1. Do you attract them?
I'm a believer in Like-Attracts-Like. Brides hire photographers they relate to. If you want relaxed brides, make sure you're sending a "relaxed" vibe. Not a "walk-all-over-me" vibe, but a "I'm not going to freak out over every little thing because I'm not a drama queen" vibe. If you find yourself at a consult saying things like "I absolutely must get fed at the wedding, it's in my contract, and if I'm not seated with you for dinner, I will leave right then"....then a relaxed bride might be turned off, and a control freak bride might fall in love. I'm not saying that you can't have a policy like that, but tone and attitude are very important.
Also, what kind of clients are you targeting? I highly prefer couples who are in their 30's/40's, who are professionals. Why? They are running the show (not their families), they know who they are, and they have learned a little more about organization/responsibility/management. I target a client base who is less prone to teenage-style breakdowns. But when I have a client outside of my target demographic, I try to be extra sensitive to their potential lack of experience and/or added pressure from family and friends.
2. Cut 'em some slack.
Orchestrating a wedding is a full time hard core management gig. With no training, and no warning. Few people are naturals, and only a small percentage of the rest of us have Harvard business degrees. And lets face it, it really truly is all about the bride. She will be the one who gets kudos if it goes well, and cruel cruel gossip if it doesn't. So when your bride doesn't know how to handle the finances, scheduling, organization of the wedding, or isn't fully knowledgeable about contract negotiation and people skills and suddenly has a nervous break down from the stress....cut her some slack for heaven's sake!!! Offer your patience, and your assistance. Guide her through the process instead of expecting her to know how it works. If things get emotional, stay calm and be a solid rock she can trust.
I have a theory that at least 60% of the "Bridezillas" out there are really just normal women reacting normally to an extreme amount of pressure during an emotional time. Sure, there are some real ones out there...but a lot of photographers label brides as bridezillas too quickly.
3. Don't be a photozilla!
You are a photographer, a vendor, aka, .....*the paid help*. Ouch.
But you needed to hear it. Yes, you're an artist and can be a friend, and you get to be with the bride & groom more than any other person on that day...blah blah blah... But don't go thinking you're special....just yet.
You're special ONLY if you make your time with them special. If you're giving of yourself and you have a fun and gracious personality. But if you go in assuming *you* are special and that *you* should get special treatment and the day is all about **YOU**....congratulations, you have become the dreaded "Photozilla". The Photozilla isn't as rare a creature as you might think, and they have a natural tendancy to label normal brides as "bridezillas" at the first sign of an issue or power struggle.
Are you a photozilla? Check for these symptoms: High blood pressure, dilussions of granduer, fits of rage, impulsive behavior, scaley skin, deteriorating client relationships.
So to recap: Zilla's. Don't attract one. Don't mislabel one. Don't be one. Lets be kind to our brides, and get out of this witch-hunt mentality.
All the best,
Jillian Kay is a wedding & portrait photographer from San Jose, CA. By weekday, she is a mild mannered software engineer. By weekend, she is a joyful and energetic force behind a camera! Jillian enjoys tackling the tough questions about client relationships and helping others see win/win solutions. When not working, she loves taking walks, blog-stalking, visiting with friends, and enjoying life!.