“This one’s Michigan, this one’s California, this one’s Florida, this one’s also Florida, this one’s New Jersey, this one’s New York, this one was Florida, and this one was in Long Island…”
Jen Glantz is rattling off states with perfect recall as she thumbs through a closet full of satin, charmeuse and chiffon — most in various shades of pastel. Each bridesmaid dress is well worn, from deodorant stains to tattered hems. Each carries a story.
Sure, plenty of us have at least one or two bridesmaid dresses shoved in the back of the closet, never to be worn again. Glantz has enough to rival a bridal boutique.
And no, it’s not just because she has a lot of recently wed friends — although that is a factor in her story. Glantz is up to her ears in dresses because she makes a living as a professional bridesmaid.
From Bridesmaid to Bridesmaid for Hire
How does one find herself in the business of being a professional bridesmaid? Let’s back up to 2014, when Glantz was 26 years old — or as I like to affectionately call it, “Fridge is Covered in Save the Dates” years old.
One day towards the end of June, Glantz received not one but two phone calls with hopeful brides-to-be on the other end, bearing the same question: “Will you be my bridesmaid?”
In that year alone, Glantz found herself taking on the mantle of bridesmaid four times.
She was so well versed in the art of bachelorette parties, rounding up unruly bridesmaids and holding up poofy wedding dresses that she was practically a professional. And throughout it all, she noticed a common trend in the wedding industry.
“There was nobody there whose job it was to help the bride,” says Glantz. “If the bride had a wedding planner, she was so busy setting up the wedding. If she had bridesmaids like myself, we were very distracted, and we didn’t know how to help her.”
Glantz decided to capitalize on this gap in the industry and put her finely honed bridesmaid skills to work. She posted a Craigslist ad: Professional Bridesmaid – wfw – 26 (NYC).
Let me be there for you, she implores future brides with not-so-great options in the bridal party department. Let her “make sure bridesmaid #4 buys her dress on time and doesn’t show up three hours late.” Let her fill a spot if “you don’t have any other girlfriends except your third cousin, twice removed.”
Within two days, Glantz had received over 250 responses.
Clearly, there was a demand for a service that offers the chance of a stress-free wedding. So Glantz decided to start her own business, Bridesmaid for Hire.
Living In a Perpetual Wedding Season
In the four years since that fateful Craigslist ad, Glantz has worked with more than100 clients all over the country.
She has expanded her services and become the ultimate bridesmaid boss, offering various levels of bridal-related help and working with five to 15 clients a month.
For the bride-to-be who just needs a bit of a nudge in the right direction, she offers one-on-one coaching for $ 179. Someone thinking of hiring a wedding planner can turn to Glantz instead for day-of coordinating services, which range from $ 850 to $ 1,350.
Then there’s the ultimate package: A full-fledged bridesmaid for hire, which can cost upwards of $ 4,000.
But this package doesn’t mean Glantz will simply show up on the day of the wedding, ready to walk down the aisle. She works with brides for anywhere from three months to a full year before the wedding date, helping all along the way.
“During that time, we get to know each other… I’m there for all of the big milestones,” says Glantz. “One thing I’m super proud of is that I help people save money, so I’ll look at vendor contracts and say, ‘They’re ripping you off, you can save money here.’”
And it’s not just the brides that Glantz offers her expertise to. Maids of Honor who are a bit unsure how to move forward can get a crash-course coaching session for $ 99. Or maybe the MOH just doesn’t have a way with words. Lucky for her, Glantz offers speech-writing packages ranging from $ 200 to $ 375.
That way, the MOH can avoid the dreaded awkward silence after an inappropriate inside joke falls flat. #blessed
It’s Not All Wedding Cake and Bouquet Tosses
You might be thinking something along the lines of “I could totally do this job,” but keep in mind just how many services Glantz offers.
In reality, this gig is nothing that like that movie “The Wedding Ringer.” Glantz isn’t just attending party after party, dancing the night away and munching on wedding cake — although we can all agree that wedding cake is definitely a perk.
Glantz is a personal assistant, planner, coordinator, coach, shoulder to lean on, speech-giver, peacekeeper and situation-diffuser all wrapped up in one — usually in some version of chiffon.
One wedding, she might be “Jen Smith” and makes sure that a bachelorette party actually gets planned when the maid of honor drops the ball. At another, she’s known as “Jen Cohen” and saves the day with her emergency pack full of Band-Aids and stain-remover sticks.
Along with the pseudonym, she’ll have a different backstory explaining how she knows the bride, since most don’t particularly care to explain that they hired a bridesmaid. To some, the idea of assuming a new identity and attending a stranger’s wedding might sound strange, but Glantz insists that it all feels very natural and authentic to her.
“I’ve always thought to myself ‘This is what I’m meant to do,’ and I know that sounds crazy because who thinks they’re meant to be a professional bridesmaid?” says Glantz.
Recalling the first wedding she ever worked, she says she got off the plane in Minnesota and thought to herself “Jen, what are you doing?”
But everything went off without a hitch, and she finally felt like she was doing something she was meant for. Glantz says she’s always had the skills that make her so good at this, such as dealing with challenging or dramatic situations.
And everyone knows that weddings are rife with drama, right?
Glantz’s experiences as a professional bridesmaid and CEO have led to other opportunities. She freelance writes for major publications, speaks at conferences and has written two books, “When You Least Expect It” and “All My Friends are Engaged.”
Between Bridesmaid For Hire and her other endeavors, Glantz says she earns tens of thousands a year.
Always looking ahead, she’s expanding her services with Bridesmaid for Hire. She recently started offering packages for mothers-of-the-bride, who need their own type of support but often get forgotten.
She’s hired a few people along the way, including another professional bridesmaid, but has decided to offer another service to hopeful employees instead of hiring them.
“I always have people who want to work this job, so I started a franchising program where people can come learn exactly how this business works and then start this business for themselves wherever they live in the world,” she says.
For $ 249, you can learn the tricks of the trade, such as the ins and outs of the wedding industry, how to brand your business and how to secure clients.
One can hope that future bridesmaids-for-hire share Glantz’s sentimental feelings about the business.
“I feel very lucky with this job because I get to be present at one of the best and happiest moments of a person’s life,” she says. “It’s taught me a ton about love, it’s taught me a ton about weddings, and it’s really shaped how I feel about relationships.”
And if they’re anything like Glantz, maybe they’ll end up with a closet full of bridesmaid dresses of their own, unwilling to part with them and the memories they carry.
Kaitlyn Blount is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She is currently planning her own wedding, a maid of honor in another… and a bridesmaid in another. Maybe she could use some of Glantz’s professional help.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
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