Queer Eye's Bobby Berk Will Marry Three Lucky Couples at N.Y.C. Pride: 'I Jumped Right Onto the Float!'
The design guru opens up about his own surprise wedding and being vulnerable on national TV
The Queer Eye Fab Five have been present for many major milestones in the lives of their heroes — and now, three lucky couples will get to have one of them there for the most important day of their lives.
Design guru Bobby Berk has partnered with ride sharing app Lyft in order to give three lucky couples the wedding of a lifetime, by performing their marriages on the Lyft float during the New York City Pride Parade on June 24. “It’s always been something that I thought would be very special to do,” Berk — whose own wedding was officiated by a close friend — tells PEOPLE about getting to marry the couples. “I always thought it was a very nice, sweet thing to do [for someone] so when Lyft came to me with this idea, I immediately jumped on it.”
He jokingly adds, “Literally. I jumped right onto the float.”
Of course, this is far from Berk’s first experience with a unique wedding: His own big day was entirely a surprise, orchestrated by his now-husband. “I was surprised with a proposal and then before I could even think about planning a wedding, the wedding was happening then as well,” Berk recalls. “He’s very lucky that I said yes. We’ve been together for fourteen years, we’ve been married for six; as soon as it became legal to get married, we got married, so he was pretty confident that I’d say yes.”
“Funny enough, though [the friend who officiated] never sent in the correct paperwork,” he continues. “We found out at the end of the year when we were like, ‘Why did we never receive our marriage certificate?’ that technically we weren’t married. We had to frantically run to the courthouse in downtown New York City to get married before the end of the year to make sure our taxes were filed properly.”
In addition to casually reminding engaged couples everywhere not to forget about the paperwork, Berk has a few words of wisdom for the lucky couples tying the knot on Sunday. (He noted that “in true Queer Eye fashion,” he won’t actually meet them until the day of, “so that the interactions are truly, really, real.”) “My recommendation is to make sure that you’re definitely writing [your vows] for you and your partner-to-be and not for the crowd around you. Make sure that it’s not a show, it’s personal and almost forget that anyone else is around and make sure that those vows are just for your love.”
Since the parade will be attended by millions of people ready to celebrate love and acceptance, Berk’s words of wisdom are especially relevant.
Another reason that Saturday’s weddings mean so much to the Queer Eye star is that the Pride Parade truly is a celebration of love and inclusion. “Personally, I loved that we had a friend do our marriage because I absolutely wouldn’t have wanted somebody from a religious organization performing my wedding, nor would I have wanted it in a religious dwelling. I love the fact that we’re able to marry these couples on a float on the most accepting and inclusive day in the freaking world, you know?”
“And being hosted by a company that’s one of the most inclusive companies out there [makes it better]. They make huge donations to the Human Rights Campaign, they’re all about equality,” Berk said, adding, “Lyft has always promoted inclusion and being friendly to everyone … and I think that’s why I jumped on this chance, because it just really represents me and who I am.”
That idea of inclusion and acceptance has been one of the key ways that Queer Eye viewers have connected to Berk both on social media and in person. “The most overwhelming and rewarding thing about being on the show is really the exact same thing: it’s people’s reactions to the show, and how much the show has really truly touched people’s emotions and changed lives. All day long we get the most beautiful amazing DMs from people just really pouring their hearts out to us with sometimes very sad and dramatic stories that we kind of helped them through,” he confesses, adding, “It’s the most rewarding to know that what we’re trying to put out there really is making a difference but it’s sometimes can become very emotionally overwhelming to read story after story — and not that I’m saying don’t keep them coming, we love them — but it’s hard to respond to all of them.”
And while generally, Berk admits that most people who see him on the street want his opinion on a space (he says that Karamo Brown gets the most emotional interactions in person), a lot of people also want to discuss religion with him. Berk has opened up about his very complicated relationship with organized religion on the show, and the trauma that he has from leaving the church after coming to terms with his sexuality.
“One of the first things I said to ITV and Netlfix when I got cast on this was ‘I’ll dive into any situation you want me to, but it will not be religion. It’s a very touchy subject for me and I don’t want to go there,'” Berk confesses. “And then in season one, with Bobby Camp, we were out in the garden, and we were doing so much for him, and pouring our hearts out to him and I just — as much as I didn’t want to go there, I wanted to know where this guy stands. We were pouring our hearts out, as well as our time and money and I wanted to know if this guy, who seems to be super super religious, I want to know how he feels about us and if he’s just doing this for things, or if he’s really doing this because he has that open heart and mind. So I went there.”
However, things got more serious in the first episode of the show’s second season, when the Fab Five were asked to remodel a church. “In the beginning, I actually refused to do the episode,” he shares. “But at the end of the day, I had a lot of great heart to hearts with the production team and family and friends, and I decided in the end to do it. As you saw, though, I still had my boundaries.”
Berk reveals that none of the reactions on the show are scripted or re-filmed, in order to keep things deeply authentic — for better or for worse. “When I refused to walk into that church, that was real. I had to draw that line to protect myself from probably just having a big old breakdown on national television, I had to have my boundaries. “It didn’t really go over that well with everyone, but I stood my ground.”
When asked if he is ever hesitant about being so open and vulnerable on the show, Berk reveals that he’s not. “In the end, I’m glad that I did [refuse] because it spoke to a lot of people who feel the same way that I do, and went though that pain and who can understand why I did not want to go into that church.”
And Berk is quick to clarify that the authentic reactions you see on the show are a result of the fact that the Fab Five are exactly the same people off-screen as they are on the show.
“We had a dinner interview with a publication and the writer was cracking up, saying, ‘You guys are just as freaking weird and crazy in person as you are on the show,'” Berk recalls, laughing. “We’re like, ‘We’re not acting! We really are like these silly guys who love each other and have a really great time with each other like nobody’s watching, even when millions of people are watching.'”