I'm Retiring "Bridezilla"

My husband and I were at a party recently, and I found myself in a group of people I had never met before. Pleasantries were exchanged, and the conversation turned to work. Someone asked what I do, and I told her that I’m a wedding planner.

“Have you had any Bridezillas yet?!,” she asked with a curious, knowing grin. “I bet you have some crazy stories to tell.”

“I haven’t, actually. I guess I’m just lucky!” I shrug, excuse myself and move onto another conversation.

This kind of exchange is very common in my life --- nine times out of ten, it’s the first thing people ask me when the learn what I do for a living. I should probably have a better answer for them by now.

I got curious awhile ago about the term “Bridezilla.” I knew that the term existed well before the “reality” show of the same name, but I didn’t know where it came from. So I started researching, and discovered that the first recorded use of the term “Bridezilla” was in 1995 in The Boston Globe. In “Tacky Trips Down the Aisle,” Diane White interviewed author Martha Woodham about what not to do while planning a wedding, and how to avoid “etiquette blunders.” The most surprising thing about the article for me was not the things the Woodham noted as “etiquette blunders” (like having a cash bar, or printing gift information on the invitations), but that when she introduced the term “Bridezilla,” she indicated that the term was coined by wedding planners to describe their most difficult brides. Fast forward 25 years to 2019, and I find myself planning weddings at a time where when the general public hears “wedding planner,” they immediately think “Bridezillas.”

Personally, I find this troubling. When I got married eight years ago, I was terrified of being labeled a “Bridezilla,” so much so that I refused to share the burden of wedding planning with anyone else. Spoiler alert: that didn’t end well. Now as a wedding planner, I work with so many couples who fear this label being assigned to them if they ever dare to share a negative feeling or opinion about something to do with their wedding.

I think it’s time that we throw “Bridezilla” overboard --- the label, that is. Here is why:

It’s Dehumanizing

“Godzilla,” the fictional creature on whom the name “Bridezilla” is based, is a destructive sea monster powered by nuclear radiation. So, when we refer to a person as a “Bridezilla,” we dehumanize her. We strip her of her relatable, human qualities and condense her down into an animalistic shell, unworthy of our empathy and the subject of our judgment. I think it’s safe to say that simplified and inhuman views of people are 1) never helpful and 2) never the whole story. We can do better in 2019.

It’s Sexist & Outdated

The term “Bridezilla” was coined to be about women, and not so surprisingly, it had no male counterpart.

Beyond the fact that “Bridezilla” is a derogatory term targeted at women, it is also sexist in that it represents how our culture generally views weddings as the responsibility primarily of the bride. Wedding vendors often joke about how the groom “just shows up” or that he’s “just in charge of the music.” In short, the message is that the bride plans the wedding, and the groom is just along for the ride. I find this attitude rather antiquated and not at all representative of the couples I have the pleasure of working with every day. Not all women care deeply about planning a wedding, and many men do care deeply about planning a wedding --- and that’s awesome! Every couple is different, and therefore every wedding should be different. Labels like “Bridezilla” discourage couples from finding their own planning style as a pair.

Furthermore, the term “Bridezilla” was coined in 1995, when same-sex marriage was not yet legal. Given the fact that the world of marriage and weddings is finally more diverse and inclusive, it’s time to get rid of terminology that is outdated and non-inclusive. Once again, we can do better in 2019.

It’s Unhelpful

Perhaps my greatest issue with the word “Bridezilla” is that it is enormously unhelpful. Kelsey McKinney wrote a great piece about this in The New York Times, stating that today’s brides are expected to throw a perfectly coordinated, aesthetically and crowd-pleasing wedding “that appear[s] to have occurred miraculously, with zero effort or emotional output on the part of the bride.” In short, brides are expected to impress everyone, but not let anyone see the effort they put in. And how does a bride hide the effort involved in planning a wedding? By doing it all by herself.

I have spent so many hours granting my couples permission to care, permission to express their stress and anxiety, and permission to have an opinion. The looming threat of being labeled a “Bridezilla” has scared so many brides (and grooms) into silence about the things that matter to them and the things that are causing them anxiety. It’s time to lift that threat, and expose this label for what it is: a useless and harmful social construct.

So What Now?

Today, I am making a commitment to be a part of the end of the “Bridezilla” label. The next time someone asks me “if I’ve worked with any Bridezillas,” I’ll explain why I don’t believe in the term anymore and why I’m hoping others will follow suit. If I hear another wedding vendor refer to a client as a “Bridezilla,” I’ll challenge her to reconsider her terminology. If a client refers to herself as “a Bridezilla,” or says “not to be a Bridezilla, but…,” I will stop her and tell her it is OK to have an honest opinion.

If wedding planners created this mess, we can be a part of cleaning it up. Will you join me in dismantling the power of this label? I hope you will.