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Bridezilla is that creature a bride morphs into under the stress of wedding arrangements and unrealistic expectations, resulting in escalating demands and screeching outbursts about insignificant problems. Some say the reptile forms when a normal woman is subjected to the immense pressure of planning a wedding; others say that the wedding-related stress simply reveals the worst of her character. Most agree, however, that the classic Bridezilla is the woman who believes the wedding is Her Day, meaning all revolt must be squelched and all whims indulged.
This is a relatively recent trope, dating not much further back than The Seventies but only becoming well-known in The Nineties. Before that date only the rich had big white weddings, which were social occasions planned and paid for by the bride's parents. The mother of the bride planned the wedding with limited to no input from the bride herself.
Bonus points when the bride starts forgetting it's also the Groom to Be's day, or if she puts more effort into the wedding than the marriage itself.
Related to Drunk with Power and What You Are in the Dark. Mostly occurs because It's All About Me.
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An ad for Diet Dr. Pepper had a bride barking at her line of bridesmaids, "This is MY wedding. And in MY wedding, there are rules. Dresses must be in pristine condition, fingernails done and neat...are you eyeballing me, Martinez?" Then she flounces away and the back of her wedding dress skirt falls off.
One Katie Ka-Boom story in the Animaniacs comic featured this, with Katie acting as a bridesmaid at a cousin's wedding. The wedding stress gets so high that both Katie and her cousin, the bride, lose their tempers and transform into monsters. While they wreck the chapel with their fighting, their mothers bond over the idea of raising kids. ("You too?")
Initially averted in The New Retcons, in that Elly, the mother-of-the-bride, is the 'zilla, mainly because Elizabeth and Anthony initially refused to set a date. Once one was made though, Elizabeth stepped up to the bridezilla plate, to the point that she delegated writing one of her monthly letters to her bridesmaid.
Film - Animated
Monsters vs. Aliens plays this trope almost literally straight and subverts it in the same scene with the same character. Susan Murphy, despite having an extraordinarily stressful wedding day, doesn't panic, keeps her head at all times, does her level best to make sure that nobody gets hurt, and destroys the chapel. All while the guests are running around in a blind panic.
Film - Live-Action
In 27 Dresses the main character's younger sister exhibits some Bridezilla tendencies, but switches to full on Bridezilla mode when an article published in the Post describes her as a Bridezilla who is taking advantage of her sweet-natured, pushover older sister. The end result is the older sister snapping into a Bridemaidzilla, complete with the destroying the dress rehearsal like it was 1950s Tokyo.
The entire film Bride Wars is based on this trope. Unfortunately Predictably, it did not do it well; Bridezilla vs Bridezilla is a ropey second-string Monster Mash and, as AVP's tagline put it, "Whoever wins, we lose."
Laura (Cameron Diaz) in Very Bad Things. She is willing to commit murder to ensure that nothing spoils her dream wedding.
Averted in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Tula mostly goes along with her family's crazy plans, when she just wants to be with Ian.
Esther Friesner's "The Wedding of Wylda Serene" starts with the narrator talking about his sister's bridezilla antics, which eventually leads to her being forced to ask one of the decorators to be a bridesmaid, thus kicking off the backstory. People later start to suspect that the title character is like this because she insists on having the wedding at the Club, but it later turns out that she was put up to it by her mother, who insisted that Wylda get the wedding that she never did.
In The Red Tent, Rachel goes through this while preparing to marry Jacob. (Somewhat justified in that she's only about 12 or 13 years old and not yet emotionally mature.)
The protagonist's fiancee in Insane City. She came from a very wealthy family and could afford a perfect wedding. Among other things, her silver ring was made of slivers of rings from all of her female relatives over the years, and her groom lost it (along with his tuxedo) and had to find it without her knowing about it. Being a Kafka Komedy, everything that could go wrong did. The groom dumped her when he realized she was being a hypocrite about her social justice causes.
Clarissa in the comedy novel Maneater (not to be confused with several other novels sharing the title). "A wedding is no problem for dear Clarissa —- she has been maintaining a wedding binder for years, complete with the best caterers, hotels and florists. She ... has planned the date of the wedding, the bridesmaids and the reception menu. She also has the groom all lined up, but the trouble is, she hasn't met him yet." the groom is just as manipulative.
Elliot. After her first proposal didn't go as perfectly as she had always dreamed (the ring was too small, but otherwise no disaster), she forced him to take it back and repeat it in front of all her friends, according to her specific instructions. The rest of the engagement went similarly by annoying her fiance and maid of honor wirh her obsessive controlling of the wedding arrangements and her outbursts at minor disasters (like the wrong font on the invitations).
Carla in the same series had it to a lesser degree, especially when the ceremony didn't go quite as planned. The Groom didn't even make it to the ceremony.
Chloe calls herself Bridezilla on her wedding day, but it is subverted as she is nice and bright as ever.
Oliver later says Doomsday gives a whole new meaning to "Bridezilla" after it crashes the wedding, severely wounding Jimmy and kidnapping Chloe.
True Blood: May Dionysus have mercy on your soul if you spoil Maryann's special day.
In Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sabrina became a literal bridezilla in one episode, when, following the advice of Cinderella, she became extremely demanding, causing her lower body to change into that of a dragon and making her breathe fire. It reached the point that Cinderella barely notices or cares that Prince Charming left years ago because he was sick of her behavior, and all she does is go around in her wedding dress reliving the memories. While Sabrina has her epiphany, all Cinderella cares about is showing her the wedding album.
Monica had a few freak outs about her wedding ceremony. It started when she wanted to celebrate her engagement with her friends, but felt that Rachel was stealing her thunder. (Which truthfully, with her characteristic I'm not getting married and Monica is, whining Rachel was). Monica also wanted to spend enormous amount of money, and though Chandler would be ok with it for her sake, she decided to keep it low-key. Considering how much of a perfectionist and obsessed with getting married Monica is, she actually held herself together quite well. Chandler however laughs at her when she points it out to him. Numerous episodes, also make it clear that despite her craziness, she values her future with Chandler more than the wedding. She gives up her perfect wedding dress so he can have his dream band, changes times around so Joey's parents can come and is remarkably calm about the hijinks on the day.
Monica: "I don't want a big fancy wedding, I want everything that you just said. I want a marriage."
Phoebe's wedding causes Monica to become Maid-of-Honourzilla. She wants everything to be perfect and even toilet pauses must be scheduled.
Donna Noble in the Doctor Who Christmas Special The Runaway Bride, although in her case it was probably justified as the first thing to go wrong was her disappearing from the church and materializing in an alien spaceship, and it all went downhill from there.
Night Court. Public defender Christine Sullivan becomes this for her wedding preparations. In the end they all say stuff it and have a simple ceremony on the courthouse roof.
Bridezillas is a reality TV show about this trope in action. Every episode features brides-to-be being completely and unapologetically bitchy to their friends, family, and hired help up to, during, and after the wedding. In later episodes, the narrator is not at all shy about dishing out comments in her ridiculously perky tone about the bride's awful behavior, even if no one onscreen acts as though she's doing anything wrong. The thing about this show is that it specifically chooses crass, lower-class women and their often dysfunctional families and gives them thousands of dollars to plan their dream wedding and/or pay for the honeymoon. Hilarity Ensues.
Subverted by British series Don't Tell The Bride. The premise of the show is that the couple sign a waiver allowing the GROOM to plan the whole wedding on a £12000 budget while living apart from his bride-to-be. The grooms-to-be always seem to be a little less flighty (although sometimes a Mother-In-Law-Zilla intervenes!) Although some brides do come over all firebreathing and scaly if they're not particularly used to relinquishing the head position in their relationship.
The brides do often turn into Bridezillas when they see the mess the groom has made of their Big Day; since the couples seem to be chosen on the basis that they must have diametrically opposite ideas on what makes a good wedding it's slightly surprising that this doesn't happen every time.
The Closer features a Bridezilla in the B-plot of one episode; upon being informed that the steps the wedding party was supposed to walk up were a crime scene and they would need to find an alternate route into the church, the bride started beating on officer in charge Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson, not stopping until she was carried bodily away. Then, she declared that she would never drop her threatened civil suit, not even in exchange for having criminal assault charges dropped.
Lily did a remarkably good job at subverting this trope when everything went wrong during her wedding day. However season four flashbacks reveal her to have been quite the bridezilla during the months leading up to the wedding. Also invoked rather well by Barney, who discovers that using the line "It's for the bride" on the day of a wedding is the single greatest Bavarian Fire Drill in the world.
Claudia, wife of Ted's friend Stewart, was very shrewish about her wedding. A few other episodes show that this isn't all that different from Claudia's normal personality.
Shirley Schmidt in Boston Legal. So bad it leads to a brief breakup between her and Carl. Luckily, being an intelligent woman, she calls herself on it and gleefully agrees to elope in a joint ceremony with Alan and Denny up in Nimmo Bay.
On Boy Meets World, Cory Matthews acts like a groomzilla just before his wedding to Topanga. Though mostly towards beleaguered best man Shawn, who's having problems of his own with the whole thing.
The subject of one episode of Target Women, which makes fun of reality shows like the aforementioned Bridezillas. This is also apparently what Sarah wants her own wedding to be like, complete with a Godzilla impression.
On Gilmore Girls, Lorelai's Meddling Mother Emily helps Sookie plan her wedding with some rather extravagant suggestions, but Sookie gets too caught up with it to realize how expensive and bizarre the plans are becoming. Her fiancé begins to feel alienated and Sookie eventually goes into Bridezilla mode over the details on her invitations (or something), and Lorelai helps her to calm down.
Anya: Planning this marriage is like staging the invasion of Normandy.
Xander: Without the laughs. We should have eloped.
Anya: No. I've been through too much planning this wedding, and it is going to happen. It is going to be our perfect, perfect day if I have to kill every one of our guests and half this town to do it.
One woman who planned mostly everything for her wedding ahead without an actual boyfriend showed up on Say Yes To The Dress. Her pushyness scared her boyfriend off, as the ending voiceover told us.
Deep Space Nine. A Gender-Inverted Trope when Jadzia Dax marries Worf, who becomes obsessed with providing a traditional Klingon wedding, much to the annoyance of his less-than-serious bride. Eventually Captain Sisko gives Dax a What the Hell, Hero? speech, pointing out that Dax knew what she was getting into when she married into a Klingon House, so she better start respecting their traditions.
Kate Monster becomes a literal bridezilla in Avenue Q.
Marge during her third wedding to Homer, in The Simpsons episode "Wedding for Disaster". Homer gets screamed at and her children fear her. Maggie even has an Imagine Spot depicting Marge as Godzilla with Homer playing K Ing Kong.
Mr. Burns becomes a Groomzilla during his wedding to Jacqueline Bouvier (Marge's mother), throwing a fit when Bart accidentally drops the ring and threatening him with physical harm, causing Jacqueline to have second thoughts. It doesn't matter, though, because a jealous Grampa breaks up the ceremony and Jacqueline announces she doesn't really want to marry either man.
Averted in certain eastern nations, where the girl's family is traditionally responsible for planning the wedding. Even though brides sometimes choose to get involved, it's often considered a status symbol when she needs to arrive only on the day of the wedding. Aversion goes Up to Eleven in Southern India, where if the bride has a brother, the entire responsibility falls squarely on his shoulders. On rare occasion, may result in a male Bridezilla.
Historically in North America, at least among upper-class families, the bride's mother planned the wedding, the groom's mother planned the rehearsal dinner, and the groom planned the honeymoon. The bride literally had nothing to do but show up. A bride whose mother had died was pitied because she'd have to find another relative to plan her wedding. (As an unmarried woman she'd never be allowed to do it herself.)
In certain Middle Eastern countries, the wedding is supposed to be the business of the groom's family. Or more precisely, the wedding reception/party, at least among Muslims: in Islam, marriage is a contract, and the actual wedding is, erm, a contract signing. (In some cases, there are even contract negotiations.) In more traditional times, the "wedding" was a general community bash held that started small and at home (in the garden or on the roof) with the contract signing and then spilled out into the street, so planning was pointless: at a certain level, herding cats would be an easier proposition. In some cases, one just set up the tent in the street, put out the food,note And other stuff; depending on the community, booze or hash would often be available to all and maybe got a friend to dance or sing, and hoped for the best. Today, most Middle Easterners live in apartments—hardly the best venue for the more traditional sort of wedding—and as a result, the wealthy and middle class hold weddings at hotels (generally for wealthier types) or specialized halls (more middle-income), while the poor tend to still go with the "tent-in-the-street" option. This all takes some planning—even the tent option requires getting the informal permission of the neighbors if you don't want to piss anyone off—and so the expectation is that the groom's family arrange things (as part of the dower), and if the bride's family helps, it's seen as them being nice. As a result, you tend not to see Bridezilla or Groomzilla or Mother-of-the-Bridezilla, but rather an Escalating War between the families of various grooms to top the last wedding. This is particularly true among the rich, where tales of the truly obscene amounts of money they pour into these events (often taking the form "They paid how much to get Famous Singer X to play the wedding?") are common grist for the gossip mill.
There have been a few news stories reporting the phenomenon of "Single Bridezillas, which involve women who have done a lot of their wedding arrangements, such as buying the dress and selecting the flowers, invitations, and caterers, before their boyfriend even proposes, and in some cases, without an actual boyfriend to speak of. While it's not unusual for a woman to fantasize about her dream wedding, these ladies take it to extremes. If you're a groom, you should take this as a huge red flag that your future wife doesn't value your opinion or possibly cares more about the wedding than the marriage.
Anybody getting married quickly learns there's two sides to this trope. Essentially you're organizing a formal dinner for a large group of people, not a simple task, while juggling family politics and traditions and the needs of various guests for lodging and directions. People hire wedding planners for a reason.
Asian weddings are this trope in spades. The average cost of a wedding in the Pakistani community in Great Britain is around £40,000 ($30,000), often more, and involves around three or four days' celebration and feasting. Islamic religious ceremony goes hand-in-hand with tribal and clan and family feuds/relationship, and a really lavish wedding is seen as a status symbol. It is not unknown for the women doing the planning to have informal melt-downs... note The Indian/Hindu side of the cold war is scarcely any less restrained - if anything, Hindu/Indian weddings are even more opulent and have even more scope for Bridezilla meltdowns.