Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

A People Pleaser's Guide To Being A Bridezilla

Welcome to the world of wedding planning as a people-pleaser, friends, where “Sure, that sounds great!” becomes your mantra, even when you’re internally screaming, “That’s the ugliest effing centerpiece I’ve ever seen.” As someone who grew up devouring wedding movies and binging Say Yes to the Dress like it was her career, I assumed getting engaged and becoming a bridezilla went hand-in-hand. But nope! If you happen to be one of those brides who would consider eloping before vetoing anyone’s (awful) ideas re: your wedding, you’re not alone. As a former bride(-turned-wife-turned-mom), I know what it’s like to agonize over what everyone else wants and end up with a wedding venue you don’t love, a menu you despise, and a wedding dress off the rack. Been there, regretted that. 

The thing is, people-pleasers don’t just risk ending up with a wedding that looks like (or is) a bingo hall. They risk drowning out their voice in a sea of unsolicited opinions. “Navigating wedding planning as a people-pleaser necessitates a delicate balance between honoring the desires of others and staying true to one’s authentic self,” bridal anxiety specialist Holly Hudson tells Betches. It’s your day, but somehow, you’ve planned a circus where the main act juggles everyone else’s desires.

Before you find yourself nodding to neon pink bridesmaid dresses or a strung-out DJ/magician as your MC (true story – big ups to Magician Bill), let’s arm you with the tools to say “I do” without compromise. From setting boundaries that would impress Miranda Priestly to mastering the art of saying “no” with a smize, here’s how to become the bridezilla Hollywood raised you to be.

First, Let’s Set Some Boundaries, Shall We?

Bride Wars
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

If there’s one thing we people-pleasers struggle with most, it’s setting boundaries. I would rather someone pierce my toe with a stiletto than tell them they’re on my foot. The problem is that if you don’t set boundaries now, you’ll not only end up with the wedding from your mom’s fever dreams, but you’re also laying a boundary-less foundation for your future. And as you and your partner do Big Adult Things like move across the country, buy a house, or have kids, boundaries will be your sanity-saving grace. Imagine telling your in-laws no to a two-week visit to your one-bedroom apartment. If that thought fills you with dread, wedding planning is prime practice time.

Setting boundaries means clarifying your expectations, staying true to yourself, and speaking up if someone crosses a line. This doesn’t mean you ignore everyone else and their ideas (eh maybe?), but instead, consider your wants too because, remember, you *are* the bride. 

Here’s how: To set boundaries with your family, friends, and perceived loved ones, wedding therapist Ashley Prechtl, LMFT, says you’ll want to be clear about your expectations surrounding everyone’s roles, involvement, and financial influence from the start, and enforce them along the way. You don’t want to acquiesce to every request but, instead, act like the HBIC you are and listen, consider, and compromise (or shoot that shit down) with grace. 

Then, Let’s Work on Our Communication

Bride Wars
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

Once you know what you want, communicating your desires to everyone else is typically the most challenging step for people-pleasers because, duh, not everyone has good taste. Ideally, you’d just be like, “This is what I want,” and everyone would cheer and give you a Netflix documentary. Most of us aren’t Kardashians, though. That’s why communication + active listening will be your saving grace here. The best way to do this, bridal coach Kara Ghassabeh says, is with an anxiety-inducing family meeting. 

“I know family meetings are a lot, but nothing can replace a sit-down, where everyone hears the same thing,” she says. “This is when you’d explain your vision and start managing your respective families’ expectations. We often avoid these conversations because we know they’ll be disappointed or upset. But avoiding them is never better.”

Here’s how: Telling someone something they don’t want to hear is, IMO, worse than death. The good news is that you’ve got a partner with whom to share the brunt of that disappointment. If you know you’re going to piss someone off with a decision, come in as a unified couple and empathetically explain where you’re coming from. “For example, ‘I know you guys are expecting a Catholic Mass, but we are choosing a civil ceremony. I know it’s a disappointment to you, but we have given it a lot of thought and feel very solid in this decision,” Ghassabeh suggests. “Be prepared for it to take time to get everyone on board, but early, clear, respectful communication is best.”

Oh, and after breaking their heart, all three experts suggest steering the disappointed party toward a pretty consolation prize, like tasking them with choosing the rehearsal dinner location or transportation service. Nothing says “sorry” like adding a few to-dos to their list!

Now, Say ‘I Don’t’ to Everyone Else’s Wedding Vision

Bride Wars
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

Chances are you’ve been dreaming about your wedding since before your first open-mouthed kiss. That’s why it’s kind of the most exhausting thing ever when it comes time to plan, and everyone you know is giving their unsolicited opinion. If you’re used to people-pleasing your way through situations (guilty), it’s hard to speak up for your own vision because WHAT IF EVERYONE GETS MAD AT YOU?!

The easiest way to avoid agreeing to wear your mom’s hideous ‘80s wedding dress or letting your cousin’s boyfriend’s aspiring DJ neighbor run the show is to simply… not. “People pleasing is often a stress response that has helped a person avoid conflict and maintain safety in relationships,” Ghassabeh explains. “I always advise my people pleasers to avoid committing when presented with unsolicited suggestions/requests.”

Here’s how: When someone pushes an idea on you, and you feel tempted to give in because you love/are scared of them, Ghassabeh suggests buying time by listening and simply saying: “Thanks for sharing that perspective. I’m not sure exactly what direction we are going in yet” or “Interesting idea. We’ll keep it in mind.” This way, you have time to go home, stress about it in private, and then come up with a response that says, “I care about you, but your shitty idea makes me want to disinvite you to the wedding.” 

Expect Some (or a lot of) Backlash

"Bride Wars"
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

You want a woodland faerie wedding, and your parents want you to have a full mass in the church where you were baptized. Or maybe you want a heavy hors d’oeuvres reception, but your mom says anyone who doesn’t have a sit-down dinner is trash. Whatever it is, you’ve now successfully shattered everyone else’s visions for your big day, and you’re likely spiraling down to a place of “I’ve made everyone mad, no one loves me anymore, I’m the worst person ever.” 

The thing is, bridezillas DGAF about pissing others off, so let’s reframe our mindset. “Expect backlash since it’s part of the process for most couples, Ghassabeh says. “Weddings bring all sorts of feelings for everyone involved, and things can get messy. A lot is happening under the surface, so a fight about a tablecloth or bridesmaid dress is rarely about those things but is more about the underlying anxiety that comes with change.”

Here’s how to deal: One of the best ways to deal with backlash is simply listening to their perspective (even if you hate what they’re saying). “People want to be seen in this process to be reminded that they still matter to you,” Ghassabeh explains. “Hearing people out is a way of respecting the relationship without having to cave on your vision.” Annoying, sure, but effective nonetheless.

Resolve Those Wedding Planning Conflicts

"bride wars"
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

Now that you’ve clarified your wedding vision and thoroughly upset your entire family, it’s time to repair some of the damage. I realize a true bridezilla would skip this step, but let’s be honest: We’d rather be left at the altar on Love is Blind than deal with mildly disappointing anyone. One of the best ways to remedy wedding planning conflict, Ghassabeh says, is with the ole circle back. “Sometimes when things get heated and people get activated, it’s best to push pause until everyone’s grounded and able to think/communicate clearly.” Acknowledging that others have a stake in and ~emotions~ surrounding the day is major. I know the wedding isn’t about them, but everyone’s the star in their own movie, so hear ‘em out (without letting them cross those well-set boundaries). 

Here’s what to do: Circling back is much easier in emails than IRL when you’re actively avoid murdering your MOH because she wants a cream bridesmaid dress. The trick? Hear their perspective, then ask to reconvene after you’ve “considered” it. If you literally can’t vocalize your opinions in person, text, email, or mail (like, via the mailbox) your thoughts. Prechtl says it’s a clever play because it gives you time to craft a thoughtful message and ensure your views are accurately conveyed. 

And if none of that works and everyone still hates you (and you’re not okay with running away and changing your name), you might have to make a few compromises. “I do believe in accommodating where you can for VIPs,” Ghassabeh says. “It’s fun to say yes whenever it feels good and possible, but when you can’t, just communicate gracefully and an: ‘I wish we could make that work, but it’s not possible.’”

But What if My Parents/Partner’s Parents are Chipping in?

Bride Wars
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

The one caveat to becoming a bridezilla is that your hands might be somewhat tied if you’re not paying for the day yourselves. “Assume that all money comes with strings made of assumptions,” Ghassabeh says. Most weddings are like a group project from hell, so you likely can’t just ignore everyone else and still expect them to foot the bill. In that case, part of setting your boundaries from the start should be stating what you won’t negotiate on and learning what’s expected of the contributions you receive. Sure, you might still get pushback, but it’s better to know early on instead of when final deposits are being asked for and you’re shit out of luck. 

Transforming from a people-pleaser to a strong-headed bridezilla might not happen overnight, especially when balancing the financial expectations of others. Yet, as Hudson reminds us, “Prioritizing your happiness is not only valid but essential.” It’s about striking that delicate balance between gratitude for the contributions and asserting your vision for the day. After all, your wedding should feel like yours, not just a product of everyone else’s expectations. And remember, in the world of wedding dramas, you’re the lead, not an extra in someone else’s screenplay. The only major alterations you should be making are the ones on your wedding dress (unless it’s Vera, of course). 

Rachel Varina
Rachel Varina
Formerly one of the HBICs at Total Sorority Move (RIP), Rachel Varina has a long history of writing about things that make her parents ashamed. She's an avid lover of holding grudges, sitting down, and buffalo chicken dip. Currently, she lives in Tampa, Florida, but did not feed her husband to tigers. And even though she's married (with a *gasp* baby), she doesn't suck. Promise. PROMISE! Follow her on Instagram and Twitter (@rachelvarina) so she gets more followers than that influencer her husband dated in high school.