When loving fiances become obsessive-compulsive groomzillas. Images: Getty Images
Laura* wasn’t the sort of girl who grew up dreaming about her wedding. But when the man of her dreams popped the question after five years of dating, she couldn’t have been more keen to start planning their big day.
“When Jim* expressed an interest to be involved in the wedding prep, I thought I was the luckiest girl alive,” she recalls. Unfortunately, her excitement was short-lived. “Just about as short as Jim’s temper,” she adds.
What started off with them browsing through magazines and talking about possible colour schemes quickly morphed into what Laura calls “The Jim Show”. “I don’t know what caused Jim to make a 180-degree transformation from loving groom to crazy groomzilla. The man who loved soccer and surfing was suddenly interested in the types of flowers that made up the floral arrangements.”
Before she could come to terms with her new fanatic fiance, Laura found herself being signed up by Jim for wedding fairs and being dragged to cake tastings, 13 in all. “I was a little horrified at how dessert flavours had become a cause for serious contemplation and anxiety,” she says.
In the subsequent weeks, hanging out together became painful. According to Laura, Jim constantly agonised over seating plans and debated party themes.
Two months into the planning, his alter ego had started drowning out any input she gave about wedding cards, venues or outfits. When speaking to planners or contractors, Jim would voice his own ideas as the final decision – without so much as discussing it with her.
The last straw was when Jim tagged along when Laura went dress shopping, much to the horror of her mother. The day didn’t end well; he ended up vetoing her more trendy choice because he didn’t think a fashion-forward gown would fit their old Hollywood theme.
Laura recalls fleeing the bridal salon in a rage amid awkward stares from sales assistants, going home and crying for two hours. “In his mind, he was making a suggestion. But to me, I was being forced to wear something I didn’t love,” she said.
Laura’s woes may sound like an unfortunate anomaly, given most grooms are content to turn up at their weddings in a tux and on time. But a new breed of groom is afoot, note local wedding planners.
These men come from all walks of life and often have nothing in common – other than the fact that they are getting hitched and want to dictate exactly how they want it done. Meet groomzilla.
TO THE EXTREME
Donna* knows about the obsessive groom-to-be all too well. Her then fiance, now her hubby, created a 32-page working manual containing everything from the contact details of the florists to their individual itineraries for the day – timed from the minute they woke up to when their heads hit the pillow at the end of it all.
“Brendan* had a vision for the wedding and refused to settle for anything else,” she recalls. “When it came to the outfits, music, entertainment, venues and favours, everything had to fit our traditional Han Chinese theme or it was a no-go.”
She remembers sending him a mushy message at 4am on their wedding day for some reassurance to calm her frazzled nerves. What she got in reply was an expletive-filled rant about his lack of sleep and stress levels. “As an anxious bride, that message terrified me!” she admits.
She later found out that instead of getting some shut-eye, he had spent the night painstakingly using a penknife to carve the Chinese characters of their names out of cardboard … all because he wanted the “embossed effect” when he stuck them onto their hongbao collection box.
“At some level, I should have expected it,” Donna adds. “I mean, this is the same guy who came up with a nine-page itinerary for our first weeklong holiday together in Bali. But knowing he was a perfectionist was little comfort and quite frustrating when he refused to consider alternatives because he had his mind set on a fixed idea.”
TAMING THE BEAST
So what’s turning sane men into fire-breathing divas? Partly, it’s age. “These days, grooms are older and often more well-off and opinionated. If they’re financing the wedding, they tend to have strong opinions about how their money is spent,” says Samantha Lim, a wedding planner at Marriott Singapore.
All of the seven wedding planners we spoke to agreed that grooms these days tend to have stronger views and want to participate in the planning in some way.
“I’m seeing an increasing number of involved grooms,” says Caroline Tan-Reed, founder of The Wedding Stylist. “I used to deal mainly with brides and their mums. But recently, men have been showing more interest in everything from the decor to table arrangements.”
Kiera*, a newlywed, feels that equal opportunity also has a lot to do with the groomzilla phenomenon. “Most guys today don’t see a wedding as the ‘bride’s day’ or female domain anymore. My husband would have been aghast if I’d done all the planning on my own, just as I would have been if he’d been completely uninvolved.”
For Laura and Donna, however, their men took involvement to the extreme. Laura recalls: “In the middle of my meltdown after the debacle at the bridal salon, I realised how upset I was about the way my wedding was turning out. It was time to tame the beast.”
She sat Jim down for a serious talk about how he had gone from enthusiastic involvement to what she saw as overstepping his boundaries. “There was a lot of yelling and crying. But eventually, we came to realise that if our wedding wasn’t a joint production, then our future life was headed to doomsville … fast!”
For Donna, it came down to give and take. “He was vocal about his opinions, but I made sure I had complete control over certain aspects, like my church dress.”
Laura eventually wore an edgy gown of her choice, and Donna’s traditional Han-themed wedding was such a hit, it was covered in a local Chinese daily. Both women are happily married today but agree that they could have done without their ordeals.
Groomzillas may still be rare in Singapore, but they’re out there. Ladies, you have been warned.
* Not their real names
This story was originally published in Her World magazine September 2012.