There’s a great – if not also trite – saying: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
I like to add, “True; but you CAN find out what it’ll cost.”
You’ve heard me from time to time refer to the dreaded subclass of client, the Bridezilla. It’s a quaint term designed to lump a myriad of ‘special-case’ customers into a single group. The defining characteristics of a bridezilla are things like being overly demanding, impossible to please, mercurial, and/or unwilling to work WITH the wedding expert in question.
Yes, you’ve heard me talk about them in my blogs (the names have been changed to protect the innocent), and a Tale of a Bridezilla is always good for some extra views from people who enjoy Singing Seamstress Schadenfreude. But today I’d like to dig a little deeper – open the cover, as it were – and discuss a special topic: when you think she’s a bridezilla… but she’s not.
Sure: if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck… but as I’ve grown my business and worked with all ilks of brides, brides-to-be, bridesmaids, and their families, I have to say I’ve developed a deeper understanding of some of them when they’re – how can one put this? – not at their best. Here are five main reasons I’ve discovered that someone who may SEEM like a bridezilla may NOT be.
- Cultural differences – I have a friend who has owned many cars in his life. He recently told me that by far the best car-buying experience he’d ever had was when he bought a Saturn, mainly because back when they were sold they all cost the same. No dickering, no “let me check with my manager,” no pressure to get the greatest deal. It got me thinking about the number of times that the prices of my products and services have been haggled over. While by no means am I racially profiling, I couldn’t help but notice that many of these times involved people from cultures and heritages where haggling and bartering were a way of life. In the United States, we tend to haggle over the largest-ticket items (homes, cars, vacations, etc.) but we tend to blindly pay whatever the sticker price is on everything else (can you imagine hitting the local grocery store and haggling over every item that runs across the scanner? “How much for the milk? $2.29? I’ll give you a buck-fifty, no higher. Okay, go check with the manager”). Once I realized that, I’ve been able to get over my initial hackle-raising when someone wishes to haggle and instead pleasantly point out that, with this particular seamstress, you pay whatever’s on the price tag.
- “The Jitters” – Sometimes I get stressed. Oftentimes I feel I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, or I’m convinced I’m not good enough to make a living at this, or that I should retreat to the cold comfort of a desk job where there’s no creativity but a decent dental plan. And it’s easy to get caught up in my own little universe. That’s when I have to pull myself out of the funk whenever I encounter a jittery bride. Because no matter how much I feel overwhelmed, it has to be peanuts compared to the bride. Let’s face it: none of us are sunshine and roses when the bullets are flying. Planning a wedding is a months-long, 24/7 version of handling road rage. Just check out where a wedding falls in the top 10 life stressors; it’s worse than losing your job or facing retirement.
- It Ain’t Cheap – Not that I’m exactly swimming in the dough here, but there have been plenty of times in my past where I’ve been so broke that I couldn’t afford to pay attention. We’re talking dinners made up of swiped McDonald’s ketchup packets and hot water to make ersatz tomato soup; you can’t call it a shoestring budget because you can’t afford shoestrings. And I KNOW I wasn’t all sunshine and smiles during those times. Embarrassment or outright humiliation jockeyed for position with envy of those who had while I was a have-not. Now, typically a bride has dreamt of her special day for years if not decades, and when reality comes crashing into a fairy tale, our reactions can be severe. Today, the national average of a wedding is $33,931.00. Let me enunciate: THIRTY-THREE THOUSAND PLUS. And if you think there’s no way you’d ever get near that cost, play this game for kicks. What may look like a bridezilla walking through my door may instead just be a soul-crushed little girl on the inside who’s desperately trying to hold onto her fairy tale. It’s my job to help her through this by explaining my rates and why I charge them, and even to offer less expensive alternatives.
- Pregnancy – I won’t have to go into too much detail here. Pregnancy. Hormones. Body image. Terror of the future. Swollen ankles and stomach-turning cravings. Possibly shotguns involved.
- Mommie Dearest – There’s no easy way to tackle this topic, so I’ll just get right to it. Too often I’ve dealt with a bride and things have been under control, or at least controllable. But then the Mother of the Bride arrives (usually late to the appointment in a flurry of words and arm-waving), and typically that’s when things start to go off the rails. Now, to be honest, more often than not it’s the parents of the bride who foot the bill, so they have a vested interest – literally and figuratively – in every aspect of the pending nuptials. In those instances they SHOULD have a say. But I’ve had my fair share of Momzillas who take over every conceivable aspect of the wedding, blind and deaf to the wants, needs, and desires of their daughter, and we all know that poop trickles downhill, so it goes from mom to daughter to me. If you think that the direct correlation between parents paying and parents having an impact on their children is off, just ask yourself: have you heard of a GROOMzilla? In these cases where mom attempts a coup, I find it best to schedule special solo appointments with just the bride.
Well, there you go: five very actual reasons why we should take a breath or two when dealing what seems to be a bridezilla. What are YOUR thoughts? I’d love to hear them in the comments!
Until next time!