Michael Lipton
March 08, 2004 12:00 PM

Father of the bride Bruce Coy doesn’t get peeved easily. He remained calm when he discovered that the producers of FOX’s My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé shamelessly fooled his daughter Randi into thinking she could win $500,000 if only she could persuade her family not to walk out of her phony wedding to a pig of a groom named Steve Williams (played by an actor, Steven Bailey). And he was even zen about the fact that his family’s horror was gleefully watched by 21 million TV viewers. Just don’t mess with his little girl. “The one thing that bothered me the most,” says Bruce, “is the people who have second-guessed Randi’s decision to deceive her family for a fortune.” That fortune, after the Coys learned they’d been punk’d on the Feb. 23 finale, turned out to be $1 million (see box). “People say, ‘Why would you hurt your family over money?'” says Bruce, 49, who owns a caulking and adhesive distribution company in Littleton, Colo. “But that wasn’t the point. She loves her family and wanted to do something great for us. She handled herself incredibly well.”

So is all forgiven, then? “I don’t think I ever didn’t for give her, because I know she’s a good person,” says her mom, Cathie, 46, a kindergarten aide. “In the beginning,” says Randi, 24, “it was about the money. But in the end we learned a lot about our family and how close we really are. No matter what we’re doing, even though we’re making the biggest mistake, we stand by each other’s side.”

Even if it took some serious tugging and prodding on the part of Bruce and Cathie to keep Randi’s brothers Patrick, 26, and Bobby, 17, and sister Melanie, 20, from walking out after seeing her dreadful choice of husband. Not that Bruce didn’t have his suspicions all along that something was fishy about these nuptials. “Of all these reality shows, there’s been only one couple that’s gotten married, Trista and Ryan,” he says. “So we thought Steve and Randi were probably doing it for money. We thought they’d get an unbelievable honeymoon and ride it out for six months and then they’d announce a breakup.”

Though the “split” occurred at the altar, it has turned out to be an amicable one. “Steve and I have a good friendship,” says the still-single Randi, who left her job as an elementary school teacher after the series premiered. “I’ve met his wife [Anneliese]. I’ve snuck over to their house and had dinner with them. My dad asked for his number this morning so he can call him.” Meanwhile, perfect strangers have been reaching out to the Coys. “I had a lady come up to me yesterday,” Randi says, “and say, ‘You helped me through my divorce. Your show made me realize what kind of family I want for myself.’ That really meant a lot to me.”

Michael Lipton. Ulrica Wihlborg in Los Angeles

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