Do you want to know what I get asked most often when I tell people that I'm a wedding photographer? "Ooooh, do you have any crazy bridezilla stories?" I mean, I don't blame people for asking, but really? My answer is always very disappointing. "No...actually I don't. My brides are all really cool." Whomp whomp.
I've been shooting weddings for over 5 years and I don't have a SINGLE bridezilla story. There is not one bride (or groom for that matter) who has treated me unkindly or with any form of disrespect. I wonder why that is? I read about these stories all the time on my photography forums and on social media, so am I just lucky? I don't think I'm lucky. I think that it takes skill to avoid bridezilla or to nip that kind of behavior in the bud if it starts to rear it's ugly head. I think newer wedding photographers are most susceptible to this kind of thing because they don't have the experience to control a potentially bad situation. I was a new photographer at one point and yes, I made mistakes, but I was lucky (Okay, so there is that word) that I came from a background that taught me how to say a very important word, "No."
No is hard. No isn't fun. No is awkward. But...no is powerful. No helps you avoid crappy, uncomfortable situations before they even have the chance to arise. It makes me uncomfortable to shoot from a shot list, so I tell my clients no. Nicely, of course. It makes me uncomfortable working under extremely tight time constraints so I tell my clients no. It's these little things that I believe make a huge difference in the outcome of your relationship with your client. I never let their expectations leap over what I know I can provide. When you do that, instead of failing to meet their expectations you meet them or even exceed them. That is one way to avoid bridezillas.
Another way is to be awesome. That sounds ridiculous, right? Be awesome. Okay, check. Done. (Said no one ever). What I mean is to be a friendly, enjoyable person. People don't like being dicks to nice people that they like. I really, truly believe that my clients like me...and I like them! That mutual respect helps us have a relationship with an open dialog and no nastiness. I like to meet with potential clients in person over coffee or a beer and I often tell them, "We are meeting in person because I want to make sure you like me." It's extremely important, not just for them but for you. When you have clients who like you, you avoid bridezillas. I'm pretty darn sure that I could drop a glass of red wine on the front of a bride's dress and she wouldn't hate me or go all bridezilla-y. I wouldn't want to test that, but you get what I mean.
I hate the stigma that just because a woman is getting married that she's going to turn into a bossy jerk. It just doesn't happen all that often. Planning a big party is hard, it's stressful, but women as a whole are awesome people capable of keeping their cool. Bridezillas are not the norm, they are not that common, and I am happy to have no exciting drama-filled stories.
Cheers to the ANTI-Bridezillas!
Awesome/fun/thoughtful/cool brides all below