It started with a Craigslist ad. Well, no, let's back up: It started with six turns as a bridesmaid by age 26 — four of which occurred in the same year. Aiding in all that wedding bliss offered writer Jen Glantz some unusually thorough insight into the needs of those planning nuptials.
"I noticed there was a big thing missing from the wedding industry," the now 30-year-old Glantz says. "There was no one to be helpful to the bride or the people in the wedding. After seeing that so many times, I thought, 'I know what I'll do.'" What she did was post a Craigslist ad, highlighting some of her special skills:
- Holding up the 18 layers of your dress so that you can pee with ease on your wedding day
- Catching the bouquet and then following that moment up with my best Miss America-like "Omg, I can't believe this" speech
- Doing the electric and the cha-cha slides
- Responding in a timely manner to pre-wedding email chains created by other bridesmaids and the Maid of Honor
Glantz knew she could be of service to brides in need. What she didn't realize was just how many brides would need her. "The ad went viral — right after I posted it, I started getting requests from all over the world," she recalls. "They said, 'Can I hire you?' or 'I have a problem I can't seem to hire anyone to fix.' Things like drama with friends, people not showing up — in the whole wedding industry, they couldn't find anyone to help them." So in 2014, Glantz became the industry's ultimate go-to helper, launching Bridesmaid for Hire.
In addition to assisting brides and heading up a growing empire, Glantz is a two-time author ("All My Friends are Engaged" and "Always a Bridesmaid for Hire"), blogger, podcast host and life coach. But to her wedding clients, she's a bridesmaid boss. We talked to Glantz about what she does and here's what she had to say on her unique area of expertise:
Professional bridesmaid vs. wedding planner?
I always say wedding planners are for things — the venue, vendors, setting up the look and feel. But I'm the bride's personal assistant, I'm her unofficial on-call therapist, I'm the social director, and I'm the peacekeeper who makes sure everything stays drama-free. A wedding planner could help with these tasks, but they don't have time, and they're not hired to do any of that. That leaves just friends, and they just want to have fun. I take a lot of the dirty work off their plates.
What services does a bridesmaid for hire provide?
Some of my packages include speech writing for the maid of honor and vow writing. Another includes talking over the phone, walking through the wedding challenges, and dealing with problem situations with friends and family. Then there's a behind-the-scenes package where I show up beforehand as a support system. Finally, the most intensive package, I go to the wedding, wear the bridesmaids dress, walk down the aisle, give a speech, and I'm there to help with all those other things. That one takes many months before the wedding so the bride and I can build a relationship.
Do you remain friends with the brides?
Yes! That happens a lot — I'll leave a wedding and go, 'Wow, that's someone I would be friends with in real life,' and it becomes a lifelong friendship. Then there are other brides I leave saying, 'thank god!'
What are some of the worst behaviors you've seen?
I've had brides ruin friendships or ask them for insane things — whether it was to buy a very expensive dress or spend a lot of money. Those are usually the common situations when someone's turned into a bridezilla — your friends are off the clock; they can give what they can give.
How do you hold it together with difficult brides?
I have to remember they're stressed, and a lot of people can't handle that. I step in and help them come back to reality. One of the reasons I got into this is because I love people, and I love helping people in challenging situations. I don't think there are many situations as challenging as a wedding.
Much of your job is people-focused. What is your training for that?
I reluctantly joined a sorority in college and over the course of four years, became the president. I loved being a leader and problem solver and dealing with different personalities. When I graduated, the first job I had was to work for the sorority. I was sent to schools with major problems like hazing, and I had to walk in and help them turn their problems around. I learned how to deal with different people and tough situations.
Are there things you've learned that you wish you'd known earlier?
I definitely started the business making every mistake in the entire world. I didn't know how much to charge, I didn't know how to set up business contracts or set boundaries so it was clear this isn't round-the-clock. A lot of these basic skills I maybe would've learned in school, but I learned on the job, and I'm happy I did. I learned from making a lot of mistakes.
Do you hear from aspiring professional bridesmaids?
I've had 25,000 people apply to work for me over the years. But I can't hire everyone. I've had a lot of people reach out to me and say, 'I would be so good at this! I love to party, I love to dance, I've been a bridesmaid a million times,' and I think, 'Well, that's awesome, but this isn't partying and dancing.' When you're at the wedding you don't drink and you don't flirt with guys and run around like crazy. You usually leave a wedding physically and mentally exhausted.
What are your top three tips for bridesmaids?
- Remember to say no to things you can't do or can't afford to do. Being a bridesmaid doesn't mean having to do everything that's asked of you.
- Set up a budget early on and stick to it.
- Never buy a new bridesmaid dress — always buy used. Google the SKU number and check stores around the country to see if someone is selling it at a discount.