Now- my precious, darling, sweet, innocent brides and grooms: this post isn’t for you. It’s for your maid of honor. For your best friend. For your mom, your sister, or maybe even your favorite barista at your daily Starbucks.
I recently posted a little query on my Twitter asking if there were things people wanted to know that we could blog about. We got a few responses and I was completely inspired by this one:
“maybe this is giving away too much, but any tips/tricks to managing expectations? I have had personal experiences with people who have fit the bill for bride-zillas (admittedly I lost my mind a couple of times durring the process) but if you are involved with a family member or friend who is going off the deep end how do you handle it, or help others handle it?? …and I know the obvious answer is giving them your phone number ;)”
You’d be surprised [or, okay, maybe you wouldn’t be] how many people ask me about bridezillas in the wedding industry. It’s nearly the first comment made from people when I tell them about my job [second only to “how FUN!”- which is an entirely different post]. They ask who my worst bridezilla was. If all my clients are bridezillas. How I handle bridezillas. Anything under the sun- that incorporates the word bridezilla. And here’s the authentic truth: I tell them I don’t work with bridezillas.
It’s not that I have different clients than anyone else. It’s not that I’m rejecting people because they just “seem” like they’ll turn into a roaring 3-headed monster. It’s that I have a different perspective than others. Because I’m in it with them. I am immersed in their stressing. Not only do I understand it, I’m squelching it. So, here’s my advice: have some grace. Have some patience. Really, really try to put yourself in it with them.
I’m not saying you’re already not doing so. But- people you love don’t just automatically turn into someone you hate for no reason. Remember these things about a wedding:
1. They’re balancing the expectations [and pushy comments] from others. Either their family [like mom wanting to add her entire bunko team to the guest list], their friends [like the fact that her sister is the flaky maid of honor and she’s planned her own shower], and themselves [they just want an ice cream cake and EVERYONE in the world has told them what an impossible idea that is].
2. They’re spending money. A lot of money. Even doing a wedding quite simply can cost an arm and a leg. I mean, think about it. $15,000 is a very modest wedding. Some may call that near impossible. But, $15,000 is a LOT of money. And when it’s coming from you- from your extra work shifts or your bank account that took two years of savings or your “house fund” or even your mom [when it makes you feel strange because she keeps guilting you about it]… it’s a hefty price tag. The fact of the matter is, to make it a “big deal” that you’re getting married, there’s hardly a way to keep the cost down low. And THAT is stressful.
3. They’re planning the biggest, most detailed dinner party that they will ever in their life plan. They’re taking into consideration things like Aunt Jan’s peanut allergy. How much it costs to host a bar so their friends can mindlessly get plastered. How the napkins should be folded, what they should give away as a wedding favor, and weather or not to rent prettier chairs. The decisions are mind-numbing, completely overwhelming, and seemingly endless.
So, they don’t just turn into this person over night. They’re chiseled into this person from the block of stone they’re desperately tried to keep themselves at. But it chips at them- day and night- for an average of 15 months. My honest answer: there are no bridezillas. Just bridezilla-inducing situations.
If you feel like someone you know and love is losing themselves… take them out to coffee. If you’re feeling more generous, treat them to a mani/pedi. Even more? Get them a massage or spa day spent together. I hate to say this, but this time period has to not be about you. Not always- not the whole length of the engagement- but just in those spurts of moments when you can tell tension and stress are at an all-time high. To avoid dealing with a ‘zilla? Be the ONE person that they know they can come to for a vent session. Someone who will listen, not try to solve the problem. Someone who will be there asking what they want, and willing to help truly make that happen. Of course if you’re feeling the most generous… hiring them a wedding planner will literally make all the difference!
Remember that things are bound to get worse the closer it gets to the wedding. The smallest detail can send someone anxious into a total tail spin. If you’ve already established yourself and your relationship to be on the GOOD side of things- you’ll avoid risking serious emotional damage and being used as collateral when the “crash” happens [and in most cases, at some point- it WILL happen]. Engaged couples don’t mean to do this… but if you put yourself into their shoes and allow your heart to guide you, you’ll realize that your friend is still in there- trying desperately to escape the completely life-encompassing stress they’re currently facing.
I’m not saying that your own life isn’t happening all the while. But honestly, who couldn’t use a girl gab session once a month to just be there together and for one another. You know later down the road- she won’t forget it, she’ll do it for you, and you’ll need it then like she needs it now. I used this quote last week, and I’ll use it again here:
Let it come from Your heart. People will see it. People will feel it. People will be changed by it.
True friendship is based on honesty. If you’ve spent time together, you’re alone, and the setting is right- don’t be afraid to say “you’re stressed. What can I do?”. You’ll both instantly feel better when you’ve lived on the other person’s page for a moment. And that way, you can act as a buffer to the stressers [like, say, the rest of the bridal party… or her mother] in a better way than she can manage. Get on TEAM BRIDE as quickly, as often, and as consistently as you can. Everyone needs a friend.