The pressure for perfection and peak Instagramable happiness has taken the Bridezilla from a reality show character to how you might describe your wedding obsessed Facebook friend. The rise of the Bridezilla and wed-stress is real and can make any sane woman (or man) go from zero to hot-mess in one engagement ring.
In the olden days, pre-2004, prior to the reality show and subsequent inclusion to our everyday vernacular, a Bridezilla, was simply known as a stressed-out bride. Now, Bridezillas have evolved into a neat stereotype, an out of control woman, unwilling to compromise to reach her ambition of having a so called 'perfect day'.
For the uninitiated, planning a wedding can be a pretty intense experience and for many couples, it can feel like they're taking on second full-time jobs. There are seemingly thousands of options and decisions to make. Gone are the days where your mum helped plan a four-hour buffet and dance in the local golf club. Modern weddings, even the deceptively simple, intimate affairs, have evolved into epic productions, inspired by the bazillion images of styled shoots and weddings with budgets bigger than the GDP of Botswana, featured on Pinterest and Instagram.
The reality show, Bridezillas, painted the intensity of wedding planning in a pretty grim light. Following women who were determined to realise their 'dream wedding' at all costs, it was car crash TV at its best... and worst. The Bridezillas were presented as out-of-control humans, who were determined to have the 'best day of their lives' while those around them cowered and cringed, questioning how much time off the relationship they might need post-wedding, to face them again.
The show, like so many to come, followed a successful, repeated formula of 'find the extreme' and 'push them to their limits', watch them crack, repeat, repeat, repeat. It was all fun and games until the term 'Bridezilla' became the go-to insult for any bride that was struggling with the pressure and the palaver that can occur planning a wedding.
As the producer of The Bridechilla Podcast, I have hosted over 300 episodes of a show based entirely around the anti-Bridezilla movement. I feel that fundamentality most Bridezillas are women who feel completely overwhelmed and unsupported planning this often-complicated event. For many couples, weddings come with emotional and monetary baggage made up of complicated family relationships, mental health issues, money pressures, expectations and obligations. All of these factors can lead to wed-stress, extreme anxiety surrounding wedding planning.
People deal with stress in different ways. Some grind their teeth (me!), some sulk or act out, especially to those closest to them who are quick to forgive and move on.
Bridechilla listeners are concerned about relationships and pressure to do things a certain way. They're modern millennials who are conflicted with ditching tradition. They are keen to forge a path, create an event that reflects them as a couple and what their love means but are fearful of not living up to expectations (of those around them and on the internet).
For many wed-stress begins before there's even talk of a ring, with 70 percent of today's people pinning to wedding boards on Pinterest aren't even engaged. The consumer wedding industry is now worth billions and each year a new survey run by advertising funded wedding magazine reminds us about the exorbitant 'average' costs of weddings (which is usually more than a mid-range family car) and on the next page encourages us to invest in a £8000 wedding dress.
The wedding industry is brimming with mixed messages.
It's our time to feel special. We should feel like a princess. This is our one moment but if you miss it, it will most likely never happen again... and if it does, you shouldn't enjoy it as much because you failed the first time.
This is our peak happiness.
Everything must be Instagram-able and meet the guidelines of a dreamy Style Me Pretty submission. Smiling brides with luscious, full braids and flower crowns greet us on newsstands and soon as we change our relationship status to 'engaged' on Facebook, we become the prime target for weight loss advertisements and teeth whitening trays.
The Greek chorus of 'be better', 'look better', 'spend more money' chants.
The concept of the 'best day of your life' and planning a 'perfect day' is thrown around like they are actually attainable.
The day I married my husband was freaking fabulous but I hope for both of our sakes, we have a bunch more 'best days of our lives' too. I didn't want the wedding to be the peak of our existence and everything after to be a downward trajectory.
The show motto of the Bridechilla Podcast is 'Fuck chair covers'. It's my version of don't sweat the small stuff because ultimately guests don't care or remember those details. They are there to create memories, to drink champs, celebrate and dance.
I encourage the Bridechilla community to manage their expectations by communicating with their partner about what they both desire on their wedding day. Accepting help from those around you doesn't mean you are relinquishing control, it's the opposite, ditching the overwhelm and obligation and instead feeling supported and not alone.
Taking time to step back and remember that ultimately, it's your relationship that you're celebrating, not bunting and coloured smoke bombs and doughnut walls (although they are absolutely my new favourite fads... mmm doughnuts).
I remind them that they are one of the lucky ones who have found their fellow weirdo, someone who gets them and they get you.
The Bridezilla is a construct. An invention of reality TV which has been embraced by the masses, that shoehorns a woman with an opinion, a woman who is stressed, who feels overwhelmed and pressure into one label ... like we need any more of those!. The confused messages of the wedding industry, the Pinterest boards and keeping up with the Joneses can make everyone (men included) feel like their wedding is the be all and end all of their lives.
Weddings are great but I truly hope we can shift perspective, ditch the cliché and labels and encourage couples to spend a little more time supporting each other and planning what comes after the wedding because with all hope there are plenty more 'best days' to come.
The Bridechilla Podcast is hosted by comedian, TV producer and virtual bridesmaid, Aleisha McCormack, who, each week interviews leading wedding bloggers, planners and experts about making wedding planning easy!
The Bridechilla Podcast is all about empowering couples to plan the wedding that they want.
Subscribe to the Bridechilla Podcast today, get laughing and get planning.