Why Do We Love To Hate A Bridezilla So Much?

Who doesn't revel in tales of bridal bad behaviour? But let's not judge them too harshly, writes Sophia Money-Coutts


by Sophia Money-Coutts |
Updated on

As we wade deeper into wedding season, the stories about bridezillas only get worse. It is not enough now to merely boss around the bridesmaids and have strong feelings about your hen weekend. You need to be more monstrous.

Just last month, an unnamed bride-to-be went viral after asking the internet how to break the news to the groom that she didn’t want his three-year-old ‘crotch goblin’ to attend. ‘How do I tell my fiancé I don’t want his daughter at our wedding?’ she pondered. ‘I put “no kids” on the invites so I thought he’d get the point, but he keeps mentioning her being there?’

Although even she looks level-headed compared to the bride who recently suggested that one of her bridesmaids have an abortion so her pregnancy didn’t conflict with any pre-wedding dress fittings. The stunned bridesmaid, according to a post she shared on Facebook, skipped the wedding and hasn’t spoken to the bride since – although, on the upside, she now has a bouncing baby girl. I could go on. Heard the one about the bride who tried to sue the florist when it rained on her wedding day? Or the bride who issued an eight-point diktat to her female guests on what they were allowed to wear (floor-length dresses in, ideally, blush or champagne)? Or the one who had a tantrum when her grandmother died on the morning of her big day because Granny’s poor timing ruined the seating plan?

Madness, right? Pure hysteria over one day and a depressing sign of how fixated we’ve become with the white dress and getting perfect pictures for Instagram. Because while those examples are at the extreme end of the spectrum, we’ve all come across our own bridezillas – or perhaps even been one ourselves. ‘Did I look thin enough?’ asked a recently-hitched friend as we looked through her wedding photos. ‘Yes, you looked like a Peperami in a dress,’ I wanted to say, but didn’t. Another friend set up a WhatsApp group specifically to send us detailed pictures of each and every dress she tried on (around 100; fishtail? Trad meringue? Slinky silk number? Strapless tulle?). Then there was the one who suggested that I take three days off work so I could go to her parents’ house ahead of the wedding and help set everything up. And I will never forget the night I sat between two brides at a dinner party who earnestly discussed the colour of their napkin rings – for an hour.

Little wonder, amid all this bridal fever, that wedding-shaming groups have popped up on Facebook. If you’re an unhappy victim of a bridezilla, you too can join the 56,000-and-counting members of the ‘that’s it, I’m wedding shaming’ group and bitch about the cold food or how bad the speeches were. Cheap therapy. And yet, isn’t there a nasty whiff of misogyny to all this? To the relish with which we laugh at women who cry over table arrangements? People across the globe love to snigger at bridezillas (a Chrissy Teigen tweet about a bride who asked for $1,500 from guests for her destination wedding went viral earlier this year), but it’s not necessarily all the bridezilla’s fault.

Adult tears and tantrums are boring, true, but the Victorian ideals that still govern how we think about marriage are enough to drive anyone to unleash the monster within. With the average UK wedding costing more than £17,000*, we live in a world where weddings themselves are practically a religion and, culturally and socially, women are still raised to dream of their ‘big day’. When it rolls around, you’re supposed to have the ‘best day of your life’ or the ‘happiest day ever’, surrounded by your closest family and friends with perfect pictures of the perfect ceremony and the perfect reception, of the perfect speeches and the perfect first dance. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

Anything less is deemed a disaster – and it’s this pressure which turns seemingly normal women (and men, I’m not leaving you out) into tantrumming toddlers who care more about coining the right wedding hashtag than their own mental health. ‘I was a lunatic,’ admits a friend of mine who, in the weeks before her wedding, got drunk over lunch and started crying when we asked her questions about her wedding band. We were making polite conversation; she thought we were taking the piss and decided to ‘get back’ at my then-boyfriend by screaming at him that he was going bald. An awkward afternoon for us all – and one which showed just how much stress she was feeling.

I’m not married and often proclaim that I’m never going to get married. Sometimes I believe this, sometimes I know it’s just a defensive mechanism because I’m single. But part of me does worry that I’d become as obsessed about the napkin rings as friends before me. I don’t mind sticking my hand up and admitting that I may well be quite peeved if a bridesmaid’s hair looked glossier than mine on my big day. And yes, I too could be the sort of woman who lies awake at night worrying about whether to have a cake or a doughnut wall. In truth, our fascination with bridezillas perhaps comes in part from the secret suspicion that we, too, could go there. ‘Given how pressurised planning a wedding is today, it’s perhaps surprising that more brides don’t turn into bridezillas,’ reassures psychologist Jo Hemmings. ‘There’s an inherent conflict of interest between the traditional, archaic view of the demure bride enjoying her most special of days and the more realistic scenario of a bride stressed out by everything.’

Any tips to avoid it? ‘Giving yourself permission to feel overwhelmed helps,’ Jo says, adding that you should remember it’s OK if it’s not perfect. ‘Remind yourself, as often as you need to, not to lose sight of what really matters, which is that you’re celebrating marriage to the man or woman you love.’ Something to remember the next time we hear about a bride losing it over the vol-au-vents..

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