Happy 2016 everyone!
The new husband and I right after the ball dropped … I’d be totally down with being called the Bride-A-Chu instead of the Bridezilla.
I feel like half my Facebook friends list got engaged over the past week or so which is pretty awesome and I’m super psyched for all the love, joy and excitement that the whole getting married thing has in store for them. I know many of them will be starting (or updating) Pinterest wedding boards, or setting out on a journey through the Interwebs to learn all about how to bring their perfect day together … perfectly. There, amongst these web pages, they may find themselves repeatedly bombarded with tales of a mythical beast that looms at the back of many bride’s minds as they set out to put their plans together. This is a not so blissful part of the wedded bliss that I hope we can eradicate this year …
I’m talking about the wild Bridezilla of course. Some might say she is a legendary beast, not a mythological one. The difference between a legend and a myth for those that are unaware is that a legend is something that is based upon a historical figure or story so there is some truth to it. My problem with that definition is that we are not talking about a particular person or figure … we are broadly applying this term to all (or most) ladies that get married, like the day a ring is placed upon a woman’s finger, she suddenly morphs into some kind of scaly beast whose sole focus becomes alienating her family and friends in the pursuit of the perfect day. I’m not saying that there aren’t scenarios where this happens. There are. I’m saying the problem isn’t just that these ladies have some underlying craziness in them induced by the prospect of a wedding. There are other forces at work there, and as bad as it is for those that do succumb to it, it’s equally (and maybe even more) damaging to those of us who don’t.
A Bridezilla, from what the term conjures up in my mind, is a woman (since the term Bride typically is only applied to women) who becomes extremely controlling in all aspects of her wedding planning process, especially toward those family and friends most closely related to the process. She expects more than is reasonably possible of those who surround her and falls apart at the smallest wrinkle in her wedding plans. To her, nothing going on in the rest of the world is more important than her wedding. She mistreats those around her, and then expects them to be happy and enjoy her company when the big day arrives.
I spent a lot of my wedding planning afraid of the big bad Bridezilla dwelling deep within the darkest depths of my heart. As the wedding approached, I constantly expected her to rear her ugly head, all the while in my own head assuring myself that she didn’t actually exist like that.
I promise my train is not hiding a lizard tail here. Photo by SK Photography
There were little moments here and there when I felt the fire that must be “her” rising in my throat. “She” took the form of minor guest list arguments, some extra emails going back and forth here and there, a little bit of paranoia and the occasional private meltdown between Matt and I on the state of affairs. We were in the process of planning a major event with lots of moving parts, that involved busy people (most of whom work 40+ hours a week and are raising children) and trying to meld two families together that previously had never gotten to spend too much time together. On top of all that we’ve got unrealistic wedding expectations coming from the WIC all over the place that put even more pressure on us.Let’s not even mention the financial aspect of it, which of course, strikes us Broke-Ass Brides even more so than it might others. Of course there were going to be a few tight spots here and there. There were going to be moments of self doubt that come with every new endeavor. And the fear of the Bridezilla exploited that. It got in my head, and fear of becoming one stopped me from approaching a few people here and there whose behavior disappointed me. It made it harder to have tough conversations with vendors at times. I can remember turning to Matt at one point and saying “We’re hiring this person to do a job for us … why am I so worried about what they think of me?”
Don’t get me wrong — this wasn’t the case all the time. My big priorities when it came to the wedding largely related to things that Matt and I had to handle ourselves or being sure that everyone felt comfortable and happy at the wedding and didn’t break the bank to be there. This meant I picked a gown and shoe color for my bridesmaids and then let them do whatever they wanted with everything else because I trusted them to have my best interest at heart (they did!) and come together to make some pretty amazing things happen (again, they did!). I actually was told some bridesmaids took the fact that I didn’t pick a particular shoe for them all to wear as indecisiveness (and instead sent along shoe suggestions whenever I came across something that would fit the color requirements that had a nice price point), but I really just wanted them to be comfortable with whatever they decided upon themselves and helpful in their search. I did my best to pick vendors I knew I could work with and that I did like (psh, I LOVED just about all of my vendors and WISH I had an excuse to keep working with them), so that didn’t really become an issue. And for the most part, we did our very best to acquiesce to any request that didn’t take away from us being able to enjoy the day with our family and friends, especially if it meant a family member or friend wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the day without it.
But here’s thing … Why did I spend so much time worrying about becoming what I described above? None of those behaviors above really related to who I am as a human on a day to day basis. But it’s what happens to all brides, right? It’s something wedding planning just does to you because it’s so rough. This is the problem with the myth of the Bridezilla. These behaviors do not exist just because a wedding is on the horizon. They exist because someone gives in to base behaviors because they are given an excuse to do so. “It’s their day” after all right? I’m a firm believer that it IS your day, but it shouldn’t ruin your relationship with the people you love. One day, no matter how important or beautiful it is, should not be more important than a lifelong relationship. Keep the feelings and circumstances of the people involved in your wedding in mind as best you can (vendors included!). Your wedding might be super important to the people around you, but that doesn’t mean they can drop everything in their life to rush to your side for it.
I’m not saying that’s true of everyone the Bridezilla title is given to. I think I was a chilled out, cool and calm bride but I’m sure some people who were unhappy with my plus-one policy would tell you that I was a total Bridezilla. Others might’ve have found my tone a bit too snappy when explaining my expectations for the day. So where does this disparity come from? It’s all about context and communication. I did my best to help other people understand where I was coming from and what I was doing. Some people have never been involved with planning a wedding before, so they don’t get all the moving pieces to it. The term Bridezilla also takes the place of some of the other negative terms used for women in other contexts that probably would never be applied to a man who was doing the same things (hence the lack of the groom-zilla equivalent).
So how do we fight this? It’s a twofold thing: First as brides, we need to monitor our own behaviors. Are we mistreating the people who love us and want to be there for us? If you are, you need to check yourself before your wreck some pretty important relationships. Marriage is awesome (seriously, best decision I’ve ever made) but I don’t know how great it’d be if I’d pissed off everyone around me leading up to it. Listen to what others have to say and decide if it has value in relation to your goals or not. If not, do your best to let people know where you’re at and hopefully they will be understanding, but don’t sweat it if they don’t. You can’t control what others think. Instead, just do your thing and hopefully in the end, everything will work out for the best. The few people I worried about calling me a Bridezilla at times were the same people that told me how amazing my wedding was when it was all said and done. If you’re not the bride in a situation, do the bride a favor and cut her some slack. Understand she’s dealing with a stressful situation unlike anything she’s dealt with before. Even ladies for whom this isn’t their first wedding are dealing with a totally new situation; every marriage is different and calls for a celebration all its own and has its own challenges. Be there for your lady friends who are getting ready to wed and leave the judgement at the door. To my newly engaged friends out there, I promise to help you stay away from this title at every chance I get.