Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

Wedding Photography Tip – 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

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One of the most terrifying things in wedding photography is a bridezilla. You’ve likely read the stories of photographer’s careers being ruined by an impossible to please bride. Of course, this is a worst case scenario and fears become heightened by the bridezillas you see on TV.

“I think of photography like therapy.” – Harry Gruyaert

But it’s normal for photographers to encounter some level of bridezilla behavior. The question is how to deal with it.

I’ve learned from photographers like Joe McNally, Zack Arias, and Jasmine Star that it’s our job as photographers to make great photos – no matter what.

So if you’re faced with a bridezilla (or any overwhelming person) at any point in your career you simply need to know how to handle them. Here are 3 ways you can do that.

bride in a pond - Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

This was one of the most laid back and down to earth brides I’ve photographed. Hard-working, yet easy going and ready to have fun every step of the way. Unlike some brides, she learned to handle the stress of a wedding very well.

1. Understand

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” – Ansel Adams

Even the most difficult situations become easier to deal with when you understand what’s going on.

The truth is, most bridezillas never actually wanted to become bridezillas. So why do some brides act like that? Major changes in your life come with stress. Marriage comes with one of the highest levels of stress. In addition to the stress, there is also decision fatigue, personal baggage, and pre-wedding depression.

Maybe the question should be why there aren’t more bridezillas!

portrait of a couple on a truck - Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

This photo was taken at golden hour. The unique shape of the sun flare was caused by moisture on the camera lens. There was a mist in the air that led to the surprising effect.

They don’t start out as Bridezillas. Not long ago she was living a normal life as somebody’s girlfriend. Then in the blink of an eye, her entire life changed as she became engaged.

When you put a person in a dramatic situation, you find out how much they can take before they crumble under the pressure. Planning a wedding provides more than enough stress and drama to make a person blow up.

Everybody reaches a threshold of how much stress they can handle. And for a variety of personal reasons some brides reach that threshold on or before their wedding day.

Bridezillas are people like you and me who have discovered what it takes to make them break.

couple seen under a tunnel - Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

This photo was taken from in the water. The couple was sitting on an abandoned train bridge. I thought the tunnel would make a good frame for the photo, so into the water I went.

2. Anticipate

“When there are other limitations, I don’t let myself be a limitation.” – Fer Juaristi

There is more than enough time leading up to the wedding day to anticipate who might become a bridezilla.

You can almost guarantee that if a bride comes from a happy family and she handles stress well then she isn’t going to become a bridezilla. But if her life is filled with stress and chaos and she doesn’t handle it well, there is going to be trouble on her wedding day!

couple on the back of a truck - Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

Engagement sessions are a perfect chance to get to know the bride and groom. Take time to see how they are handling the stress and find out if there are ways you can help.

When I meet with a couple who is interested in having me as their wedding photographer, I ask questions that let me know what sort of temperament the couple has.

Ask about their vision for the wedding. Then ask what would ruin the wedding for them. I had great fun with a couple who insisted that even if a tornado came along and they had to move the wedding to a basement shelter, they still wouldn’t care because their family is what means everything to them. The dress, flowers, and the decor were all secondary.

Ask other questions like, “What simply must be perfect?” or “What is your biggest fear for the day?” and “What would totally ruin your wedding day?”

Ask how quickly her emotions change to the negative and what cheers her up most in life.

couple on a bridge with a river flowing - Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

This photo was created using a slow shutter speed (about 2 seconds).

If a bride tells me that the most important thing to her is that she has a perfect Pinterest wedding, I know there could be trouble.

There are enough problems with the dress, flowers, and decor to drive anybody crazy. If the bride is anxious and disagreeable, to begin with, planing her perfect Pinterest wedding will drive her nuts. She’s a perfect candidate to become a bridezilla.

bride in funky socks - Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

When the bride is wearing fun socks and cowboy boots, you know she’s not overly stressed about the details.

Being a wedding photographer means knowing how to work with people. So if you can’t handle the stress of working with a bridezilla, you should politely decline weddings when you think there is a good chance she’ll become one. Let her know you don’t think you’re the best photographer to help her have a perfect wedding.

3. Encourage

“It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.” – Alfred Eisenstaedt

If you understand the things that lead to bridezilla behavior, and you’re happy with the challenge of working with one then good for you! You could actually help her get through her wedding day without baring her teeth and lower her stress level.

The truth is, most bridezillas don’t enjoy being bridezillas. You can’t help the ones who enjoy it. But you can help the ones who are afraid of becoming a bridezilla.

bride spinning on the dance floor - Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

Weddings can be an exhausting journey, not just for the photographer who works all day, but for the family who has worked for months or years to get to this day.

If she’s open to having help, you can assist her in setting goals, seeing the big picture and embracing what is truly important about her wedding day.

Find out what’s bugging her the most and share stories about other couples who have dealt successfully with these things. That way you’re not just pushing your opinion on her, but sharing stories of real people who found a way not to crumble under pressure. You can even publish these stories on your wedding photography blog.

Help her see her goal and what is truly important to her. Help her pivot around obstacles, and there will be less of a chance of her crumbling under the pressure of her wedding day.

No matter what you do, be the one who helps, not somebody who makes it worse.

wedding couple kissing - Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

When a wedding is done right, the bride and groom are still excited and energized at the end of the day.

Happily Ever After

“If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.” – Eve Arnold

No photographer wants to photograph a bridezilla. No bride wants to be a bridezilla.

You can surpass a bride’s expectations of you as a photographer by understanding her situation and being the most flexible, helpful, encouraging person on her wedding day.

All it takes is one good friend to be a calming presence amidst stress and anxiety to help a bride not turn into a bridezilla. This person could be you.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Mat Coker is a family photographer from Ontario, Canada. He teaches photography to parents and families, showing them how to document their life and adventures. You can get his free photography ebook, and learn more about taking creative photos.

  • How so amazing and interesting your wedding photography technique.

  • Mat

    Hi Ryan,
    Thanks for reading. Glad you enjoyed 🙂
    Mat

  • Good ideas throughout for amateurs and even for professionals. Each of the points mentioned in the article showed such good ways, that is very helpful to imitate in the area, during the actual day of the wedding.

  • Mat

    Thanks for your comment, Kate 🙂

  • Tom Cooper

    Sorry, but bridezillas have made *the decision* to stop using self control. All the excuses in the world don’t cut it for me. They can also make the decision to bring themselves under control again.

    There are plenty of photographers with “anti-bridezilla” clauses in their contract. It is absolutely amazing how a bride is able to regain full self-control when they see their photographer start packing up to leave, and understand there is only one way to get you to come back. Yes, they can sue, but they are very unlikely to win – it’s in the contract that they signed.

    The funny thing is, anybody else could get then to control themselves – bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents, and others – if they would just stand up to it and say “I’m not participating in this if you don’t control yourself.” But they cowardly allow her childish temper tantrum continue.

  • Mat

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for weighing in!

    I think you’ve got it right when it comes to full blown “childish temper tantrum” behavior. These are the brides that I mention “enjoy” or at least completely accept their own behavior. And they certainly can change, and likely would if more people stood up to them.

    In every day life, and leading up to a wedding, many brides (or people in general) snap under pressure. So we get something like “accidental” or “regrettable” bridezilla behavior. This is where photographers (or anyone in the bride’s life) can really help.

    Many brides will joke around with me about being bridezillas. Of course, they’re not, but they are afraid of accidentally unleashing that monster within!

    Always nice to know that photographers can help along the way. And unfortunately, as you pointed out, some tough love might be necessary.

  • Alice Martine

    Thanks for the tips about wedding photography, one of my friend recently started carrier in wedding photographer at Jon-Mark Photography. After reading this information I think this is helpful for him and also shared this article with him.

  • Mat

    You’re welcome, Alice! I hope it helps him a lot 🙂
    Mat

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