The 'Bridezilla' phenomenon: Why planning a wedding can bring out the worst in couples

Brides can sometimes act of character during the wedding planning process. [Photo: Getty]
Brides can sometimes act of character during the wedding planning process. [Photo: Getty]

The “Bridezilla” is a popular wedding trope we love to hate.

Rarely does a day go by without a bride’s outrageous demands making headlines, from the woman asking her bridesmaids to change their eye colours to another’s request for her wedding guests to book a fortnight off work.

Closer to home, anyone who has ever been close to a future bride or groom knows the – shall we say – ups and downs of the wedding planning process.

But what is it about upcoming nuptials which causes someone to act out of character in the run-up to their wedding – and should we blame them?

Wedding planner Bruce Russell has seen it all, from the bride who slapped her mother across the face on her wedding day to the groom who cancelled his nuptials by text with just three weeks to go before the big day.

While these examples are shocking, a certain degree of “Bridezilla” type behaviour is a natural and understandable process of the process, he explains.

“Planning a wedding is overwhelming. The bride is the person everyone goes to with questions, suggestions, demands, problems.”

What’s more, the pressure of making so many choices at once often get to people – and social media doesn’t help.

“Brides today are inundated with options – online media tells them that they ‘must have a flower wall’ or they ‘can’t have a wedding without this photographer’. There are more choices, more decisions to make, more opinions,” says Russell.

You might often only hear one side of the story, those closest to the bride are often the ones directly contributing to this pressure.

“Many brides confide in me and say that their bridesmaids are driving them made or not being as helpful as they’ve promised to be.

“The people they would normally confide in are now the issue. Everyone has an opinion on what they want to wear, how to wear their hair, which order to walk up the aisle…it all adds to the pressure.”

Couples are also forced to make “business decisions” based on their emotions through the wedding process, he explains.

And while the “Bridezilla” stereotype is more common, many men exhibit “Groomzilla” tendencies too before their weddings, Russell stresses.

“There’s always an element or two of the wedding which is very important to them, and though they might give the appearance of being less involved, that’s not necessarily the case.”

Russell offers his advice on helping loved ones support a soon-to-be married couple during the wedding planning process.

With brides and the people closest to them, I really try to explain at the very beginning that wedding planning can be extremely emotional, and that though their ‘confidants’ can mean well, sometimes it’s a lot to handle.”

Communication is key, and it’s ok for a bride to be honest with them.”

As for planning your own wedding, Bruce is a firm advocation of the three D’s: “Deadlines, Decisions, Details.”

“You have to manage the process, be well organised, and regularly take breaks from it all,” he adds. “It’s all in the planning.”

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