Wedding survival tips: How to keep Bridezilla off your guest list!

Monday, November 15, 2010
"I was quite relaxed until the final few days," she says. "I found out I was pregnant while I was planning the wedding, so I tried to stay calm. But the last week was pretty stressful as we realised all the things we'd forgotten. We argued a fair bit!"

It's one of the biggest days of your life, but what if your Big Day turns you into a big monster?

She doesn't have scaly skin, razor-sharp teeth or fire-breathing abilities, but for those poor souls involved with her wedding, a bride-to-be can be just as scary as the mutant reptile that stomped all over town in Godzilla.

If you're getting married and you've suddenly turned from a meek, mild-mannered soul into a screeching, 'I-want-it-done-and-I-want-it-done-now' diva, welcome to your new role as Bridezilla.

Often dormant until the final weeks leading up to the Big Day, Bridezilla often takes people by surprise. No matter how many times you say, "I won't be like that", chances are you will be! But why?

Made, not born

"Generally, Bridezillas are a product of stress," says Kathy Apostolidis of Nightingales Wedding Designers in Sydney. "It comes from having to address so many details at the same time. And from family pressures — what parents want doesn't always fit in with what the couple wants, which can cause enormous friction.

"If someone is naturally bossy they may be even more Bridezilla-like, but after the wedding most brides are usually the first to admit they were being unreasonable."

From family woes to financial worries and the pressure to slim into your dress, getting married is one of the most nerve-racking things you'll ever do, and it's easy to lose all sense of perspective.

Recent trends show just how far some women go — extreme workouts, faddy diets, boob jobs, liposuction and Botox now go hand in hand with fake tan, teeth whitening, eyelash implants, acrylic nails and hair extensions in the quest to be the most beautiful bride.

But the more perfect you expect yourself and the day to be, the greater your chances of turning into Bridezilla, says Les Parrott, co-author of Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts.

"For most brides-to-be, the stress factor increases in direct relation to the expectations they have for their wedding," says Les. But why do we go to such extremes?

It's linked to what we see around us. "If you have a stack of bridal magazines, it's easy to get the impression that a wedding is a shopping spree followed by the most expensive party you've ever thrown," says Michael Perry, author of The Couple's Wedding Survival Guide.

And with extensive coverage of Hollywood celebs spending millions on their nuptials, it's easy to get caught up in the extravagance. But the amount you spend is not a reflection of how much you love each other.

"A willing spouse, a witness and a license properly filed are the only things you need to legally get married: everything else is optional," says Michael.

Understandably, most people want something a bit more memorable...

Making it memorable without the drama

You can use bridal magazines to your advantage, says Mallorie Bayne, from Darwin, NT, who married husband Al earlier this year.

"I took their ideas and adapted them to my budget," she says. "They had some useful money-saving tips."

Cost is a huge source of stress for most couples — recently added to by some wedding dress designers introducing fees to try on their gowns — so make a budget, add 10 per cent, and stick to it.

"We didn't go overboard," says Mallorie. "After all, it's just one day in your life. If we wanted something and there was a less expensive option, we were happy with that."

So did Mallorie turn into Bridezilla?

"I was quite relaxed until the final few days," she says. "I found out I was pregnant while I was planning the wedding, so I tried to stay calm. But the last week was pretty stressful as we realised all the things we'd forgotten. We argued a fair bit!"

Mallorie was lucky to have a strong support network. "Our families were a great help," she says. "It worked out well leaving some things to other people — my mum took charge of the transport and surprised me with a limousine."

When you take into account that most brides-to-be are stressed, starving and broke, it's small wonder Bridezilla is on the guest list. But you can keep her at bay. Les says a sense of humour is the key.

"As you plan your wedding, there will be times when you want to laugh or cry. Choose to laugh," he says. "Ten years from now you won't remember the little hitches, but you will remember the emotional tone of the day. Make sure it's positive."

Top 10 survival tips

  1. If you're on a budget, you can cut corners. Mallorie's aunt made her cake — and slashed the cost from $1500 to $100. If your grandma's a whizz with flowers or your sister's a hairdresser, get them on board. But...

  2. Don't scrimp on essentials. "The regret caused by cutting too many corners can include friends and family whom you wished you'd invited but didn't," says Michael.

  3. Don't try to please everyone. This event is about you and your partner. Decide what is important to you two, but at the same time...

  4. Respect the reasonable wishes of others. "If you compromise with family on the less important aspects, rather than dig your heels in, it makes for a far happier experience," says Kathy.

  5. "Plan well in advance so you don't feel time has run out on you,"' says Kathy. Mallorie agrees. "I hadn't thought about what music to walk down the aisle to," she says. "So I quickly chose a CD on the day... and it skipped all the way."

  6. Take a break from planning and do something fun with your partner every week. Ban all wedding talk and remind yourselves why you fell in love.

  7. Imagine it's a friend's wedding. If they had inexpensive, elegant, single-flower place settings instead of expensive, elaborate arrangements, you wouldn't think badly of them would you?

  8. Instead of expecting a 'perfect' day, aim for an 'amazing' one. If there are any hitches, you'll probably laugh about them in years to come.

  9. Hire a wedding planner. "This person is the objective voice of reason," says Kathy. It might be worth stretching the budget for the reduction in stress.

  10. If it all gets too much, elope!

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