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.
open/close all folders
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.)
Live Action TV
Elliot in Scrubs. 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.
In Smallville, Chloe calls herself this 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.
May Dionysus have mercy on your soul if you spoil Maryann's special day.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch 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.
Phoebe's wedding in Friends causes Monica to become Bride Maid-of-Honourzilla.
Elliot in season 6 of Scrubs annoys her fiance and maid of honor by 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.
Wholly justified, as the Groom didn't even make it to the ceremony.
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.
At least in the newer episodes, the narrator is not at all shy about dishing out snarky comments (in her ridiculously perky tone, no less) 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. Hilarity Ensues.
There's another show that follows a Wedding Planner who tries to rein in the more outlandish (possibly life-destroying due to the expense) demands of the couple. Most of the time, however, the brides are not as bad as the show Bridezillas, they just have misguided ideas about what they can afford.
Relatively sad considering most of the women are acting this way for the camera alone. Often times they end up betraying their men a couple days before the wedding or force themselves into a hitch-or-ditch situation. All for the sake of a TV station to help pay for their wedding that may very well not happen...
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 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 on How I Met Your Mother 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.
Played straight by Claudia, wife of Ted's friend Stewart, although 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."
Kate Monster becomes a literal bridezilla in Avenue Q.
Marge during her second third wedding to Homer, in The Simpsons episode "Wedding for Disaster." Averted for her fourth, probably because they planned that one without her knowing.
In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Rarity suggests that it's the stress of the wedding planning that has made bride to be Princess Mi Amore "Cadence" Cadenza so rude to everyone in "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1". It transpires she's actually an evilimpostor seeking to control and cripple Canterlot's Barrier Warrior.
(There is a lot of material here. Don't panic. Just start at the most recent and nibble your way in. You'll come to love visiting the site on dull afternoons.)
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.
Also averted 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. 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) 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. You do hear ridiculous stories, but most of these are about the truly immodest sums rich parents spend on them (they paid how much to get Famous Singer X to play?) rather than anyone's insistence that things be just right.
Indeed, at the more high-end kind of this type of wedding, the insistence that things be just right will not come from the family but from the team employed to make the obligatory wedding video: things must be set up so that the camera can get at everything.
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. It remains to be seen whether men will take this as a huge red flag that their future wife doesn't value their opinion or possibly cares more about the wedding than the marriage.