Gaughan says, "but when we saw it in person, we thought is was gorgeous."
They used the 1927 venue setting for both the ceremony and reception, and its setting served as a background for their theater-themed event.
Inspired by Kathryn's literary studies degree, they used books -- separated by genre -- as centerpieces for each table. Their florist incorporated old Playbills into the larger floral arrangements. The couple also set up a buffet table that featured popcorn and candy rather than the traditional sweets table.
A number of local vendors helped them pull off their dream wedding, including Catered Productions in Libertyville, Midwest Limousine in Gurnee, Carousel Linen in Lake Bluff, Balmes Flower Shop in North Chicago, Hall's Rental in Niles, and A to E Wedding Coordinators in Kenosha.
"We loved everything about our wedding," says James Gaughan, a quality engineer for Sears. "We had a lot of fun planning all the details, and now we're excited to see it on TV."
Even if it means hearing some criticism, both say.
"A lot of people have told us that we wouldn't be able to handle the criticism about our wedding," Kathryn adds, "but we loved our wedding. To us it was absolutely perfect, and we know that nobody else's opinion will change that for us."
When their episode airs on Friday, the couple will be seeing it for the first time along with the television audience.
"As the bride and groom, you really miss out on parts of your wedding that you put so much time into planning, like the cocktail hour, the wedding party entrance and countless other moments your guests experience," James Gaughan says. "We're excited to see all of that on TV -- and relive the best day of our lives."
The winner of the lavish honeymoon package will be announced -- for better or worse -- at the end of Friday's episode.