“Am I Turning Into A Bridezilla?”

I’m getting married in August and have been planning the wedding for over a year, so the date has been set for a while now. My brother — my only sibling — got engaged last weekend. I love him and his fiancée, but I was very upset when I found out today that they are planning to get married a mere six weeks before I do. Why couldn’t they get married in May or November, so that there is more turn-around time? What if all of my out-of-state family comes to his wedding and then can’t make it to mine? I invited them first! My mom is on the sickly side and is already stressed about one child getting married, so now I’m worried about her having to deal with two weddings back-to-back.

I’m worried that if I confront my brother and fiancée, it will turn into a sibling grudge match with lots of old dynamics rearing their ugly heads. I already asked my parents to mention how stressful it will be for them. Is that fair? Should I just suck it up and silently resent them so that twenty years from now when we are fighting over who gets mom’s heirlooms I end up screaming, “I get them since you practically ruined my wedding!” — Trying not to be a Bridezilla

Oh man, I remember planning my own wedding two years ago and how I could go from totally Rational Sane Wendy to Miss Coo Coo Ca Choo in a matter or minutes, and I definitely was not a Bridezilla. So, I’m gonna give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume that the stress you’re under is affecting your judgment. But, honey, let me give it to you straight: you are definitely venturing into crazy Bridezilla territory. You need to take some deep breaths and get a little perspective. As long as you still get to marry the man you love in good health and sound mind and the people who mean the most to you are present to witness it, there’s no way your brother getting married six weeks before you is going to “ruin your wedding,” and if you genuinely fear that it will, you need to get your priorities straight.

While I can certainly appreciate how another family wedding so close to your own may add some stress to your life, you’re really kind of blowing it out of proportion and losing sight of the big picture. You’re also making your brother’s engagement about you. It’s not about you. It’s about him and his fiancée. Whether they want a summer wedding instead of a May or November wedding isn’t up to you. I’m sure they have plenty of good reasons, just as you do, for wanting a summer wedding, but the bottom line is those reasons aren’t your business. Rather than let something that’s out of your control make you crazy, why don’t you embrace it? This is a joyous time! Two weddings in one summer.

And you know what? Your wedding is going to be perfect because you are going to marry the person you love and the people who mean the most will be there to see it. (Long distance guests who have to choose between attending your wedding or your brother’s are likely going to choose the one for which they received an invitation first. If they don’t, then they probably aren’t so close to you that their presence will be all that missed anyway). If you’re having anxiety about how supportive you can be to your brother in the midst of making the final arrangements for your own wedding, then tell him that. Instead of berating him for “ruining your wedding,” tell him that you’re really excited for him, but you hope he and his fiancée will understand if you aren’t as available to help or support with their planning as you might be if you weren’t planning your own wedding. And if you’re anxious about how your sickly mother will fare with two back-to-back weddings, rest assured that her involvement and responsibilities in her son’s five month wedding planning will be quite different than her involvement and responsibilities in her daughter’s year and a half wedding planning.

Now, if what’s concerning you the most is that your brother and his fiancée are going to steal your thunder, you need to grow up. There’s enough thunder to go around for everyone. Six weeks is plenty of time for the thunder to recoup its power. Six weeks is enough time for the guests to recoup their energy and show enthusiasm for you. You are not going to be any less special or beautiful or loved or honored on your special day just because “a mere six weeks” have passed since your brother’s special day. You’ve been planning your wedding for over a year and the only thing that’s going to keep it from being any less spectacular than you want it to be is your own neuroses. So, cool it. Everything that needs to get done will get done with a lot less hassle and drama if you stay rational and sane.

Twenty years from now when you’re reminiscing about the summer of 2011 when you celebrated not just one joyous occasion in the company of loved ones, but two, I hope its with grace, compassion and gratitude — and not resentment toward your brother — that you look back and think, “That was a damn good time.” Because it will be … as long as you let it.


*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. ArtsyGirl says:

    LW – I agree with Wendy and you need to take a deep calming breath and realize that there are a lot of things out there you cannot control (siblings being at the top of the list). While it sucks that your brother and his fiancee did not take into account that you would feel stressed about setting their date so close to yours – it probably just didn’t occur to them. Just remember that the wedding matters (you just spent massive time, money, and energy to plan it) but at the end of the day the marriage is what you are celebrating.

  2. Woman of Words says:

    Great advice Wendy. Perhaps your brother’s fiancée is doing all the organising and it hasn’t occurred to her that their wedding is a little close to yours. Your friends and family will be there because they love and support you, not because it’s some competition.
    Channel your energy into the important planning aspects and don’t let your concerns colour your relationship with your brother and his fiancée. Given time and distance this will seem a relatively minor concern. Congratulations and have a FABULOUS day!

  3. I try to understand how everyone looks at situations, and I’m generally pretty good at seeing someone’s perspective and point of view, but weddings continue to just… baffle me. Not the idea of celebrating your love with loved ones, but… the stress and concerns that go into what should be a really fun day.

    What ruins a wedding is the wrong person next to you at the end of the aisle. Nothing else really _truly_ matters. No matter who shows up, you’ll still have your spouse afterwards. You’ll still have the pictures. You’ll still have the dress. You’ll still have the dances and the cake and the music. Even if every single person you and your brother both invite goes to his wedding and not yours – and that’s just not going to happen – you will still have _everything_ that matters – most especially, your spouse.

    Asking your brother and his fiancée to change the date that works best for them to celebrate _their_ love so you’ll get more attention in the spotlight just sounds a bit like you’re far more interested in being featured in a wedding than in becoming married. Weddings are a gateway. Look at what you’re walking towards, not that brief time you spend in the archway.

    1. WatersEdge says:

      JSW- I didn’t get it either until I planned one myself. I was the most low-key bride ever- think evites instead of invitations, bought the fourth dress I tried on off the rack in under an hour at the store total, etc. But there is wedding voodoo that makes people crazy! The details quickly become overwhelming no matter how hard you try to keep it simple. One decision affects 10 other decisions, and if one decision gets changed, you have to re-visit the other 10 (and make sure that those 10 don’t affect any other decision, domino-style). And when making every decision, you have to think of as many guests as possible and their comfort/preferences, not just your own. And it grows quickly. It’s just human nature. When you put that much thought, time, money, and effort into planning a day, the idea that something could go wrong becomes hard to take. And this is coming from someone who wanted to elope!

      1. WatersEdge says:

        Which is not to say that he should change the date. But- I’m glad Wendy took the compassionate approach with this letter. Wedding planning makes losing perspective very easy!

      2. I do get the stress, especially because major event planning becomes a world all its own to the person organizing the event, but I do think it’s important to step back at times and breathe. People would rather see a happy bride than a perfect centerpiece.

      3. Sorry, submitted too soon. I know the LW realizes that the marriage is the important thing. I just meant sometimes we _all_ need reminders to regain perspective at times, because it is far too easy to get caught up in the process.

  4. While I don’t think she has any right to ask her brother and his fiancee to change their date, I can understand a bit about where she is coming from with being disappointed in her brother choosing a date six weeks _before_ hers. Some of her concerns are valid – whether out of town guests can afford to make two trips so close together, for example. Whether or not you agree with it, weddings are a big deal to many people, and there is a lot of preparation and planning put into it, and she’s been focused on this for a year already.

    Again, why I don’t think it’s right for her to voice her wish for them to change the date, and while her brother and his fiancee had no obligation to choose a date farther away from her date (that she chose a year prior) – it’s just a courtesy. I found out I was pregnant with my first child (and first grandchild for my parents) about a month before one of my brothers got married, but I choose to keep it quiet until _after_ his wedding because I didn’t think it was fair to overshadow his big day in any way.

    1. I didn’t mean to imply that I don’t understand her being upset, just that, in the scheme of things, it’s not a huge deal. Summers are easier times for people to travel, especially if some of the relatives live in northern areas, and they’re on the other end of the calendar from the major holidays. If one wedding is in August, then the other, presumably in late June, is probably about as far away from that date as her brother and his fiancée could get – all things considered, including venue – while still staying in the summer time of the year they wanted to get married.

      1. I agree that it’s not a “huge deal” in the grand scheme of life, but she states that she found out “today” (day she wrote the letter) about her brother and his fiancee’s date. So, it’s understandable that she’s a bit dramatic (and emotional) about it since she’s already spent a year planning her wedding. Hopefully now that some time has passed since she found out, she’ll realize the points Wendy and some of the commenters have made.

        Yes, I can still understand her feeling a bit disappointed, but as you pointed out in your first comment, the _most_ important part of a wedding is the person she is marrying, and her brother’s wedding date has absolutely no impact on that. Some of the concerns she has might actually happen – even if it’s easier to travel in the summer, it doesn’t mean people have the financial means to travel to both wedding, for example. However, she needs to just accept and move forward, and she can’t let her disappointment overshadow either her wedding or her brother’s wedding. And, she certainly should not be holding a grudge about it only to use whenever she needs a trump card, like she (jokingly?) mentioned in the last sentence of her letter.

      2. Very good point about the letter being written the day of the discovery. Obviously, emotions will run high then.

    2. Couldn’t agree more. My brother did the same thing to me – I had been engaged for 2 years, the wedding date had been set for a year, then out of the blue he got engaged and set a wedding date 3 months later – the month before my wedding. Of course there was nothing I could do about it – he had the right to get married whenever he wanted and my saying something about it could only have backfired. But I remember the ridiculous amount of last-minute stress it put on my mother and I still think he was a self-centered douchebag for having so little consideration. Of course he has a long history of that kind of behaviour, so while it was kind of appalling, it certainly wasn’t surprising.

  5. If the LW planned her wedding to be at the beginning of August, that puts her brother’s wedding in the middle of June. Yeah, that’s plenty of time.
    There could tons of valid reasons to not have a wedding in May or November. Vacation time at work isn’t fully accrued. The reception hall is booked until the current date. The honey moon spot is too rainy or cold in May or November. Basically, there’s no real reason to drama it up over the brother’s wedding.
    The only reason I could see for getting mad at another person’s wedding date is if someone held their wedding on the same date and it was obviously done with the intention of ruining the other wedding. But that isn’t what the brother did at all.

    1. That was my point, too, that people can have lots of reasons for wanting a summer wedding. For example, my parents live in Europe and my mom is a school teacher, so summer, when she’s not teaching, is really the only reasonable time of year she can travel to the States for a wedding. I would feel horrible if someone had asked me not to have a summer wedding — or to wait until the following summer — because the date I chose was just inconvenient. Guess what! Weddings ARE inconvenient for a lot of people. But guests go to weddings, whether they’re inconveniently timed or not, because they love and want to celebrate the couple getting married.

      1. And for the receptions of course. 😉

      2. Wendy, I just noticed the tophat! Hahaha I guess it *is* Presidents’ Day. 😀

      3. Yes, another Drew Design.

    2. sarolabelle says:

      July has 5 weekends in it this year. It could very well be at the beginning of July and her’s be the second weekend of August.

  6. Chaotonic says:

    It could be way worse, my wedding date was set in stone back in late september, my cousin became engaged a month ago and decided my wedding date was perfect for her wedding date also. I was a little irked, but I took the time to look through the guest list and go well this person, and this person and that person who I felt obligated to invite since they were family off my list and put the people I felt more close to in their places. I was never bitchy to her, maybe a little disappointed, but hey she deserves her own day to without me giving her grief.

    1. ArtsyGirl says:

      Now that is pretty horrible of your cousin!

    2. That was a really mature response, Chaotonic!

      I do understand that it all gets very emotional, especially due to the stress of the planning, but it’s important to remember that you don’t get to call dibs on a given place and time (or season). People should be able to choose what works best for _them_ when they get married, just as you did the same for you. I’m sure that, when a close friend or relative chooses a date on or near yours, it is usually chosen for reasons compelling enough to make it a good choice _despite_ the conflict, and I’m sure that in _most_ such occasions, they’re bothered by the proximity as well.

      And for those people who choose conflicting dates on purpose? Well, your invites still went out first, and most people will honor that.

      1. ArtsyGirl says:

        I applaud Chaotonic – I have to admit that I would have dealt with the situation in a much more immature way than you! If I had picked a date that conflicted with a friend’s – let alone family members date – I would have changed it immediately. To me that is just common courtesy.

      2. Chaotonic says:

        I think I handled it so well because honestly I am getting my dream wedding, I booked my venue 10 months in advance, I got the designer dress, I have the most awesome bridesmaids, cake, theme, save the dates, and I am beyond excited to have it all, but I know that if no one shows up, if something goes wrong or not according to plan, my man will be there, and we will be married regardless and that is al that matters.

      3. evanscr05 says:

        I agree. In fact, I wouldn’t even let my fiance propose to me until his sister’s wedding was over (he proposed 3 days later) because I didn’t want to take away from this special time in her life so close to her wedding date. She got to enjoy it all, I got to help her, and now the roles are reversed. Not everyone is so considerate. My brother was engaged for a year before me, but they didn’t start making any plans until immediately after I got engaged. In fact, they were pretty blaise about getting married at all. There was no planning, no ring (until after I got mine), no movement in any way, shape, or form until immediately following my engagement. And now, everytime I talk to him he says, “I WILL be getting married before you” like it’s some kind of competition. I ended up telling him that while I wasn’t bothered by him getting married this year if that’s what worked for them, I was really bothered by that statement being made. I also told him the only thing he really needs to do is to give the family ample notice because we all live several states away and we need to make sure we can arrange our vacation days and our finances to afford to be there, but so far he’s keeping everyone in the dark and not solidifying any plans. They were originally planning on getting married this month; I found out over New Years they changed it to July. I’m getting married in September. So far, I have almost everything done and they have not even picked a venue, so I’m not sure they’ll make that deadline. But if they do, I’ll have to suck up the last minute airfare and hotel rates that I can’t afford to make sure I’m at my brother’s wedding (even though I’m not in it, and they are in mine, and they tell me nothing about their plans, or even fake caring about mine). You do for family, but I am a little resentful at the moment and none of it is related to stealing anyone’s thunder or feeling like I don’t get attention. It’s definitely not worth it to stir up drama by saying anything to him, but when you make a competition out of spending your life with someone, I am bothered by that.

  7. I agree with Wendy. I am really sympathetic to maybe the stress that his wedding is relatively close to yours. But, in the scheme of things, it’s not THAT close. Also, he and his fiancée have just as much a right to a summer wedding (if that’s what they really want) as you. Not trying to berate you by any stretch of the imagination, but you do need to calm down just a little, IMO.

  8. First of all, calm down. Stress has the unfortunate side effect of increasing itself if you don’t get it under control. Second, a month and a half is actually a really long time between weddings. You might not see that perhaps because the months have been flying quickly for you, but that’s a significant amount of time. Thirdly, a wedding means loved ones, gossip, free food, and usually free booze. Most people want to come to as many as they can. The polite thing for the guests who can’t come to both is to go to the invitation they accepted first, since it would be incredibly rude to back out of it.

    Also, keep in mind, they really only have 4 months to plan. Unless your brother and his fiancee are super are planning events, either their wedding will be a moderate to small one, in which case out of town guest won’t be as much of a source of contention, or they’ll realize they can’t have the wedding they want to have in 4 months and move it back.

    Remember that your brother’s getting married. Your brother has found someone to love and cherish and who will love and cherish him. You should know how exciting that realization is and how you can get caught up in it. Be at least as happy for him as he was for you.

    I know it’s really thrilling to have everyone talking about you and giving you compliments. Wanting to be the center of attention shouldn’t be something you’re ashamed of, but it shouldn’t be something you have to have to make your wedding a success. Whenever you feel like you’re getting stressed, ask yourself why you’re having this wedding. The answer will probably be to commit yourself permanently to your fiance and that should motivate you to ignore everything else.

  9. I think a big part of why the LW is upset is that she will have spent over a year and a half engaged, while her brother (and brother’s fiancee) will only spend 4 months engaged, and then have the earlier anniversary date for the rest of their marriages. Sibling rivalry is a big thing, especially if this is her *younger* brother. Female rivalry is big too. LW’s engagement was announced so long ago she’s probably feeling like this was going to be her time to ramp up and have the excitement be all about her / her wedding. And now, the brother’s fiancee isn’t doing the “fair” thing by waiting as long as the LW did.

    I know it’s immature, but it is possible that Wendy’s advice that their engagement is “not about you” is incorrect. It shouldn’t be about you. It’ll only hurt you to think about it that way. But depending on the dynamic the LW has with the brother and the fiancee, I can completely see how it could be (in a small part) a sibling/female rivalry going on. (Especially since the LW mentions that if she brings it up “it will turn into a sibling grudge match with lots of old dynamics rearing their ugly heads.”)

    1. I agree that we have no real idea what the family dynamics are like, Laurel, but… the LW had the same option to choose a quick planning period when she got engaged over a year before her brother, and she opted to spend a year and a half planning instead of four months. Presumably, that was so everything could be just right, but… still, she had the same option to plan in less time.

      I’d be really surprised if things were so bad between family members that her brother and his fiancée decided to intentionally screw her on wedding dates, and I suspect they’d have preferred a later-summer date but chose June to give the sister as much time separation as possible. Therefore, they’ll likely be very stressed over things – four months is tight for something formal – and probably wouldn’t appreciate being told it should have been even earlier.

      And as for being later? Some people, when they decide to get married, actually… want to get married. As soon as reasonably possible. If her brother and the fiancée can put something together in four months, odds are they’d have been fine with eloping and are just doing the traditional marriage for the sake of relatives. The last thing they probably want is to catch grief for not picking a day far enough away from the LW’s date.

      1. No, I agree _jsw_. I’m just trying to think like the LW, and I could see how she felt like “I did my time, why can’t they do theirs?”. I think a lot of people assume a one-year engagement is standard, which may be why the LW has spent *over* a year planning (if she got engaged in the late spring, for example.) What I meant about the wedding date being earlier is that she’s probably not only thinking about the wedding, but things like “they’ll have their 10 year anniversary before us” etc, and is feeling miffed since she thought she’d be getting to those milestones first. It IS a sibling rivalry thing, which is immature, but I just get where she’s coming from. (Maybe. Unless I’m totally off-base. If so, sorry LW 😉 )

        I agree, the best she can do is to celebrate with her family at her brother’s wedding, and know that they will be celebrating at hers.

      2. I think it is probably a bit premature to be worried about who will have their 10 year anniversary first. There is a good 50% chance that either one – or both! – will be long divorced before they come anywhere near it!

  10. LW, think of it from this perspective – your family knew they would have to come to both your and your brother’s wedding, regardless of when that would be. So I think you have nothing to worry there. Since you already invited them, it’s reasonable to assume that most of them saved the date, and made plans to come to your wedding. If anything, maybe they won’t be able to attend your brother’s wedding, since it’s on short notice. But you have to keep in mind that your family will NOT choose between you and your brother. They will do everything they can to celebrate both of you.

    I do think you’re stressed. You probably went through a lot to plan this wedding, and you’re nervous that something will spoil your perfect day. And you found one thing to worry about (your brother’s wedding), and you’re blowing it out of proportion.

    You can also look at it this way – take note of what happens at your brother’s wedding, and make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes.

    Best of luck in your marriage, and try to find other things to worry about 🙂

  11. I can understand why she’s upset. But I agree with Wendy that the important thing is who she’s marrying. If her wedding’s in August, she has to realize that anyone getting planning a wedding for this year is probably going to schedule it before hers. Summer weddings are just much more popular that fall weddings. In fact, it looks like they probably tried to space it out from hers as much as possible while still having a summer wedding.

  12. demoiselle says:

    What I wonder is why American culture has blown up the importance of the Wedding Day to such epic proportions…? What is the mythology of the Perfect Day all about? I don’t think that this phenomenon existed here twenty years ago. What changed? Is it some kind of backlash against feminism–that young women feel that they have to be the Princess for one day in order to conform to some sort of old fashioned “ideal womanhood”? Is it supposed to affirm her as a woman for the rest of her life?

    My husband and I married in a court house wedding in Manhattan and then had a wonderful afternoon dinner at a scrumptious Italian restaurant near our apartment in Astoria. We were applauded and serenaded by buskers/strangers on the subway ride back from the ceremony. We had incredible fresh berry tarts in place of a wedding cake (I hate cake). We had parents, grandparents, siblings and their so’s as guests. We bought my dress and my husband’s tuxedo new, but even so the whole affair cost less than $3000. Best of all, there was no stress and almost no planning involved. Some of our family members have commented that it was the best, happiest, least stressful wedding they’d ever been to… and it is not one ounce less special to me for not being extravagant.

    Anyway, I think people should be able to have the kind of wedding they want and can afford. But I really do wonder what has installed the idea into Americans’ heads that the trimmings are so very important?

    1. Pretty sure it was here 20 years ago. I don’t think this is anything new.

      1. Ha, I got 3 thumbs down for stating that the obsession with weddings is nothing new?

      2. yea, because you said it in a snotty way. Like my mom always says “its not what you say, but how you say it.” If you had put it in a better way you probably wouldn’t have as many thumbs down. I could be wrong but that was my impression from your comment.

    2. I’m not saying that I disagree with you here, but this comment seems rather self-congratulatory, demoiselle. It’s great that you had such an awesome, un-stressful, inexpensive wedding, but how does describing it in detail here help the LW in any way, other than non-so-subtly telling her that she’s doing it wrong? Planning a wedding for over a year may not be my cup of tea, or yours, but she’s writing to Wendy because she knows she’s feeling a little irrational, and wants to do the right thing– not because she needs or wants commentary on what her wedding plans should be, or how long she should take planning.

      Also, um, what’s up with all the American-bashing? No need to paint with such broad strokes there. In fact, most of the people who commented here agreed that the person you’re marrying is the most important thing, not the wedding itself. I don’t think it’s fair at all to say that American culture is all one way, or that all American’s think and feel the same way about weddings. Clearly, that’s not the case among readers here.

      Sorry to call you out, but I really, REALLY like the supportive vibe that Wendy’s been cultivating among comments on her new site, and I really hope it stays that way.

      1. demoiselle says:

        Uyzie, I wasn’t trying to be unsupportive of self-congratulatory. I was trying to open a different line of conversation which I thought might be interesting. We’ve seen a lot of “bridezilla” posts, and if you read other advice columns as I do, you have to admit it is a common trope.

        As for referring to American culture, I was not America-bashing. I refer to American culture not to put it down, but because I live here, experience the culture daily, and am familiar with it. I cannot comment on the wedding culture of other countries with as much specificity. If I had posted without specifying “America,” someone else would probably have accused me of being ignorant that the rest of the world isn’t just like the USA.

        I hope that the original poster has not taken offense at my post. It was not directed at her. I’m sorry that I offended you, as well, Uyzie. I do appreciate the supportive vibe here, and want it to continue. I hope that you will try not to assume the worst of my posters–because if my post was damaging to the vibe, responding so hostilely and “calling out” a participant for participating can’t improve it.

      2. Thanks for the response, demoiselle. I appreciate the clarification. I also apologize if my response to you seemed “hostile”. I didn’t intend it to be. I think I just bristled at your comment, since from the way you phrased things, it kind of sounded like you weren’t American, but were commenting on something you perceived to be wrong with “American culture.” I live in DC, so I’m constantly hearing commentary from people all over the world on what’s wrong with American culture, and what’s so right about theirs. It can feel a little upsetting to be told by someone of another culture that all Americans are perceived one way–and that it’s the wrong way. (Most of the time, though, it’s some sort of diatribe on American politics, but that’s just a function of living in the district.)

        At any rate, I’m sorry for taking it so personally. Next time, I’ll try to give you the benefit of the doubt, as well as the LW.

      3. demoiselle says:

        I’m glad we understand each other now. It didn’t occur to me that I’d come across as a foreigner criticizing American culture! Sometimes when I talk to people on the phone, they think I’m British. Some people think my husband is Canadian. But I’m from Roanoke, VA, and he’s from New Jersey! Its something about our patterns of speech. Perhaps it comes across in writing as well. 😉

      4. demoiselle says:

        Wow, what are the disagrees about on this post? Do people disagree that I’m from Virginia, or that people mistake my husband for a Canadian due to the way he speaks? 🙂

      5. It could also just be due to a mis-click. Those icons are fairly close together….

      6. Yeah, I thought demoiselle’s comment was pretentious, self-congratulatory, and, well, pointless, too. Very off-putting.

      7. demoiselle says:

        Spark, I’m sorry that I offended you.

    3. Weddings have been major cultural events, FOREVER, in so many countries and cultures. In fact, this goes all the way back to the Greeks at least. For a lot of them, it IS the most important day for a women, somewhat unfortunately. The difference I think, is that the burden of making a wedding a success has, as time has gone on, been put for the most part, only on the bride. I know this is not the case for everyone, but these are the social assumptions. The way weddings derived socially they were never meant to be foisted on one or two people alone, but actually on whole communities. This is no longer the case in America and so you get the ancient pressure of the perfect wedding without as much of the support. It’s really no surprise you get Bridezillas.

      1. demoiselle says:

        Yes, that’s true. My only basis for real comparison in terms of wedding culture is Russia, where I lived for about a year. There, it is quite common to do a civil ceremony only, and if I understand correctly, the legal marriage is totally separate from any religious event. However, there were political reasons for the rarity of the church wedding during the Soviet period, and I believe they are now on the rise. My Russian girlfriend fantasized about having an American-style wedding with a party and an engagement ring…

        I also have to admit I don’t know how huge the celebrations after the Russian civil ceremonies are. The one I went to was small, but I don’t think it was typical to be that modest. The after-party might well involve just as much stress as a typical American wedding and party.

      2. “The difference I think, is that the burden of making a wedding a success has, as time has gone on, been put for the most part, only on the bride.”


        I think* that in many cultures (and historically here), there is more support and less concern about variable details. There is a “way” to do things, a support system in place, and it is all more of a conveyor-belt sort of process than one where every bride (and with luck a few helpers) has to essentially put it all together from scratch. I suspect there are few places where there’s so much variety from one wedding/reception to another wedding/reception as there is here.

        Wedding ceremonies are important everywhere, but I think most wedding ceremonies in most other areas require fewer decisions. Part of that is because of the many blended cultures here, but another huge part is the capitalism behind trying to inflate prices.

        * Just an impression. I’m admittedly no expert, but this is what I’ve gathered.

      3. “…another huge part is the capitalism behind trying to inflate prices.”

        That, plus many people see weddings as a way to prove status and a way to try to impress others. Personally, I see no reason to spend $75k+ on a wedding that lasts part of one day. But, that’s not unheard of anymore as _some_ couples/their parents are getting more and more extravagant.*

        The love between a couple and the viability of their marriage is not directly correlated to the actual marriage ceremony. For some couples who choose to go into debt to pay for a wedding, it might even cause problems in their relationship due to the financial burden.

        * – By the way, Wendy had a great article a couple weeks ago about doing a wedding on a budget, and it was obviously an amazing day based on what she’s shared and the pictures she posted.

      4. She actually linked to that article in her answer above. 🙂

      5. Of course, I saw that she included a link…I was just giving Wendy props! 😉

      6. ArtsyGirl says:

        Actually you can get Wedding Loans at many major banks now – there was actually a fascinating article last year about a group of immigrants from the Middle East who live in Southern California who have gotten into a spending war when it comes to their children’s weddings. It is a rather small community of people mostly from Lebanon (I think) who have to top each other to the point where one bride was brought into the chapel in a glass coffin ala Sleeping Beauty, but the lid got jammed and they had to call a locksmith to get her out.

      7. ArtsyGirl says:

        or Snow White (I am getting my Disney Princesses mixed up)

      8. OMG. Wow. Just…wow.

        (I rarely use that phrase, but I think that story warrants it!)

      9. Anne (I Go To 11) says:

        “For some couples who choose to go into debt to pay for a wedding, it might even cause problems in their relationship due to the financial burden.”

        My stepmother told me of a wedding her mom went to about 10 years ago for a distant cousin. This cousin had insisted on an incredibly extravagant wedding at some ritzy country club in South Carolina, complete with a 7-course meal and waiters in coattails and white gloves. Fast forward 6 months later, and said cousin and her husband were getting divorced…in part due to the amount of debt incurred from the wedding.

    4. I didn’t see it as American-bashing at all, just a comment about ceremonies here. I agree that it’s been a huge deal for _far_ more than the past few years, but it does seem to be getting even worse… or maybe it’s the increased exposure due to reality shows. Regardless, it seems like wedding days are just vastly more stressful than they should be, and I agree with demoiselle’s questioning of why the event planning is such a huge deal here. Maybe it’s a huge deal in most places, but the only place I know much about, aside from royal weddings, is here in the US.

    5. Skyblossom says:

      I so much agree with you.

  13. callmehobo says:

    Great advice, Wendy.

    I used to work in a wedding chapel, and I have seen tons of weddings. And you know what? 80% of them were unpleasant. Not because of any major catastrophe- but because of simply how stressed out everyone in the wedding party was. I think that there is so much pressure on having “the perfect wedding” that people let it get in the way of the truly joyous event that is taking place.

    While I understand how the LW’s situation could be frustrating, I would like to urge her to not let it get the best of her. Your wedding day should be filled with joy, and I have seen way too many brides sobbing uncontrollably about “ruined weddings”. If you end the day hitched- Congratulations! You’ve totally succeeded!

    1. “If you end the day hitched- Congratulations! You’ve totally succeeded!”

      Haha! I love it. That truly is the best way to think about your wedding day. Even if everything else goes wrong, if you end the day married to the one you love, the wedding was still a success.

      (I hope you don’t mind, callmehobo, but I’m totally stealing that line for all my friends’ upcoming weddings.)

  14. i think it was a pretty inconsiderate move on her brothers and his fiancees part. i would also be annoyed with the situation. if i was the brother, i would at least wait to get married after my sister or i would time the ceremony at least 6 months before hers. two weddings are too much strain on one family.

    unfortunately, you cant really say anything because it would just cause people to be upset on what should be a happy time. try to take a deap breath and focus on the fact that youre marrying the one you love. and as for your brother and his fiancee, they wont change, so just accept them as they are.

  15. demoiselle says:

    To the LW: I sympathize with your situation and can imagine how you must feel. I think you’re getting very good advice on this thread, though. Unless there is some detail we are missing, it seems to me that you will be able to have a very special wedding even though your brother is beating you to the alter.

    You may never know why your brother and his fiancee are rushing to get married so soon. Perhaps the she is a graduate student whose health insurance ends when she graduates? Or she’s on a contract job that is ending? Or learned she has a health issue which means she should have children ASAP if she wants to have them at all? Or is already pregnant? Or one of her parents or grandparents has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and may not be around by the end of the summer, let alone next year?

    Anyway, I wish you well and all happiness. I hope that my controversial post above did not offend.

  16. fast eddie says:

    I’m surprised that nobody suggested a double wedding. That would save some of the expense, easier on the guests and could be quite a spectacle.

    1. If by “spectacle” you mean “horrible disaster that would irreversibly destroy her relationship with her brother and future SIL”

      1. fast eddie says:

        I don’t understand how it would be disastrous. Please explain.

      2. Yikes, I’m going to admit I thought you were kidding at first, Eddie (and am still holding out hope that you are). Double weddings are usually never good, even when the girls are bff. Most brides want to have their own day to shine, and that sentiment seems doubly so with this LW. If she is upset her future SIL scheduled a wedding six weeks from her date, I doubt she’d want to share the actual date. That, of course, is assuming that her and her SIL even want the same things and could go through all of the planning and agree on all of the small (and large) details without ripping out each others throats.

    2. ArtsyGirl says:

      Eddie I have to agree with Anita – basically if you were going to hold a double wedding the two brides would have to agree on color choices, table decorations, music played, menu, and a billion other things. Also neither could have a bridal party because there would already be 4 people at the altar (more if the family is Jewish). Also as stereotypical as it is, each bride wants to be the center of attention on her wedding day so sharing it would be difficult especially since the two brides are not biological sisters.

    3. hahaha fast eddie. this is something my dad would say. and he would be totally surprised that all the women of the family were looking at him in complete horror at the suggestion

      1. fast eddie says:

        Gee whiz, it was only a suggestion. As an older married male I’m incapable of relating to this situation. I can only repeat what Wendy pointed out that the important thing is she’s getting married to a man she loves and in the years down the road this speed bump will be delegated to posterity. I hope she and her brother will deal with it in a manner that preserves their entire family to enjoy the festivities.

  17. Little bit of a tangent here (sorry for going off-topic, Wendy!), but has anyone ever seen the show “Four Weddings” on TLC?

    If you want to think about what possibly fuels the “hype machine”, that show drives me crazy. I can easily see how shows like that could make women competitive about their weddings. (Especially when the woman who spent $80K on her wedding beats out the other contestants and wins the dream honeymoon.)

    If that show were really fair, the brides would all start from a level playing field. Pitting a $5K wedding against a $50K one hardly seems fair.

    (In the interest of transparency, I will admit that my guy and I watch this show sometimes, and he always roots for the underdog!)

    1. I always root for the underdog too. How is it possible to compare an $80k wedding and a $12k wedding – especially when one of the categories is “venue?” The $80k wedding likely spent the entire budget of a modest wedding on that alone!

  18. bostonpupgal says:

    As a fellow bride, I actually have a lot of sympathy for the LW, although I do agree with Wendy that there’s not a lot to be done except take a deep, accept it, and move on.

    My brother got engaged in September 2010 and planned a June 2012 wedding. I got engaged on New Years Eve. We did NOT want a long engagement (a year max) but out of respect for my brother and future sis, we postponed our wedding and set the date for October 2012, a full four months after them. Last month, my brother told me angrily how 2012 is ‘their year’ and I really need to push my wedding back because it’s interfering with their spotlight. He’s always been a mature, wonderful person and we are very close. All I could do was stand there and stutter while his future wife looked on, horrified at what he had just said. I was deeply hurt. He apologized later, but it’s still sticking with me, and it’s changed the dynamic as we wade through wedding planning.

    I had been feeling a bit sad that they would get more attention (married first, focus on them for most of the time we are ALL planning), but I was more than happy to let them have it, and be happy with a beautiful wedding and a wonderful husband. But to hear him call me out for me taking away THEIR spotlight, I couldn’t believe it. So I do understand where you’re coming from wanting the attention. I also understand the worry that relatives will choose their wedding over yours (I have that, too). I really do sympothize.

    But along with that desire for the attention, we come to feel ‘entitled’ to it. You were engaged first. You’ve been planning for years, while they’ll throw something together in a few months and get more glory than you. Perhaps you and your fiance have been together longer. In short, you deserve the attention more. But the thing is, you don’t. Believe me, I say this with love because I am with you girl. But they deserve a wedding, a wonderful one, with all the attention they can handle from friends and family. Just like you. Were they inconsiderate? Yes. Does it suck? Yes! But you’ve got to embrace YOUR wedding and get back to it. Everyone will notice the little touches that only careful planning can bring to a wedding. And the people who love you will not be keeping score, trust me.

  19. bostonpupgal says:

    I just reread my post and realized it’s a bit long. My point was that it’s easy, during wedding planning, to get caught up with the “me, me, me I deserve it” mentality. My month, my year, my dress, my everything, etc. And before you know it you’ve hurt someone you love because you insist on needing the attention. I’ve recently been on the recieving end of that, after I practically bent over backwards trying to force the spotlight off of me and onto them, even though I would have loved the attention, too. So you’ve got to focus on the wonderful event coming up in your life, and try to block out the small dissappointment of sharing some of the spotlight.

    1. ArtsyGirl says:

      Sounds like your brother has become a Groomzilla – I have a friend who is a groomsman for his brother’s summer wedding and the brother has decided that instead of renting tuxes all the groomsmen have to buy custom made suits and he wants the bachelor party to be a week long at a beach house with 30 people that my friend has to front the money to rent (even though he is a broke student). I hope you and your brother get over the hump and it sounds like you have an ally in your SIL. Good luck!!

    2. sarolabelle says:

      What’s wrong with October 2011? seems like October 2012 is breaking your “a year max” engagement big time.

  20. Okay, I know I am coming really late to the party today, but I just want to say this post has really helped me personally. I am also planning a (very small) wedding, and have already let really minor issues stress me out to the point of migraine headaches. I am definitely not in Bridezilla territory, but reading everyone’s comments has helped me put things a bit more in perspective. So thanks everyone for your great comments, you are all right, at the end of the day, what really matters is that I will be married to the person I love.

  21. Maybe this is a bit of a random comment, but there’s a few things I don’t understand about weddings. (Disclaimer: I’m not American, and I’ve only been to two weddings in my life, once when I was six, which I barely remember, and once four years ago when I was fifteen when my aunt and uncle got married.)
    a) Why the big deal? It’s a piece of paper. Surely the rest of your life is more important than one day?
    b) Why do the bridesmaids have to pay for their dresses? I always figured that the polite thing to do was that the people getting married would pay for them, since the bride is the one who wants them in one particular dress anyway…

    Can someone please enlighten me on this?

    1. sarolabelle says:

      The bridesmaids pay for the dresses because they are going to be keeping them forever.

      1. Point of order – NO they won’t! They will be having them hang in their closets unused until the next time they move – at which time they will be donated to Goodwill. When was the last time you were at an event, complimented someone’s dress and they said “Thanks! This was the bridesmaid dress Sally had me wear and I JUST LOVE IT!”

    2. sarolabelle says:

      Also a lot of people see weddings as a religious sacrament. The idea of giving each other to each other and vowing to be together for life is a lot more than paper. It’s a beautiful thing that should be celebrated!

      1. I guess there’s the difference then: I’m not religious, never have been, probably never will.

    3. I am not religious at all, so to me, getting married isn’t about the religious aspect, or about a piece of paper. To me, the wedding day means making a lifelong commitment to the person I am in love with, and being able to share that very important moment of my life with my family and close friends. I am very close to my family, so having them present during this special day is incredibly meaningful. To this point, I am having a very small, intimate wedding. And you are right, the rest of life is more important than this one day, but it being the beginning of my life with my partner, I still want it to be special. Planning an event like this, even though it is small in my case, still carries with it some pressure (particularly for a perfectionist). So even writing this out reminds me of why I am really planning this day, and why the little things that can go wrong don’t really matter in the big picture.

      Also, you ask a good question about the bridesmaid gowns. I have been in 4 weddings, and even though I paid for and kept the dresses, I never wore them again. However, I am paying for the majority of my wedding, so can’t really afford to pay for my maid of honor’s dress. (I only have 1 member of the wedding party). However, if she was not able to buy her own dress, I would either let her wear whatever she wanted, or pay for her dress if it was that important that she wear a certain dress. But it is generally an accepted tradition, and when one is asked to be a bridesmaid, it is expected that she pay for her own dress.

  22. justpeachy says:

    I had a similar situation. I had been planning my wedding for six months when a friend of mine got engaged. They set their wedding date 6 weeks before mine which meant our mutual out of town friends would most likely have to choose between the weddings. Because my friend’s wedding fell at a more convenient traveling weekend, my friend’s chose his wedding. However, it probably worked out better that way. My friend was so busy during his wedding that he barely got to talk to them while I got to catch up with them and talk about my upcoming wedding.

    And if you have been working on your wedding for over a year, I’m betting the LW already drafted Save the Date cards and will be putting them in the mail any day now. Hopefully your family will save the date for your wedding given that your brother probably won’t have the time to do STDs with such a short engagement.

    (I know this comment comes off as a little catty, I’m just saying that it won’t be bad if they show up for her brother’s wedding and if she can’t get past it, there are still some ways to be proactive with the guest list.)

  23. It’s often the woman who plans the details of the wedding, even the date. I would NOT be surprised at all if the brother’s fiance hardly even THOUGHT of LW when she picked her date. She was probably like, “OMG, I’m getting married! I’ve always wanted a summer wedding! My dream venue will be beautiful in July! I just can’t wait! OMG, I’m getting married!.” And eventually, “Oh wow, Fiance’s sister’s wedding is a few months later! Can’t believe it! Yay! What a fun summer!”

  24. Rachelgrace53 says:

    I think Wendy gave amazing advice that I totally agree with, but I still completely get where the bride is coming from. Weddings are a big deal for a family, and no matter how small, they produce stress and things to do and take up a lot of time. That being said, this is a much different situation, than say, two sisters getting married within a few weeks of each other. These parents will really only be heavily involved in the planning and execution of one wedding, since one is for their son and the groom’s family rarely has many “responsibilities.” So I think everything will work out in this situation, at least more so than the bride is expecting.

  25. Dawn Incognito says:

    I will already say this, I’m not giving advice for this post.
    So, Filipino culture is very superstitious, and it’s no exception with marriages. There is this thing called Sukob, or a curse of poverty and hard times if you invoke it. Sukob is invoked whenever two siblings have weddings within a year of each other, or somebody still goes through with their wedding within a year of the death of an extended family member. Granted it’s just a superstition, but the truth it these superstitions originated out of a way to tell people not to do it for a sensible reason. Back then, weddings and funerals were a lot more expensive to pay for (so having a sukob wedding meant driving your entire family into the red), and frankly, it’s in poor taste to steal a sibling’s thunder or celebrate a marriage in the wake of death.

    Personally, I think LW is understandably upset, but the longer she spends time complaining, the longer she has put off being proactive in ways other commenters have suggested. Too bad she couldn’t threaten her brother with the Sukob curse!

  26. hmm.I think she’s keeping pretty calm here, considering….has bro by any chance got a history of this sort of gazumping behaviour? If so, it’s easy to see why she might be annoyed. Quite a stress on the finances of the relations too, travel, accommodation, and gifts….it would be no surprise if LW lost a few guests, although presumably most people will honour the earlier commitment. If LW has a good friendship with bro’s fiancee she could perhaps express mild concern that as people will already be travelling that summer to LW’s wedding, that Fiancee’s guestlist might suffer….and see if the gentle hint bears fruit?

  27. Skyblossom says:

    After my husband and I were engaged and picked our wedding date my uncle got engaged and he and his fiance asked if we would mind if their wedding was the weekend before ours. We were delighted! It allowed the entire extended family to travel once for two weddings. The family decided to have a week long family reunion between the two weddings and everyone relaxed and had fun. Getting to travel once for two weddings was a bonus and spending time together as a family was fun. My uncle and his wife went on a honeymoon but made sure they were back for our wedding. It was a great week!

    A six week gap between the two weddings makes everyone travel twice but it is still something most will be able to do unless they have very limited funds or recently lost a job, etc. If they choose your brother’s wedding over yours I would assume they feel closer to him than to you and maybe you’re worrying about this because you know that? I don’t know any other reason you would worry about this and make it an issue so you seem insecure here. They’ve known about your wedding for quite a while and I would assume many of them have already made arrangements to attend.

    The bottom line is that your attitude about the six-week gap between weddings will determine whether your wedding is ruined. The six-week gap is irrelevant. If your family doesn’t attend your wedding they probably wouldn’t have anyway and that might reflect the way they feel about you. You probably can’t blame your brother if they really don’t like you or strongly prefer him. It would reflect your past behaviour and their reaction to it.

  28. Skyblossom says:

    There are many reasons for wanting a summer wedding and the choosen date probably has nothing to do with the LW. We planned a summer wedding when the kids who would be flowergirls would be out of school. My sister picked her date based on a best friend whom she wanted as a bridesmaid who was pregnant and really needed the wedding before her due date.

    Summer travel tends to be easier. Kids are out of school and families find it much easier to travel at that time. Winter travel always has the potential to be upset by snow storms and those can happen as early as November or as late as May. If they want to have an outdoor wedding they will definitely need warm weather. If the bride has siblings in college they may need for her to have the wedding in the summer when they can attend more easily. It’s easier for elderly relatives who are frail or in wheelchairs to get out in the summer.

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