Last night, VH1 aired a beautiful, touching ceremony of love in which two naked adults committed themselves to each other as at least a dozen other naked adults watched in awe. It was the much-anticipated Dating Naked Naked Wedding Special, featuring 27-year-old Ashley and 36-year-old Alika, who first met on an episode of the show. They instantly clicked — she is a sexually free, spirited hippie; he is a “sexual healer,” and much ado is made about his spirit fingers — and decided to do what many people do when they are ready to start a life together: They got married in front of reality show cameras while completely nude.
This should come as no surprise but the naked wedding special is a completely shameless ratings event from VH1. What is a surprise is that, apparently, this wasn’t the network’s doing — rather, it was the couple that came up with the idea. Still, it definitely has VH1’s faux-racy handprints all over it. Neither the bride nor the groom has any friends or family members in attendance, so the guests are made up of former participants from Dating Naked. Where else are you going to find people to attend a naked wedding besides putting out some very questionable Craigslist ads?
It’s a very Reality Show Wedding in that it looks less like a wedding than like another episode of television. In fact, technically, this is only a commitment ceremony; there are no marriage licenses — maybe because these two are too “spiritual” for such things, or maybe because they are aware of the work and money that are involved in divorce proceedings. The wedding amps up the silliness and awkwardness of the dates in a typical Dating Naked episode. There is no rehearsal dinner, but there is group naked yoga, which allows the participants to check each other out while in strange positions. The bride beams about naked yoga, claiming it made everyone take the naked wedding a bit more seriously. Later, instead of a guestbook, everyone paints a mural with their bodies.
The whole wedding is just another excuse for people to hook up if they were unlucky in love during their episode: If at first you don’t succeed in finding a naked date, strip down and try again. One guy with a failed love connection — participants say the word “connection” approximately ten times a minute as they learned to do from other dating competition reality programs — is lucky enough to find another enthusiastic temporary nudist who agrees to go out for drinks once they’re back in Los Angeles. Another couple who got together during their episode breaks up during the wedding because of the guy’s immaturity — after all, this is a very serious naked affair.
The wedding gives us an update on our favorite (?) naked couple from the show’s pilot: Joe and Wee Wee. They actually stayed together and are in a relationship. He even met her mother (clothed, hopefully). But you can’t have a reality show without drama, so when a single contestant literally cartwheels into the wedding and takes an instant liking to Wee Wee, Joe isn’t too happy. He storms away jealous, and she follows to try and make amends. “He’s naked and it’s making me annoyed,” Joe angrily tells her. “Everyone’s naked,” Wee Wee astutely points out. They make up; later, he asks her to move in with him, probably gunning for a nudist spinoff reality show of his own. If nothing else, Dating Naked poses a new spin on an old riddle: If you’re in love but there aren’t reality show cameras around to film it, are you really in love?
The actual wedding/commitment ceremony is just as weird as you’d expect. Everyone sits naked on blankets in a makeshift drum circle as our lucky couple perches in the middle and exchanges terrible, vague vows about not holding each other back. They kiss — and make all of their guests kiss, too — and everyone bangs their drums and goes to party.
The entire thing is, like Dating Naked in general, shameless and ultimately anticlimactic but embarrassingly engaging to viewers. I hate that I’ve watched every episode of this show thus far, paying so much attention that I nodded in recognition when past contestants filed into the wedding, remembering them less by their names than by their blurs. Still, I keep a season pass on my DVR because, well, I’m only human, and I’m easily swayed by anything called Dating Naked. Plus, if we’re being honest? Ashley and Alika seemed actually happy, much happier than most dating show reality contestants. Maybe the joke is on us and the two will have a happy, naked life together. We should be so lucky.