The term bridezilla is defined on Wikipedia as “a bride whose behaviour is seen as demanding or unreasonable.” There are TV shows about Bridezillas and articles on how to spot bridezilla behaviour. It is a term which is frequently used to describe brides who a forthright and opinionated about their wedding. I became terrified about being branded a “bridezilla”.
While I was wedding planning I also came across a new term, bridechilla. It is a phrase which defines brides who stay calm during the wedding planning process. Those that do not strive for wedding perfection and ditch outdated wedding traditions. This seemed like a pressure in itself to me!
It is believed that the phrase bridezilla came from a 1995 interview by an American columnist with an etiquette expert, who explained that wedding consultants gave the name bridezilla to difficult brides.
This was around the time that the wedding industry was booming, partially due to the internet. Before this, wedding magazines would be the only sources of inspiration. You would choose a local florist, venue and buy your dress from a local wedding dress shop. Now there is an overwhelming volume of wedding inspiration and vendors. There is Pinterest, wedding apps, fairs and blogs, to name a few. You can now view thousands of potential wedding venues and dress styles without even leaving your bed.
The pressure to plan a perfect wedding is now huge and budgets have increased accordingly. The wedding industry is now estimated to be worth $300 billion worldwide and the average wedding now costs £27,000 (£38,000 in London). It is unsurprising that something which can cost the same as a new car and is meant to be perfect, leads to tension and stress.
Yes, there are awful brides who deserve the title, such those as you see on the Bridezilla television program, constantly screaming at their fiancé, sacking bridesmaids and making outrageous demands. However, I have never met anyone who treats people this way or a bride who has turned into a crazed mess.
I have witnessed brides juggle wedding planning, full time jobs, a social life, keeping their family happy and fit in the fitness routine of an olympian! It seems unfair that pressured, busy brides are quickly branded as bridezillas at the slightest sign of a crack.
I found myself fearing the word bridezilla. I would smile, even if I was upset or panicking under the surface, scared of the dreaded term bridezilla. This would surely mean I had failed at wedding planning, either upsetting those closest to me or acting like a completely unreasonable brat.
As an example, the day before the wedding the florist arrived to set up with the wrong flowers and floral arrangements. The beautiful silvery eucalyptus I had fallen in love with and matched the bridesmaid dresses to, was nowhere to be seen. Yet the one flower I expressed an irrational hatred for was absolutely everywhere. She also forgot the garlands with fairy lights that I had been dreaming about. I felt so upset. My hours pinning flower arrangements and attending planning meetings with her had been wasted, notwithstanding all the money we had spent.
Despite my frustrations, I kept repeating that I must not turn into a bridezilla and decided not to express my true feelings. I smiled and tried not to complain. My told my amazing bridesmaids who ran around secretly removing the flower I hated from displays as soon as her back was turned. In hindsight I wish I had turned into a bit of a diva, demanding that she return with the correct arrangements. After all, we had paid for them and I had taken a lot of time explaining to her exactly what I wanted.
I also avoided delegating for fear of being seen as an unreasonable bride, which probably increased my stress levels unnecessarily. My bridesmaids were already planning and paying to attend my hen do. My parents had contributed a large chunk of money towards our reception, which was very generous. I felt it would be a burden to delegate wedding tasks on top of this help, despite receiving numerous offers of help. If I had accepted some of these offers I may have felt less stressed.
I personally hope the label bridechilla doesn’t become a commonplace term in the same way as bridezilla. I fear that, although it has a positive message, it is still a label. The term can create an expectation that you must be a laid back bride at all times, unfazed by wedding planning and not drawn into the shallow world of worrying about ribbon colours or cake flavours. This isn’t necessarily realistic or desirable.
Why should you avoid having an opinion about your own wedding? You may look back and realise that the day wasn’t what you had wanted because you were too scared to speak up. It may also frustrate those around you if you refuse to let your thoughts be known or fail to make decisions.
There will be some brides who are naturally relaxed and those that fixate on the smallest details. Your loved ones will know your personality and won’t expect you to change during the wedding planning process. Do not let these labels make you feel like you must change or react in an unnatural way.
Dealing with wedding stress
The best way to be yourself and reduce the risk of a mental breakdown is to manage the stress of planning.
Here are my tips on how to deal with wedding stress and to make planning as enjoyable as possible:
- Share the planning to do list with your other half. There is a lot to do and sharing the workload will help ease stress and reduce tensions.
- Don’t compare your wedding to others. Every wedding is so different and that is the great thing about it. Focus on making sure your wedding reflects you and your partner.
- Limit Pinterest browsing. I love Pinterest and it can be a great tool to help you establish your wedding theme/styling. But once you have decided on your wedding style, stop browsing! It can only make you doubt yourself or convince you into dozens of stressful DIY projects.
- Accept offers of help. If you are realistic with your expectations and the time frames involved, it can be a great way to reduce the burden.
- Tell others if you are feeling overwhelmed, the most likely outcome is that you will be flooded with support and offers of help.
- Take regular breaks from planning. Go for dinner with your fiancé or cocktails with girlfriends and vow not to talk about the wedding.
- Keep an eye on the budget and try to stick to it. One of the most stressful parts of wedding planning is the huge cost involved, so try to stay on plan.
- Realise that you do have a right to complain to wedding vendors if something is not right. You are a paying customer. Do not be rude, but be assertive and make sure you are getting the service or product you paid for.
- Be honest with everyone about your expectations and be realistic. Be clear with vendors, friends and family, so there can be no misunderstandings. Ask them about their expectations, does your mum want to come to every wedding appointment or does she only want to be involved in certain aspects?
- If you don’t have strong opinions on an aspect of the day, such as colour or style of the bridesmaid dresses, give boundaries or share photos of things you do like.
- If planning the wedding is truly overwhelming then enlist the help of professionals and hire a wedding planner.
I urge you not to fall into the same trap as I did. Try to ignore the bride labels and be yourself. Wedding planning is stressful enough. A lot of time, money and energy will be invested in the wedding, so remember that being opinionated or assertive doesn’t make you a crazy diva.