Why do we get such a Schadenfreude charge from badly behaved brides? Photo: Getty
There once was an Australian reality TV show about weddings called Weddings.
The fact that I can’t find any trace of it on the interwebs, nor does it appear on host Rachel Hunter’s Wikipedia page or IMDb profile speaks rather loudly to me that it was a program that no one gave two shakes of a lamb’s tail about.
I hazard a guess it aired about 1994ish.
Why doesn’t anyone remember this show? Well, I have a theory.
This show’s format was pretty basic, follow three couples that are getting married, ending with each couples’ wedding day.
There was no omniscient voice-over, there was seemingly nothing orchestrated, and, there was no cast for conflict. (Yo, what up my old documentary lecturer Martin Mhando)
Compared to super-produced and packaged ‘reality’ programs today, which we now expect to have a game win-or-lose element, ‘Weddings’ was a straighty-one-eighty kind of a show that just wouldn’t get a whiff at a 2013 guernsey.
While everyone loves a beautiful bride… we really truly love a bad one.
We don’t hate Bridezillas at all; we actually love being outraged by their awful inappropriate ungratefulness the same way we just can’t pull ourselves away from rubbernecking at a crash site or the resist the compulsion to pick up a Woman’s Day while waiting for the dude at the Department of Transport to finish putting your car over the pits after you forgot to pay your rego (it’s been a long week).
But why do we get such a Schadenfreude charge from them?
I’m the first to admit I love nothing more than to read these stories, sometimes even trawling the bride boards specifically to indulge my occasional Bridezilla lust, or listen to one of my mates talk about her sister-in-law’s bad bride shenanigans on how she’s using her wedding as an emotional 12-gauge to take pot shots at her.
We’re drawn to articles and stories about good-brides-gone-bad because it’s a weird form of titillation, or as Professor Eric Wilson, author of Everyone Loves A Good Train Wreck: Why We Can't Look Away, nudges at: we learn what not to do, or in this case, how not to behave
It’s a different story if we’re somehow implicated or involved with the wedding wolverine, but reading about a boorish bride means that we can be suitably horrified from a distance without running the risk of being dragged down by the undertow.
Also, these sorts of stories started off being played out behind closed passwords of Gmail inboxes before they were flagged, forwarded and churned into fresh evidence that the Bridezilla was alive and kicking (heads).
The tantilising part of this correspondence is, the protagonist isn’t just anyone, like the articles about how saucy emails between two employees were accidently sent to the entire office, the grubby manners were from society’s angel – a bride.
When a bride behaves like a jerk, it kind of stops us in our tracks because it messes with our preconceived ideas about how a gorgeous bride should conduct herself. And that doesn’t usually include the possibility that she would fit right in on the set of V.
I went to this wedding last year and when, in the dreaded line-up, said how beautiful she looked (well you’re not going to say ‘so how’s your week been?’), and instead of the usual thank you, she said ‘Well, I am the bride!’
While it wasn’t quite Bridezilla territory, I did do a double-take and had a little guffaw to myself in the taxi to the reception.
I get that there is an unprecedented amount of Bridezilla-like spinoff TV shows that don’t just cast for conflict but gleefully poke the bear, but I doubt that we’ve opened the floodgates for normalising The Bad Bride. She’s labeled bad for a reason. And not just Coyote Ugly kind of 'bad girl', but the bad that comes with losing friendships and having a nasty sense of entitlement - people genuinely despise that kind of a person, bride or no bride.
I honestly believe that anyone getting married would have the nous to not use that as some weird green light to treat vendors and guests like animals - instead, I think it's fine to publish these stories every so often as reminders to pull our heads in and learn what not to do.
But, like watching Maury Povich, Keeping Up with the Kardashians or Cheaters, I will secretly go on loving these provocative stories so I can, time after time, gasp, clutch my pearls and exclaim ‘who on Earth does that?
And the fact that it’s a beautiful bride acting so ugly?
Well that’s just the icing on the wedding cake.
This story first appeared on Wry Bride, republished with permission.