Money Lessons Learned From Reality TV

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — When professional wedding planner Sandy Malone signed on to star in a TLC reality television show called "Wedding Island" filming in Puerto Rico, she was surprised by the number of hours it took to complete a single episode.

"No one tells you that starring in a reality TV show is like taking on another job," Malone told MainStreet. "The show added 40 hours to my work week. As a wedding planner who owns my business, I am already working 60 hours a week."

Malone secured the deal with 495 Productions from a demo that featured her planning a Russian wedding, a gay military police wedding and even a Wiccan wedding that involved casting a circle and calling in the elements.

But Malone isn't complaining about having been a reality TV star; the visibility has raised her business profile and increased interest in her company, Weddings in Vieques.

"Our website crashed after the first episode aired, because so many people visited," she said. "We got 50 hits a second after the first two episodes. We expanded the server space the second week so our website wouldn't crash from the hits."

"Wedding Island" was a non-scripted show that aired in the U.S. last summer, but it didn't involve the fighting that so many other reality TV shows thrive on, such as when Ramona Singer lobbed a glass of wine at Kristin Taekman on Bravo's "Real Housewives of New York."

"I put my foot down the first two weeks of filming," Malone said. "We were filming real clients that had paid me to plan their wedding in Vieques, so I told the production company that we didn't want to be played with in the manner of instigating trouble."

If there was one thing Malone could change about her experience, it would be to ask the network to pay her employees.