These days weddings are intensely fetishised. The internet is flooded with inspiration porn; from quirky save the date cards to highly choreographed first dances, couples are under more pressure than ever to be creative and original on their own big day.
Weddings take a ridiculous amount of organising - planning a large-scale event is a full time job. Add to that the pressure of an actual full time job and little down time between and it’s no surprise tempers flare up.
There’s simply too much stress and often that stress seeps out into the bridal party. Suddenly your friend getting married becomes your ‘problem’ too. Sacrifices must be made, horrible dresses have to be worn, ungodly amounts of money are poured into extravagant hen weekends, jobs are delegated and demands are made.
All this is an integral part of being invited to participate, but what’s a girl to do when right before her very eyes she witnesses the friend she once knew and loved morph into a ‘bridezilla’?
First off, let’s deal with the term ‘bridezilla’. It’s a misogynist, negative title thrust upon a woman who’s doubtless under enormous pressure to single-handedly organise the ‘happiest day of her life’. It’s a huge learning curve and demonising her with negative slurs only serves to perpetuate yet another pervasive stereotype we women could really do without.
So, instead of looking at how to deal with some sort of beast that must be slayed, why not consider how to help a friend who may be crumbling under the pressure of perfection.
1. Rise above it
This is the simplest approach. Limit damage by avoiding conflict and going with the flow. If you’ve got bridesmaid duties and all you’re hearing from your friend is wedding, wedding, wedding, it’s time to carve out a happy place in your mind and retreat to it.
Interacting with the bride’s stress is often more hassle than it’s worth. Choose your battles wisely. Be a good listener, employ the phrase “that really sucks”; sometimes empathy is all a stressed bride-to-be needs. If you feel your blood boiling over an issue, take a step back and ask yourself “how important is this to me?” If the answer is “not that much” then let it slide. Simple as.
2. Avoid bitching about her with the other bridesmaids
By all means get your frustrations out, but choose your audience wisely. Venting to the other bridesmaids will quickly turn into a ‘her’ and ‘us’ scenario. Even if you’re really careful and word never gets back to the bride, indulging in gossip creates tension and encourages others to hold on to hard feelings.
If you need to get something off your chest, confide in a friend who isn’t involved in the wedding. Chances are, they’ll also have a far more neutral view on the situation and might be able to offer up some constructive criticism.
3. Money issues
There’s no way you should be getting yourself into ridiculous debt over someone else’s wedding. If demands are being made on your finances and you can’t afford to keep up you absolutely must say. It’s likely the bride’s so caught up in planning she’s not properly considered the financial impact it’s having on you.
It’s best to do this with some kind of diplomacy; if you’re presenting her with an issue, be prepared to offer alternative solutions - it shows you’re willing to make it work but also that it’s important your limitations are recognised.
4. Be kind but assertive
If you’re a bridesmaid you’re going to get tasked with dull jobs, it’s just part of the role. If you’re asked to to fold 300 origami cranes, plaster on a smile and rise to the challenge. Get a bottle of wine in and make an evening of it.
If you’re asked to take the day off work and drive four hours to look at table cloths, politely say you’re not able to. Speak up or put up.
If things get too stressful, always try to be the bigger person in the situation. Take a step back, base your arguments on facts and avoid name-calling and getting personal - that way madness lies. Emerging with an intact friendship is the most important thing.
Remember, it’s just a day.