And The Winner Is...The factory outlet stores may offer a nice view of the Cascades, but the blank storefront between the Paper Factory and Rocky Mountain Chocolate hosts no resemblance to Borneo, or any of the other exotic locations of one of TV's most spun-off game shows. Survivor begat the likes of Big Brother, the Bachelor/ette, and the most classy VH1 set (Charm School, Flavor of Love, you know, the really irresistibly trashy ones). So when local Bend radio station 104.1FM decided to apply the Survivor convention to the wedding season, Bend found itself in reality heaven. While in this economy I can rationalize $10,000 in prizes, I can't quite rationalize a week posing as a store mannequin with sorority-hazing inspired personal hygiene, while competing in "tough" games like Hollywood Celebrity Matchup, or Name that Peak Tune. Aren't brides supposed to be poised, graceful and glowing, not strategizing and competitive and self-deprecating? When did Anna Nicole Smith replace Audrey Hepburn?
If men think with their penises, then it must be said that women think with their diamond. And hasn't the stereotype been embraced fully? So many wedding shows, so many magazines, so many expos. I swear, put a ring on a girl's left hand and she becomes Pavlov's dog, salivating at the thought of gossamer floating dresses, engraved champagne flutes, and bubbles versus sparklers. It's been seven years since I had betrothal on the brain, but I still remember how shamelessly I traded my Women's Studies textbook for back issues of Martha Stewart Weddings. We ladies have been well trained for this phase of life, to imagine that it must. Be. Perfect. At. All. Costs.
So, if one of those costs is spending a week with seven strangers and no outside contact in order to make that dream a reality, then maybe it's not so demeaning. And maybe it was a lighthearted, fun experience? Maybe bonds were formed among those brides-to-be and it was really like a giant slumber party. Jessie MacPherson, THE Bridal Survivor, described the overall experience as:
"One of the craziest things I've ever done...I walked into the contest thinking I was the athletic, tomboyish, fun-loving competitor and nothing would get to me. I have to admit, one night after a surprise Bridal Council-where we voted out a girl each time-I cried into my pillow for 30 minutes because I was so upset about having to say goodbye to another incredibly deserving bride-to-be. I don't cry, but then again, I guess I do."
Discussing the contest with Jessie makes me feel sheepish for assuming these ladies were anything like the contestants of Beauty and the Geek.MacPherson's opinion: "I'm just happily overwhelmed and ready to be married to the man of my dreams."
To read more from our "Love Issue," including our rundown of all time worst wedding toasts and our diamond buying guide check out our print edition on news stands now.