Happy endings to two brides’ stories

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First Posted: 3/20/2015

Dominique Mapes and Catherine “Cat”Stravinski both said “I do” in front of their friends and family — and 1 million other people.

Mapes, married on December 13, 2013, shared her nuptials with viewers of TLC’s hit show, “Four Weddings,” where camera crews follow four brides, documenting their personal wedding styles and traditions. Each bride attends, and judges, the other weddings based on food, dress, venue and overall experience. The winning bride is awarded a luxury honeymoon package.

Mapes and her husband missed out on the first place prize by three points. Although coming in second, Mapes said she and her husband would not change anything about their big day or the experience. She admits, though her husband, Mike, was a little disappointed with the loss.

“He was a bit apprehensive of the show at the beginning,” Mapes said. “However he had a great time and felt like we got ripped off. He defended all the work I put into the wedding and wanted to see it rewarded.”

Mapes, who now lives in Charleston, South Carolina, invited her friends over to watch the show. Her parents, Don and Sherry Cassetori, natives of Exeter, invited their friends over to watch.

“My family told us we got ripped off too,” Mapes said. “They are family, they wanted us to win too.”

“I only watched the episode once,” Mapes said. “I braced myself for any negativity but didn’t get much. The show did use a lot of commentary from myself which was surprising but I was happy with how it turned out.”

Mapes and her husband enjoyed a honeymoon in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Though they are now allowed to openly talk about the show; Mapes admits she is getting tired of telling the same story.

“I would do my wedding over again in a heart beat,” she said. “It was such an amazing day. But to do another show, I’m not sure. It was such a hassle with the scheduling. It is cool to have though.”

Similarly, Stravinski was a bride on TLC’s “Something Borrowed, Something New,” where brides choose between a new, designer dress or a “re-imagined” heirloom. Her heirloom belonged to her mother-in-law, Sally Stravinski, of Mountain Top. The old wedding dress sat in her in-laws attic for 32 years until someone made a joke about wearing the 1980s gown. It was the wise crack that led to the perfect opportunity to get on “Something Borrowed, Something New.”

“I sent the pictures of Cat in the dress to my sisters and nieces, laughing, that she was going to wear the dress for her wedding,” Sally said. “I never thought it would lead to the actual possibility.”

The show’s producers thought the dress, and Stravinski, were perfect. After a four-month process, the network filmed the episode in three days.

“We shopped at Panache Bridal Salon in Beverly Hills,” Stravinski said. “I did the show for the experience of it and it was amazing. I was going to have to buy a wedding dress at some point, so if someone wanted to pay for me and my friends to go cross country for a dress, then why not. I had nothing to lose and only had a great time.”

She lives in Forty Fort with her husband, Mike, who also felt apprehensive about the filming process.

“Mike is very reserved,” Stravinski said. “He is a man of few words. The only time he is on the show is at the wedding and in pictures, but he was very supportive and knew I wanted to do the show with his mom. It was a great bonding experience for her and I.”

Stravinski choose the borrowed dress after host Kelly Nishimoto’s alterations. Nishimoto gave the dress, which originally had a lace-up, front-tie bodice, long lace sleeves and a skirt with tiers of banded lace, a deep neckline and a fit-and-flare shape. It gave Stravinski the sweet and strong balance she wanted on her wedding day.

Both brides are grateful for their experience but are ready to begin their married lives in love — and out of the spotlight.