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Wedding Wednesday – Why Do People Tolerate Bridezillas?

I’ve been reading about the bridezillas for years, and I keep asking myself – Why? Why do people put up with some of the things I’ve read?

Bride was 3 hours late to her wedding – why were there still guests there? I cannot imagine any circumstances that would convince me to wait 3 hours.

In one story, a rather broke bridesmaid was trying not to spend too much at a bar. The bride-to-be accused her of ruining her night and threatened to kick her out of the wedding. Why didn’t the BM just walk out and resign from the wedding party?

There were tons of others, but to me, worse than the bride were the people apparently willing to be walked all over. Especially the bridesmaids. Is being in a wedding such a big honor? I’ve only been in one, and all I remember is the expense of it. 0628-18

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  • lkb August 1, 2018, 6:07 am

    Yeah, bridezillas are the worst but I can think of several reasons why the bridal party, family, and guests allow the bad behavior to happen:

    1. Usually the bridal party is meant to be made up of the happy couple’s nearest and dearest. Rightly or wrongly, people put up with a lot of bad behavior from those closest to them, especially realizing the stress of a wedding.

    2. A wedding is a stressful occasion for all involved, especially for brides and MOBs who have swallowed the “IT’s MY DAAAAAY!” hogwash bandied about by such shows as “Say Yes to the Dress” etc. They not only think that it’s all about them, but they also feel like all eyes are on them, adding even more pressure. Some people handle that pressure badly, taking it out on those nearest and dearest.

    3. The bridesmaids have likely already spent a considerable amount of time and money that they can’t get refunded if they walk out now. Also, they may think, “If I just put up with it for just a little while longer, it will all be okay. For the sake of the relationship, let’s just move on.”

    Not saying this thinking is right or wrong….

  • flora August 1, 2018, 6:37 am

    I also think media and advertising add to it. Often movies and tv will make bridezilla behavior seem normal, so people think it’s normal. Stores encourge things like registry information in the invitations in hopes of getting people to spend more money. After a while it just seems normal.

  • staceyizme August 1, 2018, 8:09 am

    I agree that truly bad behavior should not be tolerated. So, yes- guests should leave after a reasonable time, bridesmaids should be careful about agreeing to host expensive events and family members generally should not expect to be subjected to insult in the form of fiscal, emotional and social extortion. Weddings can be stressful. Combining lives, the start of a new family, the requirements of planning and carrying off a large event can ratchet ambient stress up to toxic levels. This can be addressed with clear communication. Parents can specify what amount, if any, they are comfortable giving towards the wedding budget. Couples can choose to focus on sustainable fiscal and social choices. And bridesmaids can throw off the shacoles of unreasonable expectations at any time by just saying “no” in the moment. They can also have a frank discussion of bridal expectations before accepting the “honor” of agreeing to serve.

    • gramma dishes August 1, 2018, 2:21 pm

      I think most young bridesmaids are genuinely happy to serve as an attendant for their best friends, but have no clue as to the financial obligations that pile up unexpectedly. Many end up being very resentful of the bride and groom, especially for huge weddings involving multiple showers, bachelorette party spa weekends, etc. that were not anticipated.
      Most had expected: Buy a dress, stand at the alter, dance at the reception. Done.

      • Agania August 1, 2018, 6:11 pm

        That is all that should be expected of them. I would even quibble at having to pay for the dress. I paid for half of the dress with my 2 bridesmaids and they were formal dresses at a discount warehouse.

        • EchoGirl August 3, 2018, 2:57 am

          I’m still in the very early planning stages, but my tentative plan is to have the bridesmaids pay for raw materials and sew the dresses myself (I sew as a business, so it’s not like I’d be giving them amateur, poorly-made items). It’s a lot less expensive and I don’t have to worry about “but style X doesn’t look good on Bridesmaid A, and Bridesmaid B can’t wear style Z”.

      • staceyizme August 1, 2018, 9:40 pm

        Agreed! If you’re inexperienced with the management of personal finances or the planning of large events and/or somewhat disinclined to pay attention to practical realities because “it’s MY day”/ “I”M the bride”/ “I’m having my DREAM wedding”…. you’re probably going to excuse a lot of poor personal choices due to the “one off theory”. (You only get married once. So- anything can be excused.) It’s a bad theory from which to operate and many friendships and family relationships are strained to the breaking point by the overuse of this and similar ill-conceived dictums. Too bad, because it’s easily prevented with an occasional dose of reality.

  • Kamatari August 1, 2018, 8:26 am

    I think people make themselves the bad guy if the walk out. “I won’t be a good friend if I’m not there for their special day”.

    Like others have said, Brides make their family members be a part and pull the “but we’re FAAAAAAAAAAMILY” line too much.

    I know I won’t handle the stress of planning a wedding well at all (and cry myself to sleep due to the cost), so I’m either going to elope or plan a super small party that isn’t even on the same day. I don’t want or need your presents, I just want us to get together and have fun.

  • Lacey August 1, 2018, 9:27 am

    Completely agree. I think these tendencies were probably always there and just brought to the surface by the stress of wedding planning (stress people like this bring on themselves by wanting something huge and wanting every detail to be perfect). If I were that broke bridesmaid, I would have walked out right then and that would have been the last voluntary interaction I ever had with the bride.

  • JD August 1, 2018, 9:40 am

    I’ve not dealt personally with a bridezilla, but I agree with what lkb says. I have seen some bridezillas in my kids’ circles who returned to normal after the wedding and all was basically well after that, but I’ve seen some relationships ended by the dawning realization that the bride is not the nicest person after all, and by eyes being opened. But all of the bridesmaids, with the exception of one, went through with the wedding, because, I suppose, they realized the wedding will pass soon enough.

    Once a person is deep into the wedding preparation, backing out is really hard, and it can be almost a scandal. Most people, knowing this whole wedding ordeal is temporary, choose to grit their teeth and ride it out.

  • Lerah99 August 1, 2018, 10:06 am

    I think it’s often a case of the bad behavior being increased gradually over time.

    If people were told when they arrived at the church “Hey, the Bride is going to be 3 hours late. FYI” they would leave or go grab lunch. But normally people are being repeatedly told “So sorry! The Bride is running a little late. We should get started in like 15-20 minutes.”

    If Bridesmaids were told up front “Hey, I’d like you to be my bridesmaid. Just so you know, with everything I have planned it’s probably going to cost $5,000 – $8,000 and you’re going to need to take at least a week and a half of vacation time.” MANY would decline.

    But instead it’s like being pecked to death by ducks:
    – I know the bridesmaid dress is $400. But it’s just so perfect.
    – Well, of course everyone needs dyed to match shoes. But it’s only another $150.
    – I’ve always dreamed of having an “Alice in Wonderland / Mad Hatter Tea Party” themed Bridal Shower. If all the bridesmaids chip in $200, we can make it the best shower every!
    – This wedding is so stressful. We should take a “spa weekend” girl’s getaway together for the “Bachelorette Party”.
    – Oh, but you simply must come in 3 days before the wedding. I need your help putting together the centerpieces and favors. But my parent’s house is filled with out of town guests. Maybe one of the other bridesmaids can share a hotel room with you?
    – Of COURSE we need to go out to see the male review the night before!
    – We simply MUST all get matching nails done for the wedding.
    – Oh! While you’re in town we should all go on the Ghost Tour. It will be so much fun.

    No one wants to draw the line in the sand at the first unreasonable request. Because no one wants to be seen as heartless or selfish or a drama queen by making a big deal about things.

    And then it feels like you’ve crossed the Rubicon and come too far to turn back now.

    • ladyv21454 August 1, 2018, 11:36 am

      My answer to all of these would be pretty much the same – “Fine, if you’re paying for it. Otherwise, count me out.”

      • Lerah99 August 2, 2018, 10:08 am

        Current me (at 38) would do exactly that.

        But 20 year old me had a LOT less life experience and didn’t want to be seen as a “bad friend” by refusing to help my friend make her wedding dreams come true.

        And that might be part of it as well.
        If the average bridesmaid was age 35 or older, Bridezillas would get away with a lot less drama.
        But most bridesmaids are in their early 20’s and don’t have the life experience to say “I’m not going to struggle to pay off this debt for the next 4 years just so you can live out some Hollywood fueled fantasy of the ‘Perfect Wedding'”

      • Queen of the Weezils August 2, 2018, 3:27 pm

        One thing to remember is that time is also a resource. The bride can pay for your ghost tour ticket or your nails, but they can’t compensate for that lost time. This is a bigger deal for some than others. When I last served as a bridesmaid – for the most non demanding bride ever – my small duties were easily managed and afforded. In fact, I made considerably more than the bride (who had just graduated from law school with massive student debt), so it was my gift to her to pick up not only my own bridesmaid expenses but also some of hers. As for time, I was able to manage it between my other demands.

        But….. I do not have that kind of time now. Not even close. Some days I barely have time to breathe. If someone wanted me to be a bridesmaid now, especially knowing what goes into it having done it 3 times before, I would lay my time constraints out from the beginning. If that was a problem, they are free to pick someone else.

      • Marozia August 3, 2018, 6:33 am

        I totally agree.

    • LizaJane August 1, 2018, 11:52 am

      This right here. Lerah99 nailed it.

    • CherylAC August 1, 2018, 9:26 pm

      For my bridesmaids, I bought a bolt of material in a color I thought would look good on everyone, found a pattern I liked, and my wedding planner also sewed so she made the dresses. All I asked the MOH and BMs to do was pay for the charge of having the dress made (I paid for the material), be at the rehearsal and wedding and enjoy the reception. No big showers, no spa weekends, no group makeup, hair styling, or nails. The reason I had the dresses made was because I couldn’t see having someone pay hundreds of dollars for a dress that is poorly made and they can only wear once in all likelihood. Heck, I only paid half price for my wedding dress.

      • Lerah99 August 2, 2018, 10:05 am

        @CherylAC,
        That was reasonable.
        And I think MOST brides are reasonable. The Bridezillas get talked about because they are outrageous.

        But the original poster was asking “How can Bridezillas even exist? Who enables them.”

        And having been part of one Bridezilla wedding, I can tell you it was like the frog in the pot.
        Things didn’t go from zero to nightmare overnight. It was a slow trudge from a little demanding, to over the line, to outrageous, to unbelievably crazy.

  • mark132 August 1, 2018, 10:07 am

    This isn’t exclusive to just Bridezillas. People put up with awful behavior from others for things other than weddings. I think you would find people who behave poorly as a bride on average tend to behave this way in other situations. It’s just easier as bride to get away with it.

  • ladyv21454 August 1, 2018, 11:35 am

    I have been fortunate enough to NOT have to deal with any bridezillas when I was a bridesmaid. If the bride is normally a nice person, I might be willing to cut some slack in regards to SOME behavior. However – treating the bridesmaids like servants, asking people to sacrifice money and time for YOUR special day, and causing people to wait more than 15 minutes past the stated start time of the ceremony are all things that would cause me to walk away from the whole proceeding.

  • lakey August 1, 2018, 11:48 am

    I think we need to remember that a lot of this behavior may actually be unusual. I’ve been a bridesmaid in 5 weddings. Admittedly they were a few decades ago. None of the brides behaved like bridezillas and none of them made over the top demands. But even lately with younger people getting married I haven’t heard of most of this kind of behavior.

    I don’t know how anyone could get away with showing up 3 hours late for a wedding or reception, because it would be a problem for many venues. Churches often have more than one wedding scheduled on Saturdays, and frankly I can’t picture a priest waiting around for an hour, much less 3, unless there was a serious emergency.

    I’ve also never been to a wedding or shower where hosts specified that they wanted money, or took up collections for the honeymoon.

    It may be the region of the country I come from or the type of people who made up my extended family. I always resented it when the entertainment industry portrays women of the 1950’s as quiet doormats who did what they were told. I had 11 aunts. They were not the kind to be quiet while they were being taken advantage of. If they had attended weddings where the wedding party showed up more 20 minutes late, or asked for money, they would have complained. My great aunts and grandmother? The idea of anyone keeping them waiting 3 hours is laughable.

    Again, I have 11 sets of aunts and uncles, over 50 first cousins, nephews and nieces, and numerous friends. I’ve attended a lot of weddings. The only inconsiderate thing that happened was one wedding in a park that started 45 minutes late. I really hope that the bridezilla behavior described at this site is unusual.

  • kingsrings August 1, 2018, 11:59 am

    As others have already said, it’s all about attitude and interpretation. It’s mostly the, “It’s my/our day, and whatever we want, whatever we say, goes”. Too many couples have this attitude. So then their wedding party and family put up with everything, fair and ethical or not.

  • Livvy17 August 1, 2018, 2:24 pm

    I think, as others have said, this is generally unusual behavior. In cases where it’s not, the reason is probably the same as why the central figure is a bride/groomzilla in the first place….because those nearest and dearest to them enable them to be.

  • Kimberly Herbert August 1, 2018, 2:31 pm

    You don’t hear about all the perfectly nice couples. Their weddings have problems, but they don’t throw me me me tantrums and at the end of the day they are happily married to the loves of their lives and any hic-ups are funny stories.
    Examples
    My sister’s wedding – the scandal was I, one of the bridesmaids didn’t go on the spa day followed by clubbing. Now I could have gone on the spa day and sat in the corner with a book because for medical reasons I can’t have pedicure, manicure, or a facial. I could have plastered a smile on my face and sat uncomfortably in a club and sis would be worried because she knows how much I HATE that. Instead, I spent the day with our Aunts, Nana, and Mom. Sis was happy, I was happy. (We learned before we left elementary school that the same isn’t equal especially in our cases. We are so different. )

    Cousin C’s wedding the groom’s cake got dropped and smashed in the parking lot. Her sisters and Mom scrabbled behind scenes. The baker provided a new one slightly different than ordered. Honestly, C only knew about it because she wasn’t billed for the groom’s cake and asked why.

    Cousin K’s wedding Then entire reception had to be reorganized because of a little visitor called TS Allison. Catering, set up had to be modified because staff members had more important things to do like dry out their houses. One branch of the family had to leave mid-reception because one of those cousins went into early labor. The baby was born healthy.

    All three couples are still together. They seem just as much in love. They have wonderful high spirited kids.

  • Redblues August 1, 2018, 4:39 pm

    I think the sunk cost fallacy has something to do with it. It tends to happen incrementally, before the victims realize how bad it will get. I also think that abusers choose their victims. I have had one or two exploitative friends over the years. Eventually I reached a breaking point and backed away from the “friendships”. However, plenty of entitled people behave this way all the time because they choose to surround themselves with people who cannot stand up for themselves in those kind of situations. When I ended exploitative relationships, looking back, there was always a clear pattern of abuse that I just did not see for a long time. I have attended weddings where the B&G did some pretty awful stuff, etiquette-wise, because they really did not know any better. It was not personal. They were not rude, just clueless. I was not insulted, and the friendships continued. (I was also not in the wedding anyway. I have no idea what it was like for the bridal party.) I just don’t have friends who act in the kind of over the top manner I delight in reading about. I also got married in 1992, before weddings turned into wedding weekends, and showers were not mandatory, much less spa weekends, bachelorette weekends, multiple gift grabs, and group manicures. I don’t know how that all got started. I suspect reality TV has something to do with it. My friends and I had weddings we could all afford. It was nice.

  • Margo August 2, 2018, 6:33 am

    I agree that it is unusual as you tend only to hear about the worst excess.

    I think the other thing is that, for the most part, if you are close enough to someone to be part of their wedding, then, generally, they are someone you care about, and if they do make mistakes or do something which is less than ideal, you’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I’m always slightly surprised when I read submissions here which seem to put the worst possible construction on the actions of the posters friend or family member – if you dislike your niece / nephew /’friend’ and think they are a greedy gift-grabber, why are you attending their wedding at all?

  • BeachMum August 2, 2018, 9:13 am

    SIL was a horrible bridezilla. She was so awful that one of her bridesmaids quit and they haven’t spoken since. I was younger and not as good as I am today at saying no. (Don’t give a reason. “I’m so sorry, but I just can’t.”) I got roped into being the replacement bridesmaid. The dress was only $200, but the alterations were another $200 and the wedding was out of town the weekend after DH and I moved in together. However, I didn’t attend any of her events out of town, came to her local shower and gritted my teeth for her bachelorette (where she and MOH got so drunk they both vomited out of the car) in this city, but over an hour away.

    However, all returned to normal at the wedding itself. When her cake collapsed, she asked if someone had caught it on camera. She didn’t raise a fuss that her dress was soaked because the golf course had watered that lawn that morning. She was nice and fun and ensured that everyone was having a good time.

    She’s not the nicest person, but she has recovered. If I could go back, I wouldn’t have agreed to be in the wedding, but it turned out reasonably ok. I guess I tolerated it because she’s family and I knew I’d have to deal with her for as long as I remain married to her brother (which I hope is forever).

  • MzLiz August 2, 2018, 2:58 pm

    It’s easy to judge. I’m going to play a little Devil’s Advocate here: The one brief time I dealt with ‘Bridezilla-ish’ behaviour from a friend, I got her a glass of water, took her aside & asked her what was going on cos she wasn’t acting like herself that day (the words ‘Raging Bee-och’ spring to mind). Oh man! The walls fell, the tears flowed & everything spilled out! I was shocked to hear what had been going on behind the scenes with both her & her FH’s families, in particular the 2 mothers. The demands, the criticism, the passive-aggression, the sulking, the accusations from each family that the other side was getting better treatment or more invites or extra consideration…it went on & on. In an effort to remain stoic & in trying to please everyone, the bride had let it all build & build in her until she snapped – and it was her friends that got the brunt of it. Now, taking it out on us wasn’t right but once we knew why, we understood & we encouraged & supported her to stand up for herself, which she did. I think some people would be amazed at the pressure that can be put on a bride’s shoulders (pressure that is rarely equally placed on the groom, btw) & unless that bride has a spine of steel, it’s really no surprise when they crack. If a friend who’s not normally a demanding hell-beast starts up with the ‘Zilla attitude, it’s wise to take a breath & ask what’s up instead of assuming the worst of her. After witnessing what so many friends went through during their wedding planning, I decided to elope when my turn came because I was so put off by it all.

    *I also think it’s important to remember that, once upon a time, brides really didn’t have a lot of say in their own wedding – it used to be tradition that the bride’s mother organized most of it, just as her mother had done for her & her mother before that, etc, etc. My generation (Gen X) was really the first to pay for part or all of our weddings, giving little or no agency to our mothers regarding the planning. This left many of my mother’s generation with no wedding to put their mark on & some of those mothers didn’t like that one bit. I’ve been blown away at how a perfectly nice mum can become as mean as a snake over her daughter not wanting to wear the family wedding dress or choosing a different colour scheme than the one she suggested. Deal with that for months & months, then get back to me.

    Other times I think ‘Zilla behaviour can be caused by immaturity or being naive or getting so swept up in your wedding that you can’t see the forest for the trees. That’s when you need to be a good friend to your bride & gently talk her down from Cloud Cuckoo Land. Of course, there are the small percentage of True Princesses & if your bride is known to be one of these, it’s your own fault for agreeing to be her attendant in the first place cos Princesses don’t just happen overnight. There’s a great phrase I learned from these boards – ‘At some point you stop being a victim & become a volunteer’. Words to live by.

  • Queen of the Weezils August 2, 2018, 3:19 pm

    I suspect there are many reasons, but the biggest one is that it is like the frog in the hot water. The Bridezilla starts with little things, and you just put up with it because she’s stressed, it’s not that big of a deal, why not just go along to get along. And then it’s something bigger, and then something bigger. And eventually you’ve put up with so much for so long that the next thing seems like something small compared to what you’ve already been through and it’s not that long until it is just over and if you just put up with this one more thing, then it can be over without having a confrontation and you’ll have a story to tell.

    Doesn’t excuse it, and I think we could all benefit from having a polite spine, but I can see how it just *builds*.

    • Lillie82 September 1, 2018, 3:55 pm

      I think there are some things that traditional etiquette has tolerated, and that we even tolerate on this board, that are the beginning of a “slippery slope” or that frog-in-hot-water process that Queen of the Weezils mentions. For example, it seems like it’s pretty acceptable, even here, for a bride to pick out dresses for the bridesmaids to wear, and if she organizes a shopping trip or meeting to get all the attendants to agree on a dress, sometimes she’s praised for going above and beyond. I guess I would question why everyone has to wear the same dress, or the same color, or even buy a new one especially for the wedding – and if you’re close to your attendants, as you should be, why not trust them to pick out something appropriate to wear?