Let's challenge online bridal drama with "Operation: This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things!"

October 22 | Guest post by Rachel Wilkerson
Bride and Bridesninjas' Fighting Skills
Brides and bridesmaids: let's fight the good fight! Photo courtesy of Kalen Marie Photography.

By now, I'm sure a lot of you have read the awful email from a bride to her future bridesmaids that has been going around the internet. Read and cringed. And while I definitely cringed while reading the email, I just wanted to go back to bed whenever I started reading the comments. Every discussion was a nasty, snarky, free-for-all where, hidden behind their anonymity, commenters felt free to not stop at calling the bride the "c" word, but also went on to share horror stories of brides they knew, declare "NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR WEDDING," and trash anything and everything related to weddings.

To the bride who wrote that viral email: This is why we can't have nice things.

It's not hard to find wedding snark on the web. And I don't disagree with the fact that there is a lot to dislike about the wedding planning and about how it makes some people behave. That said, I find it very hard to believe that most brides (and, coincidentally, no grooms, parents, or friends) behave badly when it comes to their weddings.

Maybe I just hang out with good people, both online and off, but in my experience, most brides genuinely are happy anyone wants to be a part of their wedding and would never want to take advantage of those people. But I know that defending brides, especially when you are one, is often futile. Much like being called "crazy," being called "bridezilla" is hard to fight without giving the person insulting you more ammo. But the few, the loud, the ones featured on reality TV are making us all look bad!

Offbeat Bride is a community of well-behaved brides and grooms, so I know I'm preaching to the choir here. But I'm starting to wonder if we can do something about all the negative wedding talk…

Sometimes I worry that by only hanging out with good people, and avoiding any bride, or blog, or wedding forum who appears to be promoting negativity, I'm actually not helping. I mean, if all the conscientious, kind, non-judgmental brides flee, who will be there to offer a voice of reason when someone starts acting like a dick toward her bridesmaids? Hanging out on Offbeat Bride makes it easy to think that brides and grooms are generally thoughtful people and to genuinely feel surprised when people hate on weddings. But maybe that's just because we're tuning out the selfish, wasteful behavior that so many people see as a defining characteristic of weddings.

So perhaps we need to take a deep breath and wade back into the areas of the web that are part of the problem so that we can be part of the solution…

Maybe we — other brides who totally understand wedding stress and yet are somehow managing to get down the aisle without behaving like total menstrual cramps to our nearest and dearest — could intervene before some bride hits "send" on another email like this.

Rather than letting bridesmaids bitch passive-aggressively on yet another anti-wedding blog post on a women's publication, perhaps we could speak politely but directly to other brides about why this kind of behavior is unacceptable before it goes viral.

Clearly, the Wedding Industrial Complex, snarky internet, and population at large isn't doing much to help (because really, when did calling someone a cunt behind her back ever lead to massive change?). So I'd like to challenge Offbeat Bride readers to lead the way in Operation: This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things.

  1. It's a nice idea to suggest that level headed couples head out to the other bridal sites to try to prevent some of the bad behavior out there. However, going to sites that are so steeped in negativity and trying to tell them to stop their bad behavior can be like banging your head against a wall.

    People supporting bad behavior will be the the majority on these sites and one dissenting voice is likley to be mocked or silenced. So unless there is a coordinated group of people all agreeing to go to one site at the same time to try to get people to think about their behavior, this probably will just frustrate the people who are trying to help. There is only so much negativity on the internet that most people can deal with in a day without compromising their emotional well being.

    It's a good idea, but I stopped trying to get people to behave on the internet a while ago. I don't have that kind of patience. Kudos to anyone who does, and please report back on your efforts.

    21 agree
    • I would just like to say, that I completely agree with your statement BUT I would also be down to participate in any coordinated effort us Tribe members could make!

      We would have to be sneaky about it – but I think the point *could* be very well made….

      3 agree
    • Oh man, THIS. I've spent more time trying to reason with people on the internet than I care to think about (lookin at you, Reddit) and in the end, I always come away feeling tired and upset. Very few people who start out from an antagonistic stance will ever say "Oh, wow, you're right!" on an internet forum, as much as I hope they will.

      So, while I love the sentiment in this article, in the end it seems a lot more worthwhile to give my time and energy to pockets of the internet that are filled with lovely, insightful people who will listen to my point of view too.

      3 agree
  2. "because really, when did calling someone a cunt behind her back ever lead to massive change?"

    ha! and true!

    21 agree
  3. Alternately, we can all do are darndest to make awesome, non-snarky brides more viral than "bridzillas"… Unfortunately, I think some people just want to yell and be meanie pants. I think some people just get a kick out of it.

    9 agree
    • plus it's hard to make non-dramatic things go viral. unless there is some other twist. what huge acts of awesome can we do? :)

      6 agree
  4. I went to a wedding this weekend and did all I could to only say positive things about the bride and groom, the whole wedding planning process, and the whole wedding in general. Having just done the whole wedding thing myself, it's so easy to nitpick every little thing at a wedding ("these toasts are taking so long", "her dress is weird", "why is there beer at 11am", etc.) but by being intentionally positive, I'd like to think it helped those in my group also stay positive. I also shared with those at my table the AWESOME inspiration and sanity-making OBB is!

    12 agree
    • At every wedding I go to, I always make a point to focus on the positive aspects of the day, like how good the food is or the inspiration behind the couple's vows. On the other hand, even some of the nicest weddings are going to have a few mishaps, but in those cases the pros definitely outweight the cons.

      3 agree
  5. I am a pretty strong believer that we are a product of our environment. I tend to get stressed and overwhelmed very easily, and when that happens, I have OffBeat Bride to go to, and it makes me feel better. I definitely agree that something needs to be done about the negativity, but I also agree that wading into these negative forums is kind of futile. They breed a hostile negative environment, and for brides who go onto these sites, and don't know about OffBeat Bride, that's probably a big reason why they are a "Bride Cathulu"

    I think the best course of action is to tell every bride you know about OffBeat Bride, and steer them towards that. Not only would they encounter positivity, and it would likely affect their outlook on their wedding, but for more "traditional" brides, they may get some ideas they didn't think was possible.

    8 agree
  6. When I read the original email from the bride to her potential bridesmaids, I got where she was coming from a little. Her underlying need, repeated in lots of ways, was "I need to rely on you." She sounded demanding, and she had some notions I don't agree with about being the focus of the day, but what came through again and again was "I need you to be reliable and responsive." With softer phrasing, an email that gives fair warning about the level of work involved and her need for reliable assistance is a totally reasonable thing to write. She took a lot of shit, but I was surprised to see someone be that open about her need for her friends to be reliable help in a big undertaking, and I wondered whether she had doubts about her friends that drove her to write that email.

    9 agree
    • I feel the same way.

      To me, the grammar was abhorrent and it may have read a bit demanding and bitchy, but as a theatre person/wedding planner/organized person, I don't see anything wrong with saying "look, here is what I expect of you on the day".

      Personally, I would not choose to ask my bridesmaids to spend that much money on travel costs, etc, but that is her personal choice, and I respect that those ideas are what she wants for her wedding. There are tons of weddings where being a bridesmaid is a BIG DEAL, and it seems like this is one of those cases.

      However, I think personally attacking the woman (not that you did, Megan, I just mean in general) is just as rude– maybe I'm all roses and sunshine, but I have no idea about this woman's personal situation or how she is in "real life". I know that I have sent emails in the past that have been construed as horribly bitchy, when I was really just joking around or kidding.

      I also feel that the linked article on Gawker took many things out of context in order to maximize their shock value. Yes, the bride was specific about who she wanted CC'd in her emails…so? I actually appreciated her mentioning that not every bridesmaid needs to get every wedding related email– to me, that was cool of her, since I hate getting fifty billion emails.

      I dunno. I just feel like in the realm of the "bridezillas" I've seen and heard about, this is just….not that big of a deal.

      7 agree
      • Yeah, reading the whole thing together at the end without Gawker's hyperbolic snark, it actually seemed mostly reasonable, if that's what she really wanted (grammar and different priority sets aside, of course)! And I think it's much better to get all the expectations on the table and let people say no early, rather than suddenly demanding things that nobody expected when they agreed to be a bridesmaid (just like it's a good idea to sit down and hash out expectations with the fiance, BEFORE the marriage).

        I do have to wonder, though, what kind of friends she does have…seeing as one of them must have forwarded it on in the first place.

        7 agree
  7. Not to be completely terrible, but this reminds me of my grandmother and other people that I have interacted with who are racist. Not deliberately, provocatively racist, but who honestly think they are expressing themselves in a direct and inoffensive manner. There isn't much you can do to change them, because they cannot see the slightest inkling of anything offensive in their perspective/comments etc; however, you can refuse to let them alter or influence your own behavior. My own experience as a bridesmaid was not ideal, but I have taken it as a lesson about boundaries and honesty (i.e. I will not be having bridesmaids if I get married). When things came up, I talked with the bride & we worked things out like adults! Hopefully one of the recipients of this email pointed out that this is not the way to treat someone that you genuinely love and want to include, and that made some sort of dent in the bride's delusions of grandeur. Here at OBB, I think people do a fantastic job of setting an example of how weddings CAN be an absolute riot and a genuine celebration, despite the inevitable challenges. That is more powerful than any amount of internet arguments with trollers will ever be.

    9 agree
  8. I thought that email was written by an author/writer/something-like-that as a spoof of the wedding industry these days. It wasn't a serious letter by a bride but a fake one for a magazine/site.

    4 agree
    • I actually still suspect that is the case. I read it, and it seemed like more of an exaggeration than an actual e-mail. Not to mention, if a member of the wedding party forwarded it, than the bride would likely be able to find out. It seems more likely to me that someone wrote this as a joke/spoof/troll act than a person close enough to the bride to be involved in her wedding, would risk friendship like this, knowing how much the bride would get hurt.

      2 agree
  9. Those nasty bitches on internet wedding forums are probably perfectly normal individuals in daily life; anonymity brings out the worst in many of us. See also the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19

    Not everyone deals with stress the same way; for those of us who stick around here, constructive, nurturing environments are good. For others of us, we need to indulge in some stress-relieving spleen-venting back-bitery. Some people juggle geese.

    4 agree
  10. "You also have "a big roll," that is showing through your satin aubergine bridesmaid's dress. Why didn't you take care of that? I knew you weren't cut out to be a bridesmaid."

    Wow, that is a disgusting piece of body shaming right there. Yuck.

    3 agree
  11. This is not related to this topic at all but I just want to say that one of the reasons I read the Offbeat Empire is the quality of the writing. Thank you to the staff, and the majority of the commenters, both for being thoughtful writers and for proofreading. Just wanted to give some snaps in the name of positivity.

    12 agree
  12. I read that letter a few days ago, and I felt kind of ashamed to click on it, because I was giving it more traffic and thereby playing into the hands of those capitalizing on the negativity.

    I imagined that if I had received the letter, I would just be glad to know about that stuff up front so I could bow out. What if the responses came back from all her potential bridesmaids that they were unable to make that kind of financial commitment, or be sure months in advance that they could make it to every party? Maybe she'd scale back her expectations a bit. I'm assuming it's not as though she's planned a wedding before, so she might not have an accurate sense of what people can manage. I'm hoping her friends would gently point this out to her rather than call her a bitch. (Although if the letter is genuine, that means one of her "friends" posted it to the internet to shame the bride, and who's the bitchy one then?)

    5 agree
  13. I just read it for the first time. I'm very thankful to not have friends like that :) Truthfully, I couldn't make it through her entire email because of the grammar.

    That aside, I totally agree with KahlanAmnell and others; yes, we Tribesmaids are awesome, but other people don't really want to know our awesomeness. They enjoy living in the WIC and smirking at "offbeat wedding trends" like women proposing to men. People will always want to silently judge us, and this is why if we got that email, we would have responded "Oh, thank you, but no. I have to decline the honor of being a bridesmaid," or something like that. We are not made for this.

    3 agree
  14. I definitely have a problem with that email [if it's real!]. Getting married is no excuse to be a horrible human being. One of my bridesmaids lives in a different state and has a 1 year old baby – so yes, of course I invited her to the engagement party, but I did not demand it of her. And I totally understood when she couldn't make it. All I ask is that she shows up at the wedding, and I will be delighted to have her there.

    I guess I just think you should ask someone to be your bridesmaid because you care about each other and want to share your special day with that person. Not to be your slave.

    0 agree
  15. Ok here's a challenge: I don't believe the email is real. What are its credentials? Oh right — it was forwarded by a "tipster".

    The people lashing out are using the email as an excuse to grind their own axes. Maybe it's temporary insanity or maybe they've been hating women since their mothers forcibly evicted them from the womb. Whatever the case it's coincidence that the bridal community was in the crosshairs this time. I'm sure even as I type this they've moved on to flaming those "bitches on The View".

    This is all to say that today, right now… my panic light has burnt out. I don't have any cringing left over for inflammatory fake emails. I can't muster any outrage over bullshit comments made by a handful of idiots who were, I think, intentionally goaded.

    Does anybody else feel this way?

    4 agree
  16. This is why weddings make me cynical. This is why I have a love/hate relationship with the idea of weddings (from the perspective of being a bride). Some days I think it's fun, entertaining, a venue for being stylish, yourself and of course, declaring your love for your partner… but other days everything seems so artificial, superficial, patriarchal, and looks-based… I mean there must be a reason why weddings make some brides turn into people they are not, (family members included) demanding artificiality from the people they love. Acting out. Feeling pressure. Trying to uphold something that is artificial and manmade…. whatever happened to the whole point – honouring a commitment to your partner?

    I see how this is contradictory considering how addicted I am to this website… I'm an artist, I love the visual, I love the show. Love/hate.

    0 agree
  17. I mostly feel sad for that bride, because I feel like she's missing the point. My first wedding, when I was very young, was big and traditional, and I was huge pain in the butt to everyone. After it was over, I was sad, because I realized how much time and energy and stress I'd but into things that ultimately didnt matter. Not shockingly, that marriage ended pretty quickly.

    When the time came to marry my current and forever husband, I remembered what a bitchtress I'd been the first time and completely chilled out. The second wedding was just about marrying the person I loved, screw everything else. As a consequence, the wedding was exactly what I wanted, and I have nothing but warm memories from the day. If I could talk to this bride, thats what I'd tell her.

    2 agree

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