What Erika didn’t say as much as she said to me was that she didn’t want to share the cultures at the wedding and preferred to just keep it simple with Mexican decor, food and entertainment. She was not willing to compromise by finding a way to incorporate her future husband’s Samoan background. I found it fascinating how little she knew about the Samoan culture and here she is marrying this wonderful guy James, knowing almost nothing about where he came from. I think she thought once I stepped in she would get a full Mexican wedding.
I loved that when I met her, Erika said to me, “I’m not an emotional girl, I don’t cry,” and I found it wonderful that the wedding process brought out her emotional side. I reminded her that she did cry like her mom because she really was excited and happy about the whole process.
The money dance for Erika really was a sore spot even though I gave her lessons on how to do it. I don’t think she thought she really had to go through with it until her mother-in-law, Sharon, took over planning the wedding, at the wedding, without me knowing (which by the way pissed me off) but I took the reigns back from her and said to Erika, this isn’t a question, this is a demand, this is the money dance. And now it’s not for Sharon, it’s for me.
The fun behind-the scenes: it was a freaking hot day, so even though we weren’t in Mexico, it felt like we could’ve been since it was April and almost 100 degrees. You may not have seen it in the show, but let me tell you we felt it in wedding.
Some of the other things you didn’t see behind the scenes were when I took Erika and James into their bridal suite to change into their money dance garb. James had a little too much to drink and wasn’t happy. He was going to do this when he was the one who wanted to do it in the first place and Erika was embracing something she didn’t want to do but was going to do it anyway, so the roles had flipped. James’s aunt came into the bridal suite and started demanding that certain things be put onto Erika. James’s sister came into the bridal suite and started dressing Erika and then they wanted to oil her up because they wanted her body to shine and Erika began to lose her patience. What you didn’t see was a bride and groom that flipped sides, then got aggravated, then got angry at family members, then became angry at my crew because they were trying to shoot this. So I had to take a very hostile bride and groom, put them on a dance floor and ask them to dance the money dance, which for the record, I would have danced because I would have taken the money; that’s the whole point–you dance, and the guests throw you money (it’s a tradition that takes place in the Samoan culture).
What I learned from the moment I met them to the moment I left them was that you had two strong-headed personalities in this wedding with the bride and groom. Every time I gave a little to one of the cultures, the other seemed a little taken aback. However, in the end, everyone ended up getting everything they wanted, but I’m still not happy that Sharon took over the wedding for 10 minutes. The food was incredible, the entertainment was fantastic and you felt the combination of both cultures at the wedding.