Published November 22, 2011
Bridezillas might be fun to watch in all of their tantrum-throwing glory on TV, but vendors are starting to put their feet down when it comes to these diva brides-to-be.
More wedding vendors are implementing "Bridezilla, Diva and Madonna" taxes and clauses in their contracts with blushing brides in an attempt to quell their demanding behavior--right up to their walk down the aisle, according to Amy Eisinger, associate editor of WeddingChannel.com.
Although the taxes and clauses aren’t mainstream yet, Eisinger says restrictions like this could put a vendor in a bad light.
"I think it would, and should, send up a red flag for brides considering booking that vendor. It's like any of the other intangibles we see go into contracts--it's difficult to pinpoint what that obnoxious behavior is."
But brides don't seem to mind the contract additions. According to an informal poll of users on WeddingChannel.com, 60% report they would sign a vendor contract with a “bridezilla clause.”
"They don't think they will be aggressive or rude," Eisinger says.
Given the industry they chose to work in, vendors should be prepared to deal with high stress and emotion levels, especially when planning large-scale events like weddings, Eisinger says. With that said, bridezilla behavior is also not acceptable, she adds.
Todd O'Dowd, communications and catering manager at Loring Pasta Bar in Minneapolis, has a fee that kicks in when brides expect the vendor to go above and beyond services detailed in its contract.
"We are happy to do that, but there is a cost," O'Dowd says. "It's not a punishment or anything like that. To really have it kick in there has to be a client who is constantly overzealous."
O'Dowd says that in his six years at the venue, the fee has only kicked in three times. One such time was when a bride emailed the same questions at least four times a day. She was charged an extra $5 per email, he says.
"We put the fee in the contract so that everyone clearly understands we are professionals and we do provide a service. Most couples appreciate that it is in there--it makes them step back and re-assess."
The fee also reminds customers that Loring is a venue--not an event planner. The fee was instated as a "sheer measure of protection," for the restaurant, O'Dowd says, there was no specific bride or event that prompted the fee.
"We do about two weddings or rehearsal dinners per weekend,” he says. "We have quite a few clients coming though the door. It's self-protection for us, and a general way of telling the couple it is going to be ok."
Liron David, owner of EVENTIQUE, a New York City-based event planning business determines its pricing by how high maintenance it expects a customer to be throughout the planning process. The company does not have a set tax or fee in place for difficult customers, but can institute higher prices if the time commitment is expected to be greater than it would be for the average client.
"From the first meeting we have with a client, depending on what they ask for and how the conversations go, and how many things they want to change from the first concept meeting to the second, we know what we are getting into," David says. "Our pricing reflects that. The value and attention the clients are getting will be reflected in the price."
David says as an event producer, he is available 24 hours a day, and some bridezillas will take advantage of every second of that. There is no set price amount or fee for such clients, but says the initial budget could be bumped 15-20% higher depending on behavior.
"We will either drop the client [if it's too much] or we will explain to them that what they are asking for is not in the original budget that was discussed, and there will be new pricing if they want to continue to work with us.”
Some vendors, including J-BAR-H in Texas have brides sign a harsher clause that will allow them to back out of the event without a refund on the day of the wedding. According to the catering company's website, its Bridezilla Clause states " J-Bar-H reserves the right to cancel your agreement at any time for any reason (including the day of the event,) and retain a reasonable fee and all expenses, if it is due to clients’ and/or client representative's behavior, actions or inactions. Aggressive, abusive, rude and/or obnoxious behavior will not be tolerated towards any J-BAR-H staff, vendors or subcontractors."
Eisinger has seen and heard of other clauses that allow a vendor or planner to quit or fine a bride for tantrum throwing on the day of the event, or if a bride is difficult to deal.
"So, as a bride, if you snap at your planner once and she quits on the spot, you are out a planner," she says. "It's kind of crazy."
As far as clauses that allow vendors to drop clients, David says the behavior is too open to interpretation to have a set standard that would allow such a clause to kick in.
"The problem is who decides when enough is enough?" he asks. "I wouldn't even let it get that far, in my opinion. If I felt uncomfortable in anyway, I will tell the client I don’t think this is the right place for them. Anyone who would sign a clause like that has to be waiting for a disaster."