HOW NOT TO BE A BRIDEZILLA

No one wants to be the bride who drove ev­ery­one crazy along with her, but with the pres­sure of plan­ning the per­fect wed­ding, it can eas­ily hap­pen to you. Emma Lau­rence tells you how to keep your cool

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For most women, get­ting en­gaged is like en­ter­ing a bub­ble – it’s just you, your fi­ancé and a dis­tant, dreamy no­tion of hap­pi­lyever-af­ter. But once the fairy dust set­tles, the ring-selfie likes trickle to a halt and the date is set, re­al­ity kicks in.

The lo­gis­tics of mas­ter­mind­ing the wed­ding you’ve fan­ta­sised about since child­hood can be over­whelm­ing. Add to that emo­tional and fi­nan­cial pres­sures, and what should be the hap­pi­est time of your life can eas­ily turn sour, push­ing you to act out in ways you never imag­ined.

As psy­chother­a­pist Al­li­son Moir-Smith, who’s worked with brides-to-be all over the world, puts it, ‘You have to go through a psy­cho­log­i­cal tran­si­tion to make this enor­mous iden­tity change from sin­gle to mar­ried, daugh­ter to wife – and it’s a trauma.’

The bad news is, when you’re deal­ing with such trauma along­side plan­ning a wed­ding, a lit­tle bridezilla-ish be­hav­iour is par for the course. The good news is that it doesn’t have to con­sume you. ‘If you’re not nor­mally de­mand­ing and id­i­otic in real life, that bridezilla be­hav­iour sig­ni­fies some­thing big­ger and deeper go­ing on,’ ex­plains Al­li­son. And if you can es­tab­lish what’s be­hind those mo­ments of pre-mar­i­tal mad­ness, you can stop them ru­in­ing your wed­ding.

So put down your Pin­ter­est board, take a deep breath and read our fool­proof guide to keep­ing bridezilla at bay. MAKE A PLAN AND STICK TO IT What­ever the scale of your wed­ding am­bi­tions, hav­ing a plan is es­sen­tial. ‘De­ci­sion-mak­ing is the most stress­ful part of any wed­ding, be­cause there are so many op­tions and it all boils down to one day,’ says top UK wed­ding plan­ner Grant Mor­gan.

Self-con­fessed bridezilla Rachel re­mem­bers, ‘On my wed­ding day, I stomped off to the bridal suite in tears and re­fused to let any­one in. I’m usu­ally very level-headed, but the stress of it all fi­nally got to me, and the 20th ques­tion about sand­wiches made me snap.’

Re­as­sur­ingly, says Grant, all stresses can be re­duced if the plan­ning is man­aged cor­rectly.’

The best ad­vice I got when plan­ning my wed­ding was sim­ply to split my to-dos – big and small – by month, in a spread­sheet. In the be­gin­ning, break­ing it down in this man­ner kept me from go­ing into or­gan­i­sa­tional over­drive and burn­ing out, and made it easy

Just be­cause you’ve known your BRIDES­MAIDS for­ever doesn’t MEAN they’re PSY­CHIC. If they’re not giv­ing you what you NEED, tell them – this is your BIG DAY, and it’s OK to make your­self heard

for my hus­band to get in­volved. Later, look­ing at how much we’d achieved made all the last-minute stuff seem more man­age­able.

But a spread­sheet will only get you so far. ‘The real start­ing point is the bud­get,’ says Grant. One in three cou­ples go into debt try­ing to cre­ate their dream wed­ding, which can put un­nec­es­sary pres­sure on a fledg­ling mar­riage. ‘Do what­ever it takes to en­joy the day, but be re­al­is­tic,’ he adds. Just be­cause Kim and Kanye had a 20-foot wall of flow­ers, and Eliza­beth Hur­ley needed 13 cos­tume changes, doesn’t mean those things will make you happy.

‘Give your­self a buf­fer, say 5 per cent, and dis­cuss your pri­or­i­ties,’ ad­vises Grant. ‘Ask your­self, “What’s im­por­tant to you?” If the an­swer is ev­ery­thing, con­sider en­list­ing the ser­vices of a wed­ding plan­ner. They’ll steer you through the de­ci­sion-mak­ing wilder­ness to en­sure progress is made at an easy pace and avoid heap­ing too much at once on the bride-to-be.’

Also, once you’ve de­cided to work with a plan­ner, trust them – that’s what you hired them for.

YOU’RE NOT ALONE

Whether or not you have a pro­fes­sional plan­ner on your team, ‘don’t for­get, your guests are root­ing for you’, says Grant. The same goes for your bridal party and your sup­pli­ers. ‘They’re be­ing paid to serve you, so if they do badly, it’s not good for them,’ adds Al­li­son. Which means that if you find your­self go­ing bridezilla at your florist or caterer, the prob­lem might ac­tu­ally be you.

‘Brides al­ways want things to be other peo­ple’s fault,’ ex­plains Al­li­son. ‘It’s eas­ier if the sup­plier is a pain in the neck or your mother-in-law is dif­fi­cult, but we’re all 50 per cent of ev­ery re­la­tion­ship, so we have to own our part.’

The first step is to ‘recog­nise that bridezilla be­hav­iour is not about what­ever it is you’re stress­ing over’, says Al­li­son. ‘Are you feel­ing sad about the end of your sin­gle life, wor­ried about how your re­la­tion­ship with your dad’s chang­ing, lonely be­cause your girl­friends aren’t in this with you, an­gry that the venue’s not call­ing you back? All these things are about loss of con­trol, and that brings out the bridezilla.’

How­ever, there will be times when other peo­ple re­ally are the prob­lem. ‘I had brides­maid­zil­las,’ my friend, Lucy, re­calls. ‘I had to do my make-up in the toi­let on the day as one of them took the en­tire dress­ing ta­ble!’

Al­li­son says in such sit­u­a­tions, ‘you can ei­ther change the con­ver­sa­tion you’re hav­ing with the dif­fi­cult peo­ple, or get to a state of ac­cep­tance’.

Take your brides­maids: just be­cause you’ve known them for­ever doesn’t mean they’re psy­chic. If they’re not giv­ing you what you need, tell them – this is your Big Day, and it’s OK to make your­self heard. Don’t take things too far though. Kate Moss fa­mously in­sisted on see­ing her friends’ out­fits in ad­vance to make sure they wouldn’t up­stage her – prob­a­bly not the best way to get them on her side.

‘The key is com­mu­ni­ca­tion,’ says Grant. ‘That is, two-way com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Think care­fully about who you want around you on the day and try to cre­ate a calm­ing space.’

Rachel adds: ‘Make sure you have some­one on hand to field the de­tails for you, be­cause it’s just too much when you’re try­ing to en­joy your day.’ This could be the plan­ner, the best man or maid of hon­our.

If you need more sup­port, don’t be afraid to ask for help. ‘Most brides don’t want ther­apy,’ says Al­li­son, ‘but ev­ery bride has some­thing dif­fi­cult hap­pen­ing and it’s hard to talk about with your own peo­ple. Some­times, it’s nice to have an out­sider.’

GIVE YOUR­SELF A BREAK

As some­one who bought ev­ery wed­ding mag­a­zine on the shelf and didn’t go a day with­out trawl­ing my favourite bridal blogs in the 16 months of be­ing en­gaged, I know how easy it is to get sucked into the idea of the per­fect wed­ding and how crazy it makes you. Ac­tress Kate Walsh ad­mit­ted to turn­ing bridezilla dur­ing a dress fit­ting, later jok­ing,

‘Who knew some­one could get that hys­ter­i­cal about in­ner­wear?’

‘It’s dis­turb­ing,’ agrees Al­li­son. ‘There are just too many ideas, pos­si­bil­i­ties, and peo­ple do­ing it per­fectly.’ Glossy photo shoots are great for in­spi­ra­tion, but they’re just snap­shots, and won’t add up to a gen­uinely full pic­ture.

‘Be­ing a bride be­fore the wed­ding is com­plete fan­tasy,’ says Al­li­son. ‘Peo­ple never re­mem­ber the de­tails later; they re­mem­ber how they felt. So, as well as what you want your wed­ding to look like, think about how you want to feel. My goal is for brides to be emo­tion­ally pre­sent, what­ever hap­pens. That’s a wed­ding.

‘Choose three things that have to be per­fect. You can mi­cro­man­age those to death, and the rest you have to get to a place where it’s good enough.’

For me it was the dress, photography and table­cloths. Truth is, no one will no­tice if the petals scat­tered down the aisle aren’t the right shade of pink, or the cake came out wrong.

Also, once you’ve de­cided some­thing, stop look­ing. You only need to watch one episode of Say Yes To The

Dress to know it’s a bad idea to keep try­ing on gowns when you’ve al­ready found the one.

Don’t for­get why you’re do­ing all this. ‘Ba­si­cally,’ says Grant, ‘your wed­ding day is about you and your hus­band-to-be.’ And a bridezilla does not make three. Visit grant­mor­gan­wed­dings.com and the­bride­whis­perer.com for ad­vice.

Choose the three things that are most im­por­tant to you at the wed­ding, and make peace with the re­main­ing de­tails

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