Monday, July 20, 2015

FLASHBACK: You Are Cordially Invited to A (Soap) Wedding (Part 1)

When Julie (Susan Seaforth Hayes) and Doug Williams (Bill Hayes)
finally set their wedding date, October 1, 1976, Days of our Lives pulled
out all the stops.  After all, viewers had waited six-and-a-half years to see
them get married.
You Are Cordially Invited to A (Soap) Wedding

The Soap Box
Vol. IV No. 2 February 1979
by Linda Susman

When Julie Anderson and Doug Williams finally set their wedding date, October 1, 1976, Days of our Lives pulled out all the stops. Viewers had agonized through a six-and-a-half-year on-again/off-again love affair that many thought would never end in marriage, so they deserved a gala celebration to repay their patience and loyalty.

NBC invited dedicated fans who could get to the Burbank studio to share in the festivities, and issued an engraved on-air invitation to viewers throughout the country to watch the ceremony on TV. After the taping, the newlyweds, played by Susan and Billy Hayes--who had fallen in love and married while portraying Julie and Doug--appeared at the visitor's patio where guests had watched the taping on monitors. They were showered with rice, then driven back to the soundstage in a limousine. While the new Mr. and Mrs. were meeting the press, guests celebrated with coffee and the three-tiered wedding cake.

When Ellie Harper (Billie Lou Watt) and Stu Bergman (Larry
Haines) married on Search for Tomorrow, well-wishing fans sent
telegrams and gifts to the studio.
While many soap weddings aren't as elaborate or audience-involving, there are few serial happenings that cause as much excitement and attention for the viewing public: When middle-aged Ellie Harper and Stu Bergman (Search for Tomorrow) finally made it down the aisle, well-wishing fans sent telegrams and wedding gifts to the happy couple.

For casts and crews as well, a soap wedding is generally a big event. Often, the large wedding means that actors and actresses who never play scenes together finally meet at the chapel or the reception, like real-life distant relatives. Extras are hired to fill out a few pews in an otherwise sparsely-attended church. Many are family members from out-of-town who are never introduced, and who leave as quickly and quietly as they came.

For the costume, hairstyling and make-up departments, a big soap wedding requires much the same kind of advance planning and hard work as a real-life one, and can bring with it just as many headaches. Aside from selecting an appropriate wedding ensemble, an entire cast must often be outfitted in formal clothing, down to the evening bags, furs, shoes and jewelry. Hair styles and make-up must be coordinated, too, and depending on the location of the ceremony and reception, special sets may have to be built, renovated or decorated.

While the degree of formality and extravagance are determined by the particular storyline and characters involved, some shows seem to have a wedding "formula."

Penny (Julia Duffy) and Jerry Dancy (Jonathan Hogan) had a
lavish wedding along with three-tier wedding cake on The Doctors.
Disputes over money forced Penny to flee to Japan, where Jerry
followed to work out their differences.
On General Hospital, for example, practically every wedding takes place in the hospital chapel. And, what will they do on Edge of Night since Geraldine Whitney Saxon moved out of her mansion? The past few years, everybody in Monticello who had even the most tenuous relationship with the family got married in the living room there. As the World Turns also leans toward the wedding reception at home, although some of the ceremonies do take place in church. And is there a bridge and groom in Oakdale who doesn't make the ceremonial first cut into a wedding cake baked and decorated by Nancy Hughes?

There are numerous references in wedding plan discussions to "calling the caterer," but often what viewers see is little more than a punch-and-cake reception, sometimes with the addition of a tray or two of finger sandwiches. Recently, though, two weddings on All My Children had all the trimmings--and more.

Caroline and Frank Grant had a traditional church ceremony. Sadie Gray, a family friend, came to Pine Valley from Llanview (One Life to Live) to sing a hymn, and the church was filled with lots of family that had come to town for the big day. During the ceremony, Frank's ex-wife Nancy (played by Lisa Wilkingson, his off-screen mate) was outside the church, tempted to interrupt the nuptials with the news that she was carrying his child. At Nick Davis' posh eatery, The Chateau, a private room had been reserved for the reception. There was live music, dancing and a full-course meal eaten at flower-laden tables.

When Erica Kane finally cajoled Tom Cudahy into marrying her a few months ago, she had her heart set on a real "society" bash. Her sometime-cohort Phoebe Tyler, refused to let Erica use her magnificent gardens for the wedding, since her estranged husband, Dr. Charles Tyler, dates Erica's mother. Desperate to make a big splash, Erica prevailed on the good-natured doctor to host the wedding at his private club. An important part of the wedding arrangements for Erica had little to do with flowers or food, though. In order for Tom--a devout Catholic-- to marry her, Erica had to leave her marriage to Jeff Martin annulled, no easy task. Because of bureaucratic red tape, the papers from Washington didn't arrive until moments before the wedding was set to begin. Without the annulment papers in hand, the Catholic priest would have refused to perform the rites.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Check back on Wednesday for You Are Cordially Invited to A (Soap) Wedding (Part 2).

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