Don’t let the beast within make a monstrous mess of your wedding day
If you’ve been to or been involved in enough weddings, you may have experienced a bride from hell—these are the women who bully their bridesmaids, make their mothers cry, piss off their relatives or humiliate the people they’ve hired to serve them. Today we have a convenient and colorful name for such a creature: Bridezilla. She may look like a glamorous vision in white on the outside, but inside she is a monster who will squash anyone standing in the way of her “perfect day.”
According to Dictionary.com, Bridezilla is “a bride-to-be who focuses so much on the event that she becomes difficult and obnoxious.” WE: Women’s Entertainment network is now airing its third season of Bridezillas, chronicling the pre-wedding tyrannies of brides-to-be who are “engaged, enraged and about to be committed.” The 2002 book Bridezillas, True Tales from Etiquette Hell, by Noe Spaemme and Jeanne Hamilton, defines “Bridezilla” as “greedy, pouty, loud, rude, selfish, immature, obnoxious, unreasonable, irrational, spiteful—in short, hardly worthy of the platitude normally given to a bride.”
The book is a compendium of Bridezilla horror stories culled from the online forum Etiquette Hell, and it is an eye-opener for anyone who thinks that hardcore Bridezillas are only a thing of myth or reality TV. For example, we meet the bride who “fired” her maid of honor (after she bought the dress and threw the shower) because she was too fat to be in the wedding. And the bride who specifically picked overweight women and unflattering bridesmaid dresses so she wouldn’t be upstaged by her wedding party. And the bride-to-be who bought a $400 outfit and wore it every day for six weeks so she would look great at any surprise parties held in her honor. Indeed, some of the anecdotes make Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada look like Mother Teresa.
As our mouths gaped at these true tales of wedding selfishness and downright immaturity, we asked, “How can we protect the good citizens of Sacramento from an onslaught of Bridezillas?” Armed with these bad examples of real-life Bridezillas and inspired by our own experience as bridesmaids, brides and unwitting guests, we’ve identified what we believe are the top five ways you can avoid evolving into a bride of monstrous proportions.
1. Remember your bridesmaids are people, too.
Some brides are so obsessed with how their pictures will look, they force bridesmaids to wear unflattering and often expensive dresses and cloned hairstyles, jewelry, makeup and shoes that don’t fit their personal styles. The more enlightened brides we know choose a color and let each bridesmaid pick a dress that fits her own style and budget. Do your bridesmaids a favor and let them pick shoes and dresses they actually like and can wear again, instead of dyed-to-match shoes and teal dresses that will hang in the closet and be mocked or used for a costume party ten years from now. The wedding pictures will look better if everyone in them feels pretty and comfortable.
2. Be grateful, not greedy.
Bridezillas, True Tales from Etiquette Hell recounts one bride and groom who included a bank deposit slip with their wedding invitation, and another couple that registered for very expensive gifts because they planned to return them for store credit toward new furniture. And we personally have received equally nauseating invitations for “greenback receptions,” a supposedly subtle euphemism for saying “Give us money, bitch.” It’s no secret that many couples, especially young ones, covet money over crystal vases and china serving plates. But advertising it this blatantly is a social taboo on par with dating your cousin. Many etiquette experts advise against even including registry information in the wedding shower invitation. If guests want to know where the couple is registered, they say, they will ask. True, the average California wedding now costs nearly $30,000. But if you are banking on your guests to help you meet the cost of your wedding, you might want to re-examine your budget, not exploit your guests.
3. Over communicate
Surprisingly, the WE: Women’s Entertainment Web site offers some practical and useful anti-Bridezilla advice, including an admonishment to keep an open line of communication with both sets of parents, your fiancé and anyone else involved in paying for or planning the wedding. “No one should be expected to pay for something they don’t approve of, yet it’s important that the wedding be yours. Keep disagreements from escalating by remaining calm, respectful and kind,” it says. We’ll just hope the brides on the show never read this—an accommodating bride would hardly make for good reality TV.
4. Spare us the details
So you found a great pair of flip-flops to wear during the reception, you’ve decided to walk down the aisle to Trumpet Voluntary and your bouquet will contain rare Japanese orchids that only bloom once every 18 years. Great. That sound you hear is our eyes rolling into the backs of our heads. This is the type of minutiae that only your bridal party and your mom care about—and even they might be feigning interest to be nice. The point is, please don’t overload the rest of the world with the minor details of your wedding plans. What may be the biggest day of your life is still just a distant event on our calendars. Besides, we want to be pleasantly surprised by your music selections and charmed by your personal touches—not be bored to tears because we already knew what to expect.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff
In 10 years, when you’re carting the kids to soccer practice, volunteering for the PTA and deciding what color to repaint your house, will you or anyone else remember that your bridesmaids weren’t all wearing the same shade of red nail polish on your wedding day? Doubtful. But if you were a raving lunatic who threw a fit at your reception because the cake was chocolate instead of German chocolate, your friends and relatives will never look at you the same again, if they look at you at all. Bridezilla: True Tales from Etiquette Hell recounts the tale of one bride who was so obsessed with how her pictures would look that she ordered her brother to have a mole surgically removed, prohibited anyone from coloring or cutting their hair, and told a bridesmaid to visit a dermatologist because she had a pimple. Lots of women have a fairy-tale vision of what their wedding will be like, and they often throw common sense and objectivity out the window to realize it. The un-Bridezilla knows that she is getting married and starting a life with her husband, not just planning a wedding. And if something goes wrong, she’ll improvise, not sprout a reptilian tail and horns.