Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bridezilla and Back from the Dead

Now that I am so close to being legally married and starting to get my life back (i.e. writing again), I would like to address the great archetype of Bridezilla. Because for the over-a-year that I've been engaged, people have loved to tell me Bridezilla stories, or ask me whether I've "yet" become Bridezilla. Bridezillas are on reality TV all day and all night, seven days a week. And yes, obviously, the ubiquitous TV brides sobbing and shrieking at their closest loved are easy to despise, which makes them great for reality-TV. But what the producers of those shows don't often admit is that most of these women have spent the last year of their lives listening to sexist, heterosexist stories about Bridezilla, repeating again and again that all women really want to be is a princess-bride, and all princess-brides are crazy. Self-fulfilled prophecy, anyone?

I have never been especially femme. I never gave a single thought to my "ideal wedding" until faced with trying to schedule one. I asked close friends and my boyfriend to be attendants because I cherish their support, but I flatly refused to tell anyone else what to wear. At the trial run for my hair, the hairdresser asked me how easily my hair holds a curl, and I realized that there isn't a single previous life experience from which I would know the answer to that question. I was lucky to fall in love with a man with a great talent for visual design, and he made most of our style choices - a responsibility that I was thrilled to bequeath to him.

Except, when my fiancé made phone calls to arrange some of those logistics, a common first question to him was, "And what does the bride want?" Friends who know us well find this funny, because he is definitely the designer in our relationship. Friends who don't know us quite as well were more confused as to why such an opener surprised us. Clearly, our culture tells us, weddings are for brides. I am overwhelmed by the number of books, magazines, and websites with "bridal" advice. What is the adjective form of "groom"? Is there one? Apparently, the groom's proscribed role is to show up. And for women who have rejected such rigid gender roles, who have never before cared about formal etiquette or flower arrangements or color schemes, suddenly there's a great deal of pressure to learn and to care. While people resent "Bridezilla," they are also shocked and uncomfortable with a bride that refuses to play along sufficiently with the "princess" motif. Then, lo and behold, after a year of sexist, heterosexist repetitions that this is the single most important day of my life and that I should have perfect control, added to the months of lacking time for anything else that used to be my life, I have definitely found myself going crazy.

For all my fiancé and I have joked this past year about eloping, and all the sleepless nights and panic attacks about how much everyone expected me to do - I am now really, really excited that I'm about to have the largest, most varied assembly of my family and friends that I am likely to see in this lifetime. The details are coming together and it's going to be beautiful. And I am really, really excited to spend the rest of my life with my fiancé, who has been my rock of stability during this period of insanity - which bodes excellently for our marriage. I really do believe in celebrating romantic love with beloved friends and family. And if I hear one more "Bridezilla" reference, I will scream.