Why Are We So Obsessed With Bridezilla Stories?

A woman is asking for £30,000 from a bridesmaid for upstaging her? Click.

Bridal party

by Georgia Aspinall |

The conflict between loving the shock and awe of real life ‘bridezilla’ stories and absolutely hating the sexist stereotyping they so often perpetuate is something that never fails to bemuse us here at Grazia. We may despise the way in this term polices women’s behaviour and silences them for fear of being deemed demanding, but at the extreme end of the spectrum, where one’s behaviour is truly, and exceptionally, monstrous, these stories never fail to have us clicking and sharing.

Take one this morning, published as expected by the champion of women that is the Mail Online, where one bride is asking £30,000 of her pregnant bridesmaid after claiming she upstaged her with her ‘vibrant personality’ and attractive husband’. We see the headline screaming at us, we know we’re going to roll our eyes at all the sexist commentary, yet we click anyway – desperate to know what about this bridesmaids ‘vibrant personality’ could have ruined the bride’s big day.

In this example – as I’m sure you’re now dying to know- the bride asked ‘am I the asshole for thinking my bridesmaid owes me for upstaging and ruining my £30+ wedding?’. After detailing how she had planned the wedding for three years, how Anna – her bridesmaid – had gotten married and pregnant in that time and ‘didn’t refrain from showing it off’ on her wedding day, she explains that her friend’s personality has a ‘way of eclipsing everyone around her’.

‘All anyone spoke about or of was Anna's pregnancy and her attractive husband,’ she writes on Reddit under the username Ignoredbride, ‘Even in the line, people were asking about that "electric woman" and of her pregnancy/marriage/life. When they got up to dance, all eyes were on them. Anna's friend ended up hooking up with my brother, outing him as gay and causing a huge scandal.

Leaving the reception halfway through in tears, she states that she couldn’t attend the next morning’s brunch or even look at her wedding pictures without crying and wanting a do-over.

‘I'm not a bridezilla, but this was beyond the pale,’ she continued, ‘It felt like a celebration of Anna's marriage. I'm sorry, but I put so much planning, effort, and money into this while someone that got pregnant without a thought and married spur of the moment reaped the benefits. I honestly feel like Anna owes me a wedding and did all of this as revenge for me offending her years ago. Am I wrong?’

The story has not only been published in national media, but has an upvote rate of 84% and near 1000 comments. Unsurprisingly, everyone is obsessed with debating and sharing just how wild this experience must have been. But why? What is it about bridezilla stories that has us clicking and sharing like no other? Could it be that we all have our own experience to share, be it that wedding WhatsApp group that made us pro-muting all group chats forever more, or that friend of a friend who kicked out of a wedding party for not partaking in the wedding diet?

'I think it's a reflexive thing,' one friend tells me. 'When I see these stories it takes me straight back to being bridesmaid for one of my best friends last year. We'd been close friends for years and I'd always found her so reasonable. I was fascinated by the switch in her personality when it came to her wedding.

'Much like the bride described in this latest viral post, my friend ended up more or less accusing me of breaking my arm on purpose weeks before because I "couldn't stand for all the attention to be on [her]". She kept telling me that everyone else was furious with me and implied that I'd "put myself in danger" by "getting drunk" (this was all completely untrue – actually I'd fallen over on my way to work, at 7.30am). Still, she made me hide my cast in the pictures and scowled at me for the entire day before.'

Perhaps it is because we can all relate to these stories in one way or another. But there could also be a more sinister reason we're drawn to them: an internal sexism trigger, of sorts, that alarms whenever we see behaviour that we both can both reprimand and relate to.

According to Alena Ruggerio, communications professor and author of Media Depictions of Brides, Wives, and Mothers the obsession is two-fold. ‘Western cultures are obsessed with "bridezilla" stories because the combination of capitalism and kyriarchy - the system of interlocking dominations of gender, race, class, and so on,’ she told Grazia, ‘which places unbearable pressure on many brides to effortlessly produce the Instagram-perfect wedding day.

‘If a bride fails to perform under that that pressure with docility and refuses to conceal how impossibly high the wedding standards have been raised, she is disciplined by being labelled a "bridezilla.",’ she continued, ‘She is turned into a spectacle to give voice to a common feminine rage, but to warn other women against any display of it.’

In essence, the pressure that comes with planning such a huge event that - even if you’re not that bothered about marriage itself – is actually pivotal in your life is something we can relate to, yet we relish any woman who acts out mishandling this pressure because of a system that taught us to be palatable for our entire lives.

So, even for women who disdain the sexist stereotyping that comes with the term bridezilla, it’s difficult not to engage in the gossip of bridezilla stories because we are so often taught to critique women who don’t conform to every notion of docility, an insecurity we often face when demanding our own power. Alas, internal sexism strikes again and so continues the hate to love relationship we have with bridezilla stories.

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