As soon as Jen Glantz’s close friends started getting married, she realized she was pretty good at being a bridesmaid.
So she posted an ad on Craigslist: “Bridesmaid for Hire.”
More than 400 people responded.
Two years later, New York City-based Glantz, 28, is charging more than $2,000 per wedding for her professional bridesmaid services. She’s also working on her second book, offering online coaching for brides and bridesmaids (with a $300 enrollment fee), and making guests appearances on everything from “The Today Show” to “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Last year, Glantz stood at the altar more than 40 times, and women are clambering to join her cottage industry. “More than 10,000 women have sent in applications,” she says.
She’s even considering adding groomsmen for hire to her operation.
Carolina Bride spoke with Glantz this week to discuss crazy requests, ugly dresses, and how she navigates that awkward “So, how do you know the bride?” question.
Here are edited excerpts from that conversation:
What are some of the craziest requests you’ve gotten from brides?
One time, I had to give my strapless bra to the mother of the bride. Another time, a bride fired her maid of honor, and we were worried she was going to crash the wedding, so I’ve protected brides from wedding crashers. I also touched poison ivy one time because the bride wanted it in her picture.
Is it ever awkward when guests ask how you know the couple?
There are two situations: Either the bride is open and tells people she hired me or no one knows, sometimes not even the groom. In that case, the bride and I make up a story like “We met in yoga class.”
If someone does ask me, I quickly say: “Oh, we met at yoga. How do you know the couple?” I don’t share too much and I don’t use my full name. People love talking about themselves, so it’s never really a problem.
What does it take to be a professional bridesmaid?
You have to be able to relate to people and can’t take things personally. When someone’s being a bridezilla, you need to be able to deal with it. I can make people laugh in all situations—it’s my bridesmaid super power. That’s really important.
Do you plan to hire any of the women who’ve applied to join your business?
I hired a couple of them, but this is my adventure. I like to be the one to go to the weddings as much as I can. If I can’t make it, then one of the women I’ve hired will step in.
What’s the worst dress you’ve ever had to wear?
It was eggplant purple with five layers of fabric and so heavy; I sweated so much in it. I had to use two hair ties to tie up the bottom of the dress just to be able to dance and move around.
How did your friends and family react when they heard about your career choice? They were really excited for me. It seemed natural. I love helping people and making women feel confident. It’s also been a perk for my friends: When they’re asked to be a bridesmaid, they can look through the dresses I already have. It’s like they come to me for bridesmaid shopping.
Have any Carolina brides hired you yet?
I haven’t done any weddings in North or South Carolina yet, but I went to a camp in Hendersonville, N.C. once. I’ve always loved North Carolina and would love to do a wedding there.
How do you envision your own wedding?
This whole thing has taught me that I want something simple. I’m picturing boxes of pizza, an open field, and a band. It might sound crazy, but I already found my dream dress. Six years ago, I tried on a form-fitting, silk wedding dress and it was love at first sight.
How has this job changed the way you approach dating?
I’m such a romantic—I still always cry at weddings—but it’s been a huge reality check. I realize that I need someone who supports me and what I do. My job reinforces that I shouldn’t rush to get married by a certain age. I’ll get married when it’s right.
So on first dates, what do guys say when they hear what your job is?
You can see that the beer is about to fly out of their nose. Some guys say things like, “Is this a joke?” or “Why don’t you get a real job?” But this is my job, my full-time career. I work 60 to 75 hours per week, including weekends. But other guys are really amazed that I’m doing this for people and that I started my own business.
So I hear you keep a fanny pack. What’s in your wedding survival kit?
It’s a really ugly fanny pack—some brides ask me not to wear it—but it’s a lifesaver. I carry hot glue, hair ties, Advil, a permanent marker, bobby pins, and mints. The most valuable thing is my portable phone charger. People always need a phone charger.