The Practical Gal’s Guide to NOT Being a Bridezilla

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had a friend getting ready to be a bridesmaid in someone’s wedding say to me, “Everything is great, but she’s a bit of a Bridezilla.”

And that is no fun for anyone involved.

I get it – being a bride can be stressful.  Especially if you’re planning the wedding.  But letting the Bridezilla isn’t fun for you, and it certainly isn’t fun for the people around you.

Here’s what I know: I planned my wedding a couple of years ago.  I won a Wheel of Fortune (again, totally not sh*tting you on that one), which was really the only reason I was able to afford to do the wedding the way that I wanted it.

And I had a very generalized version of what I wanted: For everyone to have tons and tons of fun. The other stuff was just details.

The Practical Gal's Guide to NOT Becoming a Bridezilla
See? FUN!

I knew that I wanted to get married in the theatre where my husband and I met doing a show. Which meant that I would have to get married in Ohio.

So there I was, planning a wedding in Ohio. . . from California.  This alone could have turned me into a monster.  I flew back and forth between Ohio and LA a whole bunch that year.  No, I’m not independently wealthy, so that came out of the wedding budget. I get it – being a bride can be stressful. Especially if you're planning the wedding. But letting the Bridezilla isn't fun for you, and it certainly isn't fun for the people around you. Click To Tweet

I saw a ton of venues.  Talked to condescending event planners. Tore my hair out about catering and how wedding food is, well, mostly gross.

But I ended up getting the theatre to agree to let us have the wedding there, and decided on the House of Blues as a reception hall.  The House of Blues is spectacular for events, just in case you’re looking.  Their food was great, not that I got to actually eat much of it at the wedding, but still.

I used WeddingWire to track everything, including setting up a wedding website.  Found my vendors using it and The Knot.

Now, there are a few ways that I lucked out.

  • My mother’s cousin’s husband (Italian family) owns a spectacular bakery and was able to make stunning and delicious cakes and cookies for the cookie table at a reasonable price.
  • I knew I wanted the director of the theatre production where husband and I met to officiate the wedding. Fortunately, he’s still a close friend, so he was more than happy to get ordained and do that.
  • My parents, bless them, bless them, bless them, were able to chip in, so I didn’t have to choose between buying a house and having a wedding.
  • A friend of my sister’s is a stylist and did my hair for free. My sister, who is amazing at makeup, did my makeup.

    The Pratical Gal's Guide to NOT Becoming a Bridezilla
    Bridesmaids, bitches

But, that said, there were a whole lot of things that went wrong.

  • One of my bridesmaids was diagnosed with a severe illness about a month before the wedding and was unable to even attend the wedding.
  • I had two maids of honor. I lost one of them due to the friendship dissolving.
  • A rogue family member used the opportunity to widen a rift in one side of my family, and many of them chose to forego the wedding as a result.
  • Being naïve, I scheduled myself to work up until the day before the wedding. I ended up taking two weeks before the wedding to get everything done.
  • I was having severe abdominal issues, and two days before the wedding I was trapped flat on my back for three hours having a test to determine whether or not my gallbladder was working. It wasn’t. I would need surgery.
  • One week before the wedding, I tried on the dress that I had made. That I had my 100-year-old grandmother’s wedding dress cut up to sew in  strips of material because I’m 5’9″ and she’s about three feet tall so I couldn’t wear hers.  The dress was wrong.  I could not wear it and had to find a replacement.
  • Did I mention that during all the wedding planning, I also bought a house? In LA? So yeah, all the stuff that goes with that, too. Not a terrible idea at all.
  • My sister had eloped. . . twice. And there are only two of us.  So I knew this was probably going to be the only wedding my parents got.  Not that it was such a huge deal for them, but it mattered to me.
  • I took on the task of making all the centerpieces because I had a bitchin’ idea for them. They’re pretty much why I couldn’t work for two weeks before the event, and now my mom has a bunch of huge centerpieces in her garage.

    The Practical Gal's Guide to NOT Becoming a Bridezilla
    My bridesmaid who couldn’t make it “made it!”

All that being said, I’ve never heard, “Wow, you’re remarkably calm about this,” so many times in my life.  No one has ever described me as “remarkably calm.” I’m half Italian and half Polish. “Remarkably calm” is not a trait of either of those backgrounds.

But there are some things that helped me stay calm.  Right up until a few days before the wedding when my husband and I fought like cats and dogs, lol. I chalk that up to nerves.

So how do you not become a Bridezilla?

  1. Find ways to cut costs. If money is what’s stressing you out, there are ways to bring the costs of your wedding down a bit. For example, I looked at photographers, even friends of mine, and could not believe the pricing.  Yes, I understand, a lot of work goes into it.  But I couldn’t afford to drop $4k on photos.  So I found a friend of a friend who was trying to start up a photography business.  I looked at her work, loved it, and she agreed to do it for a fraction of the price to build her book.  And the photos were amazing. There are always people trying to start out in fields who need a bit of a boost; look for those people if you need to save money.  Just because they’re charging less doesn’t mean they’re less awesome
  2. Remember: This day is not about you. I mean, it is, but it’s also about the people around you – your parents, your family, your friends, your future spouse.  Don’t make everything about you and how it affects you, or you’re likely to ruin it for everyone else.  If you focus on making those around you happy, even though it’s “my special day,” you may walk away with less friends.
  3. Don’t diet. Yo, don’t pig out and stop working out and gain a bunch of weight and hate yourself, but don’t starve yourself until you hate life, either. No one on a diet is every happy.  Trust me.  I’ve been on lots of them.  And I know everyone wants to look great on their wedding day, but honestly, don’t you just want to look like yourself? Do you really want to look like an emaciated version of yourself? Just don’t.  Make sure you fit into your wedding dress, and get a dress that fits you.  Don’t buy a size down and starve.

    The Practical Gal's Guide to NOT Becoming a Bridezilla - Us Having Fun
    See? We’re actually having a good time.
  4. Remember: This is not the best day of your life. Yes, you want to look back on it happily and remember all the fun you had and how it was amazing. . . but do you really want your wedding to be the defining moment of your happiness for the rest of your years? Let it be a wonderful day, but don’t put the pressure on to make it the day. You’ll ruin it for you and everyone else.  Make your goal to have a special time with your future spouse, your family and guests, and have fun, for chrissakes.
  5. Let others shoulder some of the burden. This is where I failed hard. I constantly had people asking me, “How can I help? What can I do to help?” And instead of taking them up on it, I responded with my usual, “Oh my gosh, nothing, I’ve sooo got this under control.” Or whatever I sound like.  But you know, I could have totally used more help.  And remember – people want to help you. They’re not offering to be polite, especially when they’re your bridesmaids.  That’s kinda their job, so let them do it.
  6. Keep yourself calm. Meditate, do yoga, or do whatever the f*ck it is you need to do to deal with whatever craziness is happening. Your wedding day itself will go so fast, you’ll blink and  miss it. And the days leading up to it will be stressful.  It’s how you choose to deal with that stress that defines your Bridezilla-ness.The Practical Gal's Guide to NOT Being a Bridezilla Pin
  7. If you can hire someone to coordinate, do it. I didn’t have a wedding planner. And yes, it would have made my life easier, but I couldn’t afford it.  What I did have was a great friend who happens to be a 1st AD say to me, “Hey, do you want me to coordinate day of?” To which I said, Um, f*ck yes. My plan had been to kind of wing it and hope everybody did the right thing.  She organized, barked orders and made sure the ceremony went smoothly – and I couldn’t love her more for it.
  8. Accept that things go wrong. Remember the dress thing? Yeah, everyone around me expected a meltdown.  But I just shrugged and said, “Okay, let’s go shopping.” The problem had already happened – me having a freak out wasn’t going to fix it.  And you know what? Everything worked out.  The very first dress I tried on fit like a glove, and happened to be on sale.  Sometimes the universe looks out for you.
  9. Stay within your budget. Nothing sucks like money problems, and marriages that start out with money problems usually end. Be practical  with yourself and have the best day you can within your means.
  10. Don’t plan any huge life events around the time of your wedding. Say. . .  buying a house. That’s just me speaking from personal experience, but it was a bear  to manage both things.  Having to negotiate offers on houses while simultaneously finding venues and booking vendors is not a fun way to spend a year, folks.  So do yourself a favor and do one thing at a time. Don’t be like me.
  11. Have fun. Did I mention I went to a casino with my wedding party and a bunch of guests after my wedding? In my wedding dress?!  It was the best time. An amazing night.  An unforgettable day.

    The Practical Gal's Guide on NOT Becoming a Bridezilla
    Yep, that’s me on the casino floor, in my wedding dress, eating chips.

The bottom line is, you are meant to enjoy your wedding.  Turning into a Bridezilla puts stress on not only you, but everyone around you.  So breathe, focus, and remember – don’t sweat the small stuff.  It’ll be over in a heartbeat, and it’s truly an amazing day, if you let it be.


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