Beware: Bridezilla could be out there

Wedding can reveal bride's worst side

August 22, 2004|By Camilla A. Herrera | Camilla A. Herrera,THE STAMFORD ADVOCATE

Bridezilla: a bride who is greedy, thoughtless and rude, thinks nothing of etiquette and believes her friends and family should cater to all of her desires, no matter how outrageous.

In action:

A woman is asked to be a matron of honor for her best friend's wedding. After buying an expensive gown and shoes, and organizing a bridal shower, the bride tells her that she is too fat and can no longer be part of the bridal party.

A bridal registry department store clerk recalls a bride who asked to insert a note in her registry that read, "The china costs $90 for each place setting. If you are unable to give us at least one full place setting, then please don't give us anything." The note was left out.

Just two of the countless true tales described in Bridezilla: True Tales From Etiquette Hell (Salado Press, $14.95) by Gail Dunson, an etiquette expert and wedding planner, and Jeanne Hamilton, creator of www.etiquettehell.com, the Web site from which many of the book's stories are drawn.

"A wedding can bring out the best in a person, but unfortunately it can also bring out the worst in some," says Dunson, whose pen name is Noe Spaemme. "She is a control freak. She has to nitpick every detail to the point where she has few friends left and forgets to have a good time." Bridezilla has yet to make it into a dictionary, but she is well recognized. Mention her and many laugh and volunteer a tale. A Google search lists more than 11,000 entries, filled with loads of anecdotal evidence.

These anecdotes can serve as examples of bad behavior, says Dunson. But many family members and friends excuse it to give brides a lifelong Cinderella dream, if only for a day. "They are going to be in the spotlight, so they want to control how they look," she says.

Problems begin when brides want to control how everyone else looks, down to the shade of lipstick, length of hair, color of toenail polish, height of a heel and glow of a fake tan.

"I knew a bride that bought two wedding dresses and had her portraits taken in both," says Dunson. "The portraits are scattered around the entryway of the church. She even had photo magnets made up herself.

"We called it `The Purple Wedding.' Everything was purple, including the groomsmen, their boutonnieres. The bridesmaids had purple beads instead of flowers. The punch was purple. Instead of rice, they pulled the purple Goldfish out of the snack bags and threw those on the couple. I thoroughly expected to see Barney come down the aisle singing, `I Love You.'"

How to recognize her

Stories inevitably include warnings.

Beware of bridezilla if a deposit slip or registry card is included in a wedding invitation, or a padlocked cash box is prominently displayed at a bridal shower or reception with signs welcoming contributions.

There is a bridezilla on the premises if she announces the monetary value of a gift, treats her bridal party like dress-up dolls or discusses her wedding plans ad nauseum.

"There was a bride who arrived at her own wedding one hour late, inconveniencing 200 people," says Loretta Stagen of Loretta Stagen Floral Designs in Stamford, Conn. "The church was not air-conditioned and she was having her hair done. I went to pick up the flowers after the ceremony was supposed to have been over and it hadn't started yet." Stagen recalls discussing floral options with the same bride. "She insisted she was going to learn the names of all the flowers, wanted to measure the length of the stems and compare swatches to be sure the colors were identical," she says.

Robert Norman, a Norwalk, Conn., event photographer, thinks momzilla is part of the problem.

"I met with a mom and her daughter, and it was hard to differentiate who was getting married," he writes in an e-mail. "The mom kept talking about what she wanted. The daughter smiled politely and said, `My mother has some very specific things she wants.' I joked and asked who was getting married, and the mom said, `We both are.' I thought that was very telling.

"I just think, in some cases, the mothers want to relive something either they didn't have or wish they had. They obviously want to make it better for their child, but when they take over and answer for the bride, I think it gets a little weird. I guess what's stranger is that the bride would allow that to happen."

It's in the attitude

Disasters are plenty. No bride, after all, should be expected to handle an exploding septic system, a malfunctioning camera, sunburn or food poisoning. But it is how a bride handles calamities that distinguishes her from a bridezilla.

"I went to another wedding where there was a huge thunderstorm and the power went off," says Dunson. "The church was kind of dark. The bride's waiting to go in, but there is no organ music. Someone starts humming `Here Comes the Bride.' Everyone joins and she came down the aisle.

"The reception was outdoors; it was so muddy," she continues. "The bride didn't want to get her dress muddy so she went inside, changed into jeans and joined the party." Norman believes brides should be given some flexibility. After all, some meltdowns can easily be attributed to the normal stress of wedding planning.

The Stamford Advocate is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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