When people discover I’m a Margaret River Marriage Celebrant, invariably they ask the question, “Oooooh, have you had any bridezillas?”
Everyone loves a good bridezilla story, it seems. And why not — one person’s bad behaviour makes our own look saintly!
But I’ve been fortunate. In my five years of being a Celebrant, I’ve only had warm, fun-loving couples.
So I was beginning to believe the “bridezilla” was a myth…
Until, that is, I was voted “Best Celebrant in Margaret River region” for two years running…
Since being voted “the best”, I’ve started attracting all types of couples that want “the best Celebrant in Margaret River”… I suppose it’s only natural that this would include a bridezilla here and there.
And having emotional intelligence means (amongst other things):
- I find it easy and enjoyable to develop rapport;
- I am able to connect quickly with my couples, and “read their minds” as to what kind of ceremony would suit them best;
- I get a massive buzz from the smiles on my couples’ faces; and
- The smile on my face during the ceremony is genuine happiness.
And because of this skill, I believe I have been saved from jobs that I intuitively know deep down will end in tears. With honesty, and no intention to harm, I am sharing three experiences I’ve had that pointed to “bridezilla” behaviour.
3 clues a bride might really be a bridezilla
Here are some examples of a bride’s behaviour that raised the red flag for me.
(Yes, these situations all happened to me, and I thank my lucky stars these are the only three bad experiences I’ve had. Ever.)
1. Micro-managing every single friggin’ detail
The bride arrived with a matching wedding planner binder, multi-colour pen and highlighter set, and calculator. (Which is fine — we all have our different styles of organisation.)
What got me scared was, during our interview, she had a loud argument with her groom, about the colour of his tie. She wanted him to wear pink (the 2014 Pantone Colour of the Year, “Radiant Orchid”) to match her girls. He clearly didn’t want to. And on it went for a full five minutes. The volume got so loud, people at adjacent tables stopped eating and began staring.
Anyway, I got so much “tense” from this couple — (especially when he thumped the table with his fist!) — that I had to interrupt them to say, “I’m so sorry. I’m here to help you design your ceremony… if the colour of his tie is more important than your vows, I’m sorry (again), but I don’t think I’m the right Celebrant for you. Can I recommend someone else for you?”
Wow. I shocked myself as much as them — I’d never “sacked” a couple before!
But I did feel better knowing that I’d honoured my values that I hold sacred in a relationship, and mutual respect is one of them.
2. When concern for the self overshadows concern for others…
Within five minutes of meeting, the bride began ticking off a list on her fingers of all the people who’d pissed her off —
— the bridesmaid who couldn’t afford the trip to Melbourne for the hen’s weekend, another bridesmaid who’d gotten herself pregnant (and therefore would look fat and ruin the wedding photos), the three guests who’d indicated they were gluten-intolerant…
Before she could go on, I had to ask, “None of these people do these things on purpose, or to hurt you, surely?”
Her response was so brash and selfish it broke my heart. I could barely get the words out that perhaps I could recommend another Celebrant who was better suited, as I didn’t feel that I was up to the job.
No doubt I soon got added to the “ticking off” list she was building!
3. Lack of respect for professionalism
The couple sat across from me bragging about how they’d secured the best photographer, the best venue, the best live band in Western Australia… “And don’t tell Groom how much I spent on my dress!” the bride whispered to me.
When it came time to settling my invoice, the groom said, “Do you throw in a honeymoon too for that price?”, and then proceeded to haggle me down in price.
It wasn’t long before I realised that what he really wanted was for me to do their wedding as a community service. Seriously? After hiring (and paying for) the best of everything, they couldn’t afford a measly few hundred bucks for the one person who would make their marriage legal?
I calmly explained that I’m a full-time Celebrant, and this is my living. I can’t pay my mortgage on goodwill alone.
And so, with him realising I wasn’t going to work for free, and me realising he was was really a jerk, we agreed to part ways.
Normally I would have explained that my fees are on par with most Celebrants in the South West*. Further, I would have recommended another Celebrant, but in this case I couldn’t because to me, “budget” and “quality” don’t belong in the same sentence together.
I did write to them later, after I’d calmed down, to justify why Celebrants charge what we do — insurances, official stationery, initial training, ongoing training, wardrobe and grooming, purchase of equipment, and so on and so on — and that fees generally reflect the level of professionalism of each Celebrant.
I knew I’d done the right thing in letting them go, when I didn’t even care that they didn’t reply.
Anyhoo, there you have it. The only three experiences I’ve had where I was saved from having a bridezilla (and one groomzilla!) on my hands.
I actually happen to be grateful for them, because it makes me appreciate all the more, the beautiful couples that I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of marrying.
* The Celebrant’s Code of Conduct states that we are not allowed to know what other Celebrants are charging because this would be “collusion”. I only know that my fees are roughly on par with other Celebrants because of client feedback when they’re shopping around for quotes.