Oct 3 2013 11:30am

Secrets of a Scandalous Reality Show: Taping Say Yes to the Dress

Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage by Valerie BowmanToday we're delighted to welcome author Valerie Bowman to Heroes and Heartbreakers. Valerie's newest release, Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage, is the intriguing story of a woman accused of her husband's murder—and the man who comes to her defense. But Valerie has her own 'secret;' she's getting married soon, and she was picked to appear on the reality show Say Yes to the Dress to choose her wedding gown. She's here to talk about her time on-set. Thanks, Valerie!

This week I’m celebrating the release of the third historical romance novel in my Secret Brides trilogy with the tale of how I ended up on the reality TV show, Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta. Yesterday, I was at Romance at Random talking about how I gathered my posse and made it to the show. Today’s post is all about the taping of the show itself! 

The day of the taping dawned. We had to be at the bridal salon at 8am. Bridals by Lori, where the show is filmed, is an actual wedding boutique in Atlanta. TLC sets up their cameras in the store. It’s not on a sound stage or anything. There is a big sign at the front door that says something like, “A TV show is being filmed on these premises and you may be filmed in the background.” Interesting, no?

My posse and I arrived at 8am sharp and quickly realized why we were asked not to wear pink. The background of the interview room is pink so if you wore that color, you’d completely blend into the background and look like a talking head. After a quick wardrobe change for one of my friends, we were asked to sit on the actual couches in the waiting room that you see on the show.

Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta posterFirst, the producer, Alyson, came out and asked us all to sign waivers. Then she asked us all to give up our purses (we would be reunited with them later). Next, they hooked up microphones to our clothing using our belts to keep them in place. Then, the producers took us one-by-one into a tiny little back room for the first set of interviews. The director did the interviews. I introduced myself, she asked me what I expected to get out of the day, things like that.

When I came back out to the waiting area, they told me my consultant would be out soon. The consultant is the person who helps you look for a dress. Having watched the show, I knew I wanted a certain little blonde, southern spitfire named Robin. But they wouldn’t tell me who my consultant would be. The producer merely smiled and said, “You’ll see.” Oh, the suspense!

We all had to sit around and look at each other for a while, during which time they filmed us. This was to get footage they could use later, but it was probably the most awkward part of the entire thing. We smiled and nodded while about four or five camera people and producers stared at us and filmed us. Very odd. But it’s part of the magic!

Moments later, my consultant came through the doors and I screamed, “Robin!” She smiled at me. I’m not sure if she’s gotten such an effusive welcome before. I probably scared her. She later told me I was paired with her because I have dark hair and no southern accent. If I had been a southern blonde, no dice. Apparently, they try to pair the brides with a consultant who is their physical opposite. More interesting info, no?

Next, we traveled up an elevator to the third floor of the building where the dressing rooms and show room are. I was happy to discover that I was to be filmed in the big mirrored room with the runway. Yay!

The producer and director pointed to the rooms where all the gorgeous wedding dresses hung. “What’s your budget?” they asked. Again, having watched the show, I knew that the lowest price was around $2,000. The producers had told me that I did not have to buy any of the dresses. I was under no obligation. That sounded good to me because I wasn’t about to spend $2,000 on a dress!

They were happy to help me stay in budget. “Don’t go in there!” they said, pointing to the biggest, fanciest, designer dress room. “Or there or there,” they continued, pointing at others nearby. “To stick to your budget, you want to go there, there, and there.” They pointed out the less expensive rooms. “And over there,” they said, “is the half price room.”

What? What? What? Half price? Bargain shopping? Now you’re talking!

“Those dresses are sold as is but they’re all 50% off,” they said.

Half price? Music to my ears. Guess which room I headed for first?

The producers explained to my friends that they should look through the same rooms (i.e., the cheaper rooms) and pick out anything they thought I’d like. They asked me to choose one person to come with me. I picked my sister, Melanie.

Robin took us straight to the bargain room! She’s so cool! She rifled through some dresses while a camera person and a producer followed us. We had to turn and stand a certain way and repeat things a few times so that it was adequately captured on film. No turning your back to the camera!

Robin pulled out a gorgeous, satin, strapless Monique Lhuillier gown with a peplum. (By the way, I didn’t know what a peplum was until this experience.) 50% off. And no, in case you’re wondering, you don’t get the dress for free, but you do get a discount. We ended our stint in the bargain room with Melanie and I picking out a few dresses too.

The next event was the dressing room filming. I have to say, this is the part that gave me the most pause before I agreed to be on the show. I did NOT want America to see me in my underwear. The horror! A female camera person went with me into the room. Dressing room 10 is the one they use for the show. It’s all set up and staged with props and big enough for three people to fit inside. Okay, so yes, the camera woman saw me in my undies and so did Robin, but otherwise, it was all good. First, I tried on the Monique Lhuillier gown. They gave me heels to wear with it and I got ready to go out for my first showing.

It was around this time that I began to wonder. Where are Lori and Monte, the famous stars of the show? I had yet to see them. Well, when I came out of my dressing room with the first gown on, there they were, sitting in chairs around the corner from the showroom. I was all, “Hiya Lori and Monte!” They waved and said, “Hi, we’ll see you and meet you on the set.” Oh, okay, got it.

I snuck past the opening where my friends, who were all set up on couches in the showroom could see, and hid behind the wall. Then, the director gave the signal and I walked out. The camera person walked backward in front of me. My friends oohed and ahhed over the gown.

It was at this exact instance that I turned immediately into a girl. I was no longer a savvy shopper. “I love it!” I declared! I preened like a shameless little peacock in front of the giant mirrors. They told me to make sure I look into the mirrors (i.e., toward the camera) when I spoke, instead of turning around and looking at my friends. My friends were asked to do the same i.e., speak to me only via the mirror.

Lori and Monte soon appeared and dished a liberal heaping of sass and in the end we all agreed it was a great dress. It fit me perfectly and it was gorgeous, but of course we couldn’t leave after trying on only one gown. So Robin took me back into the dressing room to try another.

I’ll leave the rest of what happened to be discovered if you have a chance to watch the episode when it airs but I’ll just say this. My friend, Candice, was caught with a contraband cellphone and they took it away from her. No pictures on the set. Hee. Hee. Hee.

For more on my journey through reality TV land, join me tomorrow at RT Book Reviews blog where I’ll wrap up with info about Saying Yes to the Dress, when the episode will air and the reveal of my BIG, BIG giveaway!

Have you ever been on a reality TV show before or know anyone who has? Would you do it if you had the chance?

Learn more or order a copy of Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage by Valerie Bowman, out now:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound



Valerie Bowman is an award-winning author who writes Regency-set historical romance novels aka Racy Regency Romps! Valerie's debut novel, Secrets of a Wedding Night, is the first in the Secret Brides series. Book two, Secrets of a Runaway Bride, was released March 26, 2013 and Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage was released Oct 1, 2013. A Secret Proposal, a related novella, was released 1/1/13. And A Secret Affair was released 7/1/2013. The final story in the Secret Brides series, It Happened Under the Mistletoe, A Christmas Novella, will be released 10/29/2013.

Valerie has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a minor in history from Smith College. By day, she is a technical editor at a computer software company. By night, she combines her love of writing, history, and romance to craft stories about people falling in love. Originally from Rantoul, Illinois, Valerie lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her rascally rescue dog, Roo. When she's not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or watching Downton Abbey and Hoarders.

Visit Valerie on the web at

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Maggie Robinson
1. Maggie Robinson
Oh, I love Say Yes to the Dress, whether it's in NY or Atlanta! My youngest daughter is unmarried but in a serious relationship. We'd be perfect for the show since I write romance and the future groom's mom was a Miss Rhode Island and knows her way around a gown. I can see my poor daughter fighting both of us, LOL. Have a wonderful wedding!
Valerie Bowman
2. ValerieBowman
Ooh, Maggie. That sounds like an episode I'd definitely watch!
Jennifer Proffitt
3. JenniferProffitt
Oh my gosh, Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta is my favorite version of this show!! Can't wait to see your episode! Also, the H&H office is right around the corner from Kleinfeld's and I ran into Randy the day I interviewed here--I took it as a sign ;)
Maggie Robinson
4. cheryl c.
It was fun reading this. It was fascinating to hear all the behind-the-scenes info!
Sarah Rosenbarker
7. Sarah R.
UGHH. I won't get to see the episode unless I can watch it from the computer. We don't have cable or dish. Maybe I can sneak over to my parents' house and watch.
Valerie Bowman
8. ValerieBowman
Sarah, I could be wrong but I *think* they show the episodes online at
Ella Quinn
9. EllaQuinn
I make it a point to never watch reality shows, but I'll watch the episode you're on. I'm glad you had so much fun!! Congratulations on your release!! Tweeted.
Marcy Shuler
10. Marcy99
I love this continuing adventure, Valerie. LOL Can you give a hint when this might air yet?
Sandy Xiong
11. paaj
I'm enjoying following this event! I just can't wait to watch it on TV. I don't know any one who had been on a reality TV and I don't think I would ever want to be on one.
Valerie Bowman
13. ValerieBowman
Marcy, The news about the air date (such as it is) will be on RT Book Reviews Blog this afternoon! Thanks for following along. I really appreciate it!
Maggie Robinson
15. Melanie Friedman
Oh how exciting! Congrats on your weding :)
Now I have to 'stalk' you and find out when the show will be aired!
No, I've never been on a reality show, and I'm not a big fan of them either .

Most are too fake and no reality what so ever....just my opinion & preffarance.


Maggie Robinson
16. Natalie Luffer
Say Yes to the Dress has become a recent favorite of mine. It amazes me as my experience was so very different. Of course that was in the '70's and we were both still in school being paid by parents. My mother laughs when she says she had to beg me to choose a wedding cake. However all my demands were met- I just didn't care in choices as much....

YES I was on a reality show when it came time for us to sell our house (37 yrs married)...we were approached by HGTV in Montreal to film the selling of our house for a new show called Buy Me and we agreed.

Filming a Reality is simply filming an unscripted but Directed tv show. It was fun..however I didn't realize the trailers for the film would be edited to show us as villains.....but barring that it lived on for years.
Maggie Robinson
18. Jane Dormen
I found episodes of Say yes to Dress and sharing for you guys ,

Enjoy :)
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