broadsideblog

The new bridezilla — show me the dough or I’ll shame you on social media

In behavior, domestic life, family, life, love, Money, news, Style, urban life, women on October 20, 2013 at 2:50 am

By Caitlin Kelly

Wedding

Wedding (Photo credit: teresachin2007)

Here’s a seriously depressing story from The Globe & Mail about bridezillas’ latest depths of greed and entitlement:

Earlier this month, a bride whipped out her phone and texted one of her guests: The newlywed woman was still waiting on a money-stuffed card and congenially reminded her guest that she’d attended “for free.” The guest, a childhood friend saddled with student loans, fired back with a refreshing smackdown. “If you cannot afford a wedding, then do not have one,” she wrote in a letter. “Do not dare make your friends/family feel financially responsible for your decisions/parties/extravagances.” The guest taped a penny to the letter, then bid farewell to their friendship.

It’s the third nasty blowup of this kind since summer, all leaked by the guests and highly publicized. In July, another wedding guest revealed a Facebook message she’d received from a bride dissatisfied with the gift of $100 from the guest and her partner: “We were very much short on paying off the reception,” read the complaint. And before that in June, two guests from Hamilton got blasted for their admittedly unusual wedding gift, a wicker basket brimming with pasta and Marshmallow Fluff. The bride didn’t mince words in subsequent texts and Facebook messages to the pair: “I lost out on $200 covering you and your date’s plate,” she wrote, later adding, “Weddings are to make money for your future not to pay for people’s meals. Do more research.”

There are few occasions more id-revealing than weddings. God help us.

I used to be really good friends with  a woman I’ll call J. We were besties, I thought, for life. Hah!

I threw her a wedding shower, at a point in my life when spending even $100 to welcome 15 of her friends — only one of whom I knew — was a real financial strain. When she arrived the first words out of her mouth weren’t, “How lovely. Thank you!” but “What time will this be over? I need to let my fiance know what time to pick me up.”

Nice.

Then she held a destination wedding on a Caribbean island far from New York, where we live. Another $1,000+? Nope.

Another friend kept having showers and parties, like the dinner inviting a group of her friends, (many high-earning or married) to a midtown restaurant full of Wall Street guys eating $40 steaks. Women at the table ordered many bottles of wine and the bill arrived — my portion (!) was $100, an absolute fortune for me at the time. Every shower required another gift. By the time I attended her wedding I couldn’t afford another thing.

Enough!

I’ve been married twice; the first time my family gave us some money for the wedding. I married again in 2011, in Toronto, and it was all on us. We managed to make it charming, stylish and affordable.

We loved our gifts, but, apart from the actual ceremony, considered the day a large party. I don’t ask my friends over and present them with a bill for dinner…

People in a marquee enjoying a wedding feast.

People in a marquee enjoying a wedding feast. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do you make of this notion that wedding guests need to cough up — or else?

Has it happened to you?

Have you done it?

  1. This past June I married off my oldest daughter. I paid for the wedding in full, because I wanted to give them this celebration as a gift – no strings attached whatsoever. It was a splendid party for all our invited guests – the only point was to celebrate the occasion with family, friends, and loved ones, again no strings attached. These things should be done with no consideration of whether the guests will “cover” the cost of their meals and venue. How preposterous!

    And yet, as you’ve pointed out, there are some (God I hope it is a very small minority of people out there) that view these kinds of events as a fund-raiser of sorts. It makes me shake my head. Isn’t giving a gift supposed to be special, and more importantly VOLUNTARY? Sorry if I get heated at this, but I cannot believe the shallowness of some.

    • It sounds like a great celebration…

      I think there are two factors at play — people spending far more money than they have on a wedding and a sense of entitlement that others are meant to help them with this over-spending. It’s still weird.

      • It is a balancing act. I was fortunate in the sense I could easily afford the venue and adornments, but the guest list of those invited was prepared without regard of anyone’s ability to pay for such an event. If I wasn’t able to afford such a thing, I would have had no problem finding an alternative as a gift to her I could have afforded, and still invite the very same people I did.

        I agree with you that people nowadays are pressured into spending much more than they can afford for such an event, and perhaps that feeds into this bizarre behavior of entitlement with regard to gifts their guests should be somehow giving as a result. It’s sad, and to a degree a reflection of the times: People spend money they do not have on things they do not need to impress people who do not care or matter. This is most likely the result of well crafted conditioning from modern day media – shows, ads, magazines, etc.

  2. I can’t speak from personal experience, but I think Disney Princesses and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and every thing that perpetuates the idea that a wedding and everything must be associated with said wedding must be extravagant and wonderful and costly is partly to blame. It creates a mentality that a wedding must be perfect or the whole thing is ruined, and anything that threatens to ruin a wedding must be the enemy of the bride and her groom.
    Maybe they should do a reality show on small-budget weddings. Might remind some people that a wedding doesn’t need to be big and crazy. Might also take off some of the tension and make for less hurt feelings.
    Of course, I could be very wrong. It’s been known to happen.

    • I think that would be a great idea! We have our very low-budget wedding this winter, and I’m sure it will be great – even without people giving anything, we will be able to pay for it ourselves, and we throw the party because we want to have people who are important to us with us at that special day. Expecting guests to cover the costs, and making it more extravagant because others will give us money anyway, did not even cross our minds.

    • Very true. That’s a sad comment on people’s inability to distinguish reality from fantasy. There’s a TV show called Say Yes to the Dress, about brides choosing their dress. I enjoy watching it, but some women spend $6K+ on the dress alone. If you’re wealthy, I guess it’s not much to them, but it sets up the idea that thousands spent on one garment — or day — is “normal.”

      I wore a vintage dress the first time ($300) and a dress I’d owned for years the second time. No one has to blow a ton of money.

  3. A good friend (male) asked Mike and I if we could attend their wedding while we were visiting in Canada last year. We said yes. He mentioned at the time that I wouldn’t have to take the photos, and I could enjoy the day. Sweet…first time in years!

    Fast forward one year. I get a phone call asking “Do you want to be our photographer?”
    I said yes quickly, so as to not offend…and sent an email the following day saying:

    “Hey I’d actually love to just attend the wedding and celebrate the day with them. The past 8 weddings I’ve been to I’ve been the photographer and I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I was working throughout the day”.

    He responded saying, I wasn’t invited to the wedding…as “numbers were tight”.

    Rude right? It still really bothers me. I’ve also told him it is pretty uncool, I’m not sure how I feel anymore about our friendship because of it.

  4. i feel that a wedding and a fundraiser are two very different things. a wedding should be a sharing of the celebration of two people joining their lives together. whatever funds the couple and/or their family have available to them should be what they use to create the special day. it is not the guests’ obligation to fund this day, their obligation is to share it and enjoy the day. to expect guests to ‘pay’ a certain amount for the honor of attending, and then being upset if they don’t shell out an appropriate amount, amounts to emotional extortion.

  5. I couldnt post under my blog name because some people who attended. A certain wedding follow my blog.
    A relative

  6. Sorry my phone cut off my earlier reply. I attended a celebrity wedding. One of my relatives works in the entertainment industry. During the bridal shower someone complained about how cheap the prizes were for the games. I was shocked! Then on top of that the bride was angry that a relative who had promised to pay for the wedding cake was unable to do so . There were Emmy award winning guests, athletes etc and she had the nerve to send a nasty message to the poor relative who was going through a divorce and was unable to contribute . The new husband wasn’t hurting for money either so I was dumbfounded. We grew up together and we were not raised as Spoiled brats. After college working in Hollywood went to her head. She has an emmy now and I’m proud of her but its so sad how materialistic she has become. Sorry typos Trying to type on my phone.

    • This is horrible. Really. It angers me when people decide to prioritize their material greed over having a friend enjoy their celebration.
      I was really grateful to have two dear old friends (and money was always tight for them) come all the way from B.C. to NY for my first wedding. Then I felt guilty as hell when the marriage ended…Luckily one of them came to my second wedding. That was a gift!

  7. I suspect nasty people now have a bigger platform for bullying others. In the past, situations like you described might have played out via covert gossip. “Can you believe X only gave Y at the wedding?” This kind of innuendo, with various criticisms and subtle insults repeated over coffee and on the phone until it finally lands at the intended recipient: the person minus a money-stuffed envelope. With wider social circles and more geographic dispersion, this kind of social dynamic no longer works so seamlessly–if you have few friends in common and live far apart, the gossip may never find its way to the intended victim. So more overt and direct methods are necessary.

    But anyone who sees wedding this way deserves to be stiffed. If you’re hosting a fundraiser, I expect frills be kept to a minimum. Better yet, stay home and I’ll send a donation. High administrative costs are bad for charities.

  8. Holy cow, this is a thing?! When we got married my parents gave me a budget and wished me the best of luck. They were in the UK and I was in the US so I was on my own largely. With it I organized the reception venue, food, decorations, flowers, etc. I paid for my dress out of my own savings. My inlaws paid for the photography (they have a family friend who is a professional who gave them a discount), and the wedding breakfast. Some people gifted us with money, my high school mentor actually sent a check all the way from Guam, but most didn’t. We got some wonderfully thoughtful presents

    I’ve been a bridesmaid several times, thrown parties and showers for my friends, and even traveled long distances to participate (I was a Best Man once!). But if a friend outright demanded money from me I wouldn’t know how to react. Granted most of the weddings I’ve participated in have been of the young, starving college student variety (though as I get older that’s of course changing) so they haven’t been hugely lavish affairs, but I cannot believe people do this!

    • It’s tacky, for sure.

      I think planning one’s own wedding on a budget (and still being able to do it well) is a lot of fun. There must be some bizarre idea now (perhaps, as Rami says, fueled by TV?) that a wedding must be a HUGE and costly event and everyone’s job is to make you solvent at the end…

      My favorite wedding gift, ever, was a pair of binoculars given to me by someone who was not even a terribly close friend who did not even attend my first wedding — he was one of my fellow fencers. I use them all the time and think of him with gratitude.

  9. Emotional blackmail of this type is disgusting. A wedding is supposed to be a happy event with GUESTS sharing the happy day. Guests don’t participate in costs or they’re no longer guests. People have the option of bringing gifts or giving a monetary present, it’s their option. When my daughter got married I’d given her a sum of money and let them make the arrangements they wanted. Anything outside the budget they funded themselves. They did send a card with the invitations asking if guests were considering a gift they’d appreciate a small cash figure since their house was pretty much complete but that anything would be most welcome.
    I think f a couple want a wedding of any size they must be prepared to fund it themselves and show gratitude for any gifts that come their way without expectation.

    • It’s interesting they felt comfortable asking for cash instead. I wish I could have done that (when you marry later in life, you often have your household set up) but would not have dared…

  10. I think it’s way over the top and terribly rude to expect anything from a guest other than their presence. If they choose to attend and if they choose to bring or send a gift it’s a lovely and welcomed gesture, but I would never expect, much less demand a gift or cash to help cover costs.

  11. In my country, it is commonly agreed parents provide the financial means for the wedding, if they can. Most weddings I attended were financed by the parents of the bride and groom. And when it wasn’t the case, the ceremony was stripped down to a simple reception with no expensive food. May I also mentioned that marriage is on the decline in my country, as young people tend to choose not to get married.
    That is said, guests are often invited to pick a gift in a wedding list. And here, I’ve seen some future newlyweds setting a very expensive wedding list. For those who didn’t want to pick something in that list, I’ve seen the bride shaming them afterwards.

    • It’s always a challenge when setting up a wedding list, or registry, as there’s great stuff you’d love to have — and then there’s what your friends or family can afford! A smart couple chooses a very wide range of prices so people don’t feel embarrassed by not being able to afford anything. One friend of mine is still ribbing me about the cost of wineglasses I chose (she bought us two). I didn’t think they were insanely expensive, but she did….:-)

  12. It saddens me to see that what should be a celebration of love and sharing with the world that you are committed sometimes becomes nothing more than pure consumerism.

    When we were married, we had the celebration we wanted and paid for our guest, everything including the hotel rooms and even flew in my cash strapped maid of honour. What did we ask in return? Nothing, just for them to celebrate with us, what for us was and is the most important day of our lives together.
    What did we get? A wonderful book of treasured family recipes one from each guest. A few gifts that are still special and a huge number of very happy wonderful memories. What more could one want?

    People as described in your blogposts, well let’s say they’d be off my friends list swiftly

    • It’s wonderful you were able to pay for everything. We were on tight budgets for both my weddings…and one couple (!) even drove all the way from NY to Toronto (9+ hrs each way) just for the weekend to be with us. That meant a lot.

      The two women I describe, my former friends…no longer friends.

  13. I recently attended a pretty lavish wedding of a friend’s daughter. I couldn’t help but think all the money involved would have been better spent on something like a down payment on a house, or an investment, a car, or silver ingots–anything!
    I have an idea. Next time I get married, if someone give me $10,000 for the wedding (OK, neither of those things are going to happen) I will invite 20 of my closest friends and invite them to the wedding, at an address which will turn out to be an empty lot, where a lawyer will be standing handing out $500 to each guest as they arrive with an explanation that we eloped, and to go ahead and keep the blender.

  14. I got married in June and thankfully, I can honestly say that I was the anti-bridezilla. However, during my engagement, I dumped two girlfriends. I think that when someone gets married, it’s a time where true colors show and friendships reach a fork in the road. Other friends of mine have parted ways with friends during their wedding time as well.

    • I suspect that happens a lot — as I said in the post, id time…People’s latent greed or selfishness or narcissism (at worst) bursts into full flame. I loathe bridezilla behavior but it’s also a sad reflection on how desperate some women feel to be Queen for a day, and the center of attention.

      I was not heartbroken to lose those two friends — it was made clear to me that now they were married, and one to a man with $$$$$, I was part of their single-girl past and it was no longer a world with a place for me in it. Whatev…

  15. I work in the hospitality industry – I would estimate I’ve run over 500 weddings in the past 30 years.I blame reality TV for the upswing in bat shit behaviour.Once upon a time nuptials were pleasant celebrations Now hysterical behaviour is the norm rather than exception.It seems to be socially acceptable to turn into a bridezilla – recently a bride stormed up to my poor bartender, snatched a tip jar (normally not allowed but moments before one of the guests insisted on grabbing a glass and stuffing a $20 bill into it) and screamed that bartender was stealing her money.

  16. I’m flabbergasted – but hopeful that this behavior is just an anomaly that gets broad play due to ‘reality’ tv and social media. That bride should have continued her own research to find that gifts were originally meant to help the new couple start their lives together – not to “make money for your future”. I received simple gifts at my wedding and was happy for all of them since we were just starting out.

    My sister did have one guest take back his gift because he disapproved of her simple reception. (My parents figured the budget they had spent on my wedding 11 years previous and then calculated inflation to arrive at a number for my sister.)

    My brother and sister in law had a beautiful wedding and reception in MN so I gave a gift that I could afford as a single mother who had to travel (and incur all of those costs) to their wedding – my gift included an essay on marriage that I wrote and put on parchment for them. They were thrilled that we were all together (it was days after 9/11).

    My son and daughter-in-law had a lovely small wedding set in the afternoon to reduce costs. To the best of my knowledge we had no ill feelings anywhere. I helped out where I could financially.

    We are paying too much attention to the extravagance and not enough attention to the marriage itself.

    • It’s true that attention to the Big Day can totally obscure what’s happening there — a wedding — a commitment for life, ideally.

      • Meg Ryan had a great quote years ago, she said something about the fact that we have too much mythology about the wedding day and not enough about the marriage. This was long before bridezillas reared their ugliness.

      • It’s too easy to freak out about the Big Day and conveniently forget the rest of your life…

  17. Wow, it’s shocking to me that people would do that. That would never even occur to me; it’s disgusting. Weddings are a huge business and can get crazy expensive, but that doesn’t mean to take it out on your guests. You should want them there to share the day with you, not because they owe you anything.

    My father paid for my wedding, but we tried to keep the costs down as much as possible: we got married in my house (I also had a ballroom in my house at the time), we made our own invitations, flower arrangements, and decorations, and my gown was made by a seamstress friend who gave me a relatively good deal–and yet the wedding still racked up quite a fee. To be honest, I used my ceremony as a teaching experience of sorts, and it was a big show (the totally secular ceremony was an hour long!), but I’d never insist that my guests owe me anything for it. Crazy.

  18. Now I’m shocked. I’ve seen people spending crazy $ on weddings, but I haven’t encountered the blatant greed and entitlement you detail here. What a society. :( I went to Vegas, no obligations to anyone. Who wanted to /could meet us there did, who couldn’t, didn’t. No pressure for anyone.

    • I think a lot of repressed/unexpressed need, greed and emotion can erupt around weddings…all those unmet, coveted expectations…And the wedding-industrial complex only feeds the notion you HAVE to have…all of it, or else.

      Both of my weddings were fairly small (60, 25) and low-key but elegant and fun. I had more fun making it cool on a budget anyway.

      • I truly don’t get it–and I did a stint working at the bridal gown mecca.

        The point is supposed to be the getting married, not the ostentatious displays.

        I’m guessing your weddings were lovely and fun, as they should be, in my opinion.

  19. What do you make of this notion that wedding guests need to cough up — or else?

    That’s ridiculous and unrealistic, especially in this economy. We’re not all Trumps and Gates levels of weathy. None of my friends could afford such a thing.

    Has it happened to you?

    Fortunately, no. All of my social circle are of modest means and we tend to enjoy more laid back occasions.

    Have you done it?

    No. And I wouldn’t. I would be heartbroken if a friend overspent on anything for me. I know how hard times are for some of them. My wife and I spent $5000 of our own money on our wedding. It included the venue, officiant, reception and access to the Texas Renaissance Festival for 50 people. We had a blast and so did our guests. We encouraged costumes, but didn’t require them because we knew there would be a lot of folks that couldn’t afford it. My only somewhat picky complaint was that my father in law wore a stained white t-shirt under his costume instead of just tossing the $3 garment away. I would have gladly bought him a new pack of Fruit of the Loom shirts. LOL

  20. I have a friend who’s father goes to a bunch of his friends’ kids wedding and told her that he’s going to all of their’s so that they will go to hers when she gets married.

  21. I don’t attend weddings at all, or haven’t so far. Someone told me that if I keep it up, no one will show up at my wedding. You see, in order for others to come to your wedding and cough up the dough, as you’ve said it, you need to attend their weddings and do the same.

    This whole concept looks very dirty to me and I refuse to encourage it. When and if I get married, I will let people know and I’ll take them out for drinks or something, that’s it!

    Nice post by the way.

    • Thanks…

      Interesting perspective on it. Greedy brides are not, thank heaven, the norm, and I’m glad to have attended the weddings I did. I love getting dressed up and celebrating and it’s lovely to see your friends so happy. I think you should at least give it a go!

  22. The only reason we had a big party was the last time all our families and friends from different groups got together it was for a funeral. I wanted everyone to have a good time for a happy reason. When we got married, we planned a wedding we could afford. I invited I people I could afford to celebrate with. Many of my friends were strapped for cash, and I was blown away when my friend and her spouse, who were pregnant with triplets, gave us $100. Sure, it was less than half the price of their combined plates, but that $100 could have gone really far in terms of diapers, formula, etc. and since I chose to spend the money on the dinner, I would never ask them to fork it over. And since many of my friends were paying $500-$700 just to come to the wedding from other cites, it seems in poor taste to expect them to pay for a present too…

    • It amazes me (and I am grateful) when friends are willing to travel a long distance to attend a wedding. Our friends are not wealthy, so there are always other uses for their funds.

  23. I’ve been invited to weddings where there’s been a stipulated minimum cash gift. And then there’s crazy brides going all dictator on their bridesmaids with regard to getting prepped for the big day. Even brides who don’t mutate are stressed beyond belief for long spans of time before the event (was a wedding shooter for 6 or 7 years). I’ve come to the conclusion that weddings bring out the crazy in people.

    Some time ago, the average price of an Australian wedding was pegged at approximately $40,000 (http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/society-and-culture/here-comes-the-bride-all-dressed-in-red-20120406-1wgsl.html).

    !!!

    The amount of time, expense, effort, blood, sweat and tears that goes into ONE day is insane.

  24. I can’t believe the nerve of some of those brides!

  25. One thing I’ve always been sure about is that at some point I wanted a family. Sure, you obviously don’t need to get married to have a family, however having some kind of socially acceptable commitment – like marriage – in the eyes of your friends and family certainly makes you more emotionally ready to take that next amazing step.

    As a mid 30s man, flitting around still trying to chase my dreams of a creative practise, I felt the frustration of being in an intensely, loving and long term relationship with the woman of my dreams, but feeling like I didn’t have the financial security to ask her to marry me. How could I afford an engagement ring, let alone a wedding?! I always told myself if only I had more of a career happening I would have asked my partner of 6 years to marry me long before.

    We didn’t come from wealthy parents, so I hadn’t even contemplated including them in the decision. We had been making our own way for donkeys so why would we?

    Luckily my now wife of two years is also a very down to earth person. We spoke about the reality of a wedding – I know, doesn’t sound that romantic does it, but it worked at the time – and how we could possibly go about it. We also spoke about the cost of an engagement ring. My wife has a love of antiques and she spent a month or two scouring antique stores and gave me a handful of modest options that fit my budget. Then it was up to me for the purchase and surprise of a proposal.

    We didn’t have an engagement party, deciding to save for the actual wedding instead. We visited every second hand and vintage store in the greater area and bought up all the cheap, second hand crystal we could find as decorations. We chose to get married on a Thursday because the garden marque had a fantastic special for mid-week weddings. My wife and her mother chose a second hand dress and reworked it to include some antique lace and beading and an amazing cameo handed down to me from my Great Grandmother.

    Short story – we had, what we felt, was a fairytale wedding on a very modest budget. There were flowers. There was crystal. There was a band. Drinks. People dancing – 50 guests. A sit down dinner. Garden marque. Everyone said it was one of the most beautiful, most intimate weddings they’ve ever been to.

    If I had continued to stay afraid and not communicate about the thought of having a wedding I still wouldn’t be married to the woman of my dreams. It can be done. All without even the inkling of a thought about trying to recoup money through our guests.

    As a host I wanted to make sure our guests had a good time, and that’s it. Nothing else. To try and make money out of their attendance goes against the very essence of what it means to get married in the first place. Love and commitment. Understanding and acceptance. It’s also what we need give to our family and friends – which is who we invite to witness our nuptials, right?

    A guy I spoke to at about the same time as our wedding who was also about to get married told me that he wanted to at least make a ‘profit’ from the day. A profit. Like he didn’t want his investment to have a bad return. I’m sure his future wife would have loved hearing that. He also then went on to say that he couldn’t wait for it to be all over so he could have peace and quiet by himself out on the golf course every day on his honeymoon. I almost blurted out ‘Dude do you even want to be married?!’ But I didn’t of course, deciding to just place him the douche-bag pile.

    I guess what I’m trying to say after all that is couples can be scared to get married because of the lavishness of the wedding industry. Trying to make your guests partially foot the bill isn’t the answer. Smart decisions and open communication with your partner is. We shouldn’t have to lose friends or go through life believing marriage is beyond our means just because we ‘think’ everyone expects a horse drawn carriage and a choir.

    Thanks for the post.

    (Sorry about my lengthy comment. Over writing is a bad habit I’m working on :)

    • Great stuff.

      I think a lot of people waste a lot of energy (and money) trying to have a “perfect” wedding — like on TV or in the bridal magazines. They are super intimidating and assume willingness or ability to spend tens of thousands of dollars for…for what exactly?

      It’s great to have the imagination and creativity and confidence to do it your own way, and make it lovely. And affordable.

      Congrats!

  26. I think that this Bridezilla phenomenon is a symptom of the sick socioety we live in; it’s all about instant gratification, greed, grandeurism, spoiled brattism, etc., etc.Everyone wants to look rich…I feel revolted too about this type of exhibitionist display of pretend love…have a small wedding and stop showing off what you don’t own!

  27. I used to work at a sort of warehouse (in Europe) where they sold all types of items for flower arrangements and the like. One day a middle aged woman walks in to find the right ribbon for her princess daughter who was planning to be a Bridezilla. There were thousands of different ribbons, but the poor woman was unable to find one exquisite enough to suit the future Bridezillaès tastes, and when one of the workers offered to assist her she responded, “oh thank you, but my daughter has such refined tastes that there’s nothing here that she’d like!”…I overheard the conversation and almost barfed right then & there!

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