True Tales of PNS: The Great Floral Massacre of 2004.

Those of you who have been with me since the beginning know a thing or two about the symptoms of and treatments for Pre-Nuptial Syndrome, or PNS (see Surviving PNS: Pre-Nuptial Syndrome, 2/24/09). Some might refer to those that suffer from this disorder as “Bridezilla”, “Bride From Hell” or just plain “Bitch!”, but I say these women are afflicted! PNS can so permeate the soul of a good and decent woman that she becomes unrecognizable to those around her. Stress kills, but PNS? That’s a horse of a different color. It’s stress drunk with power!

As an example, I will use a case study. A bride I knew back in 2004, a sweet woman on a mission – to have the most perfect wedding… EVER! DAMN IT!! We’ll call her Jody, because I don’t know anyone named Jody. Everything started out normal. Jody was like any other bride, excited, determined, thrilled at the prospect of celebrating her big day and starting her life together with her new husband. Let’s call him… poor bastard? I mean Jeff. Jody went through all of the usual steps of wedding planning. Chose the venue, chose the band (in my opinion, she chose the best one), picked out flowers, a dress, cake, champagne – all of it. Now, let me say, I’m not exactly sure what triggered Jody’s PNS. It could’ve been anything. Invitations, favors, anything. Until the day I saw her in action though, I thought PNS was abruptly cut off by, well – the wedding! Not necessarily.

Jody’s ceremony was at 5:30pm, with a cocktail hour to follow at 6pm and dinner and dancing from 7 – 11. It was at about 5:57pm that I witnessed one of the most perplexing and horrifying displays of PNS craziness that I’ve seen in over fifteen years in the wedding business. The ceremony had just finished. It was a beautiful afternoon on the water at undisclosed location in New Jersey facing the Manhattan skyline. The hard part was over, right? The fun was supposed to start. (You all know how I feel about the cocktail hour.) As the band was setting up in the main room of the venue, the cocktail hour was going on outside on the deck and in the bar area. Jody entered the main room, where the tables had been set and the flowers had been placed a few hours earlier. The centerpieces were a well put together mix of roses and lilies with sprays of dendrobium orchids. I never got a chance to ask Jody what the orchids had done to so upset her, but before anyone could stop her, she was attacking! The dendrobiums were her target. Jody proceeded to rip every orchid from its happy home amidst the other happy flowers there to make her day special and beautiful. The orchids ended up in the trash and Jody ended up missing about 25 minutes of cocktail hour. The photographer had been looking for her, Jeff thought she was fixing her makeup, her mother had given up on trying to stop the madness and all I could do was wonder why at that moment she would care about those bloody orchids.

It was PNS, but it carried through the actual nuptials to become something more complex, something more sinister in it’s effects on the bridal brain – RDD: Reception Dysmorphic Disorder. Jody was probably unclear with her florist about her extreme hatred of all things dendrobium. It’s possible the orchids were never discussed at all, and the florist took a little creative license, which would have been fine… any other day. Unfortunately, what looked like a stunningly decorated room to everyone else, looked like a giant crap-fest to Jody. She couldn’t help it. She had built everything up so much in her mind, that was the only thing it could look like. It’s like perfectly normal sized women that think their jeans make their asses look fat. The problem is, at that point in your wedding day, if you haven’t stopped yet to realize there’s something bigger going on than a party – no one can help you. Except maybe the bartender. Jody chose a time at which most of us would say “let’s party” or “whatever, I’m married now… champagne for everyone” to freak out. She was still in planning mode, and at that moment – the planning is over. Let go and let party, ladies.

By the end of the first dance Jody was fine. She was smiling, laughing, dancing and having a great time. The crisis had passed. She enjoyed the food, the music and her guests all night. The evening ended with hugs and best wishes, just as it should. So how can you avoid a floral massacre or ice sculpture decapitation or bridesmaids’ jewelry meltdown of your own? Keep the points below in mind, and they should help talk you down.
  • Put the elements together in advance and be specific.
  • Make sure you discuss your dislikes as freely as you discuss your favorite things with all of your vendors. This will help you avoid discovering something you find hideous (like Jody’s dendrobiums) at your reception.
  • Remember the difference is in the details, but your guests are nowhere near as picky as you are. Once you’re in it, it’s probably best to let it go and focus on the positive.
  • Your wedding should at least be as much about your marriage as it is about your menu.
  • Surround yourself with people that calm you, especially if you are a Type A person to begin with.
  • Hire people you trust. Find a wedding coordinator that you can communicate well with and let her handle it… you’ve got a party to get to!


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Surviving PNS: Pre-Nuptial Syndrome

Pre-Nuptial Syndrome, or PNS affects millions of brides each year, specifically targeting the busy bride with a unique vision of the perfect wedding.


You may be suffering from PNS if you have one or more of the following:
  • A phone full of vendor emails and no contracted vendors as of yet.
  • More meetings after work than during.
  • A stack of bridal magazines taller than your refrigerator.
  • Kleinfeld’s on speed dial.
  • Six bridesmaids whose unique vision of the perfect wedding is directly at odds with yours.
  • Champagne taste and a Bud Light budget.
  • A fiance that doesn’t understand why you want to lose seven pounds before your first fitting.
  • A mother whose unique vision of the perfect wedding is directly at odds with yours.
  • Three dozen invitations samples that all look the same, or …
  • An overwhelming desire to skip it and move on to the honeymoon!
Planning a wedding can be one of the most stressful things a person can go through in life. I think it’s right up there with moving, but it doesn’t have to be. It should be one of the most exciting, joyful and memorable times of your life. It should be fun. You should enjoy trying on beautiful gowns, checking out bands and tasting wine (a personal favorite of mine). This is a time to focus on you, your fiance, your relationship and what makes it special. PNS can be held at bay if you just remember why you have begun the wedding planning process in the first place. The man you love has asked you to spend the rest of your life with him and you want to celebrate that with all of your friends, family and loved ones (and whoever else is on your parents’ guest list).

If simply remembering that doesn’t help, here are some steps you can take to avoid falling victim to Pre-Nuptial Syndrome.

  • Prioritize: Make a list of everything you need to do between now and the big day (leave room at the bottom of the page, this list will likely grow). Number these items in order of importance to you. For some “dress” will be first. for others it will be “flowers” it doesn’t matter, as long as you are comfortable with it. Although, the first thing on everyone’s list should probably be “venue”. Without that, there is no wedding.
  • Delegate: Find a couple of allies and lean on them. Make sure they are up for the challenge first, and that their unique vision of the perfect wedding is not directly at odds with yours. If you have to, pay them (a wedding planner is money well spent, if you have it). Maybe your mom has a knack with flowers, put her on it. Is your fiance musically inclined? Let him research the band. Does your maid of honor have impeccable fashion sense? Let her get to work picking out potential bridesmaid’s dresses (this also keeps the heat off of you in the event of a bridesmaid mutiny at the dress store). In the end, these choices belong to you (and your fiance), but if the myriad choices can be narrowed down by trusted associates, why not? You do it at work, do it in life.
  • Relax: There are a lot of things that seem like a huge deal while you are planning your wedding that turn out to hardly matter in the end. As someone who has seen hundreds of weddings and receptions as well as lived through her own, take it from me, there has never been a more appropriate time for the old cliche – don’t sweat the small stuff. Make sure you take plenty of time for you during this process, and don’t forget about your husband to be. It helps to remember that you are in it together.
  • Trust: Hire vendors that you are certain will do a great job. These are people who listen more than they talk. People who are professional and have the experience to roll with any last minute changes, unexpected guests, missing flower girls – whatever might come up. They should also be people you feel comfortable communicating with. Remember, these are the people that will make your unique vision of the perfect wedding a reality. Get recommendations if possible, ask for referrals from anyone you are thinking of working with. It may be easier to ask certain questions of someone who has already been there, plus you know you are getting more truth than sales pitch.

PNS isn’t 100% avoidable, but it can be treated with calm, organization and preparation. If that doesn’t work, there’s always a martini and a trip to the spa.