Welcome to the mad world of the Bridezilla
Irish brides are splashing out €27,000 on their big day and they're making the most of it, says Geraldine Lynagh
Bridezilla -- noun -- a woman whose behaviour in planning the details of her wedding is regarded as obsessive or intolerably demanding. "What happens if you die before my wedding day?" asked one bride-to-be of a hairstylist I know, undoubtedly marking the moment when her wedding planning finally crossed into bridezilla territory.
Also on the roll call of the temporarily insane, the bride who asked a pub near the church to stay closed before, during and after her wedding ceremony, in case any guests were tempted to forego the formalities and get the celebrations underway early.
The transformation from perfectly reasonable human being to irrational bride-to-be is a very real phenomenon, according to psychologist Allison Keating from the bWell Clinic.
Allison herself has heard of a bride who asked her make-up artist to make her bridesmaids 'ugly-looking' so no-one would outshine her. She knows of women who went into therapy to cope with the feelings their weddings have brought to the fore.
"I completely see how psychological a wedding is," says Allison. "You're bringing together a whole mix of people and you're hoping that they all get on, and that's not always a possibility." Allison believes weddings bring a lot of old mental wounds to the surface for some women and this has the potential to trigger bridezilla behaviour
"I think there has to be some sort of historical hurt there. It could be to do with how you feel you've been treated within your own family, how his family is treating you, or it could be an old issue you have with friends."
Many who have witnessed bridezilla behaviour in full flight have taken to the internet to share their experiences.
One contributor to a forum on weddingsonline.ie tells how a bride she knew banned any drink but wine until 9pm, as she didn't want dirty pint glasses and bottles on the tables ruining the look of her wedding.
Cue a stampede to the bar by the beer drinkers when the ban was lifted, and about a half an hour later, half the place was roaring drunk.
Several stories warn of the dangers of being part of a wedding party and not toeing the line. One bride told her sister she could no longer be her bridesmaid because she had the cheek to break her ankle. The cast would ruin the photos, it seems.
Similarly, another bride lost the plot when one of her bridesmaids told her she'd have to stick with flat shoes because a medical condition ruled out wearing high heels. She was duly fired.
Given such volatility, you could be forgiven for wondering why anyone would want to work with those planning to tie the knot.
But plenty do, perhaps in part because weddings are frighteningly big business in Ireland, and the amount spent on them has only been slightly tempered by the recession. The mrs2be.ie website estimates that the Irish wedding industry is worth between €500 million and €1 billion annually.
That figure sounds incredible, until you think of everything a wedding involves -- the dress, venue, wedding car, food, invitations, wedding band, the honeymoon, wedding planners, and the hen and stag celebrations. The costs aren't long adding up.
A survey by the same website shows the average a couple spends on a wedding -- including the honeymoon -- has fallen by around 6pc in the past year, but it still surpasses the €27,000 mark.
Wedding coordinator Aoife Callaghan (thebridallounge.ie) has seen firsthand how stressful weddings can be for brides when so much money is involved. She has a special name for her more challenging clients. "Checklist brides," she explains, "have read too many forums and too many blogs, and feel they want everything to be a part of their wedding day.
"Then they get themselves in an absolute knot towards the end because so many things that they wanted are just unobtainable and they become a little crazy."
Aoife loves her job, but agrees it's demanding. "You can't just go near a bride a few weeks before her wedding," she says. "She wants constant attention. If you give that to her she gets less panicky towards the end."
One of the more unusual requests Aoife has had came from an Asian bride, who was marrying an Irish man. It being the year of the rabbit, the bride decided that instead of displaying a 'boring' seating plan outside the dining room, she wanted to set live rabbits loose in the courtyard of the venue. A card would be tied around each of the rabbit's necks with a couple's names and the table they were sitting at.
"We were dumbfounded," says Aoife. "We put a stop to that idea fairly quickly because there was just no way. We gently told them it wouldn't go down too well with the Irish guests, because they would probably think they were chasing their dinner!"
'Another bride didn't like the colour of the carpet at the venue," she recalls.
"She said it wasn't really working with her colour scheme. She wanted us to get the hotel to rip it out and put in a whole new carpet just for her wedding. Her attitude was 'we're booking your hotel, so you have to bend over backwards for us'. That was a resounding 'No' as well. A hotel is not going to accommodate something like that."
To make any potential bridezillas feel better, here's a great story from etiquettehell.com. However obsessive you're getting, you're probably not as bad as the bride who ordered two sets of invitations, one stating clearly that children are not invited, the other saying the whole family is welcome to attend. Gentle probing revealed she didn't want ugly children ruining her photos, so was only inviting those more blessed in the cuteness stakes.
The moral? If you want to keep your friends, avoid any decisions you might find difficult to explain after your wedding day.