Bridezillas, the We TV reality tv phenomenon, used to be one of my guiltiest pleasures. There are quotes from the show I still say to my sisters to get them to laugh. It was a gratuitous, over the top show about the people, usually women, being gratuitous and over the top. I loved that show before I started to work in the wedding industry. Then I encountered many, many, many Zillas and realized the show got it wrong.
I call it “wedding brain,” and in my experience it most affects cis-hetero straight women. Everything that you wouldn’t give two ducks about in your normal life becomes amplified. Napkin folds and silverware placement, uplighting and the angle at which your chair is set. Even now when clients get frustrated, I remember there’s something much more harmful underneath.
Bridezillas and the entire narrative surrounding them is that selfish, overbearing women turn into infantilized versions of themselves and have explosive temper tantrums at the drop of a hat. They are unbound, wild, and angry. Beware stepping in their path or you’ll be singed down to ash and soot. Sure, those types of Zillas exist, but I’ve noticed that those people are actually way less prevalent than people think, and most people are simply suffering from a severe case of “wedding brain”.
There’s an amazing podcast about the opposite phenomenon called Bridechillas, or Chillas for all the non-brides. If you haven’t followed the Bridechilla podcast you absolutely should! The thought behind the name was there are people who are much more lax and calm about their day. It’s a fun play on the original term meant to liken stressed out women to monsters.
I’d like to add a new middle tier between Bridezillas and Bridechillas. I call them “Anxillas.”
The large majority of “Zilla”-type behavior hasn’t come from people with malicious intentions or anger problems, but from people who are feeling the undue pressure of the social subtext a wedding represents. Underneath the burlap (in Texas we’re drowning in it. Send help!) and tulle is this quiet notion that tells us we have to prove we’re worthy of the wedding itself. Everything gets measured by whether the couple (but primarily women) is “worth” the display. I’ve talked about it before. It’s why people’s guards are up, it’s why random comments about the size of a ring that won’t be on the nosey onlooker’s finger is fraught for gossip, it’s why people critique weddings from top to bottom as if they’re Nicki Minaj on American Idol — one asked for it, but they feel entitled to proffer it anyway (What’s good, Nicki?!).
Everything will fall into place as long as you keep yourself from falling into the despair of anxiety.
The question, “Am I worth this?” is compounded by every guest, every quote, and every detail. The celebration turns into an internal criticism. You start trying to preempt unspoken shade and create false narratives of how the day could go if Aunt Sherry shows up and just has to say something. You become so filled with anxiety, so overwhelmed with decisions, so exhausted by the perceptions of others, so haunted by the relationship dynamics and histories of your families, that you just freaking...snap.
The problem is the release feels so good you don’t think of the consequences of the snap. People have lost friends (we’ll talk about that in another article soon), burnt relationships with vendors, and made complete and royal asses out of themselves when that snap happens.
Anxillas are some of my favorite clients to work with because all that needs to happen is a discussion to prevent it. Release yourself of the expectations and prying eyes of others and focus on what really matters, you’re getting freaking married! You’re pledging your love for someone in front of your world. Everything will fall into place as long as you keep yourself from falling into the despair of anxiety. Rally your friends and family around you.
It doesn’t have to be a bumpy road. You’re not a monster, you’re just as human as the rest of us.
Jordan A. Maney is a San Antonio-based wedding planner and owner of All The Days Event Co. She she started her company as a planning haven for all the couples the industry chooses to ignore. Instead of just making a brand, she's building a community. Find more of her sass, humor, and Southern hospitality at allthedaysweddings.com.