Race to the Altar Finale Recap, Part II: Everybody Loves a Wedding
Race to the Altar 9/13/03 Finale Recap, Part II
The Big Day
Fast forward to the view of a golden vista along the coast of Malibu, over which is superimposed a wedding invitation cordially inviting us to the wedding of Susan Lynn Byrom & Coyt Randall Johnston, Jr. A picturesque pan shows us the beautiful outdoor arbor where the ceremony will take place, beneath a gazebo strewn with vines of blue and white flowers. As we watch the guests come in, we see that all our old friends have come back to attend the wedding, i.e. all the old contestants from the show. (We learn Jessica & Scott will marry Oct. 2, 2004, April & Vinny have already married on Sept. 6, 2003).
Lisa Dergan greets us, looking like buttah in what I think is a Versace gown with golden butterfly bodice, and informs us that today’s wedding is being held at a 22 acre compound in Malibu formerly owned by (could you die?) Barbara Streisand. Colin Cowie appears suddenly, as if with ninja stealth, onscreen to give us some of the details for the day. He planned a wedding “in three chapters” to be “formal, yet traditional” as per Susan & Coyt’s specifications; for example, they’ve imported hundreds of blue and white hydrangeas to line the aisles alone, and for the reception, there will be a “classic champagne fountain” poured from a giant Balthazar bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Lisa, who appears practically orgasmic over all the posh details of the wedding, tells Colin, “Everything looks sooo gorgeous” with inordinate alacrity. The big question, however, is whether Susan’s parents will be in attendance.
Chapter 1: Ceremony
To the gentle strains of Lakmes by Delibe, the ceremony begins. Coyt appears in an elegant tuxedo, under the arbor with Baptist minister Reverend Drummer. The wedding party starts the trek down the aisle: first, a friend (Brad) and Coyt’s sister (Abby), on whom we see the very feminine and pretty ice blue chiffon bridesmaids dresses (these were my wedding colors too!) that Susan selected for her bridesmaids, by Watters & Watters. They are followed by Chris & Cindy, whom you might remember were sent home on episode 5, and got married two days later. Apparently, Susan & Coyt felt they’d grown so close to Chris & Cindy during the competition, that they asked them to be in their wedding party. The producers choose a hilarious close-up of April giving Cindy stink-eye as she spots her coming down the aisle. Next is Susan’s friend Carrie escorted by Coyt’s brother-in-law; then Susan’s friend Leah appears with someone who looks for all the world like a tinier, slightly darker version of Coyt, but whom we find out is Coyt’s brother Brandon. Finally, the maid of honor, Susan’s sister Nathalie, comes out on the arm of another Coyt-alike, and just when I think they’ve opened up a Coyt Factory nearby, I learn that this too is one of Coyt’s brothers, the best man, Brett. Here, Colin takes a moment to point out the delicately pretty diamond necklaces and earrings all of the bridesmaids are wearing, and states that each girl is sporting 16 carats of bling around her neck alone (I hope all the girls get to take them home!). Famous designer Martin Katz created the jewelry for the entire wedding party, including the wedding bands for the bride & groom.
Sadly, it turns out that Susan’s parents have, in fact, not shown up to attend the wedding. Coyt’s father, Randall, has volunteered to walk her down the aisle. Susan appears in a gorgeous $20,000 couture gown with it’s own name (“Outstanding”) by a designer whose name I don’t recognize (Rhee Macra?), but truly looks like a fairytale princess bride. Her bling comes in the form of a tasteful teardrop diamond necklace with matching drop earrings.
The reverend first congratulates Coyt for winning this ceremony with his “competitive spirit” but points out that “long before you won a contest, you won the hand and the heart of this lady.” His words are intercut with reaction shots of various contestants, most notably one of Andy looking as if he was made of cold, hard stone. The reverend asks who gives Susan away to be married, and Coyt’s father says, “On behalf of all of us who love her, I do.” Then the ceremony begins with one of my favorite quotes on love, from 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 (“Love is patient, love is kind…” For the full quote, click here:http://www.greatbooks.org/library/re...inthians.shtml ).
After they exchange “I do’s,” Susan & Coyt recite their own personal vows. Coyt concludes his moving and poetic speech by saying “You are an amazing woman, who challenges me, supports me, and always inspires me. So I joyfully take my place, neither in front nor behind you, but beside you. We went on this show to compete for a dream wedding, but I want you to know that you make this my dream wedding.” Susan, choked up with emotion, makes her declaration of love to Coyt, saying, “My most earnest desire is to always be worthy of the unconditional love that you show me. To that end, I give to you my love, my friendship, my heart, and all my quirks…I pledge to you forever, I love you.” You would have to have a charbroiled, blackened lump of coal for a heart to not be reduced to tears by the end of this!
Finally, the rings are exchanged, the bride is kissed, and the reverend formally announces them Mr. & Mrs. as the guests shower them with flower petals.
Chapter 2: Reception
The ceremony was beautiful, but everyone knows the real fun doesn’t start until the reception--you know, when everyone gets stuffed, liquored up and starts acting a plum fool—and even a TV wedding is no exception. At sunset, the guests gather in a covered outdoor dining pavilion with lavish table settings (think embroidered, monogrammed linens, lots of silver, and not a Dixie cup in sight), all based on the plate that Coyt & Susan won during the fountain race from episode 3. Dinner is an Italian menu created by a chef flown out from the East Coast, the wedding cake is a very elegant blue fondant stack of tiered boxes, and the Veuve Clicquot is flowing freely. Lisa asks Colin what everyone’s dying to know--how much did the wedding cost? But he does not name a number and only replies, coyly: “Kaching, kaching, kaching.”
Grace & Robert (set to marry Spring 2004) comment on how classy the wedding has been; Tonya & Andree (whose date is wedding date is Nov. 14, 2003) mention how nice it is to be reunited with the other show contestants, saying they missed everybody. April & Vinny describe the wedding as “exquisite” and that it’s cool to be a part of it.
After dinner, Brett, Coyt’s best man, stands up at the dais to give a toast. What’s a best man speech without one embarrassing faux pas? When Brett mentions the wonderful ability Susan & Coyt have of letting their strengths and weaknesses balance each other out, he cocks his head in the direction of the RttA table, and adds “which might have a few people here resenting you.” Tonya’s gives a look that should warn Brett to watch his back when he’s walking to his car later, and Becca bites her upper lip as if to keep the tears from springing out of her eyes. When Susan’s sister Nathalie, the maid of honor, first stands up to give her toast, I search her face for some resemblance to Susan. When she gets so verklempt she can barely make it through her speech, and her eyes threaten to pop out of her head with emotion, I know for sure these two are related. Coyt’s dad Randall stands up and says that one thing Coyt was happy about is the friends he made from the show. “I have friends all over the country now because of these other contestants.” Finally, good ol’ Ethan stands up to raise an elbow in congratulations of their wedding, and for winning the game. “You earned it,” Ethan says, good-naturedly adding “and this is coming from two people who couldn’t win a game if they fell on it.” “The only game we won was being the oldest,” Carolyn adds. Badum-ching! They’ll be here all week, folks.
In a later interview, Ethan optimistically says that everyone is friends now, and now that the game is done “everybody’s cool about everything.” Carolyn corrects him, saying “Well, some people are cool about everything, I don’t know if everyone’s cool about everything…” Cue ominous music, and a slow motion shot of Cindy wearing her a nasty expression like she just smelled something foul, and Andy gesturing with simian-like hand movements. Ethan mentions that things are especially bad between Cindy & Andy, because until everyone starting watching the show on TV, no one knew that it was Cindy’s remarks that sparked the conflict and eventual ousting of Andy & Becca (to marry Spring 2002). We relive the magic all over again in black & white flashbacks of the Cindy Incident. Andy says that he feels uncomfortable because he “blamed Coyt & Susan for everything that happened to us…but they really weren’t completely at fault.” Cindy makes an incoherent and circuitous defense “They believe that we didn’t play fairly, and for me to be blamed for things that were beyond ridiculous…and I was telling him [Chris] he wanted me to just be mature about it…you know what, I’m going to be immature.” Huh? Andy makes the bold and unequivocal statement that: “What you saw on TV is exactly what happened. And if she’s not happy with the way things unfolded for her, she might need to look within herself. For myself, even when I was the bad guy on the show, that’s how it happened, and I’m happy with that.” Becca agrees, saying, “The camera doesn’t lie.” Cindy deems them a “bunch of fake people”, and then proceeds to do a mocking imitation of them saying the wedding is “so wonderful” and says they’re lying. Andy says they wish only the best for Coyt, Susan, and everyone, and if certain people insist on hating them, then “good riddance”. Cindy declares, “I was so nice throughout the whole show, and it didn’t make a difference. You know what? I’m gonna be a bitch. I’m gonna be a bitch,” as Chris stands next to here, with a look that is a mixture of dread and embarrassment. Chris gets up from the dais and very good-naturedly asks Cindy if she wants to go with him to say hi to the other contestants at the RttA table. Not surprisingly, Cindy refuses, adding “You’re going to be perceived as a JERK.” Chris comes by and gives a toast to his “friends”. Andy & Becca vacillate back and forth between, “It’s all behind us” and “We were mad,” in regards to finding out the role Chris & Cindy played in their elimination. But Chris & Cindy put the whole issue to bed by saying that everyone knows Coyt & Susan were the strongest couple and deserved to win, and Andy & Becca just have to “get over it.”
Chapter 3: Club Johnston
After the cake cutting (during which Susan promises not to shove the cake in Coyt’s face, but promptly proceeds to do) the guests repair to the swanky, clean & modern-looking lounge area with a bar & dance floor that Colin created and dubbed “Club Johnston”. It does actually look like a posh L.A. nightclub, and everyone heads over to shake their groove things.
For their first dance as man & wife, Coyt & Susan had selected the song “Feels Like Home.” As another special surprise, the folks at RttA got the actual recording artist, Chantal Kreviazuk, to come and perform it for them live. My inner softy hijacks my emotions, and I tear up while watching them dance together as Susan mouths the words to Coyt. (I’d never heard this song before, but the lyrics are quite beautiful. Check out the lyrics here: http://www.musicsonglyrics.com/C/Cha...e%20lyrics.htm ) The dance is made all the more poignant by the fact that Susan’s parents disapproved of the type of wedding they wanted so much that they refused to attend--I personally can’t understand how they could have begrudged Susan & Coyt this beautiful moment. Even Coyt himself bursts into tears halfway into the dance.
I then burst into tears of laughter, as the music goes uptempo and there is a segment of Ethan doing the running man with his shoes off! All the guests get down and get funky. Carolyn & Ethan (who will marry on Sept. 27) say that they truly feel they’ve made lifelong friends, for there is no one else in the world that knows what they’ve gone through except for these other 7 couples. Vinny grabs the mike and shouts out that “Coyt’s family rocks!” The rest of the night is a fun-filled blur. Andy catches the garter and re-enacts the very first RttA challenge by yelling, “All day, baby, all day!” Tonya catches the bouquet, and Andree appears to be having the time of his life, saying he doesn’t want to leave, “I want to stay here all night, I want time to stop.” You'd think it was his wedding, the way he was talking.
The night is winding down, and after Coyt & Susan announce their thank you’s on the mic, there is of course one last surprise in store. Lisa announces that America voted to send Susan & Coyt to…the rainforests of Ecuador and on a cruise to the Galapagos Islands (A coda informs us that Tonya & Andree will be going on an 8 day honeymoon in Fiji). They have one last dance to “Time” by Tori Amos—I mean Chantal Whatsername—before leaving in a white Rolls Royce. We see a final montage of all the couples dancing, accompanied by flashbacks to some of their best moments on the show. Coyt & Susan leave in a flurry of tossed flower petals, and the wedding of a lifetime becomes but a memory.
Well, gosh everybody, that’s it for this season of Race to the Altar! Thank you, my three loyal readers, for joining me every week for recaps, and I’ll have to say that as much as all 8 of these couples have each, in their own way, worked their way into my heart, so have you guys become a fond part of my life in these past few weeks. Wishing you all luck & love in whatever you do…SFG.
Questions? Comments? You know what to do…email me at SnowflakeGirl@fansofrealitytv. com