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How not to be a bridezilla – cut the stress
April 27th, 2011
08:15 AM ET

How not to be a bridezilla – cut the stress

It's estimated that 2 billion people will watch Kate Middleton walk down the aisle when she weds Prince William  on Friday in London. Now that's pressure. But unlike many brides-to-be, Middleton has had a lot of professional help and probably hasn't had to sweat the tiny details.

However, most future brides are not future princesses. And weddings and all the hassles that go with them, can be overwhelming.

"There are just so many little details that people begin to focus on," says Dr. Gregory Jones, a clinical psychologist with District Psychotherapy Associates in Washington, D.C. "Many people don't understand how difficult it is, until they are in the middle of it. Weddings can take a life of their own."

Olesha Haskett met her fiancé, Alie Basma, at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. She was 17. Now at age 25, they've decided to get hitched and have chosen a destination wedding in Jamaica. Haskett is a pretty cool customer, but even she says the stress can get to her.

"I've had my moments," says Haskett, " I won't deny that. But it's been mostly because of other people. My fiancé is my voice of reason. He says, let it go. Let it go."

Haskett credits her groom, her family and her wedding planner, Lerkia Lee-Tidball, managing editor of Savvy Soirees in Laurel, Maryland, for taking away most of the stress. And experts say that's important, because with invitations, reservations and libations, weddings can get hectic. So it helps to pass on some of the responsibility.

"Stress is natural. It happens," says Tidball. "But when you have that support system to be there as a buffer, it makes life so much easier for both the bride and the groom"

And it's that stress and that pressure that can turn blushing brides  into  fire-breathing bridezillas.

"It can build up and really get to people, " notes Jones. "Those who really get stressed out may not be able to cope with it well and it comes out in yelling, getting upset."

To the point where blood pressures rise, words are said, feelings are hurt and a day of bliss becomes a day from hell.

"It's important to focus on what you want, maybe lower your expectations about the wedding and try not to make the perfect day. Take some of the pressure off," Jones recommends.

Both Tidball and Jones, who is in the middle of planning his own wedding, suggest a couple of tips to take away wedding stress.

First off, brides and grooms should stay healthy. Jones says a good diet and eating well can make all the difference in the way you feel.

And look for time to take a breath.

"Focus on self-care, soothing relaxing activities, that take your mind off of the event for a little while," says Jones.

Try to keep fit, Tidball says. "We love our Spanx, but we still want our brides to feel comfortable in that dress."

And you know all those friends and relatives you have? Use them! Delegate chores to loved ones. Most of the time you'll find they are happy to help.

Tidball also says timetables - a working calendar - are a must. "You need to have a game plan, and stick to that plan," stresses Tidball.

And make use of the Internet. Jones and his partner have their own wedding website that lists dates, times, gift ideas, reception details. It's all in one place for guests' convenience.

"Technology will help you eliminate a lot of the anxiety and stress and make it so much easier to communicate with everybody and keep it organized, " Jones notes.

And most important: Keep to a budget so things don't get out of hand. That's something Haskett and her future husband have tried to do, as they juggle an overseas wedding.

Tidball says keeping stress at bay is her job. "We help at different levels. We take off the pressure, because bridezillas are no fun."


soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Tom Leykis

    Another good reason, in a long line of many, for a man NOT to get married.

    April 27, 2011 at 09:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bb

      You got that right...

      April 28, 2011 at 01:32 | Report abuse |
  2. Heather

    Planning a destination wedding, unless you plan to pay the airfare and hotel fees of every guest, automatically qualifies you as a bridezilla regardless of further behavior. You are asking people to pay out thousands of dollars to watch you accomplish the exact same thing you could have done in a city hall or church for free.

    April 27, 2011 at 09:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KritterKat

      Heather – you forget that very few people only have family and friends who live in the same city as them. My wedding guests came from 6 different states and 2 different countries. They would have to fly and book hotel rooms regardless. We decided on a destination wedding because at least that way they would have a nice vacation for their money as well as a wedding. I think it was the least bridezilla thing I could have done for them.

      April 27, 2011 at 10:09 | Report abuse |
    • John

      The reason my brother and his wife chose a destination wedding was neutral territory. They got tired of selfish pressure from each family. If you look at the comments below you'll it's common for families to make it about them. They picked a destination and essentially said to everyone "we'd love to have you join us, but if you choose not to that's cool." End of drama.

      April 27, 2011 at 15:09 | Report abuse |
    • Katelyn

      I'm planning a semi-destination wedding for this fall, for the same reasons that John mentioned.
      The crowd of my fiancee's family friends and distant relatives where I live take everything very personally– and while my fiancee and I would like a tiny wedding (immediate family and 5 of our close friends), there would be some very bitter acquaintances who would feel jilted.
      We're moving to Pensacola, FL this winter, so we figured we'd just move a couple months earlier, have it there and invite everybody without offering to pay for their costs. We're paying for our family and those mentioned friends (who we asked to keep the arrangement hushed). Whoever else wants to come, cool, if not, it's their choice. :]

      April 27, 2011 at 21:40 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      (To the repliers: if you put too many details down here, they'll know who said it.) If you do not want the tradition of the wedding being paid for by the bride's family (and taking place in their town), then at least don't rub your expensive trip in the faces of all the people who right now are hoping they won't lose their home because they are so financially strapped. I say, let the couple be married wherever they like, and they don't need any gifts either.

      April 28, 2011 at 01:27 | Report abuse |
  3. 4760

    I was surprised when I planned my wedding how many people made it about them. I had guests calling to have me help them find a babysitter. My MIL obsessed with HER dress. My dad asking for me to play the chicken dance at my reception (I said no to that). I didn't even have a bridal shower since I was sick of my maid of honor (my sister) complaining about having to do anything for me. No one really said to me, "Here, let me help you". They only thought of themselves. Al in all, the wedding came out perfectly and it was worth the stress. So, my advice to brides, are be polite to people, but say no when you can to people.

    April 27, 2011 at 10:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KritterKat

      Exactly! They don't want you to be a bridezilla, but they want to make you as insane as they possibly can! Ours was a per head dinner, and all but two of my in-laws didn't bother to send back the pre-stamped RSVP cards so we had no clue how many to order for. Then my MIL demanded that my husband mash the wedding cake into my face and smear it all over me. When I politely reminded her that this was a classy wedding and my family wouldn't appreciate seeing that she walked off in a huff. The best man disappeared before the ceremony and showed up 10 minutes before with his tux in tow still wearing jeans. Then my guests sneaked into our honeymoon suite and trashed it with tasteless decorations leaving us to spend most of the morning after our wedding cleaning the room so we didn't get charged a huge cleaning bill. It was enough to drive anyone crazy!

      April 27, 2011 at 11:25 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      I feel sorry for you. I had somebody that I hadn't invited show up with a friend (who was) and start shouting. It didn't ruin my day though. I kept the expenses simple and treated the guests to a picnic. It's still a happy memory (minus the funny party crasher). I've felt more sorry for cousins who had the deluxe wedding and there were complaints about who was seated first, and none of the guests talked to eachother, and it seemed more like a funeral than a wedding. Even when my wedding cake melted in the hot sun, I had more fun than that.

      April 28, 2011 at 01:34 | Report abuse |
  4. Claxton

    The best way to avoid being a bridezilla is to skip the wedding altogether. I was fortunate enough that my wife of 11 years now did not want to do a fancy wedding, and it was instilled in me growing up that weddings were a waste of money. Instead of shelling out thousands of dollars for what is essentially a party for friends and family, we took that money and spent it on our home, getting a new vehicle (to replace an older one), and doing some traveling outside of the honeymoon. We got married in front of a civil magistrate and a month later we had a nice little reception that everyone who attended enjoyed.

    The benefit, of course, to not spending all that money and jumping through so many hoops was having to deal with comparatively little stress. My wife was not an unbearable shrew and we were both happier for it.

    April 27, 2011 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • aeh4543

      I am so glad my husband and I didn't have a wedding! We got married at the courthouse and told everyone later.

      April 27, 2011 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
    • John1Galt

      Amen

      April 27, 2011 at 13:42 | Report abuse |
  5. T3chsupport

    Here's the easiest thing – realize that this wedding is really not about you at all. Sure, you're getting married, but for the wedding rituals and whatnot, you're just the centerpiece. Throwing a lavish wedding should be about seeing all of the people who care about you be happy for you. That's not going to happen if you're going to be a cow about it, they'll be secretly cheering whenever you and your spouse get into a tiff for the rest of your marriage, thinking that you probably have it coming for being so insufferable, and they'll just be waiting for the day when he's finally had enough.

    Like that Bridezilla show. If I had to spend one hour with any of the women on those shows, I'd probably give one a nice shiner to walk down the isle with. If I was unlucky enough to be the fiance, I'd leave her at the altar and sleep with the caterer.

    April 27, 2011 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Health Teach

      I too am sick of hearing women cry "me,me,me" about their wedding days. And could someone please tell me how is it that otherwise seemingly competent women can loose it over a shade of pink? My husband and I paid for our entire wedding ourselves and spent only a very small amount of what most of these women do and this many happily married years later still wouldn't have had it any other way. I also find it ironic that, at least in my experience, the more times the woman says that the wedding is "[her] day" and needs to "be all about [her]" the more likely it is that said marriage will end by the four year mark...

      April 27, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      We've had plenty of stress in life, including illness, a child with problems, etc., but in the 31 years (over 11,000 days) my husband and I have been married, I've never regretted our simple church wedding and reception out in a park. Keep your battles focused on what matters, not on only one day in your marriage.

      April 28, 2011 at 01:42 | Report abuse |
  6. KillerBoob

    A more fair article to brides would to explain why people feel compelled to call them that. See: In Defence of Bridezilla @
    http://citygirlsworld.com/cgw/blog/2010/07/marriedgirl-in-defense-of-bridezilla/

    April 27, 2011 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • T3chsupport

      Everyone has stress, but that doesn't mean it's ever ok to take it out on other people. If you're too stressed out because of your own wedding, then you should probably scale it down into something you can handle without turning into an assdragon.

      April 27, 2011 at 12:40 | Report abuse |
    • Nikki

      That was a good article. Maybe it's partly about people being unhappy that you can't please them (or that their perception is that you're choosing to please others over them). And it's different for guys because they are largely given a free pass to just go about their normal life during planning and then to show up. Any time my fiance has done anything for the wedding with me, people act like he's a saint. It's his wedding too. He gets to make choices, too, and the responsibility is shared. However, when people don't approve of the wedding details, "Can you believe those invitations?!?!" it's usually blamed on the bride.

      @T3chsupport, she wasn't talking about taking her stress out on others. She was talking about doing her best to be considerate and still being called names.

      April 27, 2011 at 16:38 | Report abuse |
  7. aeh4543

    Okay, there is a 4-word answer to the headline: Go to the courthouse!

    April 27, 2011 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. KS84

    We had a very simple wedding in the living room of my in-laws in mid-January. It was absolutely beautiful, and we had immediate family and close friends there. There was no stress, no fighting, and it was the happiest day of my life. We are planning a reception for all the rest of our friends in May, and it's just going to be a huge cookout with dancing and outdoor games. Everyone is so excited that they don't have to dress up and sit through a ceremony, just party!

    What future brides HAVE to remember is that it is NOT about you, it's NOT about your family, and it is NOT about the party, it is about uniting your life with the person you are going to grow old with, nothing else matters.

    April 27, 2011 at 13:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Linda

    As a woman who has been married to the same man for nearly 36 years, our Justice of the Peace wedding was just fine. However we gave both of our daughters beautiful weddings without either of them going bridezilla on anyone. I loved working with each of them and creating a beautiful memorable day that they can have forever. Weddings are a lot of work and planning but worth it. As long as everyone is willing to help at least a little the memories make the work worth everything.

    April 27, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elizabeth

      It's great you could do that for your daughters, as long as the event isn't too huge. I have a friend who gave her daughter the party of her dreams, handmade everything, and the mother has spent years trying to recover her health.

      April 28, 2011 at 01:47 | Report abuse |
  10. Tuppencecat

    Big wedding, small wedding, just remember that while it may be your day, you have to take care of your guests. Plan for what is best for your guests and everything else tends to work out much more easily for the bride and groom (and their parents). If you have a wedding that takes guests away from home/hotel at the dinner hour, then give them dinner and make sure that they have tables to sit down and enjoy the meal. If during the day, lighter fare is perfect. Cake and beverages are a must – and greeting everyone of your guests is a must. If having a church wedding, pay attention to the music to be played and the singers. If any wedding party member starts acting out, don't get pulled into the drama. Stay within your budget, pare down the size of the wedding if finances are tight. Don't get so tied up in a theme for the wedding, nobody cares that all the napkins don't follow the theme. Remember, its a wedding, not a coronation!

    April 27, 2011 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. thinker

    The easiestway to not become a Bridezilla is to stop trying to live up to the expectations of others. Plan the wedding that suits YOU. Not your mother, not your mother-in-law, not your sorority sister, not your town busy-bodies, and not Bride magazine. Approach it as planning the ideal gathering for all your favorite people, and then stick a wedding ceremony in the middle of it. My husband and I rented a rustic lodge for a weekend (so we could spend time with the out-of-towners), and the locals joined us Friday evening for a ceremony on the lawn. Lasagna for dinner, then dancing with a mambo instructor in the pavilion till the wee hours. Inexpensive, no fussy details, no "obligation" guests (or songs!), and loads of fun!

    April 27, 2011 at 15:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Greg

    Looking to cut stress? The easiest way to cut stress is through exercise. Check out great exercise tips, info, and instruction posted on Holosfitness.com. Holosfitness.com is a free online fitness tool. The site offers hundreds of exercises posted with step-by-step instruction, video demonstration of fitness routines, and blogs posted by fitness professionals.

    April 27, 2011 at 15:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Bob The Builder

    It's simple... Don't assume you're special. Stuff happens, it happens with everyone. Even the most well planned out event can run into trouble. Sure, it's a special day, but if you need the "magical wedding" or whatever to guarantee you'll have a happy marriage, you're doomed. Like the article says, changes are you're not a princess to be.

    April 27, 2011 at 15:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Nikki

    As someone in the middle of planning, I would also say that you shouldn't be so terrified of the label that you become a doormat. Try to pretend that event planning is your job and ask if this or that would be acceptable then. There's crazy on all sides of the wedding thing – from the vendors who just plain stink, to the vendors who've reacted so strongly to true Bridezillas that they treat you like crap without giving you a chance, to dealing with other brides (I had a nasty run-in with one girl at a dress shop when I was trying to be nice and she jumped down my throat). My doormat experience was letting an invitation designer give me the runaround for months because I didn't want to be too pushy. When I finally saw the light that as a normal person I wouldn't put up with it, it was already late and our invitations are going out 'late'. Also, try to find sane wedding websites such as Broke-A..., A Practical Wedding, and Offbeat Bride. They'll help keep you centered whereas some of the others can sort of hypnotize you into thinking the strangest things are important. Be a critical reader of the magazines. Find the proper compromise balance that creates the wedding you and your fiance(e) need as well as your family.

    April 27, 2011 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Yes, things were easier when villages had traditions; you just did them. And the dress was just a nice dress, not something from another century. And the service was out of a book. I would also advise not to put your size 2 and size 20 ladies both into the same design of bridesmaid dresses (if you insist that they buy dresses that they will never wear again); at least don't make it low-cut so that they all look ridiculous. I used to go to Saturday rehearsals in a church hall; on our break we would watch wedding parties line up. The brides' dresses were usually O.K., but the bridesmaids mostly wore things that you wouldn't make your worst enemy wear (unless you wanted to turn your friends into your worst enemies).

      April 28, 2011 at 01:57 | Report abuse |
  15. Cathy W

    To the couple: relax. It's just one day, and not everything has to be perfect, nor does everything have to go perfectly according to plan (I didn't plan for my little brother to faint, but there you go). But, be considerate of your wedding party and your guests. Don't expect expensive gifts (or that they match the plate cost of the reception), and be just as gracious toward the modest gifts as you are toward the lavish ones.

    To the wedding party and parents: remember it's about the couple, not about you. Don't pull pranks, and don't demand certain traditions. You can ask, but don't demand.

    To the guests: don't you DARE complain about the choices the couple made. If you can't afford to go, then send a considerate gift that fits your budget and bow out. Don't complain about the lack of meat, or the inclusion of meat, or whether or not there is alcohol. Don't make catty comments. Return the RSVP cards, or at least CALL the bride if you don't want to bother with postage. If you say you are coming, then you'd darn well better show up. If you say you AREN'T coming, then don't come (I had a family member say she wasn't coming, but then she showed up anyway. I'd bought a few extra plates, so it wasn't a problem). Don't worry about matching the per plate cost of the reception, People should give what they can afford, not what's "expected."

    Bottom line: everyone (couple, wedding party, parents, and guests) should be considerate of each other, and quit sweating the small stuff.

    April 27, 2011 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Guests do not have to show up OR send a gift in the case of travel, unless the travel is to the bride's or groom's home town.
      And, if the bride and groom fail to send thank you notes for the gifts, do not expect to be remembered at other family's or friends' occasions. (One way to solve the RSVP problem: if you have their e-mails, send one of those e-mails that demand a notification that they got it, if they have failed to RSVP.) Some people do become ill, or have a chronic problem, but they can let you know that they have difficulties, and the day of if they are sick. You don't want them bringing the flu to your wedding.

      April 28, 2011 at 02:06 | Report abuse |
  16. eric

    Marriage is basically a good idea. Weddings are just a money grab by an entire industry that serves almost no useful service. They will tell you they do, you may even buy their story. But it's just a money grab. Love has no price, so don't pretend the more you spend on your wedding the more in love you are.

    April 27, 2011 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. B2B

    Want to know how to not be a bridezilla? Go to any wedding etiquette board and they'll pretty much knock you on your butt if you are thinking about doing anything that falls in that category. (Especially delegating chores to your family! They are family, not slaves! That's ridiculously bad advice on CNN's part, shame on you)

    April 27, 2011 at 18:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elizabeth

      I agree. I saw a friend lose her health over her daughter's wedding. They even got us to make stuff for them too, and although I didn't mind doing it, together with the gift we gave, it started to cost. I couldn't do it for everyone we know. Hind sight is 20/20, but it is always a good idea to make use of other people's hind sight: money isn't the only thing you can overspend.

      April 28, 2011 at 02:16 | Report abuse |
  18. Beth

    I think it's better to use the money, resources, and energy to have a great marriage instead of a lavish wedding. Weddings are easy. Marriage is not.

    April 27, 2011 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Happy Wife

    My husband and I had been together since high school but did not get married until our mid-30s because of family politics. One day we realized we'd never make our families happy, so why bother trying. So we planned the wedding of our dreams – a BBQ in a friend's back yard, with 25 guests. We dumped about 95% of traditional stuff people do for their weddings and had an unbelievably fun and totally stress free day that the attendees are still talking about 3 years later. And we didn't have to take out a second mortgage to pay for it.
    Sure, we had pressure from several folks who just didn't get what we were trying to do, who tried to get us to do some of the things that we wanted to leave out. We just said "no" – no explanations, no wavering, no feeling bad; just no.
    I've seen far too many of my friends spend months (and sometimes years) going crazy and broke trying to plan THE perfect wedding, and then not enjoying their own day because of the stress. Who needs that! Give me my simple backyard celebration with good friends and a lifetime of wonderful memories.

    April 27, 2011 at 22:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elizabeth

      We did the church wedding and the picnic in the back yard, and 31 years later, we still have happy memories about it. There is plenty of stress in marriage and plenty of days; you don't need to stress over one day.

      April 28, 2011 at 02:11 | Report abuse |
  20. Tom Leykis

    I'd put 2 drops of visine in a bridezillas drink. 99.9% of the slags who act like this are unattractive and fat.

    April 28, 2011 at 07:34 | Report abuse | Reply
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