Style Insiders: Get Married

How local show “Get Married” hit the big time
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While it’s fitting that a husband-and-wife team would start a television show called Get Married,
it wasn’t sentiment that prompted Stacie and Dave Francombe to carve
their niche. The CNN alums chose an industry with perpetually high
revenues ($50 billion annually), saw a glut of reality shows therein
but few informational shows, and in three years have turned a local,
Sunday-only broadcast hosted by Q100’s Jenn Hobby into a
five-day-a-week Lifetime program hosted by lifestyle guru Colin Cowie.

The
family business has grown alongside the family unit. Stacie, a former
sports producer, launched her own production company in 1999; Dave
joined her when their first child was born. They added a small staff to
the company, another child to the brood, and by the time they started
their own TV show in 2006 (called Get Married Atlanta in its
first incarnation), they were on to their third kid. “We had a big
launch party at the Fox Theatre and I was nine months pregnant.
Everybody was thinking I was going to deliver at the party,” Stacie
recalls.

Deliver she did. The Get Married platform—a
wedding “infotainment” show that spotlights vendors and interviews
experts, plus a companion website filled with photo galleries and
planning tools—was such a success locally that the Francombes went
national a year later. After a brief stint on the WE network, they
found a home with Lifetime and a host in celebrity party planner David
Tutera. To accommodate the five-day-a-week time slot, the staff
ballooned in size and traded up in digs; in January they moved into an
18,000-square-foot space off Chamblee Tucker Road. It has a green room
and dressing rooms and plenty of breathing room, and now, in the new
season, it has world-famous event designer Colin Cowie.

When
Tutera joined “the dark side” of reality TV, Stacie began scheming to
bring on Cowie, who has worked with the likes of Oprah and Tom Cruise
and whose books she’d worshipped as a bride-to-be. One day she slipped
out to her car and put in the call; a week later she was in New York
hashing out a contract. Now, every weekday morning at 7:30, Cowie and
his cohost, former Bachelorette DeAnna Pappas, dispense
advice on topics such as trimming the budget, choosing linens, and
keeping Bridezilla at bay. Says Cowie, “Normal females become abnormal
the moment that engagement ring goes on their finger. Why? Because most
young brides went to college to study a thousand different subjects,
but very few think, ‘Fresh out of college, I’m going to plan the single
biggest production of my entire life.’ That’s why I enjoy doing this
show.”

ONLINE EXTRA: BUDGET-FRIENDLY TIPS FROM COLIN COWIE

We asked Colin Cowie for the best ways to produce an elegant wedding on a tight budget. Some of his ideas:

There’s
no one single area in a budget. It’s really about going around and
trimming everywhere and being a little bit frugal wherever you can.
Your guest list is the one that counts the most.

DJs [instead of a band] are a big one. Today’s DJs are tomorrow’s rock stars.

Have a Thursday night reception.

Instead
of serving French champagne, have a martini bar. Your guests will have
a wonderful, memorable time; they don’t know what you didn’t serve.

There’s no such thing as too many candles—votive candles, pillar candles, tapered candles.

Take
small vases and pack them abundantly with flowers and disperse them
with bowls of fruit. You can make a very, very rich and abundant look.

Use single flowers in a simple color. It’s much more focused; it’s much more modern.

My
other favorite flower in the whole world that nobody ever tends to use
is the carnation. If you use that flower on its own and use a lot of
it, you get to create a wonderful impact. It’s really an ugly flower
when they mix it on the corner stand with two pieces of baby’s breath
and three odd roses, and it looks like something that should be outside
the funeral gate.

The trend now is cleaner lines, a lot of
simplicity, but then again a lot of attention to detail—for instance a
bead that’s stitched to the back of a napkin.

Serving dinner
family-style is kind of fun, too, because I think there’s a lot less
formality taking place at weddings and a lot more personality showing
through, and I think it’s more about the experience. If we could just
get people to understand—it’s not about impressing people, it’s about
making them feel comfortable and making them feel welcome. When you can
do that, you’ll have a much, much better wedding.

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