Of Brides and Zillas

Guest post by channamasala
01 - Bridezilla and Groomera

A while back Offbeat Bride featured an article on why your wedding is tacky…and how that's really OK. A lot of us took that idea to heart, to the point where “don't worry about it, no matter what you do, someone is going to think it's tacky” bandied about on Offbeat Bride Tribe forum. I think that acted as not only a shake to the shoulders to a lot of us (“someone will find it tacky!”) but also as a salve (“…so don't worry about it.”) It hit a nerve in this community of people who are doing things differently, and so are more likely to be judged as ‘tacky' for it.

I'm starting to feel the same way about the term “bridezilla”. It's overused – it is its own cliche at this point – and yet hasn't hit that saturation point where it's acknowledged as being overused (see: Just Not That Into You, He's). How many TV shows, websites, videos, articles, Internet comments (always a bastion of intellectual thought and sensitivity, those are) march out the term “tacky” in a snobbish, “I am so much better than that” way that is just…tacky?

Well, “Bridezilla” is the new tacky.

I began to feel this way months ago, when I was home to visit family, something I get to do only once per year at most. I was in the car with my mother, and we were talking about the general mood and theme for my wedding. She mentioned something I “had” to do – get a professional photographer and make a big thing out of cutting the cake – and some people I “had” to invite. I replied that I wasn't down with that and was going to have a more active role in planning despite geographic distance, and that my fiance and I would have final say over things like this.

“Whatever, Bridezilla,” she shoots back.

Whatever? I saw it as drawing clear, reasonable boundaries and taking a leadership role in something that is ours to lead. She saw a dissonance in my attitude about what she felt we “must” do to be an indicator of a dyspeptic control freak.

Basically, you're a Bridezilla no matter what the hell you do. And this is only true for brides – few would rag on a groom no matter how much of the decision-making is his doing.

If you want a big wedding with all of your family and friends there, and want to be inclusive rather than exclusive, you're a Bridezilla because “you want a huge, overblown wedding” to, I dunno, get presents and show off how much money you spent. If you want a small, intimate wedding with only closest confidantes and immediate family, you're a Bridezilla because you “didn't invite Aunt Clytemnestra who sold your great great uncle a goat in 1923” and you are so stuffy, snobby and exclusive that you'd shun your loved ones.

If you spend a lot of money, you're foolish and immature to want to throw it away on a party that encompasses just one day. Don't you know that you should spend that on a down payment for a house? That's what we grown-ups do, you Bridezilla! If you don't spend a lot of money, whatever you do is…here's that word again: tacky. Are your parents paying? Daddy's Girl Bridezilla! Paying for it yourselves? Too immature to know that there are better uses for that money!

If you want a white dress, you're a Bridezilla who caves to the Wedding Industrial Complex, who “needs” to be married in an overpriced cream satin monstrosity, who is blindly tethered to a false tradition. If you don't want a white dress, you're ‘tacky' and you ‘have no taste' and ‘no sense of tradition'. If you dare to enter a second marriage in a white dress…o, get me my fainting couch and smelling salts!

47 - The awesome cake, with Bridezilla and Groomera on topIf you find that dress and it's a bargain, you're “cheap” and therefore a tacky Bridezilla. If your dream dress is expensive, you're a snobby, spoiled Bridezilla. If you don't get a custom dress, you lack originality, but if you do, you're obsessive and demanding. If you don't care about the dress you're “bitter” but if you do, you're shallow.

What about ceremonies and receptions? If you have a traditional-style setup, you aren't creative. If you do something funky (say, bowling instead of a catered dinner) you're forcing people to partake in activities you like and demanding that they go along. Let's say you do something outlandish, like a skydiving ceremony. Even if that means a lot to you, you're “just doing it to get attention…or even get on TV”. Of course, if your ceremony is religious you're a brainwashed drone, but if it's secular or self-written you're a heathen whose ceremony “is weird and makes no sense” (that's a quote from a family member).

Having a big day to make the most of your milestone? Spendy Bridezilla. Eloping? Bridezilla who feels she needs to go out of town and “get away” from her family, a family that she is hurting so much because they aren't allowed to be there.

It's everywhere, too. My personal pet peeve are comments, mostly online, that rant a bit about this or that Bridezilla thing they hate, and then go on to give “advice” in the form of imperative statements:

  • “Keep it small.”
  • “Don't spend so much on details.”
  • “Use traditional vows.”
  • “Don't try to make it so unique.”
  • “Don't give in to X, Y or Z.”

I don't know what it is about the Internet that allows people to issue orders to the world at large, directed at people they have never met.

Let's not forget that there's an entire TV show that not only uses the Bridezilla as their entire marketing campaign, but even appropriates it as the show's title? And then, in making fun of those brides, twists it around into some kind of dystopian, Orwellian horror where if you want to watch women – always women – acting that way, you are one of those women? Only Bridezillas watch “Bridezillas”, right? Of course. And that's so tacky.

In the end, however, it's all false. The Bridezilla was invented by our collective subconscious – sit down, shut up, behave, or this is what you are. I've seen a similar attitude pop up around the idea of a “nag” and again of a “bitch” – and more recently, even more sadly, “feminist”: a word that should never, ever be derogatory. The very special (Mircea Eliade would call it “sacred”, I think) period of betrothal adds “Bridezilla” to that arsenal of threatening words and serves mostly as a backlash against assertive women. You have to care about your day – the day you tie yourself to a man – but not too much.

None of the above makes you a Bridezilla: arguably the only thing that can get you into that territory is your attitude while planning and executing it. How many people you invite, what kind of dress you wear, whether or not you care about that dress, how you are structuring the day, which vendors you splurge on and what you DIY, where you have it or how you have it – none of that is even remotely Bridezilla material, and yet we as a society like to think that it is.

At its worst it's sexism in an insidious form, the catty women-against-women incarnation.

In real life, how many Bridezillas do you know? I don't know any. People say that Bridezillas are everywhere, but when pressed, few of them can name a personal acquaintance who actually acts like the crazed harpies – and not all of them are crazed or harpies – on Bridezillas, which is, honestly, a compilation of wannabe-actresses and fame seekers participating in a compendium of short fiction.

Under the veneer of Bridezilla, we may find a truly rotten person, but if we really seek the truth, and do so not just to validate our own preconceptions and judgements, we are more likely to find women who are simply trying to plan a big day which society has told them is both very, very important, but at the same time shouldn't be important at all, dealing with the expectations piled on women as well as the expectations of other women on them, their own expectations and those of their families. It's stressful, but behind that stress, even behind that meltdown or temper tantrum, you are likely to find kind, decent, reasonable women who just want people to stop judging.

The point of all this is that there are a few lessons we can take away from the Bridezilla phenomenon.

Unless your attitude is truly heinous, you are not a Bridezilla.

If you are clear about what you want, budget what you feel comfortable with and can afford, and own your decisions, none of those decisions can possibly put you into Bridezilla territory – regardless of whether your dress is white or red, you toast with champagne or don't toast at all, or whether your attendants match, don't match, or don't exist. The only thing that can make you a Bridezilla is how you treat others. So own your decisions and don't be afraid to tell those “Bridezilla” whisperers to cut it out. Like those things – that is, everything – that some people will inevitably find “tacky”, it doesn't matter what you do. Someone will snicker. Feel free to do it anyway. A good phrase to use: “I don't see how [doing X] makes me a Bridezilla.”

You are not a master diplomat, nor are you a politician, and that's OK

You are probably going to crack at some point. You will snap at your mother or piss off an Aunt. You'll annoy your colleagues. People you thought of as friendly acquaintances or close family members will probably whisper “Bridezilla” at least once. You are bound to lose your temper at least once. Unless you have the diplomatic skills of an ambassador to a particularly problem-plagued nation or the smiling veneer of a Senator, it will happen. For whatever reason, humanity (not America, because this is a worldwide phenomenon) has decided that women need to smile and maintain their composure no matter what stresses are piled on them – if you crack and throw a hissy, you're a bitch or a baby. Except you're not. You're human. It's time women forcefully threw off that expectation of perfection, that societal mandate of a fake smile hiding real unhappiness. If you do completely lose it and people start in with the “…such a Bridezilla” talk, you can counter with “No, I am under a lot of stress and I am not perfect. I admit that I lost my temper and I regret it, but weddings are difficult and I am only human. Please don't call me names.”

“You're a Bridezilla” = “You are not submitting enough to what I deem you need to do for your wedding”

Honestly, I've come to see this whole thing as yet another arena where women are pushed into a corner. Smile and submit. If you don't, you're a lizardlike gargantuan monster. The solution is simple: don't. Own your decisions. If people continue to push even after seeing where your line is drawn, don't be afraid to call them on it. “Why are you demanding that I do this?” and “Why is it that all of these demands are piled on me? Please explain why my fiance is not under similar pressure.”

Draw your boundaries and don't be afraid to defend them.

Every advice columnist will tell you likewise. You'll get called a Bridezilla. Don't cave. In fact, push back. “Knowing what I want, being clear about it and sticking to a reasonable decision does not make me a Bridezilla. It makes me mature and capable. Please stop calling me names.” This has become my favorite mantra. It works.

Being assertive, clear and reasonable doesn't mean you shouldn't listen

Hearing out your loved ones' suggestions and incorporating them wherever you feel comfortable is a fine thing to do.

Take the wind out of the Bridezilla phenomenon

. As mentioned above, there are so few real Bridezillas in the world, and those that exist were probably spoiled, demanding or snobby to begin with, and their attitude during wedding planning is merely a reflection of that. So when someone starts up, go ahead and pop that pompous balloon. “Honestly, Aunt Hilda, that's the exception, not the rule. Most brides are just under tremendous and unfair pressure. They're reasonable women who are clear about what they want. Actual Bridezillas are few and far between.”

Only a very few things are genuinely tacky and Bridezilla-ish, and those vary by region

The only thing that is a constant around the world is that a bad attitude is the hallmark of being a Bridezilla, and a tacky one at that. All the others are variable (except thank you cards). In my region, dollar dances, registry cards in invitations, honeymoon registries, asking for money and open bars are all very tacky. In other areas, they are acceptable. I wouldn't dream of doing any of them, but some couples would. A good way to figure out what etiquette rules you should adhere to is to ask lots of people in our area what they did and draw a general guideline for that. If you mess up, who cares? It's just one day. Gossiping about a faux pas you may have committed after the fact reflects badly on the gossiper – it's poor form around the world to harp on another's mistakes long after they're made. A kind person would let it go.

We as a society are so obsessed with Bridezillas because, let's face it, weddings are larger than life.

They are symbolic – they are supposed to be a reflection of you, except bigger, more public, more theatrical and more expensive. And…they're supposed to be palatable to all in attendance. Every person has a bit of the sacred and the profane in their nature, and weddings are only supposed to celebrate the sacred; that which is acceptable and loveable to your parents, grandparents, extended family, friends, officiant, caterer and everyone else. As such, if you dare to incorporate something they don't like and have trouble accepting, if you let a little bit of that profane side of you sneak in – the profane side being the more fun, unique you in so many cases – the Bridezilla whispers start.

What's more, weddings reflect mostly on the bride. The groom gets a free pass, because weddings have become such a feminine thing. They used to be family affairs – you might not have even gotten to choose who you married, let alone what you wore and who attended – but when they stopped being about politics and started being about love, they also became more feminine. As such, all of this great symbolism and “This is YOU, except bigger than YOU, on stage, and we as the audience all get to vote like in American Idol whether we approve of not” is heaved on one set of shoulders. And of course, we all have an id, an ego or a superego (whatever you may think of Freud). The ego accepts the invitation and the superego congratulates the bride, but that nasty id is lurking in the background, full of expectation and judgement, waiting to pounce, whether the prey deserves it or not.

There is no solution to this as yet, except to set appropriate expectations and boundaries, and to have reasonable expectations of yourself…and hope that we, as brides (and grooms) who may have children who may become brides and grooms, can change things and put Bridezilla to rest.

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Comments on Of Brides and Zillas

  1. YES YES YES. I sooo remember this from my own wedding. This should be a manifesto.

  2. You said so much good stuff in this post, that I'm really not sure where to begin. Except maybe that I wish I had found you when I was planning my 2008 wedding. I think the thing that appalls me the most is what you pointed out about the Internet, for some reason, giving women license to issue etiquette directives at each other about what is and is not done. Especially in forums; they are the worst and so mean.

    Thank you for giving voice the the most important thing about your wedding day: that it is about you and your partner, and that figuring out what is right for you, in whatever way you want to commemorate and celebrate, is the right thing to do. Cheers!

  3. This is something that truly needed to be said.

    Me and my husband are going to renew our vows this year after 5 years of marriage (since we got married downtown when we did) and wanted to have immediate family attend. Everyone said we are wasting our money on something "that doesn't need to be done. Your married already." and no one wanted to be apart of it. That hurt our feelings and what made it worse is basically they said I was being a "bridezilla" to have a "wedding" that I never had – and that we are immature for spending X-amount of money on this.

    Suffice to say me and my hubby thought about it and decided to do it for just the two of us.

    It is a sad thing that just because we want to celebrate our marriage, something so derogatory has to be said.

  4. This is an article I will no doubt come back to for strength! Although we are not even engaged yet, my boyfriend and I have some very "non traditional" ideas about what we want to do when we get married, and some have already voiced their negative opinions of it. When I expressed that he and I are not dancers, and we probably would not be hiring a DJ one of my friends promptly put me in my place by telling me that I was being selfish and should really think of the guests and that no one was going to want to come to reception if it was going to be boring. Funny thing is, I was kind of hoping that anyone who wanted to share in our happiness would join us regardless of what entertainment is or isn't available. It's not so much as me being a Bridezilla- in- waiting as it is me realizing that I want to be happy and comfortable on my wedding day and that there's no point in spending money on something I'm not going to enjoy.

    • My sister said the same thing to me, that my board games idea was "tacky" and people will want to dance even though I don't want to. Bleh.

    • I went to a wedding with no DJ a couple of months ago – a wedding that was featured here on OBB in fact 🙂 It was excellent! After dinner we all played games and chatted, it was really fun. You're not boring just becuase you don't want to dance.

    • Well we're not having a DJ. An iPod and sound system are all we're going to use. We don't enjoy dancing, so it seems daft to centre our entire reception around something we both dislike. Exactly as you said- we want to be comfortable on our wedding day, so doing something that's guaranteed to make us uncomfortable seems a silly thing to do! We're doing board games, card games and any other games we think will work instead of having dancing as the focus.

  5. Well said! Thank you for writing this. We recently got engaged, and I have been thinking along these lines. Especially given how diverse our friends and families are, there is no way everyone will be at their ideal wedding when they attend ours. It's odd how nobody thinks they have the right to tell others how to throw a party, but when we add the word 'wedding,' suddenly everyone thinks their opinion is more important than the couple's. And I've heard men called groomzillas before, too, for standing up to their family members.

  6. thank you so much for this article!

    Last week I got called Bridezilla by my future in laws because I asked them for their guest lists addresses and the correct spelling of all of their names. I didnt know what to say, now I do.

  7. I really needed this right now. My mother's favorite comment to anything I discuss with her is "in my day, I didn't care at all about what I wanted for the wedding, I was so laid back. Not like you young girls these days. So fussy."
    Ok, granted she didn't say "bridezilla" but "fussy". I'm tired of being called fussy, and I know that if I wasn't "fussy" I'd get another kick in the pants about not doing enough research to stretch our dollar, or not being prepared enough, or have someone else complain to me about who knows what. And you're completely right, nothing like this is directed at my fiance (who is male,) it is all directed towards me, even if some of the decisions are his.

    Thank you for your article. Two thumbs up from this "fussy" bride.

  8. Fantastic post! I've been lucky in avoiding being called 'bridezilla', but if and when I do I will know what to say now. I'm all for full honesty, but what makes people think it is inappropriate to be so rude normally, but to a bride it is acceptable?

  9. Thank you so much! When I was planning my wedding last year, I was complaining to some coworkers about the "debate" in my family about our decision to have it be adults only. I mentioned something about being seen as a Bridezilla, and one of my friends said "Brides can't stick up for themselves without being called a Bridezilla." And it was SO helpful to hear. I'm sure we upset some people, but we had reasons for doing what we did.

    Also, the money thing. We were very, very blessed as my parents paid for the reception. I cannot tell you how hurt and guilty I'd feel when I'd read comments about how much weddings cost, how pointless it all is, etc. But we decided to have a wedding with all of our loved ones, feed and booze them so we could party late into the night, and that ain't cheap. Plus, NO ONE seems to take into account that a $25k wedding in an urban area is nowhere near a $25k wedding in a smaller, more rural area.

    I think we just need to stop being judgmental of other people, unless they are truly being heinous.

  10. thank you for this, especially this point : At it's worst it's sexism in an insidious form, the catty women-against-women incarnation

    that sums it up perfectly

  11. Honestly, you just made me cry a little. I have been so stressed out about not becoming a "Bridezilla" that it is becoming obsessive! I am generally a happy-go-lucky person, but with school, work, homewok, wedding planning, having a life, etc, I am bound to crack every now and again. I think it is all a matter of perspective: so long as you are polite when you are firm about your decisions, then it doesn't matter.

    Thank you for this article. You have made me breathe a bit easier.

  12. This is awesome! During my wedding planning process last year, my mother called me this ALL the time! She claimed it was a joking/teasing thing, but it really got under my skin, especially since I wasn't doing anything to warrant being called a "bridezilla". My fiance' and I were completely laid back about everything, we just had a vision, and my mom had a separate vision. Therefore, I was a bridezilla.

  13. You have no idea how much this article means to me. I feel like carrying copies of it around with me to hand out when people (hello mom!) question my decisions regarding OUR (not MY…there will be two people present) wedding. You have lifted an enormous amount of weight off my shoulders and maybe…just maybe…I'll get a restful and peaceful night sleep. Thank you so much for putting into words how I've been feeling…as well as encouraging me to have more patience towards my fellow brides.

  14. While no one called me a bridezilla, I gave in to a few things during wedding planning to avoid being perceived as one. It still irks me that I didn't stand up for myself just because of feared perception. I SO could have used these words of wisdom 6 months ago! Bravo!

  15. Thank you. I was feeling so much rage over the whole issue, particularly after witnessing my brother’s affordable affair trash talked to pieces, and now I can truly just smile about the whole thing. Its not me, its not any one.

  16. I really enjoyed reading this article. It gave me such a peace of mind. My wedding is 2 years away, but I'm already having to be firm and lay out my ideas for the wedding. Also, I would hope talking constantly and sharing ideas about your wedding does not make you a bridezilla. I'm always hoping I don't come off as self-obsessed or "bridezilla." I really appreciate you pointing out that you're not a bridezilla based on your preferences whether you want a big party or a small one, whether you want to wear a traditional ivory lace dress or a bright red one.

  17. Thank you so much for this. We all try so hard to create an event that is simultaneously personally meaningful and pleasant for everyone who graces us with their concern and/or presence, and it's amazing that we think it's possible to accomplish that much, no matter the budget! My mom and I are very close, and I'm so lucky to have her around for help and advice, but even with her I've had to have a couple conversations saying "I appreciate your perspective, but [controversial aspect] is important to us, so you can either help me figure out a way to make it happen or not have anything to do with it at all. I'd rather have your help. Thanks for the warnings." The acknowledgment that we have different opinions but that it is my wedding usually gets us on the same page. The trick is to stay even-tempered for as long as possible 🙂

  18. I really needed this. Thank you.

    Just yesterday I was on the phone with a friend. I said I would have called her mother, but my mom had called with a question about the wedding. She replied with, "Oh my god, this is the first time I've talked to you since you got engaged and you're already bringing up the wedding. Bridezilla!" I was completely taken aback…I'm pretty sure she was just apt to apply the term to anyone who was in the process of planning a wedding at all. Still, it really bothered me, especially since my approach to the wedding has been so laid back so far. That'll be the last time I bring up the wedding in front of her unless directly addressed about it.

  19. This is going in my super special sanity check file of awesome articles about weddings. This needs to be plastered on every mainstream (and other) wedding planning site. This could be the bridge between OBB and the Kn*t because we all get it, and it's such a multi-layered issue wrapped up with expectations of gender roles, societal pressure, daughterly roles, local custom, general one-upsmanship, I know best paternalism regarding finances, family pressure regarding family, and the unrelenting need to keep it all together so we don't become "Bridezilla." This is the best discussion yet of why I have despised the Bridezilla term so vehemently. Thank you.

  20. You have no idea how much I needed this article. Thank you. (Standing ovation, a few tears and a great big hug).

  21. I couldn't have said it better! Thank you! I am going to print this out and read it again and again every time I hear the whisper of *Bridezilla!*

  22. Wow, Channamansala–I liked you before, but now I love you!

    I've noticed this trend on OBT and some other places–women getting called "Bridezillas" because they weren't doing what they name-caller felt they should be doing. And the whole thing about femnist being a bad word, that could be a whole different post on its own.

    Sometimes I wonder why, as women, so many of us are so hard on ourselves and each other–we're all in the same boat. And for the record, I have only encountered 1 bridezilla in my life–my stepmother–and as you said, she IS a shrieking harpy in real life.

  23. Wow, Channamansala–I liked you before, but now I love you!

    I've noticed this trend on OBT and some other places–women getting called "Bridezillas" because they weren't doing what they name-caller felt they should be doing. And the whole thing about femnist being a bad word, that could be a whole different post on its own.

    Sometimes I wonder why, as women, so many of us are so hard on ourselves and each other–we're all in the same boat. And for the record, I have only encountered 1 bridezilla in my life–my stepmother–and as you said, she IS a shrieking harpy in real life.

  24. This is awesome! Fundamentally, I feel that the term "Bridezilla" or "-zilla" in general has become a euphemism for "bitch," one in particular that has to do with weddings. It is another example of blatant sexism that people seem to buy into easily. If this were any other situation where a woman was to express her thoughts or desires in any fashion, especially assertively, she'd easily called a "bitch." But if a wedding is involved she's a bridezilla, preggozilla if she's pregnant, babyzilla if she has a baby, or even momzilla if she has kiddos.

  25. Thank you so much for writing this and addressing these issues.
    I REALLY appreciate it, because I had my share of dealing with this too and it was so disheartening. It's so nice to see I am not alone with having such experiences.

  26. How true!!! I’ve been harrassed for not being enthusiastic enough when I discuss my wedding, and I’ve been called bridezilla for expressing an opinion!

    After my wedding I want to see my friends and family as a support network, but they certainly don’t seem to be auditioning for that during my engagement. It’s really disheartening to feel disaffected from the people I love and respect and who love me. In the whole context of “a wedding is a joyous occasion” people really to their best to suck the joy out of it.

    Since watching two of my best friends walk down the aisle in a state of anxiety, I’ve resolved to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. I’m excited for what the bride wants, whatever that may be. I’m willing to give my time and skills to make things easier for her in whatever way is available to me, whether it’s listening to her vent, constructing her centerpieces at the last minute or running interference between her and a pushy aunt. It’s how I want my friends to act on my wedding day and I’m a big believer in lead by example.

  27. Thank you!!! I thought I was crazy for wanting to do things that were special for my FH and I with the response i have been getting from friends and family. Now I have some "go to" phrases when I feel attacked!

    Thanks again for summing up what so many people are feeling!!!

  28. It's like being the owner of a vagina, and therefore every bad mood is caused by PMS, or being a man therefore not able to give a crap about wedding planning, or a new parent and therefore incompetent with children, or a newlywed and therefore lusty, or a grandparent and therefore doting.
    It's a case of confirmation bias of a generalization. People expect you to be grumpy, needy, controlling and hard-headed, so anytime there's even a slight indication of it, they're like "Oh, here comes the bridezilla!" It's a way for people to rationalize behavior, -isms aside.

  29. I don't know that men get judged less when they get involved. I think that when men have opinions about weddings they get judged even more than when women do (a man who wants pink tulips for centerpieces gets dubbed "gay" pretty quickly). But I do agree that I have never felt more judged than I am now as a bride-to-be. My attitude is "Fuck the haters, they're just jealous." 😀

  30. Thank you SO much for this article. My family is huge and nosy, and likes to push buttons. As a matter of fact, I am NOT looking forward to the wedding just for that reason…. But this is some great advice, that I will definitely remember!

    • I wrote this, Vix, in part because I have a large, button-pushing family too. I love them to bits but damn can they get under one's skin. If I tell them, firmly but I hope politely, to stop insisting that I "must" have things that we by no means need to have to get married (as though the United States won't recognize a marriage that doesn't include a First Dance)…I get called Bridezilla. Still. After all this time.

  31. This is a great article, but I have to disagree with you about how many Bridezillas there are. As a former wedding photographer, I can honestly admit that I've worked with my fair share of these so-called Bridezillas. For me and my fellow photographers, we used this term to describe brides who asserted unbelievable amounts of control of the ceremony & reception. I had one who screamed her lungs out at a Subway employee over the phone b/c her pre-ceremony sandwiches didn't get done as early as she'd hoped (found out later through a 3rd party that said-employee had burst into tears in front of her customers because of the call), and another bride who got into a horrible argument with her mother b/c it had started raining, and as she put it, "It wasn't supposed to rain today! Why is this happening to me?!?" It gets worse for vendors like me who have brides bark orders at us like we're amateurs; one bride got mad at me for how I was setting up the group shots (yeah, I've been doing this for years, I think I deserve a little respect), and another who chewed out a caterer for not putting her cake in the right spot at the reception hall.

    So yeah, you're right that Bridezilla is an overused term and most women do not deserve to be called such, but they do exist.

    • While I don't want to make excuses for ridiculous behavior, I think some of that has to do with the idea that a woman's wedding is this one, super special day that should be PERFECT, absolutely PERFECT. NOTHING can get in the way of this one day I'm going to remember for the rest of my life and never have a single moment like this again!!!!!!1

      No wedding is perfect, at least not in that sense. It poured on my wedding day, but still had the time of my life, even though I didn't get to do my outdoor pictures. Yes, it's a really special day, but that does not equal everything going exactly the way you want it.

    • All true, Alexis. There are women who do that. But I still maintain that those women were of shoddy character with a sick sense of entitlement (that is, they were bitches) before they ever got married and will remain so afterwards.

      It's the trope of the sweet, nice, happy girl who turns into a Bridezilla for her wedding only that needs to be eradicated…it rarely, if ever, happens that way. You can be nice or mean or a little of both, but the entire character of a person almost never changes (I say almost because I'm sure it's happened, I dunno, once or twice) just because of or for a wedding. They only seem like nice girls turned Bridezillas because the Subway clerk and the photographer never met those women before the wedding and will never see them afterwards. If they do, they'd realize that their attitudes probably had nothing to do with the day at hand.

    • I should also note: as was said below, remember, Alexis, that that bride is (probably) not a professional event planner. She may get stressed and snap, and no, she shouldn't do that, but even the pros get stressed out when planning an event…and it's their job! I've seen it happen! To expect a person planning a massive party to remain calm and laid-back at all times is deeply unrealistic.

      • You're right about women who behave like these real Bridezillas were "women of shoddy character" before, and they remain that way afterwards (a majority of these women who behave like this are still pains when they went over their wedding proofs with me and we talked about designing their albums), but I've seen a few women go from sweet & nice to screaming drill sergeants on their wedding day. For a lot of them, I think it's that they want this perfect day and they're too scared to let someone else take the reigns; heck, I even had a bride that was a maid of honor at another wedding I shot, and she took command on that day too!

        From a vendor's POV, the best way to avoid becoming a Bridezilla is to relax, know that some things are out of your control, and if you must, appoint a "Day-Of" coordinator to help move things along so you don't have to bark orders at people. The other thing we ask is that you trust us to do our jobs right: we're in this business for a reason, and we know what we're doing (at least most of us do, I have seen weddings get pretty bad b/c a vendor didn't do their job).

  32. If you are a "bridezilla" then you were an awful person before you were ever engaged.

  33. A very fine essay.
    Though I've had experience with a bridezilla – my sister-in-law. Passive-aggressive to the extreme, she whipped my brother into submission, made my mother cry on many occasions, never thanked my parents for their financial assistance for the wedding, had the gall to say that my parents and I "weren't happy enough" at the ceremony and reception, and ultimately broke my family apart. I haven't talked to my brother in six years, ever since he married his monster.
    Which proves AfterGirl's point, I suppose: if you're a true bridezilla, then it's not just because you're getting married – it's because you just suck as a person.

  34. Fantastic post. Though I can't help but notice it seems to be just a specific case of how it is being a woman in general in modern Western society.

    • I agree completely, lilivati.

      That may be because in Western society there's a huge, deeply entrenched debate about feminism and the changed roles of women (we still have a long way to go, but you've got to admit that we've made a lot of progress)…that for whatever reason has brought out the worst in both genders as the spray each other with vitriol. So put a woman – a young woman who's never been in charge of a formal event before – in charge of something big by community standards and you've got a situation where the worst in sexism can and does come out.

      Add that to the sense of entitlement that seems to have infiltrated our culture…and boom!

      It may also be that in other societies – India and China come to mind because a.) they have their own Wedding Industrial Complexes, massive weddings with even more massive expectations attached to them and b.) I've lived in those countries so I have some familiarity with their wedding practices. In both of those examples, the couples themselves rarely, if ever, have a say in planning, right down to what they wear. You can't call a traditional Indian bride (not all are traditional, not by a long shot) a bridezilla because she has no hand in the planning!

      I should note: I used to work at a company who had an event planner that did this stuff as a part of her job. She was a pro. She had to plan a $100,000 banquet at least once a year. Even SHE got stressed out – and yet we jump on a woman who has never done this before for getting even slightly stressed out. It's sad.

  35. Also, remind people that, in this day of brides, not brides' parents, mostly being the wedding planners, most people planning a wedding have never run anything even remotely this large or this formal. I know the biggest thing I've ever run was a twenty-some person potluck Superbowl party in my basement.

    It's a lot of work, and very few people can get through all of it without stressing out at some point or another.

  36. I think a good, true sign of bridezilla is: have you lost any friends over your wedding? Multiple friends? Are vendors quitting? Are vendors upset with you? If you can answer yes to these questions, you are probably a Bridezilla.

    Otherwise, no need to use that word for someone who wants their way on their day- it is THEIR special day!!!

  37. I don’t know how I missed this post when it first came out – but thank-you, thank-you Channa! I already had a huge amount of respect for your intelligent, well thought-out posts, and that respect just inflated tenfold. Big props.

  38. Thank you so much for writing this!

    I’d recently discovered another website detailing wedding ettiquete and what should/should not be done and even after reading a little bit of it I was feeling overwhelmed with the sheer amount of advice and how contradictory some of it seemed. How am I supposed to know we’re registered at a “good” store, whilst making sure it’s not too expensive? Is the risk of offending people by asking for specific items greater than the risk of offending them by not helping them choose presents? Is it more rude to expect people to pay for their own drinks, or to ‘show off’ how much money you have (had!) by funding the whole bar yourself?

    But going back to it after reading your article I’m seeing it much more clearly as many different people with (sometimes very) different ideas, not a complete guide to be followed to the letter.

  39. Having worked in the floral industry for several years I’ve seen lots and lots of brides and I’m happy to say only a very few have come close to being Bridezillas. Occasionally I have had to deal with brides with extremely specific ideas, or who want to revise and revise and revise their flowers, or who want goldplated orchids on a shoestring budget, but for the most part I have to say Aussie brides are pretty chilled out and down to earth about their big days- good work girls!

    I have to agree that the term BZ is way overused, and is mostly used because people are bitter that it’s not them, angry because they aren’t allowed to be in charge or because they’ve witnesses your one little freakout.

    Having recently walked my younger sister through a mire of “this is how it’s got to be done” it’s clear it’s not easy to say no to people (especially when they think they’re the authority on the event). Write out and practice mantras, pre-verbalise your replies to difficult questions you know you’ll get asked, and rememer, you can always say “thanks, I haven’t decided what I’m going to do for X, I’ll keep your generous offer in mind and I’ll call you if I decide to use that idea”

    Good luck girls- I hope I can be as cool, calm and collected as so many of my brides have been with me 🙂

  40. I just want to say this article says exactly what I have been thinking! Ever since I became a bride to be I have dreaded encountering my first person to call me a bridezilla because I know it will happen. Just like when I was pregnant and was genuinely upset about something with every right to be and everyone just brushed it off as hormones! Of course that made it worse just as I know someone brushing off a valid concern as a bridezilla moment will make this situation worse..

  41. This article made me very aware of what an incredible support system I have. Thank you.

  42. Seriously. Amazing. You rock! And you have given me something to say to certain relatives when they try to push their ideas of what a wedding is on me and the call me a bridezilla when I dont agree. Thank you for giving me the courage to have the wedding my fiance and I want…not the one others think we should have

  43. I saw a bride make her maid of honor cry because the maid of honor wasn’t doing exactly what she wanted how she wanted it (she ordered the MOH to make a scrapbook, a collage, etc). The bride was controlling to begin with, but the wedding brought out the worst in her. I think the term gets thrown around too much and at people who don’t deserve it, but a wedding can be a stressful event for everyone, and for the control freaks, even more so.

  44. Thank you so so much for this article. It gave me tears of joy to read this and realize that so many others are in the same boat as I am. It especially hard in my situation when the person starting the “Bridezilla whispers” is my own sister. The fact that I want my fiancee and my wedding to be layed back and fun instead of staunchly traditional irks her and she has mentioned many times how “tacky” our peacock color scheme is going to look.
    I just wish people would be supportive of decisions the couple makes for their special day. When faced with decisions that I know might not be outstandingly popular with all those in attendance (such as wearing a tea-length dress and having an outdoor ceremony instead of in a ball gown at my church), I keep a phrase that my late grandmother would always say in my heart:
    “Those who matter won’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.”

    • “Those who matter won’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.”
      I wish I had known that saying when planning our wedding! But in the end, those who minded didn’t matter. The day was for my husband & I and we enjoyed our moment.

  45. This was a very good article, as was the one on tackiness. Luckily 99% my friends are artists and musicians so my wedding will only be “So Melissa” to them, but this will really help me to deal with a few certain members of my family. Even though the advice you gave might not always work on people without a sense of reason, only a sense of “I’m always right even if it defies the laws of logic and science.” I think the trick is to try not to care what ever anybody else might think of your wedding as long as you and your spouse enjoy it. Any gripe is a reflection on the griper. My response to most things are just “okay” and “if you say so” because I’m not going to change these people’s minds and I know it no matter what I say. If they think I am a bridezilla, I try not to care. They’re going to think what they want, don’t let it get to you and enjoy yourself.

    Now somebody just has to write an article on how much David Tutera can kiss our behinds. [“You must assimilate! Assimmmilllaaatteeee!!”] lol. These shows exist just like the fashion industry, they capitalize by playing into our insecurities and try to amplify it. If everyone had the cahones to be unique, they wouldn’t have a job. Oh no. The WE channel should be barred in the wedding-planning period (or forever, which ever lol)

  46. absolutely amazing post! I will never call anyone a Bridezilla again (unless they REALLY deserve it! ha!)

  47. We over here think that the show “Bridezillas” has a lot to answer for, because, just as often as not, the woman being painted as a “Bridezilla” is someone who has been thwarted in reaonable expectations (as in “she did not get what she paid for”). The worst offender in this vein was the one about the 2 men who got married – even the man’s husband was so totally opposed to any complaints that the husband actually made him apologize to the coordinator who had visibly failed him. We were disgusted – that may have been when we stopped watching.

    From my own wedding, I have this advice for brides: do it all yourself, & if someone’s not paying for anything, his/her opinion is not necessary. Even if you have to elope. I nearly stopped talking to my own mother after what she did to our wedding.

  48. FREAKING KUDOS TO YOU FOR WRITING THIS THANK YOU!!! The whole elopement thing hit such a nerve for me thank you thank you thank you!!! my FH and i are going to elope and ive been in such a mood that “oh no theyre gonna think i dont care about my family” (i come from a HUGE family)

  49. Well apparently (according to my mother) I’m a bridezilla just because I’m getting married in the first place!

  50. I loved the whole article, bookmarked it before I was even done reading it, but you had me… at the psychology jokes :3

  51. This piece means so much to me! Thank you for writing it.
    I especially like the “you can’t win” section: if you conform you’re brainwashed; if you rebel you’re disrespectful. So lame!

  52. Thank you so much for this article. I am blessed that I have always been a rather “independent” person, so my friends wouldn’t expect me to meet their demands or ideals (at least, I hope not…that is a measure of friendship in my book). My family on the other hand is a bit of a different story. Thank you again for the reminder that we are stressed humans, not perfect angel princesses, which does not automatically condemn us to Bridezilla status.

  53. This is so true! You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. My family does BIG weddings, and there were things that I just was not into when I got married. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on things that were (for me) unnecessary, wanted to scale certain things back. And still three years later, what does my mom refer to me as? You guessed it: a BRIDEZILLA!! (Insert headscratch here…)

  54. I feel like I’m late commenting (only by a few years!) but thank you for this. It’s incredibly important to keep this mind. Thanks

  55. Oh my! I want a fainting couch! I would probably never faint on it though. Still.

  56. Thank you so much for this. I’ve been getting into it this week with my sister and her bridesmaid dress order-or the fact that she never did place her dress order. Now whatever I say or do comes off as demanding and “bridezilla” even though a deadline was missed and now the dress boutique is calling me for answers. I purposely didn’t hound my bridesmaids with reminders in hopes that everyone would be an adult about it and order on their own. Now that they didn’t I become the bad person for having to get onto them about it. Now it’s my fault because I didn’t take into consideration their busy schedules-even though they had seven months to order.

    I know it’s a small detail and in the end won’t even matter but I feel that I’m being walked-on and I can’t stand my ground because I’ll just get brushed off as being pushy.

    I promise I’m not pushy though. I just like to have all my ducks in a row.

  57. Yes! This post encompasses everything I felt during the planning process. It got to the point where any decision I made no matter how small was being labelled. If it was my decision then I was being anal or particular.

  58. After all of the words my eyes scanned and absorbed…I can only say…yes. yes to all of it.

  59. Just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for this article. I was in a terrible argument with my father because he called me a bridezilla (among other things). It just escalated from there – and when I asked him to apologize, he refused because ‘I just don’t feel that guilty.’ It got worse… Then, I sent him this article, in the hopes that someone else’s words would work better than my emotionally charged ones. He sent me an apology a couple of days later. Thank you, thank you. You said it better than I could.

  60. Wow. This is… perfect. Thank you. I have been called a Bride zilla this week coz I want my maids wearing the same colour dress. Not thr same dress, just the same colour. The color my sister wanted. The same sister who sulked because she wanted to be MOH, then decided she didn’t want to do that anymore coz she wants to cater my wedding to save me money. I’m being called Bride zilla because I want my maids to have curly up dos in their hair, and silk flowers, as I wear flowers in my hair most days. This apparently is wrong as the trend “ugly” I’m also a bride zilla coz h2b doesn’t want a church wedding as he is not religious, and I am being Bride zilla for agreeing with him. All leveled at me by the same person. … my sister. Sisterzilla?

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