If the movie Bridesmaids taught us anything, it’s that weddings can be extremely stressful. There’s so much that goes into planning the perfect wedding, and often so many people work around that. More often than not, it’s common to expect a small handful of nervous breakdowns during the planning process. It only gets worse when a bad bridesmaid bursts in and makes things all about her or, worse yet, simply makes it impossible for the bride to focus on her own special day.
Enter self-described Professional Bridesmaid, Jen Glantz who founded her service, Bridesmaid For Hire, a few years back after initially offering her services on Craigslist, of all places. Since then, Jen has worked with over 40 brides to help them have the best wedding experience possible. She offers services as an “on-call therapist,” friend, behind-the-scenes bridesmaid, and even a Maid of Honor, doing everything she can to allow the bride and her wedding party to focus on what’s really important: enjoying everything about the wedding. Basically, she’s your Bridal Yoda, if Yoda walked around in taffeta and heels.
Just in time for National Wedding Month, I sat down to talk to Jen about getting her start as a professional bridesmaid, how she handles party crashers, and even got a little bit of advice about my own impending role as Maid of Honor.
Interview: Jen Glantz, Founder Of Bridesmaid For Hire
How did you get your start as a professional bridesmaid?
I was a bridesmaid quite a few times for my own friends and started to notice that there was nobody there, behind-the-scenes, for the bride. If the bride had a wedding planner, they were busy making sure the venue was getting set up, and the vendors were showing up. If the bride had bridesmaids, they were busy getting their hair curled and their fake eyelashes glued on. One day, after two of my friends asked me to be a bridesmaid on the very same day, my roommate nicknamed me the professional bridesmaid, and I decided to turn my role of always the bridesmaid into a full-time job.
Do you have a screening process for the brides that ask for your services? Have you ever had to turn anyone down?
Of course! I always ask to know more about their wedding details: their date, their venue, a link to their wedding website, etc. I do research before agreeing to work with them—just to make sure the situation I’m entering is “kosher” and not a Catfish-like scenario. If you can imagine, after posting the ad on Craigslist, I received a lot of very weird emails. It’s important that I do a background check before working as a bridesmaid for hire.
One of the most unique parts of this business is that it’s not meant for everyone. I had turned down potential clients before because they were interested in using this service for what it is not. If I get requests from people who want to hire a bridesmaid who looks a certain way (like must be 5’7″, blonde hair, blue eyes), I tell them that this service is not a modeling agency. My goal is to provide brides with support before and on the day of their wedding, so they feel more confident and stress-free. Not so they have someone pretty standing by their side!
What are you most often asked to do?
A huge part of my job (and often my most favorite part) is being an on-call therapist for brides. A lot of what I do is spend time—virtually—with the bride people at her wedding. We have phone calls or Skype sessions, and I listen to the wedding problems and challenges that the bride is experiencing and help her problem-solve and learn how to prioritize what to do and when to do it. I love helping people, and oftentimes, before your wedding, as a bride, you just want someone to give you their undivided attention along with unbiased advice.
What’s your most-requested package? Do you think there’s any particular reason for its popularity?
My virtual package is very popular. That’s when I’m almost like a “wedding coach for the bride.” I help her make a to-do list, a budget, and even a timeline for the wedding. I’m also there as an on-call therapist, providing them with around-the-clock support before their wedding and on the day of. It’s a popular package because not everyone needs an “in-person” professional bridesmaid, but I think a lot of brides need someone with a professional wedding background that they can turn to for advice or just late-night vent sessions. People often hire fitness coaches or life coaches—this is similar, except I’ll make sure you’re prepared for your wedding day, without a heart full of anxiety and stress, and a to-do list that’s still months away from being completed.
What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve been asked to do?
I’ve been a bodyguard for a bride who fired her maid of honor and was scared she was going to crash the wedding. I’ve danced with my fair share of drunk uncles. I’ve touched poison ivy. I’ve had to run around to different CVS’s looking for a certain brand of tampons. I’ve had to move animal droppings, with my bare hands, of an aisle for an outdoor wedding.
What’s your most memorable experience as a professional bridesmaid?
Staying friends with brides after their wedding. We really do form a relationship before the wedding happens, and that doesn’t end just because the “job” does.
After working with over 40 brides, what’s the biggest piece of advice you have for brides enlisting bridesmaids? And what can bridesmaids do to make the bride’s life a little easier?
Brides: only ask people to be your bridesmaid because you want them to stand by your side, not because you think you have to have them there (because they had you as a bridesmaid or because they’ll never talk to you again).
Bridesmaids: try and go with the flow. Remember, the wedding will be over, and you’ll never have to wear the ugly dress ever again. Also, if there’s something you can’t afford or don’t want to do, it’s okay to say the big NO.
How has your view of the wedding industry as a whole changed since you’ve started doing this, if at all?
To be honest, I never liked weddings or the wedding industry. I do this job because I love helping people—and weddings are a time when people’s emotions skyrocket, and they truly need someone there to help them through it. I think the wedding industry is saturated and scared to break free from tradition. One thing I help brides with is how to make their wedding have their personality. That often means kicking old school traditions and wedding rules to the curb.
I’m actually going to be the Maid of Honor at my sister’s wedding next year. I’ve never been a bridesmaid before, so I’m a little nervous to sort of jump in headfirst. Any advice?
My advice to you is to channel your inner camp counselor personality. Take charge. Plan ahead. And don’t be scared of the bride. In the end, she’s your sister! Work together with her on what your role will be doing and the kinds of things she wants.
Remember, have fun with this role. It’s an amazing moment in both your life and your sisters. Oh, order your dress way ahead of time! If you wait until the month before, you may have to make it yourself out of the fabric you order off Amazon.
Jen Glantz is a professional bridesmaid and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire. She’s the author of All My Friends Are Engaged and frequently wears old bridesmaid dresses to the grocery store and on first dates. Her forthcoming book, Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire), will be released in 2017 by Simon and Schuster. Say hello here, and be sure to follow Jen on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!
(Photos: Courtesy of Jen Glantz)