Why we need to retire the phrase ‘bridezilla’: ‘It villainizes women for having emotions’

The term “bridezilla” has been used to disparage brides for decades. It’s finally time to let it go. 

Sarah Hanlon, a wedding expert at The Knot, believes we should drop the sexist language and address the underlying issue. Weddings are stressful. The burden of planning a wedding typically falls on the bride. Moreover, the bride is also burdened with all the expectations that our society imparts on women and marriage

Hanlon believes instead of stigmatizing some seriously stressed out brides, we need to address mental health. She spoke with In The Know about the history of “bridezillas” and what we can do to confront it. 

“First and foremost, the word ‘bridezilla’ is sexist,” Hanlon tells In The Know. “It villainizes women for having emotions and standards surrounding their wedding day, when, in fact, many wedding vendors agree that hosting a wedding today is harder than ever before.” 

The expert also adds that social media and celebrity culture have only served to create higher expectations for women. Moreover, the term only reinforces another gendered stereotype that the wedding is about the bride only. 

“And, as it turns out, many wedding planners note that the actual existence of ‘bridezillas’ are few and far between,” she adds. 

The Boston Globe coined “bridezilla” in 1995 to describe women who “lose sight of the solemnity of the wedding.” Then the 2004 reality TV show Bridezilla made the word a staple of the American lexicon. 

“Mental health experts note that there’s a long-standing history of pathologizing women’s emotions, and the term ‘bridezilla’ is just another example of that,” Hanlon explains. 

The Knot launched The Knot Wellness to address the stressors, pressures and emotions that arise during wedding planning. It’s a step in the right direction to unpack how a culture arrives at a place where it dubs its women “bridezillas” in the first place. 

Hanlon encourages loved ones who see a bride struggling to lend a “listening ear” and support her through the process. Meanwhile, any couple tying the knot should undergo the process together. 

“Instead of labeling women as bridezillas,” she says. “It’s instead time to facilitate conversations about mental health support for to-be-weds.” 

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