Every experienced wedding photographer will have a pretty good understanding of the term "bridezilla", and probably some wedding planners too. So how do you handle the bridezilla when you've got one?
The first thing to remember is that most women don't set out be bridezilla, almost as many have no idea that they are being a bridezilla when it happens. It's a hard thing to be on the receiving end, but it can be equally hard to be on the giving end when you are feeling stressed and pulled from all sides.
Couples plan their wedding with one thing in mind; that this will be a "once in a lifetime" event, and they want it to be "perfect". Nobody plans their wedding thinking that if this one doesn't work out, they can do it again. So not only do they sweat the details and the costs, but the details become the stuff their nightmares are made of. For months before the wedding the bride and groom (and often their families) are walking a tight-rope, carrying stress that builds up a little at a time until there's no shoulder left to carry it on, and seldom dissipates until the ceremony is over and the festivities begin.
As tough as this can be for the wedding photographer, it helps if you can see it from a distance. While you might sometimes be in the way of some of the arrows and daggers, you probably aren't "the" target, most likely you are just there when it happens.
That doesn't mean you have to ignore it, but if you are prepared for it then understanding the reasons behind it make it less stressful for you deal with. If you are the type of person who can ignore the snipes and get on with the job, then "good deal", because you'll probably do okay as a wedding photographer. If you aren't, then plan for the occasion in advance.
How? The simplest way is to make sure all parties know well in advance what your responsibilities are, and what you will and won't do during the wedding day. Shortly before the wedding day (2 or 3 days at the most), a quick phone call to go over the details with the couple is helpful. At this time, you can make sure they haven't had a schedule change, and they are clear on your role for the day. You can ask if they have questions, require anything additional from you, and then confirm that you are well-prepared for their event.
Be clear. Be clear if there are things you aren't prepared to do on the wedding day - additional photos not part of the contract might be something you just don't want to undertake. Some photographer's are really flexible and easy-going when it comes to things like this, and some just aren't. Avoid any wedding day tantrums by ensuring your couple know ahead of time where you stand.
Keep your cool. If things start "going south" on the wedding day, keep your cool and your professionalism. Do your job in a professional manner, because sometimes projecting a professional attitude is all it takes to put things back on a comfortable level.
Step outside your role carefully. If it seems like the thing to do - calming an upset bride, or cajoling a spitting bridesmaid can take no more than a kind word or a kleenex, and in the end can make your job a lot easier. Don't make an issue of it, but do what feels right for your bride.
No matter what the day brings and how prepared you are, there are occurrences that you can't and shouldn't step into. It takes some experience to know when to stay out, and when to offer a hand. If you aren't sure, then don't do it. If the bride and groom are acquaintances, friends, or family members, then you'll have some idea of whether or not stepping forward and offering help outside your role is right or wrong.
What not to do - don't step into someone else's shoes. Let the other helpers do their jobs.
Every wedding is different, just as every bride is different. There will be those who breeze through the day with the sweetness of an angel, and those whose headpieces should consist of devil's horns, but underneath, they are just women looking for that perfect beginning.
Lastly...try not to take the bridezilla personally...and make some lovely music with your fantastic wedding day photos. After all, don't they say that music calms the savage beast?
Credits: wedding rings on money courtesy of "Penywise" @ morguefile