Netflix's new reality series is the perfect alternative to wedding season.

By Isabel Jones
Jun 26, 2020 @ 10:00 am
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The 2020 wedding season has been unofficially canceled for months — hours of awkward small talk and drunken dance routines purged from millions of calendars. But for those still craving that dose of matrimonial bliss, Netflix has the answer. 

Say I Do, the latest sure-to-succeed reality series from the streamer, is the ultimate in wedding planning programs. Each episode introduces a new couple whose unique circumstances have either prevented them from getting married or kept them from having the wedding of their dreams. Enter: interior designer Jeremiah Brent, fashion designer Thai Nguyen, and chef Gabriele Bertaccini. 

The show’s hosts weren’t exactly plucked from obscurity. You may recognize Brent from his HGTV show with husband and fellow interior designer Nate Berkus, Nate & Jeremiah: Save My House (you may also recognize Brent because he bears a striking resemblance to Woody Harrelson in certain lights, but Google has promised me there is no relation). Nguyen has his own fashion line, Thai Nguyen Atelier, which boasts celebrity fans like Jennifer Lopez and Emma Roberts. Bertaccini is the founder and creative director of Phoenix-based catering company Il Tocco Food

The three men plan each couple’s wedding to their specifications — Brent scouts venues and handles decor; Nguyen designs the brides’ dresses and grooms’ suits; Bertaccini curates a menu. Oh, and there are stakes! The entire operation, including the wedding at the end, transpires over the course of a single week. 

Mine will not be the first review to compare Say I Do to another one of Netflix’s lifestyle gems, Queer Eye. And that's hardly a coincidence — the shows have the same creators, who clearly know a winning formula when they land on one. A team of loving and personable gay men (and nonbinary people, in the case of QE’s Jonathan Van Ness) uses their skills to better the lives of others. And, of course, the betterment goes far beyond the actual wedding. We see Brent help a bride learn the truth about a mysterious learning disability that had made her feel stupid her entire life; we watch Nguyen counsel a groom who has long tried to hide his homosexuality. You will laugh! You will cry! It’s not a groundbreaking concept, but it doesn’t need to be. The beauty of Say I Do lies not in its structure, but its execution (which is oh so lovely). 

Netflix

You get to know each couple intimately as their respective episode goes on — and, similar to Queer Eye, you gather personal anecdotes from each of Say I Do’s hosts in the process. The lesson is a familiar but important one: There’s more that unites us than separates us. Bertaccini sets the tone in the very first episode, confiding to a groom about the depressive episode he suffered after learning he was HIV-positive. “The moment you share your stories with other people, it’s really when you connect,” Bertaccini tells the groom, Marcus LaCour. 

Despite an influx of feel-good reality series on basically every platform, it’s still so goddamn nice to see acts of kindness play out on screen. I don’t care if they’re rehearsed or scripted (though I pray they aren’t), I just want to see people be good to each other, preferably in large, maskless groups, unafraid that a hug or handshake will prompt the apocalypse. (And yes, I realize there are people in America currently living in this manner, but ignoring a problem is different than existing without it.) Say I Do offers a double-breasted, tulle-covered, truffle-oil infused fantasy, and that’s exactly what I’m in the market for. 

To be fair, at this point in quarantine I find myself entertained by virtually anything that provides a mental escape. David Spade accidentally invites the wrong woman to a corporate retreat, and quirky hijinks ensue? I’ll bring the popcorn. Teams of families, friends, and youth pastors navigate an obstacle course without touching the floor (BECAUSE IT IS LAVA)? Inject it straight into my veins. But there’s a difference between mindless entertainment and something as genuinely joyful and heartfelt as Say I Do. Admittedly, the formula of personal improvement plus weddings leaves little room for dissatisfaction, but it’s the timing of this release that pushes the show that extra mile, from bingeable to must-see. 

Say I Do will be available to stream on Netflix July 1.