You’ve met with a potential new client, and everything’s gone well: she’s lovely and charming, and you think that you two could work together to create the wedding of her dreams. The contract is signed, things start moving forward, and all of a sudden that lovely lady turns into a shrieking harpy who freaks out at the slightest provocation. Congratulations, you’ve just met Bridezilla.

This term refers to a bride who is patently wretched to be around because of her high-strung behaviour, snarky attitude, and obsession with a level of “perfection” she’s never going to attain. She’s the one who alienates her bridesmaids by ordering them around, and makes bridal shop owners cry in the back room.

If you’re an event planner who’s dipping into the wide world of wedding planning, you are bound to come across one of these soone or later. The key to surviving a bride like this is to look at the big picture, have clear and open communication with her (and the rest of the bridal party), and remember to stay calm at all times.

Consider where the ‘zilla is coming from

Chances are that the woman you’re working with isn’t normally like this. She’s probably stressed to the gills because she wants everything to be just right for her big day, and she has a lot of people to impress. She might not be on the best of terms with her in-laws and wants to prove herself to them; there may be rabid tensions between her and her family/bridal party; there may be petty dramas running through the entire back story that you’re not privy to, etc. She’s trying to plan the celebration she’s always dreamt of, but might also be stressed with work, kids, or any number of other things, and you just happen to be a person she’s taking her frustrations out on.

Try not to take it personally

Much like how therapists need to be able to maintain an emotional distance from patients, event planners have to do the same thing. If the bride is freaking out because she wanted ecru stationery and all that was available was eggshell, it’s not your fault. Be patient and understanding, and show her that the options available to her are absolutely gorgeous, and she’s likely to come around.

The tune makes the music

Much like dealing with tantrum-prone children, it’s vital to keep your voice calm and steady, but firm. Try to have conversations with the bride in person, but even if they’re over the phone, you have to be the voice of reason and stability here. Don’t be goaded into being defensive or raising your voice: if she says something truly horrid, take a deep breath, release it to the count of eight, and make it clear to her (tactfully) that you hear what it is she’s saying, and then explain to her why everything is on course and schedule, and will be just fine.

Remind her that you are there for her

Despite the fact that she’s hired you as her wedding planner, she’ll probably still try to micro-manage like a crazy woman. This is probably because she’s terrified that she’s the only person who can make things happen as perfectly as they need to be, but doesn’t have enough faith in herself to do so: she’s projecting a combination of lack of faith and anxiety onto you, and driving herself quite mad in the process. This is where you reassure her that you are a miracle worker. Sit her down with a glass of wine and try to figure out what her exact worries are, and give her solid examples of similar situations you’ve faced in which things have worked out perfectly. Then pour her another glass—the girl seems to need it.

Be prepared to walk away

Sometimes, on very rare occasions, diplomacy and patience and tact just don’t change anything. The client just keeps getting more difficult—sometimes even abusive—and these are the times when you have to be prepared to walk away. Usually, just the threat of doing so will snap ‘zilla out of her “wed-rage” and make her realise that she’s been insufferable, but you should always be prepared to step away from an ugly situation. It’s rare that you’ll experience a situation that’s bad enough to inspire you to flee for your sanity, but it has been known to happen. When and if this occurs, don’t beat yourself up about it: you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty to help this lady plan her wedding, and if she’s decided that nothing you’ve done can live up to her unrealistic expectations, it’s probably best to part ways.

Lana

After spending over a decade coordinating and managing events ranging from weddings to celebrity charity functions, Lana Winter-Hébert has stepped away from active event work to pursue a new direction in her career. With the event companies and home décor specialists she writes for, she has the opportunity to flex her creative muscles to conceptualise memorable celebrations, and to share inside tips with those new to the industry.

Currently, Lana divides her time between writing for various clients and doing collaborative projects with Winter-Hébert: the design studio she runs with her husband. Best described as "endearingly eccentric", she spends
most of her spare time wrestling with knitting projects, and cohabitates with two hand-raised sparrows who live in her writing-desk.

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