No doubt weddings can be stressful, but it’s time to find out what really is behind the often misunderstood Bridezilla.

We’ve all known at least one. At first, she’s enthusiastically showing off her new bling and proudly displaying her wedding-day countdown on her phone’s home screen. But when the heat is cranked up in the wedding-planning pressure cooker, her stress, nerves, and unchecked to-do list start to take their toll. When she’s not barking orders at her vendors, screeching at family members, or losing her cool because you don’t know the difference between beige and champagne, you can only assume that she’s stomping around Tokyo crushing skyscrapers beneath her designer heels. Before you know it, you have a full-fledged “Bridezilla” on your hands.

It’s no secret that weddings can be stressful. Planning a wedding, regardless of the size or budget, requires organization, hard work, and frequent decision making. Sometimes, weddings bring unwanted family drama to the surface or result in an uncomfortable amount of credit card activity. And then there are those last-minute RSVPs. But if all weddings are stressful, why don’t all brides become bridezillas? Why do we occasionally encounter this particularly difficult breed of brides? It’s time to lift the veil on bridezillas and understand what is really going on.

Show me the money
Spending large amounts of money can be traumatic, especially when the bride doesn’t have a realistic budget or doesn’t know if she is getting a good deal. “Some brides feel like they are being taken advantage of just because they are getting married and that puts people on the defense,” says Robyn Bruns, PWP™, owner of Red Letter Event Planning in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. “A lot of bridezillas don’t have a clear budget in mind, and they feel like they are writing checks over and over.”

The comfort of control
“Sometimes, people translate perfectionism into being a control freak,” says Anne Crowley, PhD, a licensed psychologist in Austin, Texas, who specializes in working with couples and with relationship issues. When it comes to planning a wedding, there are many things that are out of the bride’s control (rules at the wedding venue, the weather, that second cousin that her mother-in-law invited, etc.). “When we feel like we lack control, we try to exert control,” adds Crowley. Tasha Daniel saw this dynamic come into play when she got married. “I wanted my wedding day to be exactly as I had envisioned it, and when things didn’t go as planned or when people or things started to derail my vision, I got a little angry,” says Daniel, who was featured on the long-running WE TV reality show “Bridezillas.”

Bridal butterflies
Tying the knot often coincides with other significant milestones, such as buying a house and moving in together. “There’s a lot of anxiety that comes along with these major life events,” says Crowley. “And when people have anxiety, we tend to put it outside of our bodies.” The result is often bridezilla-esque behaviors, like snapping at family members, screaming at vendors or flying off the handle at the smallest hiccup. Bruns has also worked with several brides who were feeling anxiety about the decision to get married. “When I have a bride who can’t make decisions, who is all over the place, and who is getting nasty about things for no reason, there may be more going on there,” says Bruns. “It may just be that person is feeling forced into a wedding that they don’t want or that they’re not ready for.”

DIY if you dare
Pinterest-inspired DIY projects can send the stress meter up quicker than you can say Mod Podge. “I decided to make certain things myself and nearly lost my mind when they took more time to make than I originally planned,” says Daniel. We live in a world where we’re inundated with wedding photos and brides often place unrealistic expectations on themselves to keep up. “Pinterest and Facebook set an expectation that we should all be Martha Stewart,” says Crowley. “Everything seems that much more attainable, but it doesn’t mean that it’s realistic.”

Wisconsin-based wedding planner Allison Kline-Weichelt, MWP™, says she can predict a potential meltdown. “I can see it coming when they add things to their plate, especially in the last month—for instance, saying they will take care of all the last details: favors, welcome bags, ceremony programs, vow writing, escort cards, etc.,” says Kline-Weichelt, who is the founder of event planning company sash&bow. Before you know it, you may find yourself trying to calm down a bleary-eyed, glue-gun-packing bridezilla just one Pinterest-fail away from an eruption.

Decisions, decisions, decisions
Some people don’t enjoy making decisions, and from the dress to the colors to the flowers, weddings require many. “There are too many options and all of those choices can be really overwhelming,” Crowley says, citing Pinterest and Instagram as contributing factors. They may feel pressure from family, friends, pop culture, or even their vendors to make decisions about things that a bride 20 years ago may not have thought twice about. “What are you doing for your programs?” “Are you sure you don’t want menus on each place setting?” “You’re having uplighting, right?” And of course, once a bride decides to have uplighting, then she has to decide what color she wants. The choices seem neverending!

Why does all of this happen to some brides and not others? There is a simple answer and a less straightforward one. The simple answer, says Bruns, is, “I’m sorry to say it, but honestly, I think there are some really spoiled brats out there. Their whole lives, they have been given everything they ever wanted and when someone tells them no, they start screeching and freaking out. I just don’t have a lot of tolerance for people like that.”

For others, it might be an issue of control at a time when everything else seems out of control. While there’s no reason to excuse the often-appalling behavior of so-called bridezillas, understanding the issues may provide a more complete picture of the pre-wedding dynamics that bring out the worst in some brides. WPM
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Kristen Mussi, NOAH’S Event Venue, Gilbert, Ariz.