A story on Newsweek may make those uninitiated with the "Bridezilla" phenomenon a bit, well, flabbergasted and dismayed. Take Noelle Nicolai. Nicolai, 24, got engaged in early January and says that no one has asked her about her future plans or honeymoon; everyone just wants to know what she'll look like on her wedding day. She has caved into the pressure of "aesthetic obsession" and now has a to-do list that includes teeth whitening, facials, waxings, hair treatments, tanning, creams and cleaners for her skin and a retainer to realign her teeth. She also plans to lose 12 pounds, even though she is thin and has a BMI of 20. There are, Pat Wingert and Sarah Elkins write, 1,350 wedding books for brides in print. (On TV, there are shows like Bridezillas, Platinum Weddings, Rich Bride, Poor Bride, Buff Brides, Bulging Brides and My Big Fat Fabulous Wedding.) The "standard" for weddings these days? "Red carpet-worthy good looks." Except! Guess what, ladies? You're not on the red carpet. A wedding is not an awards show. A bride is not a celebrity.

In some cultures, a marriage is a transfer of property. Sometimes there's a procession, an elephant, a woman being carried on a litter. But in the Western world, you used to just say your vows in front of a religious dude and call it a night. No six months of preparation for one day. How long is a wedding "day," these days, anyway? Twenty-four hours? A weekend? Oh, you say, but the pictures! Are forever! But look at old wedding photos of your Grandma (or your great aunt Blanche, or anyone before, say, World War II.) Doesn't she look beautiful? Chances are, it wasn't because she went into debt buying a Vera Wang dress, rare orchids and "buff bride" boxing lessons. It was because she was in love. What is the point of forcing one day to be "perfect" and unnaturally polished? What does the perfect wedding really look like? Shouldn't it just a day on which everyone is just damn happy to be there?

The Incredible Shrinking Bride [Newsweek]

[Random 1947 non-famous people wedding photo via Fashion-Era.com]