By Mandi Bierly
Updated January 22, 2009 at 08:00 PM EST

I have a habit of discovering cable reality shows long after they premiere. Case in point: WE tv’s My Fair Wedding. I’d heard a couple of friends rave about the show — which involves wedding planner David Tutera popping up three weeks before a bride’s big day and changing/improving everything — but I hadn’t seen it until I got sucked into a Martin Luther King Jr. Day marathon. It really is amazing. For starters, they pick awesome brides with theme weddings(!). So, for example, there’s Mandy, the tattooed Marilyn Monroe impersonator who wants an old Hollywood reception — and spiders on her cake; lovable Wanda, who wants to bring South Beach to a New Jersey ballroom and thinks she’s done it with glowing plastic ice cubes; and Jennifer, who dreams of being a princess for a day, but pronounces the ‘qu’ in etiquette like you do in question.

What’s so wonderful is that while Tutera attempts — and often fails — to hide his dismay at a bride’s bad taste, he really is there to help. It’s not like watching an old Trading Spaces episode where you know that a designer Doug is following his own vision even though common sense says the homeowner will hate it. Tutera’s word is final, but he works with his always likable, appreciative brides to make sure that the couple’s personalities are still represented and that their theme is fully realized — just with some added class. So Mandy is given a voice lesson (and orchestra) so she can perform a song for husband at the reception, where she also gets her spider on a quirky groom’s cake. Wanda’s ballroom is transformed into South Beach with lighting, furniture, and a choreographed first salsa. Jennifer’s wedding is moved to a freakin’ castle and she’s taken to the Disney Bridal salon to try on gowns inspired by the Disney princesses. (No, she doesn’t find out which gown she’ll be wearing down the aisle until she steps into it on her wedding day, but Tutera has to have a little fun.)

I could go on about the virtues of the show, but you need to see it for yourself. WE tells me there’ll be another season 1 marathon airing on Valentine’s Day, starting at 1 p.m. ET. The show will return with new episodes in late summer.