Bride Wars (2009) : 6 toxic behaviours you need to watch out for
Updated: May 8, 2022
After I got engaged in February 2021, my fiancé and I have decided to do a mini wedding films marathon while we plan for our own wedding. The first on our list was Bride Wars.
As a kid I loved that film. I would watch it regularly with my childhood best friend thinking that one day we will be each other's maids of honour and that our friendship will be just as strong. Watching it back at 26, more than ten years later, I wonder how I sat through the whole movie without throwing the TV out.
Bride Wars follows two best friends who get engaged ay the same time. They both want a June wedding at the Plaza but their dates get mixed up and now their weddings are due to happen on the same day. They turn bridezillas and nothing is off limits to save their weddings. 1. Who would want to be a bride instead of a princess/pirate/adventurer as a kid ?
© Bride Wars The film opens on Emma and Liv being children and playing bride and groom. First, as a kid, I wanted more to be a princess than to be married which is why I do find it a bit weird that they play so much to getting married. Where did they pick it up ? It seems to have originated from them seeing a wedding happen at the Plaza in June while they were having tea with their mums.
It seems a bit thin to me. Maybe I was just a weird kid but I didn't know what a bride, wife or husband were. I was thinking in terms of queen, princess, pirates, explorers as did most of my friends. Who would trade a whole imaginary kingdom for a white dress ? Not me and not the kids I used to babysit. I mean a queen gets pretty dresses anyway !
2. Women do not have to wait but can propose to their partners too
© Bride Wars
We jump to find them again in their twenties with boyfriends and waiting to be engaged. Liv is clearly very impatient. She finds a Tiffany box and supposes it's an engagement ring. Days go by but nothing comes. Why doesn't she propose to Daniel ? If she can't wait and she knows she wants to marry him, it would have been a nice twist for her to get a ring, get down on one knee and pop the question.
Instead, she shows up at his work and forces him to admit if he was going to propose or not. It makes me feel uncomfortable because she forces him to get on her timeline and in the way she wants it to. She doesn't own her desires which she would have if she proposed.
I was planning to propose to my now fiancé not knowing when he would propose to me. He had not proposed when I picked the date I wanted to ask him. Being the first to do it doesn't mean the other one doesn't want to do it. I just think it's unfair to ask of men to guess our timelines, the ring and proposal we want, keep it a surprise and pop the question at the 'right time'. It is also sexist to put our fate into the hands of men when it comes to proposals. We can get down on one knee too and that should be normalised.
3. Marriage is not your biggest accomplishment as a woman, there's so much more to life
© Bride Wars
As they start planning the wedding, they get an appointment with the most sought-after wedding planner Marion Sinclair. How much money has Emma saved to be able to afford a wedding planner and a June wedding at the Plaza ?
Given that she is a teacher and regularly says she makes a pittance, I wonder how she managed to save a small fortune in 10 years knowing that she started at 16 when she would have still been a high schooler. Was it way cheaper back in 2009 ? I don't think so. Maybe she got help from her parents. I will give her that. What annoys me even more is how Marion Sinclair starts a whole speech by saying women are dead until they get married. And that some people will die dead like her secretary Angela. Marriage is not the whole purpose of a woman's life. I strongly disagree with that. Now more than ever, it should be a choice and no woman should ever be judged if she chose not to get married. Is it the 1950s ?
And what about professional accomplishments ? Or life goals ? What about buying a house or travelling around the world ? So many other things make people feel alive and we need to emphasise that so people don't rush into relationships and marriages to conform and be miserable their whole lives.
4. If your groom is not involved in wedding planning, chances are he will not be involved in building a marriage !
© Bride Wars
The groom doesn't seem to do anything or to be involved in anything in most wedding films and even more in Bride Wars. They are not even supporting cast technically speaking.
This is something I noticed while I was visiting wedding venues with my fiancé. Most people mainly talked to me and made sure that I liked the venue as if I was making the decision and not both of us. Is it expected of women to basically plan the whole wedding while the groom goes with the flow ?
Given how much time according to that film the maid of honour and bride spend together, you start questioning who is getting married to whom. I know that traditionally it used to be the family of the bride that payed for the wedding but nowadays I would imagine most couples paying for it themselves so wouldn't the groom like to know how the wedding would go ? Have an input ? It's his big day too.
I feel like a lot of these films infantilise men and transform the women in their lives into substitutes of mothers and babysitters while men are grown adults. And men are happy to leave them with organising it while they can get on with their lives and are only expected to put on a suit and show up at the wedding.
If you ask me that's not an amazing foundation for a healthy marriage. If the groom is not involved in the wedding planning, how much is he going to be involved in building a healthy marriage ? Why wouldn't he just let the wife drive and go with the flow ? What happens when children are involved ?
Putting the planning on the bride's shoulders starts a dangerous pattern of her taking more than her share of mental load. Just as the devil, gender equality is in details.
5. Women are not pets that need to be controlled
© Bride Wars
I can't talk about gender equality without mentioning Fletcher, Emma's fiancé and Chris Prat before he got famous. He is a compilation of sexist behaviours trying to control what Emma does and blaming Daniel for not being able 'to control his wife' - 1950s vibes anyone ? I would like women to tell their female friends to control their husbands and we will see how these guys like it.
He has an image of who he thinks Emma is. Any time, she acts like a person he blames her for it. He can not accept that people change over time and that she is not the same person she was when they met ten years ago. Who would expect anyone to be the same person they were when they met us ? Who would want to be the same person they were ten years ago ?
6. Is your friendship that strong if you throw it away at the first problem ?
© Bride Wars
The film tries to make a point about friendship and how strong Liv and Emma's friendship is. But when you see how bad they fight because of a wedding date, you wonder how much they value that friendship to begin with.
This film draws on clichés and sexist stereotypes about women and weddings. Of course, we all become bridezillas, it's in our DNA as soon as we start planning a wedding. Of course, we forget how to have a conversation with our best friend as soon as white dresses are involved !
I am not saying there will be no drama but at some point, there is space for a conversation to happen if Emma and Liv want to be each other's maids of honour. This is sexist because there's no drama on the side of men. They barely exist and are always pictured as calm, as rocks during the storm when they make it on screen.
I think a good wedding film could be focusing on the couple, the challenges of planning a wedding, the unexpected questions that come up with marriage. There's plenty of drama there ! What's your favourite wedding film ?