My Great Big Live Wedding: It Takes A Village

Lifetime event series My Great Big Live Wedding with David Tutera follows eight deserving couples who work with famed event planner Tutera, culminating with their ceremonies aired live. Adam Reed, CEO of Thinkfactory Media, says it truly takes a village to pull off such an ambitious project.

Series premieres Tuesday, February 5th at 10p.

 

The Decision to Go LIVE

 

At Thinkfactory, we never develop a project around a “live” hook. For us, the potential success of a series hinges completely on a strong concept and format, as well as compelling characters that viewers can invest in. In other words, the project needs to be able to stand on its own – the live component can’t be the only factor that’s making viewers tune in. 

Once all the right pieces are in place, it then becomes a conversation around, “how can we elevate this further?”. That’s where the “live” discussion begins. With any wedding (televised or not), the stakes are extremely high and there are a million things that can go wrong at any moment. Now add to that a celebrity wedding planner (Tutera) who is working around the clock to bring each couple a perfect wedding that’s chock-full of surprises – plus a camera crew and production team that’s capturing every second live, as it happens – and you’ve got quite the rollercoaster ride.

In short, the live element isn’t the ice cream sundae – it’s the cherry on top.

 

Casting the Wedding Maestro & the Most Deserving Couples in America

In the very early stages of development, Gena McCarthy from Lifetime and myself agreed that David Tutera was the host we needed for this show. There’s no one better than Tutera, and he brings a whole new layer of excitement to the project. It’s the type of series he’s always wanted to do, and his enthusiasm shines through in each episode.

Once he was onboard, we cast a wide net in our search for the “most deserving couples in America.” Our team met with so many different future brides and grooms, and a lot of people actually referred us to other couples with incredible stories. In multiple instances, we had different folks pointing us in the same directions, and as a result, we’ve landed on eight amazing couples whose backstories and journeys to the altar are nothing short of remarkable.

 

It Takes a Village

With most cable series, you have a core production team in the trenches, pulling it all together. For a series like My Great Big Live Wedding, it really takes a village. We have three separate teams on the show who need to focus on completely different tasks, all while moving forward in lockstep.

First, we have our producing and showrunning team, which executes the creative vision for the series through every phase of production. Then, we have our “live” team that focuses on pulling off the live broadcast and leading the charge on the night of the wedding. Of course, this team needs to stay aligned with our producing/showrunning team at every turn – in order to seamlessly blend our taped packages with the live broadcast.

And both of those teams need to stay in constant communication with Tutera’s team, as he’s developing and executing his own creative vision for the wedding that needs to mesh with the overarching vision for the series. 

It’s an intricate production, and you need a top-notch crew (which we’re very lucky to have) to pull it off.

 

Capturing the Love Story

While the live wedding broadcast will be the anchor of each episode, this show doesn’t work unless viewers are invested in our couples from the onset. That said, we needed to be surgical about piecing together each couple’s love story – finding the most compelling approach to capturing their history together and their engagement, as well as the massive physical and emotional challenges they’ve overcome on their path to the wedding.

If the audience isn’t emotionally hooked five minutes in, we haven’t done our job.

 

Staying Light on Your Feet 

Of course, it’s absolutely impossible to control everything for a live series. Anything can happen at any given moment, and our team needs to remain nimble and be prepared for every possible scenario. There’s a Plan B, Plan C and Plan D for everything, and even then, you need an experienced team that can improvise in the moment and create an entirely new plan on the spot. It’s what makes live television so great and what keeps viewers tuning in.

As a producer, you just prepare and rehearse like a maniac, knowing that in the end, it all may need to go out the window.

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