Jeanne Sutton talks to professional bridesmaid Jen Glantz about the most rom-com job in the world.
Imagine this: you post an ad to Criaglist offering your services as a bridesmaid.You’ve done it so often, you might as well be Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses, so why not monetise those coping-with-dress-fitting-breakdown skills?
The ad goes viral. You start a business called Bridesmaid For Hire. You’re let go from your New York media job, so it needs to take off. It takes off. Over two years, you work with about sixty brides, strangers in your inbox who become friends. You witness the whole gamut, from hen parties to holding the train walking up the aisle, telling guests you’re a college friend, because mentioning this relationship’s invoiced is gauche. You get a book deal.
Sounds like classic rom com material, but this is the true story of author and entrepreneur Jen Glantz. The 28-year-old posted an ad to Craigslist in 2014 after being asked by two friends to be part of their wedding parties within 48 hours of each other. She wrote: “Let me be there for you… if you don’t have any other girlfriends except your third cousin, twice removed, who is often found sticking her tongue down an empty bottle of red wine.” Other reasons to employ her? You need to balance out the bridal party because there are too many groomsmen. Or you want an organised person to liase with dotted-around-the-globe pals. She also offered to hold up “the 18 layers of your dress so that you can pee with ease on your wedding day.”
In a world obsessed with the sharing economy, where people offer peer-to-peer services such as Deliveroo and cleaning with Hassle.com, it was a matter of time bridesmaid-ing became a side hustle. Jen’s business, bridesmaidforhire.com, is such a success she’s now recruiting other ‘bridesmaids’.
How does it work? “I’ve a phone call with the bride, we spend time together, we get to know each other,” Jen explains. “The package is based on what their needs are. Every package, every bride’s different.”
What drives her customers? They may have close friends and family, “but those people are busy or they don’t know the ins and outs of the wedding. [Brides] want a professional person to be there to support them.” As she said in the ad, you might trust cousin Angela for a night out, but can you trust her with a colour scheme? “The other reason is they don’t have any close friends at the moment and that’s not a bad thing or a sad thing,” Jen says, with acres of empathy. “It happens to a lot of us as we get older. We focus on our careers and sometimes we stray away from our close friends.”
She’s learned a lot about female friendship these past few years. “People seem to need a stranger’s voice in their life more often,” Jen muses. “People have issues and challenges going on. Sometimes it’s easier share that with a stranger. It’s not to say your close friends can’t help you, but sometimes you want unbiased advice. A lot of times that’s my role in a person’s life, giving them the cold, hard truth in a way that’s going to help them make a decision that fits them best.”
She’s also got good tips on picking unpaid bridesmaids. “I would say (choose) someone who knows how to handle you at your worst, because often times weddings are very stressful.You want friends to complement you instead of giving you more chaos,” she says.
Could such a thing ever take off in Ireland? Apart from being not so easy to explain away, there’s no real reason why not, other than the fact Irish women might not wish to part with their hard earned cash for services true pals normally perform for free. Perhaps it’s a bit too notions for the average bride on these here shores, but you can’t argue with the fact that it’s a simple business transaction with no fear of Bridezilla moments becoming an issue and regular friendships left intact.
As for the book deal, any hints of a movie adaptation? Not yet says Jen, but should Hollywood come a-knocking, she has a leading lady in mind – isn’t it about time Blake Lively joined Julia Roberts and JLo with a timeless wedding movie classic?
Always a Bridesmaid (for Hire): Stories on Growing Up, Looking for Love, and Walking Down the Aisle for Complete Strangers by Jen Glantz is out 7th February.
This article first appeared in STELLAR’s March issue. Our April issue is on shelves now!
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