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Her Story: I Am a Professional Bridesmaid

If you spend an afternoon with me, you’ll notice that my phone doesn’t stop buzzing.

Text messages fly in from brides-to-be while they are wedding dress shopping or trying to defuse an escalated conversation with their future mother-in-law. Emails pour in from maids of honor wondering if their speech for the champagne toast is funny enough.

The interesting part is that I’ve never met these people before in my life.

I’m a professional bridesmaid. I’ve been hired by more than 30 different brides and maids of honor to help them feel confident and stress-free before and during their wedding.

But let me start from the beginning—to be more specific, from the Friday night in June 2014 that led me to become the founder of a business called Bridesmaid for Hire.

I spent that Friday night alone on the couch, digging my spoon into a half-eaten, freezer-burned gallon of chocolate ice cream that I saved for emergencies only.

Over the past couple of years, tons of my friends abruptly found themselves transitioning from single girl status to diamond ring status. Our brunch conversations quickly switched from swapping online dating disaster stories to sharing engagement stories.

While this was happening for them, I was downloading Tinder and going on unsuccessful dates with guys like Max the Macho-Man Bodybuilder and Ryan the Ex-Reality TV Star. I was, more than anything else, finding myself standing up in a polyester or chiffon gown as a bridesmaid, again and again and again.

So that Friday night, once the gallon of ice cream was scooped clean, I decided to it was time to share my secret with the world and to let out this plan of action that had been brewing in my mind for quite some time.

I opened up a new tab on Google Chrome and I typed in a website that people often visit to find things like used couches, failed attempts at love, or new jobs. I went on Craigslist and wrote a post offering my services as a bridesmaid for hire to brides in need.

The idea to post this ad popped into my head one day after I was asked to be a bridesmaid twice within 48 hours. I came home after agreeing to spend two more Saturdays of my life walking down the aisle in a chiffon dress for these two friends, and my roommate nicknamed me “The Professional Bridesmaid.”

Being a bridesmaid started feeling like a full-time job. While there’s often a wedding planner making sure the bride’s idea of a perfect venue comes into fruition, there’s really no one there for the bride and her personal needs before the wedding.

That’s what I became to my friends who were getting married: their personal assistant, their on-call therapist, their social director, and more often than not, their peacekeeper.

I wondered if I could make this into a real full-time job for people I didn’t know, like for brides-to-be who may have a handful of friends, but nobody they could truly rely on or feel confident and comfortable enough to bother with seemingly silly wedding requests.

So I put the idea to test. I pressed “send” and posted the ad on Craigslist. After it had been live for a few days, my inbox was already full of requests from brides around the world.

In July, I started working with my first non-friend bride, Ashley from Minnesota. Ashley fired her maid-of-honor, who was unsupportive and practically MIA, then hired me to fill that role and bring her the support she desperately needed three months before her wedding (and on the big day itself.)

That’s where my adventure began. It continued to Times Square for a wedding for two grooms from Australia. Then it took me all the way to Vegas for a surprise wedding that lasted four days and had me on my hands and knees in bathrooms, lifting up layers of tulle and taffeta so the bride could pee without having her fairy-tale wedding dress come face to face with the murky toilet bowl water. It took me across the bridge to Queens, where I found myself supporting the mother of the bride with my own size 34C bra when she forgot hers at home.

“Why would anyone want a professional bridesmaid at their wedding?” An 87-year-old woman asked me that on the subway last week. The answer, though surprisingly simple, was provided for me in so many different ways through the emails I received.

Women asked me for help because they have good friends who are unable to make it to their weddings, whether because they lived far away, couldn’t afford it or had to be at home with their children.

Women asked me for help because they already had a group of bridesmaids but they needed someone to come in to organize the communication and be the official liaison between the bride and the rest of the bridal party.

A few couples wanted my help because they were planning smaller weddings and wanted someone by their side that knows exactly what they are doing.

If I’ve learned anything since I started this business, it’s that the most important thing you can do is start ASAP. Even if your business idea is not totally fleshed out or ready to be shared with the world yet, don’t waste time. Test the market. Put something out there and revise it until you’re happy with the final product.

If I had told anyone about my idea for Bridesmaid for Hire before I shared it with the world on Craigslist, they would have shot it down. They would have told me that nobody wants to hire a stranger to be there for them on their wedding day.

Well, almost a year and 30 clients later, I can finally say with confidence: they are wrong!

Jen Glantz is a “Professional Bridesmaid” and the founder of Bridesmaid For Hire. She’s the author of All My Friends Are Engaged, the creator of The Things I Learned From blog, and frequently wears old bridesmaid dresses to the grocery store and on first dates.

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Jen Glantz is a "Professional Bridesmaid" and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire. She's the author of All My Friends Are Engaged, the creator of The Things I Learned From blog, and frequently wears old bridesmaid dresses to the grocery store and on first dates.
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