How ‘bridezilla’ became this summer’s biggest sexist slur

They tell bridesmaids to lose weight, force fiances into second jobs – and one reportedly asked a friend to have an abortion. Bridezilla stories are tabloid catnip, but what do they tell us?

It is wedding season, and as surely as an Ed Sheeran-soundtracked first dance follows a street-food-truck meal, stories of brides behaving badly are keeping the internet stoked. There is a whole group on the forum Reddit devoted to tales of so-called bridezillas. Newspapers devour them like a slice of naked wedding cake. Last month, a screengrabbed picture of a text conversation between a bride trying to force her cousin to be a bridesmaid before telling her she was “too fat anyways” was posted. Another post related how a woman had tried to force her fiance to get a second job to fund their wedding. There was also the story of a woman who posted the picture of her engagement ring – which once belonged to her partner’s grandmother – complaining it wasn’t what she had wanted, and the woman who complained her bridesmaids didn’t want to pay for their dresses. Earlier this year was the story of the bride-to-be who asked her pregnant bridesmaid to consider having an abortion so as not to complicate the dress fittings, and the bride who forced her friends to take a polygraph test. She wanted to find out which one of them had leaked details of her planned dress code, in which colours were allocated according to weight. Whether or not these tales – usually anonymous – are true, in WhatsApp groups over the country, women are prefacing any request of their bridesmaids with “not to be a bridezilla or anything, but …”

“I won’t stand for it,” says Mark Niemierko, a wedding planner, of outlandish demands. Only recently, he says, he took a bride-to-be to one side and asked her to stop being so rude to his suppliers. When he talks to other people in the industry, they do share stories of overly-demanding brides, though he adds it has become such a well-worn – and feared – stereotype that the bridezilla has started to die out. It came about, he thinks, with the advent of celebrity weddings. He blames David and Victoria Beckham, and their 1999 wedding – with its golden thrones, outfit changes, balloon release and fireworks – for starting the modern trend for wanting the biggest and flashiest do, along with all the stressful organisation and cost that entails. The worst behaviour he has seen from couples “comes from being somewhat insecure and more so, keeping up with the Joneses”.

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