They stomp through wedding shows and rip apart floral arrangements.
They snap at wedding planners and send caterers running for cover.
Quick to anger and hard to please, they are known by their fearsome roar: "It's MY wedding!"
Bridezilla? Close, but no. A rarer but rapidly multiplying species is encroaching on her natural habitat and terrorizing weddings: Groomzilla.
"Yes, it's not a myth," wedding planner Rose Tenuta says with a weary laugh.
Ms. Tenuta, owner of Bridal Solutions in Toronto, recently spent hours in meetings with one such demanding groom who interrogated and second-guessed all the vendors. She says she barely heard his fiancée speak. "He'd say, 'Okay, I like this, this and this.' There was no negotiation."
He threw a memorable hissy fit when the limo showed up without champagne. "This groom is a big man, and we were like, 'Oh my gosh, be careful,' " Ms. Tenuta says. "Most of us were afraid of him."
Much as the original mutant dinosaur Godzilla was born out of the nuclear fallout from atomic bomb testing, Groomzillas emerged from several converging cultural trends.
Couples are marrying later in life and the cost of weddings is rising. Older grooms have more money and a stronger sense of personal style - and when a groom is spending from his own wallet, a $250 bouquet suddenly gets a lot more interesting. Also, working women increasingly have little time to plan a wedding, so men are stepping up out of necessity. And, of course, there's the rise of the metrosexual, the heterosexual man with stubborn opinions on centrepieces and bouquets.
Nearly 80 per cent of U.S. brides said their grooms were involved in wedding planning, according to a 2005 survey by the NPD Group, a New York-based marketing research company. For about 10 per cent of those men, says Groomsonline.com creator Mark Walerstein, involvement turns to obsession, and a Groomzilla is born.
"It's one of those 'be careful what you wish for' situations," says Linda Kevich, the Winnipeg-based creator and editor of Superweddings.com. "For years, brides complained that their grooms were not taking enough interest in the wedding plans, or that they didn't offer enough input. Now some grooms get so involved that the couple sometimes find themselves having one disagreement after another."
Craig Bridger bickered with his fiancée quite a bit before their wedding -- especially when she dared to question the wording on the invitations he had worked so hard to craft.
"I got a little ridiculous," Mr. Bridger says. "I felt underappreciated, and that would make me very grumpy."
Mr. Bridger discusses his Groomzilla days with the bewildered air of someone recovering from a bout of temporary insanity. A Brooklyn, N.Y.-based writer, actor and bartender, he is now working on a book, tentatively titled A Bride's Guide to Surviving Groomzilla.
Mr. Bridger dived into wedding preparations for all the right reasons. His bride-to-be was busy with work, and unconcerned about the traditional trappings, so he shouldered the bulk of the planning. In hindsight, he realizes he crossed to the dark side when he started obsessing over his cream-coloured wedding tie: Should he go with the one from Macy's? Or Banana Republic? Or maybe the fancy one from Paul Stuart? From there it was a short slide into compulsively rewriting save-the-date cards and analyzing seating charts.
"What was so surprising to me were the ways in which it started to pull me in and I found myself caring about these details I never would have cared about in my earlier life," Mr. Bridger says.
Take-charge grooms can sometimes be a blessing. Rithesh Ram's fiancée, Sunita, is busy finishing her last year of medical school, so he eagerly took the lead on planning their May nuptials.
Mr. Ram, a PhD student in Calgary, scoured the Internet and called a dozen venues before choosing the Polish Cultural Centre for the reception. He found the wedding planner, chose the caterer, and has definite ideas about what he wants from the florist. One of the accomplishments he's most proud of is the "Indian-fusion" reception menu he designed: jackfruit with cardamom and cumin, spiced shrimp, lamb biryani and chai crème brûlée.
"I just enjoy organizing these kinds of things," Mr. Ram says. "If we ended up doing things traditionally, she'd be a little stressed."
Their wedding planner, Lisa Hanslip, applauds grooms like Mr. Ram who get involved without going overboard. "Sometimes the groom has very specific ideas of what he wants, and he's engaged to a low-maintenance bride, so he's sort of the diva of the couple," she says.
But Ms. Hanslip has worked with her share of control freaks. One groom even chose his bride's wedding dress.
Wedding experts say money drives grooms' participation. The average Canadian wedding costs $25,800, according to a survey by Weddingbells magazine, and the Association for Wedding Professionals International says 72 per cent of North American couples pay all or some of the cost themselves.
When that much money is involved -- and some couples spend much more than the average -- the type of guy who wants to have the biggest, shiniest car might also want to have the biggest, shiniest wedding.
There's another theory on Groomzillas, one that Mr. Bridger and his ilk may want to seize upon: They do it for love. After all, the much-maligned Bridezilla has practically been cowed into silence with accusations of snappishness. No woman wants to be thought a shrew on her wedding day. To the rescue -- the fire-breathing groom.
"In their defence, it allows the bride to be more of a princess," wedding planner Ms. Tenuta says. "It allows them to sit there and let their grooms go to battle for them."
Are you a nightmare groom?
When you proposed, you:
A. Got up off the couch and mumbled something about guessing you guys should, like, make it legal or something.
B. Got down on one knee and tenderly asked the woman you love to share the rest of her life with you.
C. Hopped into a helicopter that whisked you and your lady away to the wedding of your dreams. Her dress, the cake, her bridesmaids - you picked them all out!
Your idea of a perfect
A. City hall, "I do," and back to the couch for Hockey Night.
B. A day of joy, laughter and love, with a great party for friends and family.
C. A day of joy, laughter and love for you. Your bride? She'll be there too.
The bridesmaids' dresses are:
A. Irrelevant. The question is, are the bridesmaids hot?
B. Blue, because that's our favourite colour and we're going for an ocean theme.
C. Celadon, cap sleeves, floor length, taffeta. No, not celery, celadon!
Your relationship with the wedding caterer is:
A. A caterer? I thought she was cooking the food herself. How much is this going to cost me?
B. Great! Free food samples, free cake samples ...
C. Strained. The marinated mushrooms should be stuffed with herbed chêvre, not feta!
At your wedding, you will wear:
A. A rental tux from the mall.
B. A tuxedo you purchased after consulting your fiancée.
C. A tuxedo you purchased after consulting with your fiancée, best man, mother, friends, co-workers, therapist and strangers on the street.
Mostly A's: Slacker groom.
Mostly B's: Gallant groom. You care about the wedding planning, but you don't insist on having your way.
Mostly C's: Groomzilla! Your obsession with wedding details may be hurting your relationships with loved ones. "Don't take it all so seriously," urges recovering groomzilla Craig Bridger, who's writing a book about his experience. "Put down the tie and back away from the salesman."
House, or chocolate fountain?
Royal LePage asked 2,002 Canadian adults: "Given the chance, how likely would you be to go without a wedding reception in order to put a larger down payment on your first home?"
In February, 2007:
34 per cent of women who plan to purchase a home in the next three years said they'd skip the reception and pay for the home;
27 per cent of men said they'd make the same decision.
30 per cent of women and 15 per cent of men said they'd forgo a wedding reception to put a bigger down payment on a home.
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