11 Things You Should Never Say To A Bride

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
I'd been covering weddings at Refinery29 for about six months when my boyfriend proposed to me last summer. We were on vacation in Big Sur, California, and I had no idea he'd been carrying around a diamond ring in his pocket for weeks, waiting for the right moment. He asked, I said yes, and we spent the rest of the day (and the trip) grinning at each other like idiots. Very happy idiots.
And then...we got home. That's when I started to realize that planning a wedding can have some very strange side effects, even if you consider yourself to be a low-maintenance bride. It can turn an otherwise rational human being into a highly sensitive, insecure weirdo. With my own wedding fast approaching, I've compiled a list of 11 things you should never say to a bride — and some of them might surprise you. Have you made these faux pas without even realizing it? Find out, ahead.

1 of 11
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
"Stop stressing."
Has this ever been a helpful or productive thing to say to someone who is, in fact, stressing? No. Because that's not how stress works. You might even say that stress is, quite literally, the result of being unable to stop stressing. Planning a wedding can be a very intense process, and feeling overwhelmed or anxious is completely normal. If the only advice you can offer is a dismissive "stop stressing," you might as well just say what you really mean: "Shut up."

If you genuinely want to be helpful and supportive, recognize that the bride-to-be may just need to vent, and isn't necessarily expecting you to offer advice. Try to hear her out, and offer something constructive, even if you can't personally understand where she's coming from.
2 of 11
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
"No one will even notice."
It's true that couples often get caught up in small details that no one else is even remotely aware of. But so what? If the bride is focused on some detail that she doesn't feel is quite right, then at the very least she will notice.

Clearly, she cares about the pin-sized stain on the back of her dress, or the minor typo in the ceremony programs, or whatever else she may be fixated on. Don't belittle her by suggesting that it's so insignificant that no one will know the difference. Chances are she never expected to be losing sleep over this stuff, either. But when you spend a year planning every little detail of a wedding, little things may feel bigger and more dramatic than you'd expect. Saying no one will notice isn't a solution to a problem. And if you can't offer a solution, try to have some empathy.

3 of 11
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
"You're acting like a bridezilla."
I could write an opus about why we should have a moratorium on the word bridezilla. Granted, there are some instances of brides behaving very, very badly. But the fear of being dubbed a bridezilla can also create additional tension and anxiety during an already stressful time. It has become an overused and derogatory way to shame women — intentionally or not — into keeping their emotions in check, lest they be dubbed hysterical and unreasonable. But planning a wedding is exceedingly emotional, and even the strongest among us may become needy, high-strung, or outright intolerable at some point in the process. Don't add fuel to that fire by using this hurtful buzzword; the only thing it will accomplish is making the bride feel alienated.
4 of 11
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
"Are you changing your name?"
Before I got engaged, it never really occurred to me that it might be rude to ask this question. But many women struggle over whether to change their names when they marry, and even in the year 2016, it can be a source of contention for a couple. I haven't decided what to do about my name just yet — and I'd prefer not to field this question until I make a decision for myself.
5 of 11
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
"When are you having kids?"
Probably if and when we decide to? But thanks so much for putting me on the spot, and I promise that as soon as we conceive, you'll be the first to know. Or not.
6 of 11
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
"What took so long?"
This is just mean. First, it's really a rhetorical question; there is no satisfactory answer, and people who ask it usually mean, "I'm judging you for not getting married sooner." My fiancé and I have been living together for five years, and we'll both be 33 when we get hitched this September. We knew we weren't ready for marriage until now, and we're totally comfortable with that. It's bananas how many people thought that a perfectly appropriate response to the news of our engagement was to ask why it took us so long to get there.
7 of 11
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
"What's the rush?"
This is the equally infuriating counterpart to, "What took so long?" Asking a newly engaged couple "What's the rush?" is tantamount to saying, "I do not approve of your union." Would you ever ask this question unless you had reservations about the relationship? Fortunately for all parties, you are not the one getting married to either of these people, so there's really no need to express your concerns. The time for that would have been prior to the engagement, and only if you had been asked to weigh in. Once wedding plans are underway, you should assume that, for better or worse, the couple has thought it through. So while you may feel they're rushing into it, saying so at this point will do no good.
8 of 11
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
"How much money are you spending?"
Can't you just assume that it is too much, and save me the pain of breaking it down for you? Thanks.
9 of 11
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
"Who's paying for your wedding?"
There are so many difficult aspects of planning a wedding, but unless you have a ton of extra cash lying around, figuring out the finances is particularly challenging. Even as a weddings editor, I did not fully comprehend the costs until I was in the thick of it. I expected my Brooklyn wedding to cost about half of the current projections. We are lucky to have lots of help from our families, but that doesn't make discussing the specifics of how we're paying for this circus any less awkward. Of course, some couples choose to offer this information readily (as in: "We're paying for our own wedding, so we're trying not to spend money on eating out"), but if they don't bring it up, you shouldn't, either.
10 of 11
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
"Can I bring a guest?"
No, no, no, a million times no. The only exception to this, in my book, is the case in which you have a very serious S.O., and suspect that the couple was unaware of that, and would have invited him or her if they had known. If you are flying solo, and weren't already invited to bring a guest, you should assume that there's a reason. Maybe it's budget, maybe it's space at the venue. But a conversation likely took place about every single person on that guest list, including you, and if you weren't given a +1, it's probably not an oversight.
11 of 11
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Nothing at all.
Sometimes it's what you don't say that speaks volumes. For brides, silence can be deafening. We may be confident and successful people in every other aspect of our lives, but when it comes to our weddings, we really do thrive on positive reinforcement. We know that no one besides us really cares about how cute our save-the-dates were, or what our flowers will look like. But simply reaching out every now and then with a few words of encouragement or the occasional, "How's it going with wedding planning?" can be incredibly meaningful.

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